I do not own Twilight.
Trigger warnings apply.
Psalms 34:13 Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.
"I heard they fucked, what do you think?"
I roll my eyes, dipping my carrot stick in Edward's ranch. "I think it's none of our business."
Bree's eyes open wide and her jaw drops before she smacks her lips and waves me off. "It's Jasper Hale and Jamie King, of course it's our business."
"Actually, it's not," Edward cuts in, taking a carrot for himself.
"Alice is my best friend, and if Jasper is cheating on her, she should know." Bree picks up her cell phone, texting as fast as her thumbs will allow. No doubt ratting she's out Jasper and Jamie to Alice.
"Alice isn't your best friend, Bree. And you should watch what you say, rumors spread fast." I wave a half-bitten carrot in the air, exaggerating my point. This girl is a drama-whore; it literally fuels her existence.
She drops the phone onto the table, waiting for me to continue talking. "Well, are they fucking or not?"
"Not," I say, fairly certain. Jasper is my cousin. We're close and hang in the same crowd. I detest his girlfriend Alice. It's nothing personal; she just isn't a good person. But I know for a fact that Jasper digs her, so I ease up. Not that I'd ever say anything if it were true, anyway; my loyalty lies with my cousin.
I could effortlessly let this gossip spread, if it hasn't already. There's nothing I'd love to see more than Alice's mascara-smeared eyes and beat-broken heart, but my love for Jazz wins the battle over my dislike for Alice. If he likes her enough to deal with her, then he must see something that I don't—it's not my deal.
Besides, Jasper and Edward play on the same football team at school, and I wouldn't want things to be awkward between them this late in the season.
"My aunt hired Jamie King to tutor Jasper in Calculus; it's innocent." I shrug my shoulders, having done my good deed for today. I pull on Edward's letterman jacket until he turns around, facing me. I kiss his lips. He kisses me back.
"She's over there every night tutoring?" Bree asks, looking totally unconvinced.
I pull my lips away from Edward, turning slightly toward the nosy girl as his lips kiss down my neck. "You know, Bree, you can stop the dramatics and ask them yourself if you don't believe me, but don't say anything unless you know what's really going on. You can ruin someone's life." I'm a little theatrical, but when you're a high school senior, everything is too important and everything is the end of our lives. It's a teenager thing. Drama, tragedy, and catastrophe run warm though our veins.
And I can tell by Bree's face that it's too late. She's already pressed send on the text to Alice, and by now Alice has texted Jasper, breaking his heart while she posts her single status on Facebook. Her updated singlehood is being sent to every cell phone and every computer screen in Forks. Her wall is being spammed with why, why, why's. She's crying her eyes out, replying to everyone she can: Jasper is a cheating bastard and Jamie King is a whore.
Jamie King's Facebook page is being defaced, and by the time Monday comes around, the rumor won't be that Jasper and Jamie were having sex. It will be that Jasper and Jamie were having sex and are now having a baby. A baby that may or may not be aborted or given up for adoption. Or Jasper and Jaime were having sex, but Jasper was brainwashed and didn't know what he was doing … poor Jasper … poor Alice.
Jamie will be exiled at school. Her social status isn't as strong as Alice's, who will come to class with puffy red eyes and a busted heart. Everyone will feel sorry for her, labeling Jamie as the bad person. How could she do that to Alice? It was all Jamie, not Jasper.
Jamie will fight back, swearing they never did anything. She'll explain she was only there to tutor Jasper in preparation for his Calculus final. No one will believe her. There's proof. What proof? Who knows, but there's proof. Someone said so.
Alice will confront Jamie, and Jamie will stick up for herself, which will only make things worse. Then, Jasper will stick up for Jamie, in turn sticking up for himself, which will only make things worse.
Right on cue, my cell phone beeps. It's Alice's status update: I hate Jasper Hale and Jaime King is a slutty bitch.
I roll my eyes, unsure as to why I accepted her online friend request. I couldn't care less. Alice is the reason the fat girls at school pick up eating disorders and self-confidence issues. She's a passive-aggressive bitch who cries, lies, and betrays until she gets her way. Her parents are rich, and the teachers eat out of the palm of her hand. She's the student body fucking president for heaven's sake.
Alice is the embodiment of a bully, and now Jamie King is about to be her next victim.
All of this because Jasper wanted to pass Calculus. Next time my aunt needs to hire a geek, not the pretty genius cheerleader.
I text Jasper: Heads up, Alice is freaking out.
Text from Jasper: I know.
I drop my phone into my purse and stare at Bree. One person can cause all of this trouble with the flick of her thumbs. "Good going," I mumble, scooting out of the booth. I'm not in the mood to hang out tonight. We're supposed to party, and most of our friends are here, but I can't. I feel sick to my stomach.
Edward notices I'm leaving. He grabs me by my hand, asking me to wait. He says bye to all of our friends, making our exit quick.
It's the same shit every weekend: we win the football game on Friday, get shit-faced Friday night, sleep until noon on Saturday, meet up at Tom's Burgers on Saturday night, get shit-faced again late-night Saturday, and sleep all day Sunday.
I'm over it.
Besides, I've missed church on Sundays with my dad the last two weekends, and I promised him I'd attend this week. I'm not a Christian extremist, but I believe in a higher power, and every once in a while, I need to be reminded that there is a reason behind this chaos.
After all, everything happens for a reason.
Just as we exit the restaurant, Collin Denali, class reject, bumps into me. He mumbles an apology; I smile, about to say that it's okay, but Edward interferes.
"Watch where the fuck you're going, Collin." Edward holds open the glass door. I pass under his arm.
Collin steps out of the way. "Sorry," he apologizes again, keeping his head down.
"It's not a problem. It was an accident." I glare at Edward; he shrugs his shoulders, allowing the door to close. He takes my hand and leads me to the car, leaving Collin behind.
"Our spot?" Edward whispers into my ear, opening the car door for me.
I slide in. "Our spot," I say, clicking on my seat belt.
Edward and I have been together forever. Things are different with us. We don't get caught up in this pathetic bull-crap. We're us, and no one challenges it. We're good to each other, and we do a good job of staying out of the swing of things. I mean, we like hanging out with our friends, Edward is a varsity football player and I'm a varsity cheerleader, and we like to drink every once in a while. We do normal teenager things, but the similarities end there.
We don't go out of our way to cause problems for other people. Neither one of us likes to see our friends hurting over avoidable rumors, so why would we add to it? We aren't drama—we don't look for it and we don't cause it. As long as we're good, it's good.
My dad wasn't too happy to learn that Edward and I are as serious as we are, but it didn't take long for him to see that Edward and I run on a different level. I'm not perfect, and neither is he, but our priorities are not typical.
God. Family. School. Love.
Edward and I have an understanding, and it makes us damn near perfect.
Our spot is actually Edward's bed. His parents are never home on the weekends, and my dad is out patrolling the streets of Forks. It was easy to uncover that we can easily let the minutes slip away by being naked and connected.
Maybe it's why we're problem free: we're always having sex.
I fall back onto his bed; Edward is smirking, kissing my stomach. "God, I fucking love you," he says, pressing the palm of his hand against my clit.
I arch my back off of the sheets, holding onto the headboard above me. "Edward, don't use the Lord's name that way." I spread my legs a little wider.
His lips are at my ear. "Turn around, baby. I want you on your stomach."
Deuteronomy 32:25 It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them.
"Church was interesting today," I say, flipping over onto my stomach. Edward lies beside me, pulling the thin strap of my dress down my shoulder. His touch forms goosebumps. His touch leaves me breathless-stupid. His touch leaves me spell-bound and delirious.
"It was … whatever." He kisses my bare skin, moving my hair away from my neck. Our blanket bunches up beneath us. The grass tickles my ankles.
The setting Sunday sun colors the sky pink, orange and purple. The warm light shines through my thin stretch-cotton dress; I do nothing to hide my chest. I smile as a little breeze blows tiny-stray hairs across my lips.
"You kill me," Edward whispers, kissing my neck, rolling me onto my back.
I knew leaving the bra off was a great idea.
"It was ironic," I say, stretching my arms above my head, extending my fingers as Edward pulls down the top of my dress, leaving my right breast exposed. My pink nipple puckers, hardening when his lips lightly brush across the sensitive skin.
"What was ironic, baby?" he asks, pressing his lips to the inside of my breast, cupping the entire thing with his hand. He situates himself between my thighs, spreading my legs with his knee.
"Church." I push up on my elbows; Edward backs up but stays near. He kisses my chin. He smiles. Silly-simple-crooked smirks that just scream: I love you so much I could die.
It feels so good to be so sure.
"It was church. It was the same as it always is." Edward lays me back down, continuing where he left off.
I giggle; it tickles. I turn my head and see an ant on our blanket. "It was ironic because it's happening, Edward. Gossip, betrayal, judgment … everything the pastor spoke about is happening."
He looks me in the eye. "Bella, it's high school. Don't over think it." His head dips back down; his hand crawls up.
Edward only goes to church to make me happy. He wasn't raised to be religious, and his parents are too busy for God and Sunday church days. Carlisle and Esme are not impressed that their son tags along on the mornings that I attend, but they don't necessarily dislike that he goes. They just don't care. Their weeks are filled with meetings and conferences, and their weekends are preoccupied with dinners and social events.
Unlike my family.
I've lived with Dad since I was five, and for as long as I can remember, Charlie has always attended the small, run-down Christian church in town. It's where he married my mother before she turned flighty and left. And when she returned with cancer, it's where her funeral was held. It's also where I was baptized. It's where I hope one day children of my own will be baptized too.
The church is familiar to me, and I like going. I may not follow The Book as closely as I should, but it's a place of comfort and a reminder that we are very a small part in a very big plan.
Edward listens in sometimes. Other times, he day dreams. I appreciate his effort, though.
"Did you see Jasper today?" I ask. My cousin sat up front with his face in his hands and his heart on the floor.
Edward unbuckles his jeans. He's up on his knees between my legs. "I saw him, and I feel bad, but we have four more months here and we're gone, Bella. We'll graduate, and we'll go to college and none of this will matter." His face softens before he leans over me. "And Jasper will be fine." His eyes close; he speaks sympathetically. "And anything that happened here won't matter because we will be gone and it will be the past."
Exodus 20:13 You must not murder.
I pull my curtains back to see Edward's black Mustang pull into the driveway behind my father's police cruiser. Smiling, I slip my feet into my red flats and grab my bookbag off my bed before heading downstairs. My curled hair bounces as I float down the stairs, opening the door for my guy before he has a chance to knock.
"Hey, beautiful," he greets me, kissing my cheek before heading to my dad. "Good morning, Chief."
Dad lifts his eyes from his coffee mug, lowering his newspaper. "Morning, kids."
On the stove, my dad already has the water boiling for my routine Vanilla Chai Tea. I kiss his forehead and thank him for all of his graciousness. I pour my tea into my mug, Edward takes my bag, and we're gone.
On the way to school, Edward and I talk about some of the stuff we missed after we left Tom's Saturday night: Jamie King was confronted and run out of Emmett McCarty's party. Rosalie hooked up with Jake Black. Jake Black then hooked up with Emily Dee. But before all of that fun, the entire football team fucked with Collin Denali until he left Tom's Burgers without his food.
Edward shrugs. "Whatever."
School is just as chaotic as I predicted it to be. Alice is putting on her best performance, crying into the arms of any idiot who will listen to her sob story. She screams in Jasper's face while he tries to explain what's really going on with Jamie King. Alice is making a scene, and I know she loves it. She lives for this shit.
People will be talking about it all week: The Quarterback and the Cheer Captain—it's classic.
"What do you want me to do, Ally? Nothing happened," he pleads.
Alice flips her long brunette hair over her shoulder, wiping the bullshit tears from her face, and says, "You're lying to me, Jazz. Leave me the fuck alone."
This earns him a glare from the majority of the cheerleading squad. Meanwhile, Jamie King has been exiled; she cries on her way to class. Her hair is in a messy ponytail, and her expression is tired and hurt. Jamie doesn't bother wiping her face free of tears, she just moves along with her head down and arms holding herself together.
Jasper has his hand in his hair, pulling on the front. He isn't willing to give up on Alice, and I have no clue as to why. Why is she worth it to him?
"I'm going to talk to Jasper." I squeeze Edward's wrist, making my exit. He stays back with Emmett and a few other guys from the team.
As I make my way over to rescue my cousin from humiliating himself more than he already has, I overhear the team giving Edward shit about dodging out of Saturday's party.
"Jazz, come on." I grip onto his hand, pulling him away from Alice.
He interlaces his fingers with mine, giving me the most pitiful look I've ever seen him express. "She won't even talk to me, Bella."
"Does that surprise you?" I ask, shaking my head and pulling harder on his arm. "Let's just go to class."
Bree, who flanks Alice, has her thumbs working overdrive on her cell phone again. Her hair is in a high ponytail with black, orange, and white ribbon tied around the base. She's wearing her cheer shirt even though it's Monday, not Friday, and she smiles every time Alice sends another blow in Jasper's direction.
She's trying so hard it's pathetic. Fucking poser.
But who am I to judge?
Jasper tries one more time to talk to Alice. He swears nothing is going on. He swears he loves her. He swears he'll do whatever it takes.
Alice doesn't seem to care. Her waterworks are flowing high, and to finally prove her point, she turns and pushes Jasper away from her. "Stay away from me, Jasper," she cries, loud enough for the entire school parking lot to hear.
Everyone watches Jasper stumble back into me. We almost fall but he catches my arm, apologizing for stepping on my shoes.
I bend down to clean off my flats. "What the hell, Alice?"
"Oh, shut the fuck up, Bella. Jasper doesn't need you to save him, you know?" If everyone wasn't watching before, they are now.
I roll my eyes, preparing to leave this mess, when she says, "I mean, you think you're so perfect, but you're not. Ask Edward, he'll tell you."
I look over at Edward. He seems concerned.
I play along. "What's that supposed to mean, Alice?"
She steps in front of me; I can smell Bubble Mint on her breath and Big Sexy in her hair. Her face is tear stained and blotched. Alice might actually be hurt, but she won't give Jasper a chance to explain. She loves the attention, and this is about to give her the biggest high of all.
"It means that you think you're better than the rest of us. Is it because you go to church, or is it because Edward Cullen is your boyfriend and he does whatever the fuck you want him to?"
This time Jasper tries to pull me away. My cheeks are flushed and my eyes are beginning to water. Not because she's hurting me, but because I'm so angry. I take another glance toward Edward; he's making his way over.
"Have you ever asked yourself why?" she asks, pulling her pink backpack over her shoulder.
"Why what, Alice?" I sigh, frustrated.
"Why he follows you around like a lost little puppy."
"He does not—" I begin, but she cuts me off.
"It's because he fucked me," she whispers with a smile. "Ask him. I dare you to. You're not perfect, and I think I made that point with your boyfriend."
The entire parking lot is silent. Bree gasps. Edward stops walking. Jasper stops trying to haul me away. My heart falls into my stomach, and it's like all of the blood drains from my body, spilling onto the gravel.
"You're lying," I dimly whisper.
"I'm not," she says, walking away from me.
From the look on Bree's face, I'm the only one who was unaware of Alice's revelation. She mouths an unsympathetic apology before grabbing her backpack and following Alice into the school building. Jasper's still beside me; he holds my hand but doesn't say a word. Slowly, one by one, my classmates make their way to their classes, staring at me, still waiting. I give them nothing because I have nothing to give.
Edward stands ten feet away, also waiting. "Say something," he says.
As the seconds pass, sensation begins to form as tingles in my cheeks and tightness in my closed fists. My chest heaves, but I can't seem to catch a decent breath. My vision blurs with useless tears, and my chin quivers, ready for the downpour to overflow. No matter how hard I cry, or how hard I breathe, or how long I stand in place looking at him, this will never change. He lied to me.
"Bella—" Jasper begins but doesn't finish.
Edward is in front of me. His hands are on my face and his knees are bent so he can look right into my water-filled eyes. "Please, say something," he cries. He really cries.
Edward is distraught; sobs rip-tear through his chest and out his lips. I can feel the vibration of his utterances though his hands where he continues to hold my face. His mouth is moving, trying to explain, trying to apologize, but I don't hear a single word he says.
My backpack falls to the ground. Edward bends down to grab it for me. His consideration sends me diving over the edge heart first, bringing me back to this dark reality in one hard push. All at once I feel everything.
"You bastard!" I scream as my fists connect to his chest. "How could you? How could you do this to me?" I hit him over and over, scream-crying until my voice gives out and I'm left with soundless tears.
His arms are around me, squeezing me too hard. "Please, please, please," he repeats. "I am so fucking sorry."
I close my eyes and bury my face in his shirt, trying so fucking hard not to breathe in his scent.
Edward kisses my soaked face. Our tears mix and drip to the ground. I let him hold onto me because I'll fall if he doesn't. My head feels light and my hands are numb … I can't even begin to remember the last time I was this devastated and heart-shattered.
Soon there are hands on my back. Jasper eases me away from Edward, warning me about the group of teachers who have come to check on the screaming girl and the crying boy in the parking lot.
I look up and Mr. Banner is holding my backpack for me. "Go wash your face, Miss Swan." His manner is professional and impersonal.
Edward is wiping his face off with his hands, shaking off anyone who tries to help him grab his things from the parking lot ground. "Back the fuck away," he yells to our school principal, who stands back.
"Just get your things, Mr. Cullen, and get to class." Principal Snider's tone is deep, unaffected by the defiant teenager.
Jasper drapes his arm over my shoulder, whispering into my ear, "I'm taking you home."
Edward calls my name one more time, but I'm already gone.
Matthew 12:36-37I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.
He comes to pick me up for school. I let him.
I answer the door after he's knocked. He doesn't come in. "Just wait here," I say, stepping into the kitchen for my tea.
Dad left early this morning. He knows nothing.
Edward is where I left him. He offers to take my bag, but I just walk on by. I open my own car door and have my seatbelt buckled before he even has a chance to sit down.
His smell and familiarity surround me. With Edward comes responsiveness and experience: he is all I know. I sit back into the leather seat, drinking my tea. It burns my lips. Edward asks if I'm okay.
"Shut up," I say, fighting a battle with my tear ducts. I lose.
Edward doesn't start the car. Instead he cries, too. "Can we ditch school today? Can I talk to you, please?"
I look straight ahead. "When did it happen?"
"Last winter, when you were sick."
I remember. I had the flu and stayed home on a Monday. I took an extra day to recover. Edward brought me a Pumpkin Soy Latte after he got out of baseball practice. He was later than I had expected him to be, and he said it was because the line at Starbucks was long. I never even questioned why he was late; he offered the information. Edward was in his practice clothes; he still had her on him when he came to my house.
"It only happened once," he adds quietly.
"I want to go to school."
"Bella, come on."
"Take me or I'll drive myself." This time I look right at him.
He starts the car.
I let him walk me to class, and I let him kiss me goodbye. I don't kiss him back.
I can hear everyone whispering while I sit in class. They're all trying to look without getting caught, but I can see them, and I can hear them. I didn't bother checking my Facebook page last night. Truth is, I was scared of what I would see. I didn't do anything after Jasper dropped me off curbside at home. He offered to stay. Reluctantly, I said no and went to bed, where I stayed until I woke up this morning. Edward called me a couple of times during the night, but I never heard the phone ring. I would have answered if I had.
After class, he's waiting for me. I keep walking and he follows me.
Every head turns in our direction. The walk to my locker has never felt so long. The hallways, like my classroom, are filled with speculation and twisted-turned rumors. I'm not used to being the center point of this type of attention and it's killing me slowly.
My hands shake while I turn in the number to my combination. Edward leans on the locker beside mine. I open the aluminum door, letting it hit his arm. I throw my books in, taking the ones I need.
"I'm so mad at you," I say.
He doesn't reply.
In need of some composure, I stand at my open locker and just stare inside, wondering how different today would have been if yesterday had not happened. He would never have told me the truth if the truth wasn't told to me first. And why would he? Everything was perfect. Why ruin something that was so sound?
Would I have rather been lied to? Maybe. Oblivion didn't hurt this badly.
"Hey, Bella." Collin's locker is right next to mine. Tall and super lanky, his dark brown hair is short, pushed to the side. He wears an old band tee and some old jeans. His shoes are aged and his backpack has a hole in it. I don't know why everyone chooses to pick on him because that wasn't always the case. In the first grade, he was best friends with Emmett, and I'm pretty sure he kissed Jessica Stanley on the back of the bus in the third.
Collin's mom works at the local diner. He has a younger sister, Cecily, who performs gymnastics and won last year's fifth grade spelling bee. They're underprivileged, I know that, but when did things change, and why? He used to be one of us.
"Hi, Collin," I mumble, brushing a tear away.
"Are—" Colin starts but is cut off when Edward pushes him out of the way.
"You're always in the fucking way, Collin." Edward turns his back to him, disregarding Collin and his locker.
"I can't do this all day, baby." His eyes are kindhearted, and I almost feel bad for him. I feel worse for us, though.
"What do you want to do?" I close my locker, noticing that Collin walks away without his books.
Edward shoves his hands in his pockets. "I want to leave."
I close Collin's locker for him. "Fine," I say, stepping ahead.
Matthew 18:7 Woe to the word for such temptations to sin and influence to do wrong. It is necessary that temptation come, but woe to the person on whose account or by whom the temptation come!
It only happened once. In his car. In the front seat. At school. He's so fucking sorry. He loves me. Don't I know how much he loves me?
That's the problem, I do know.
Edward stayed until my dad got home from work last night. We both had puffy, red eyes and sad, untrue smiles, but Charlie didn't ask any questions until Edward was gone. In a moment of weakness, I turned into his little girl, cried my heart out, and told my dad everything.
He never said one ill word of Edward, only his actions, and it was exactly what I needed. After being judged for an entire day at school, I needed understanding and insight, and I got that from my father.
After another long day at school, and a quick dinner with Charlie, I decide to check my profile to see what everyone is saying about me and Edward.
I shouldn't have done it.
My wall is covered with fake endearments from the cheer squad: "We're all soooo sorry, Bella," and "I knew Edward would hurt you one of these days. He's such an asshole!"
He's guilty of bad judgment, but he isn't an asshole.
I have a private message from Bree: "Alice is such a bitch. I can't believe she did this to you. Don't tell her I said anything, but I totally went off on her yesterday at cheer practice. (Missed you there by the way.) Anyway, Edward is a dick and you're better off without him. Good thing you have your friends, right? See you at cheer practice tomorrow. Huge game Friday! Love you lots."
After doing some more digging, I find the good stuff: "Bella is so pathetic. I can't believe she didn't figure it out earlier," and "Maybe now Edward Cullen can have his balls back."
And even though it isn't directed straight to me, Alice knows we're Facebook friends, and her Facebook status states:"What Would Jesus Do Now, bitch?"
Passive-aggressive comments are coward threats. Have some balls and don't insult my intelligence.
Does she really think I'm that stupid?
My hands start to shake, and my eyes burn. I turn off my computer, debating whether or not I should throw the motherfucker out of the window. I don't want to cry because my dad will hear, so I do the only other logical thing I can think of: I call Edward.
"Everyone knew but me, Edward," I cry quietly when he answers.
We stay on the phone all night long. When I cry myself to sleep and wake up two hours later, he's still there.
Matthew 16:14-15When you forgive men when they sin against you, Your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive their sins, Your Father will not forgive you.
I feel different today. My heart remains wrecked in shambles, but I don't feel sorry for myself anymore. I feel like doing something.
I turn my alarm clock off and head straight for my closet where I find a pair of denim shorts bunched up on the floor. I slip them up my legs while I wiggle my feet into a pair of all black Tom's Shoes. After pulling a black tank-top over my head, I walk to the bathroom. I wash my face and brush my teeth, fighting back tears the entire time I stare at my face in the mirror. I tie my long blondie hair into a high, tight ponytail and don't bother with any make-up; I don't need it today.
When I'm fully dressed and morning clean, I grab my bookbag off my bed and head downstairs. There's a knock at the door; I ignore it until my tea is ready. I kiss my father goodbye and leave.
Edward and I don't speak one single word to each other on the short drive to school.
Once he's pulled into the parking lot, I kick open the door and don't bother shutting it. Edward calls after me, but I keep walking. I see her right away, laughing, soaking up this morning's attention. Alice is surrounded by most of the squad, including Bree, who is looking up at Alice like she is the second fucking coming or something.
I shove past Rosalie and Angela, aiming my aggression at Alice.
Pushing someone from behind may be considered a cheap shot, but fucking another girl's boyfriend when she's sick is shoddy as fuck—any rules of consideration are long forgotten.
All the girls scream, backing away with their hands over their mouths. Alice is on all fours, trying to get back to her feet. I let her get up. Then I push her again. I can hear Edward calling my name in the distance, but he's the last thing I'm worried about.
"What the fuck, Bella!" Alice shrieks, dusting the wet grass off of her knees. "Are you crazy?"
I lunge toward her again, only this time I'm caught from behind. Edward swings me in a circle away from Alice. I kick and scream until he puts me on my feet, but he keeps a grip on my wrist.
With my free arm, I point my finger in Alice's face. "If you come near him again, I'll fucking kill you, Alice."
She rolls her eyes. I use every ounce of strength I have to pull free from Edward. I push Alice again, this time into a wall. From the sound of the commotion, we have a pretty good crowd enclosed around us. Any second now a teacher, the extent of this school's security, will be here to break us up, so I make this quick. After Alice's back hits the wall, she closes her eyes and sucks in a breath. She looks fearful, and it makes me smile.
"Stay away from my boyfriend." I let Edward pull me away. He has a good grip on my upper arm, and I can feel the rage radiating off of him, but it's nothing compared to how I feel.
He manages to drag me to his Mustang and doesn't release my arm while he unlocks the driver-side door. "Get the fuck in," he hisses, pushing me toward the door.
Everyone is still looking; their mob mentality blows my fucking mind away. What I just did didn't help a single thing, it didn't even make me feel better, it only added fuel to the fire and made things worse. People like Alice and Bree are viruses; they spread and multiply and strengthen. There's no fucking cure. Nothing will ever change. We're all fucked.
I immediately start to cry, climbing over the driver seat to the passenger. Edward slides in behind me, slamming the car door. I feel the slam in my bones … he shakes my blood.
"Why did you do it?" I cry into the palms of my hands.
"I don't know," he whispers.
I look up, pulling my feet onto the seat. I hug my knees and laugh. "You don't know?"
He takes a deep breath, holding onto the steering wheel until his knuckles turn white, then red. "Bella, I've tried to explain this to you a million different fucking times this week—"
I cut him off, sitting up on my knees and back on my calves. "Then explain it again!" I scream, choked by a relentless sob. "Explain it to me a million more times, because I don't understand why I wasn't good enough."
Edward's right fist reaches back; he punches the steering wheel over and over and over, setting off the horn. "I don't fucking know!" he yells again and again. When he stops, he looks at me with red-rimmed eyes and bloody knuckles. "I don't know, baby. It just happened. She asked if I could drive her home after practice. We got in the car and she kissed me. Everything was fast after that … it happened once, and it won't happen ever again. I got caught up."
These cries come from deep within my chest … my shoulders heave and my jaw hurts. I try to hide my face in my hands, but Edward grips onto my wrist, pulling me over the seat until I'm straddling his waist and he's kissing my face.
Edward presses his lips to my eyes, my chin, my temples. "We're still us, right, Bella?" He wipes my tears away, but they're quickly substituted. "Are we going to be okay?"
I nod my head, crying a little more, a little harder.
I nod my head because we will be okay, eventually.
He's the love of my life.
I take his face in my hands, kissing his lips softly, slowly. We melt. This road will be hard, but we'll make it through. I have faith.
"I'm so sorry," he whispers against my lips.
I close my eyes and shake my head. "Shhh…"
Our mouths barely open and our tongues barely touch. My hands remain firmly on his face, his hands circle around my waist. We kiss our cries away, making silent oaths and repairing perfection.
We stay this way until lunch.
"I'm going to go wash my face," I say, blushing, smoothing out my ponytail.
Never taking anything for granted, Edward kisses my forehead, lingering a while before letting me go. "I'll save you a seat."
My smile is stupid. My smile is love-lost-but-found-again. My smile is I-love-kissing-for-hours.
I wash my face and straighten out my clothes. I write I LOVE EDWARD CULLEN on the mirror in red lipstick before smiling a little bit more ridiculously and leaving to find my guy.
My heart is still sore, and my feelings are still hurt, but time heals all wounds and all of that shit.
Edward and I find one another right away. Emmett is asking questions about my fight with Alice, but I ignore him. I also ignore Bree and her dancing thumbs. I notice that Jasper is kissing Alice. I nudge him with my elbow and ask, "What the fuck?"
"Later, cousin mine," he whispers into my ear.
I give my attention back to Edward. We share a Cherry Coke and split a bag of baby carrots. He holds my hand and kisses my cheek. We kind of laugh and it's kind of how it used to be, only different.
Suddenly, the entire football team is being too loud. Emmett's pushing someone around. It's Collin. He has his tray full of food and his head down. He was only looking for a place to sit. "Just let me by, Em," he says quietly.
Em. So familiar.
Jake Black sneaks up behind Collin, reaching over his shoulder to steal his milk. Peter Thompson wants his tots, and Emmett takes his hamburger. "So fucking good," he says with a mouth full of food.
Jasper Hale stands up and knocks Collin's tray out of his hands. Alice Brandon laughs too loudly.
So does Edward Cullen.
Collin stares at his spilled tray. His hands are in fist form, his face is red, red. He looks up at Emmett and his stare is frightening.
"Got something to say, Collin?" Emmett instigates.
Collin's eyes snap toward me. I try to smile but end up looking away. I only hear Collin leave.
He's in my Chemistry class; the last class of the day. We're lab partners, and I feel terrible about what happened at lunch today, but I don't say so. Instead, I try to be nice. I offer him my pen and manage to do most of the lab myself. Collin is in another world. His face is blank and his shoulders are slack.
Then: "Did you mean what you said to Alice this morning, Bella?"
I look away from the chemical beakers, pushing my goggles to the top of my head. "What do you mean?"
His face has lit up. Collin's shoulders are still slouched down, but he's suddenly different, flipped on. "About killing her if she went near Edward again."
I pull on my ear lobes; it's a nervous habit. "No. I could never hurt anyone. I was mad."
"So you lied?"
I shake my head. "It wasn't a lie. It was an empty threat."
He's flipped off, seemingly disappointed with my answer. I go back to our lab.
Then: "Would you die with Edward? Do you love him that much?"
"Yes," I answer simply and easily.
A Psalm of David
Edward and I actually made it to cheer and football practice yesterday after school. Big game today—the last game of the season. The last game of our high school careers.
Edward was welcomed with open arms. Me, not so much. Alice threatened to bench me in front of everyone for missing practice all week, and since she is our Cheer Captain there was nothing I could say. She eventually let up, though, and I think it's because of her reconciliation with Jasper. Alice was even decent toward Jamie King.
After practice, I invited Edward over to the house for dinner. The ride home was quiet. We held hands and tickled fingers, driving around the block a couple of extra times in comfortable silence before finally parking at my house. Even then we just sat in the car and watched the wind sweep through the leaves. The sunshine sent shadows dancing through the car, illuminating Edward's face in light. It's a sight I will never forget
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want...
We were both filthy-dirty from practice, but we couldn't keep our hands off of each other. He kissed the back of my neck while I stood in front of the freezer looking for something to cook. Edward set his hands on my hips and slowly swayed my hips to Mazzy Star on the radio.
He turned me around and we danced in the kitchen like my parents used to do when they were in love. He tried to sing the words to the song, but he stumbled and missed; we ended up kissing against the refrigerator instead.
He makes me lie down in green pastures…
I decided to make spaghetti. Edward did his homework at the table while I boiled noodles and called Jasper to invite him and my Aunt Charlotte over for dinner.
I was sitting on Edward's lap when my family walked through the door with garlic bread and a bottle of wine for my aunt and my father. My aunt kissed the top of my head, said hello to Edward, and took over dinner.
Edward and I took turns taking showers. He went first. Jasper and I sat on the couch, side-by-side. He told me a story about a girl.
"Alice?" I asked.
He smiled. "Just a girl."
He continued by saying that this girl has had a pretty terrible life and she has some pretty tall walls protecting herself.
"Not with me, though," he said proudly. "With me she's different, and I kind of love her."
I scoffed. He pulled my ponytail and kept talking, "When she was little she had a live-in uncle. He used to sneak into her room…"
He stopped there. I made him.
My heart sank.
He leads me beside quiet waters.
"She doesn't trust a lot of people, and that doesn't make everything she does right, but I understand, even if she doesn't," he said quietly.
When Charlie returned home from work, we all sat at the table. Dad welcomed Edward with reserved eyes but friendly gestures. The five of us shoveled spaghetti into our mouths after our prayer and spoke about the next night's football game. Edward wiped pasta sauce off of my chin and split the last piece of garlic bread with me. He whispered that he loved me in my ear. My dad cleared his throat. We both blushed. Edward crooked smirked and everyone laughed.
In that moment, I couldn't remember the last time everything had been so complete … so peaceful.
He refreshes my soul.
When dinner was over, Edward got a text from his parents. "I have to go, baby," he spoke regretfully, pressing his lips to the corner of my mouth.
"Why?" I pulled on his shirt, keeping him near.
I followed him out the door. "My mom said she hasn't seen me all week." He rolled his eyes. "She wants to spend some quality time together in front of the TV."
It was another twenty minutes before we could actually pull away from each other so he could leave.
I went to bed last night feeling better than I had all week. I actually slept, and today I open the front door before Edward knocks. He's pleasantly surprised, dressed in a pair of dark denim jeans and his football jersey. His hair is brushed to the side, looking neat and clean. Edward pulls on one of my curls, slipping his hand up the back of my thigh, under my cheer skirt.
"My dad is home," I say into his ear, stepping away.
I go into the kitchen for my tea. Dad is at the table with his newspaper like he usually is. "Go, Spartans," he mumbles, taking one look at Edward and me in all of our school spirit glory.
He guides me along the right paths…
Edward excuses himself from the kitchen, saying a quick goodbye to my dad. "I'm going to put your gear bag in the car, Bella."
When he's gone, Dad stands from the table and hugs me. It's welcomed. I tell him that everything is okay and that Edward and I are going to work through this. "I'm strong. I can deal."
"Don't think I haven't thought about killing that boy." Dad laughs, kissing my forehead.
He grabs his keys from the table and sticks them in his back pocket. We walk outside together. Edward is standing beside his Mustang, waiting by an open door. Dad shakes his head and kisses me one more time.
"I love you, Dad," I whisper into his jacket.
…for His name's sake.
School is buzzing and chaotic like it normally is, but the scandal from earlier this week has died down, sleeping until this weekend passes and it starts all over again. Everyone is excited about the game, but a touch of reluctance smears our mood. This will be the last high school football game any of us will ever participate in, and for now, that's enough to bring us all together.
The cheer squad and the football team stand around the parking lot, exchanging stories of games from our past: "Remember when Jasper broke his collar bone?" one person says. "Remember when Rosalie sprained her ankle?" another recalls.
Most of my memories revolve around Edward: I remember the first time I watched him play football for Forks High School, and the first time he ran up to me during a game, kissing me, all sweaty after he scored his very first touchdown; I remember painting his football number on my cheek and wearing his jersey over my cheer uniform; I remember winning homecoming king and queen sophomore year, and having it announced during a game.
I remember the girls on the squad, too, though. We're not always so catty and misplaced. They're like my sisters, and with them I have made some memories I will never forget.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley…
Once the bell rings, faculty members shuffle us off to class. Untied, we walk through the halls receiving mixed looks of admiration and disgust from the other kids in school. Edward and I hold hands in the middle of the crowd. Jake Black throws his arm over Edward's shoulders, reminding him that the party is at his house tonight.
"Wanna go?" Edward asks.
"Sure." I shrug.
One by one the team and squad thin out, heading to different classrooms. My class comes before Edward's; he holds on a little longer than necessary.
"It's fine," I promise softly.
"I fucked up," he whispers, pushing me up against the wall of lockers beside my classroom.
I smile along his skin, kissing his jaw line. "I'll love you my entire life."
I will fear no evil, for you are with me.
The day passes swiftly. Anticipation about tonight allows the mood to stay high throughout the morning. One class leads to another, into another, and soon it's lunch. The lunchroom is decorated with school colors, and the mascot, suited and dancing, pumps up the football team. Our principal stands by the lunchroom doors with his walkie-talkie in hand in case we become out of control. Emmett throws French fries down Rosalie's cheer top. She screams and pretends to be mad, loving the attention. Jasper and Alice talk while he digs into his food; it's like nothing even happened.
I can't help but be happy. This week has been far from comfortable and ordinary; today is proving to be a much needed break from the chaos.
Edward rubs my back while I sip on a Coke and flip through Bree's Seventeen Magazine.
"I love those shoes!" she points out. "And that lipstick. And that shirt." The sad thing about Bree is that she lives in a constant dream. She tries so hard because she comes from nothing. Her mom is an alcoholic and her dad is a controlling bastard. But bad attention is sometimes better than no attention at all. Maybe that's the reason why she is the way she is.
So I say, "I like those, too, Bree."
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
"I'm hungry," Edward points out, standing up from the table.
I slide the magazine over to Bree. "Me, too."
Edward and I walk hand-in-hand over to the lunch line of about four or five other people. He leans back against the wall and I stand in front of him.
"What are you going to get?" he asks, looking toward the food bar.
"I don't know. Maybe just an apple." I tighten my ponytail and straighten out my uniform. A freshman stares at me with huge, admiring eyes. I smile and she looks away.
Edward laughs at the girl, standing straight, moving to the side of me. This moment seems to be moving by in slow motion and I'm able to process everything that is taking place around me all at once:
My boyfriend, the love of my very existence, moves a piece of hair away from my lips. He then smiles. But it's not a normal smile … this smile is fucking spectacular and world-altering.
Alice, who stands with our friends across the cafeteria, takes one look at Collin, who is standing five feet away from her, and she says to him, "Nice jacket, freak."
Collin laughs loudly; he's flipped on and oddly placed in front of my group of friends. His hair is exceptionally dirty, and his eyes are closed while he laughs, as if he is truly laughing for the first time in forever. His coat is long, sweeping against the linoleum floor as he leans back into his laughter. It's black and looks like it smells like dust and closed closets. I notice that his hands shake and his lips are blue. When Collin abruptly calms, he opens his eyes and it's unlike anything I've ever seen: purpose, acceptance, hate.
I unconsciously move closer to Edward, who is still smiling against my cheek.
Collin opens his long, black trench coat and pulls out a double-barreled shot gun.
He holds it up with one hand.
He shoots Alice Brandon.
In the head.
He laughs again, firing a victory round into the air.
You prepare a table before me, in the presence of my enemies…
The entire cafeteria is silent, muted by the ear-shattering blast of the gun and hushed by the sickening sight of Alice on the cafeteria floor.
Our shock gives Collin enough time to reload his shotgun. He aims it at Emmett McCarty and fires, hitting him in the stomach and arm. He fires again, and thousands of little pellets rip through Emmett's upper body.
This time, the silence is replaced by turmoil and lethal cries for help.
I fall back against the cafeteria wall, and Edward moves himself in front of me. I keep my hand over my mouth to keep from screaming. The freshman who was staring at me earlier runs across the room, joining the mob at the door.
Collin reloads his gun, cocking and shooting aimlessly into the group of people.
Three students I don't recognize hit the ground.
Everyone scatters in a frenzy to find the next exit; blood from Alice and Emmett smears across the white floor. Jake Black slips and falls, screaming while he lies next to Emmett's bleeding body, struggling against the slick blood to get back onto his feet.
You anoint my head with oil…
Collin's eyes are alive and on fire. Slowly, two-by-two, he reloads and shoots, aiming most of his aggression toward the football team and cheer squad. He doesn't speak, and he doesn't really move, he only shoots.
"Edward," I whimper, watching Jamie King beg for her life while she has a gun held to her head.
Collin lets her go. She runs to the exit.
Students fall out the cafeteria windows. Some, like Bree Tanner, hide under tables. Groups are huddled in corners, praying … crying. Our principal, the only faculty member in the cafeteria, is barking uncontrolled orders into his walkie-talkie, trying to push children out of the cafeteria doors.
He's the next to go down.
I watch in silence as Collin waves his gun around, playing his victims like a symphony. Screams rise and fall with the conducting of his shotgun. The freshman who was in line in front of me and Edward earlier stands against a back wall with closed eyes and her palms pressed together in prayer form. She prays loudly, bargaining for her life. Collin notices, amused with her righteous words. He takes a few steps toward her from his position in the center of the cafeteria. He has the barrel of a gun pointed at the freshman, but she doesn't stop praying—she prays louder. Tears run down her face and her legs give out. Falling to her knees, raising her hands to the sky, her prayers momentarily trump the noises of dying and fright.
Collin lowers his gun and asks the freshman to pray for him. He asks her to pray for his soul and for the souls of the people who are going to die today. He asks for forgiveness.
She does so without hesitation, and Collin lets her live.
Edward now turns toward me. His hands are shaking and his face is white. "We have to get out of here," he whispers with trembling lips.
My cup overflows.
It comes out of nowhere, deafening my hearing but not stripping me of my sight. Most of the blast was aimed toward Peter, who was running past us, with Collin at our side, but it's Edward who is hit in the arm and neck. His blood spatters onto my face. The scream I release as Edward collapses to the floor is nothing less than homicidal and unforgiving.
I land on my knees beside him, unsure of what to do. I press my hands to the wound in his neck; blood seeps through my fingers.
All I hear is ringing, but Edward's lips are moving.
"What do I do?" I cry.
Edward spits up blood. I scream again.
Tears blur my vision and shudders shake my frame. Edward grabs onto my arms, looking into my eyes. I search for someone to help, but there is no one. All that is left are a few remaining running students, the groups under the tables, and dead bodies scattered across the floor.
Edward's blood pools around our bodies.
"Oh, God! Oh, God, no!" I scream, pressing my hands tighter to Edward's neck wound.
His chest heaves up and down at a rapid pace. Edward kicks his legs and holds onto my arms, trying to speak. More blood shoots from his mouth, flying onto my chest and face.
I shake my head, trying to wake up.
But this isn't a nightmare.
"Edward, I don't know what to do," I whisper, collapsing onto his chest in soul-moving sobs.
Then he's in front of me.
I try to hide most of Edward's body from Collin with my own. My knees slip in Edward's blood … I can feel it all over my arms and legs, under my fingernails, and in the pores of my face.
Determined, I look up at Collin.
This isn't the Collin Denali I know. This isn't the boy who shares a locker next to my own. He isn't the loner who sits next to me in Chemistry. He isn't shy, or calm, or innocent.
This person is psychotic … this person is broken and unfixable.
Pushed to the edge.
"Collin, Edward needs help," I plead. "He's going to die."
Edward's arms weakly wrap around me. He spits up more blood. His legs still kick.
I can hear sirens outside.
My daddy is here, but I'm afraid he's too late.
"I killed Alice," Collin says, reloading his gun. Red empty shells from the blasts before empty the gun, hit the ground, and float in blood until they collide with my knee.
"Collin, please!" I beg.
Collin closes the gun barrel, allowing it to hang at his side.
I turn my head and kiss Edward on his bloody lips, his fading eyes, his cold forehead. "Please, please, please stay with me," I whisper.
Collin's jacket crumbles at his feet. He cocks the gun and holds it to Edward's head. Edward struggles, keeping his eyes on me.
Collin moves the gun away from him and aims it on me. "Will you die with him, Bella?"
I clutch onto Edward with everything I have, closing my eyes. I've heard that your life flashes before your eyes when you die, but I never knew it would be so beautiful.
I watch my mom and dad dance in the kitchen while I sit in an old metal highchair. He spins her around and she laughs into the air.
I relive her funeral.
My dad and I sit on the couch and watch TV.
Jasper and I play at the beach. My aunt waves from the shore. Her big hat flies in the wind, and she gets up to chase it.
It's the second grade and I'm meeting Edward for the first time. He steals my pink scissors, and I cry. He gives them back and calls me a baby.
We're older … swinging on the swings.
We're even older, holding hands.
He's teaching me how to drive. Jasper is in the back seat, holding on.
Edward, Jasper, and my aunt are there when my dad buys me the ugliest truck ever. But I love it.
Edward and I are kissing.
Edward and I are making love.
He's whispering that he loves me and feathers glide through the air.
Edward and I are drip-drying after swimming in the ocean. The sun sparkles against my skin and sends water droplets down his. Our toes are sand-soaked and our hair smells like salt.
We're making plans for college around his kitchen table. His parents are there, giving us the best advice.
I'm telling Charlie that Edward and I are going to school in California. He's supportive.
I open the door before he knocks.
Edward stands in the light.
He smiles spectacularly.
He's waiting for me.
"I can't live in a world where you don't exist," I whisper into Edward's ear. I close his sleeping eyes and kiss his lifeless lips. His chest is unmoving and his struggles have stopped. I take one more look at him, pray for our souls and our forgiveness and eternal happiness, and hold his cooling hands in mine.
I look up to Collin; the barrel of the gun is hard on my forehead.
I say the last words I will ever speak, proudly, "Yes."
The last thing I see before the gun empties into my head is Jasper running from underneath a table with his hand extended out in front of him, intended for Collin.
I think I even see Collin hesitate.
But it doesn't fucking matter, I already chose Edward.
It feels so good to be so sure.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.