A/N: This is an O/S I wrote for a compilation earlier this fall. It's got a bit of angst, but some fluff and a slice of lemony goodness too. ;)
The Adele song 'Someone Like You' inspired this O/S (as you can tell by the title). The song belongs to Adele and simply gave me some inspiration from which this piece grew. It's a beautiful piece of music and if you haven't heard it I recommend you check it out.
This will eventually be part of a full-length fan fiction piece, but that will likely not happen until sometime in the summer or fall of 2012, as I have three WIPs going right now that take up more than enough of my time. :)
As always, this was beta'd by the lovely, talented, amazing Chloe Masen - Thank you times infinity my dear! Anyone who hasn't checked out her stories needs to go over there and do so now, cause they're incredible!
Twilight belongs to SM. Everything else belongs to me.
I put the small brown paper bag on the sidewalk and lit a cigarette. I made sure I was out of range of any of the streetlights before sitting down and leaning against the building. The last thing I wanted was for anyone to see me. I shouldn't be here. I wasn't invited and I don't belong here anymore. This city, these people – Bella especially – are all a part of my past now. There is no place for me in the present. The only connections I had to Chicago were Alice and our parents. I cut ties with everyone and everything else when I left six years ago.
Across the street, people were starting to spill out of the hotel doors. I saw Emmett and Rosalie and their two daughters pile into a Range Rover. They looked just as much in love now as they did when they first met. Jasper and a very pregnant Alice strolled out hand-in-hand followed by Mike Newton and Jessica Stanley. My heart ached more at the sight of each familiar face.
I reached inside the brown bag and pulled out the bottle of whiskey. Jack Daniels became my best friend shortly after I moved to Oregon. We'd stayed close ever since and he'd been there to help me on more than one occasion. I took a swig and cringed as the liquor burnt my throat and stomach. My eyes were wet with tears. I didn't even realize I was crying.
The group across the street had dwindled down and only five people remained. Billy and Charlie were busy chatting with one another, probably about sports or something of that nature. A few feet from them, Renee, Jacob, and Bella were standing together. Renee and Bella were doubled over in laughter, probably from something Jacob said. He always was a jokester, I thought bitterly. I watched as he slid his arm around Bella's waist and pulled her close to him, rubbing her shoulder and leaning in to kiss her lips. The way she looked up at him literally made me feel sick.
I could feel bile rising in my throat and I took another long pull of Jack to wash it down. I wiped the tears away furiously and looked at my burnt out cigarette. I pulled another one from the pack and lit it, inhaling the clove infused smoke and closing my eyes.
I shouldn't have come here. I don't know what I was expecting. It's not like Bella would take one look at me and decide she was marrying the wrong man and run into my arms. It was no secret that I was a fucking mess, even to those who I hadn't seen in years. Sure, I'd finished college, graduated with honors, and landed a job that paid me a ridiculous amount of money. But since I left Bella six yeas ago, I'd erected an impenetrable wall around my heart. Somewhere along the road between then and now I'd managed to gain two ex wives and develop somewhat of a drinking problem, though I didn't think it was as bad as people (my sister) made it out to be. On the outside, my life seemed perfect. On the inside, I was miserable, slowly spiraling towards what would no doubt be my rock bottom.
I thought back to six years earlier when I'd left for Oregon. Bella and I had just celebrated our fifth anniversary, and in typical fashion she had to find a molehill to turn into a mountain and ruin the whole fucking night. In the months leading up to my departure, it seemed like there was always something wrong or I was always doing something wrong. I could never make her entirely happy and she reminded me of this on a daily basis. I wasn't innocent by any means, and every time she'd start nagging or complaining, I'd antagonize her or withdraw from her or disappear for a few days all together. I would do whatever I could to make her feel even a fraction of the amount of pain she continually caused me.
When our anniversary rolled around, I took extra care to make sure the night would be special for her. I made dinner reservations at her favorite restaurant, had an arrangement of her favorite flowers delivered to her office, and purchased her a pair of concert tickets to see her favorite band and a Tiffany & Co. necklace she'd been hinting about for six months.
The evening went off without a hitch … Until Bella got a few drinks in her and we were on our way home. About three blocks from our apartment she started what I liked to call her "Torment Edward" act…
"Did it really take you six months to figure out I wanted this necklace?" She ran her fingers across the key shaped charm and looked over at me in annoyance.
"I knew from the first time we went in the store you wanted that necklace. Plus Alice told me. I wanted it to be something special and tonight was a special night." I turned the car on our block and pulled into the parking garage. "Besides, that thing wasn't cheap. I had to save up a bit."
Bella rolled her eyes and slammed her door shut. "Christmas was a special day and that was three months ago! And if you would stop being such a childish, stubborn baby and accept the money your parents offer you all the time you wouldn't have to save for things."
Finances were always a touchy subject with her. My parents were quite wealthy. They paid Alice's and my tuition out-of-pocket each year and were constantly offering to give us each wads of cash to help pay with our expenses and leisure activities. Alice gladly accepted every penny; I, on the other hand, wanted to at least have the experience of being a poor college student, and had my parents put the money in a trust account while I worked to support myself. I wanted to build some character, and taking handouts from mommy and daddy didn't seem like a way to do that.
Bella came from a relatively poor family and thought I was crazy not to accept what my parents offered. She always told me I was "ungrateful" and "stupid" and that I'd never be able to fully understand what being poor was like because I'd always have Carlisle and Esme's "golden-lined nest" to fall back on if anything happened.
Needless to say, when she started in on me in the car I knew what to expect when we got home.
"Bella, look, we've been through this a thousand times before. I'm not taking any money from my parents." I tossed my keys on the kitchen counter and pulled off my tie. "I'm not a child, I'm a grown man and I don't need them to take care of me."
"God, you act like you have it so tough Edward." She unzipped her dress and let it fall to the floor at her feet. I felt my cock stiffen as I watched her remove her undergarments slowly. All I wanted to do was finish this night out with a good round of anniversary sex and go to bed. She continued her rant as she slipped on her pajama pants and a sweatshirt. "You don't know the first thing about tough. I didn't even get new clothes until I was twelve. I had to wear hand-me-downs from my cousin – a boy cousin at that!"
I hated it when she put words in my mouth. "I never said anything about my life being 'tough' Bella. I'm sorry if I didn't run across town and ask Carlisle for his gold card to buy the goddamn necklace. That's not who I am."
"So when you want something, I'm expected to drop everything and put my life on hold and make it happen overnight. But when I want something, I have to wait six fucking months while you fuck around and waste time?"
I took a deep breath in an effort to calm myself. "When have you ever had to drop anything for me?I'm the one that's constantly dropping everything for you! I've bombed tests for you, missed important family moments for you, sacrificed friendships for you … And what have you done for me? Absolutely nothing, except bitch at me all the time about what a shitty fucking boyfriend I am!"
"Ooooh, now you think I'm a bitch, huh Eddie?"
"I don't think you're a bitch, Bella – I know you're a bitch. I've spent the last five years dealing with your bitchy ass on a daily basis."
I was in the middle of putting on my own pajamas when something hard hit me in the back of my head. I turned just in time to duck as Bella's other shoe flew at me.
"Fuck you Edward!" She was throwing other things now too: her jewelry box, an empty wine glass, and a picture of us from our anniversary last year all whizzed by me before crashing into the wall behind me. "FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU AND FUCK YOUR HIGH HORSE AND FUCK YOUR FAMILY AND FUCK THIS NECKLACE!" She reached down and ripped the necklace off herself before throwing that at me too.
She didn't, and before I even realized what was happening, my own physiology and anatomy textbook hit the side of my head and split the skin above my eye open.
"You want me to fucking stop? I'll stop when I'm ready to stop! I'm just getting started with you, asshole!" She turned around and grabbed the lamp off the top of the dresser. I'd never seen her like this before and it was scaring me a bit. I crossed the room in three quick strides and pinned her against the wall, grabbing the lamp and setting it back on the dresser.
"Does this make you feel good, Bella? Does it make you feel like a better person to cut me down and throw shit at me and belittle me?" I was emotionally exhausted and tired of dealing with the continuous barrage of insults and guilt trips. I rested my forehead on hers and closed my eyes. She thrashed violently beneath me but I didn't care. I just wanted it to stop.
"This will make me feel better." She drew her hand back and hit me in the face. My head jerked to the side and my cheek felt like there were a hundred tiny needles poking into it. Her eyes filled with tears and she covered her mouth with both hands. "I'm so sorry Edward! I didn't mean to do that, I would never intentionally hurt you."
I shook my head and looked away from her. A dozen different emotions were surging through me but all I could focus on was the anger that was quickly making its way to the surface. "Don't ever fucking hit me again." My voice came out in a raspy hiss.
"Now you're going to tell me what to do Edward? FUCK YOU!" She hit me again with her balled up fist. Her other hand went to my hair and she started pulling at it violently. I reached up and pried her hands off of me, pushing her against the wall roughly. All I wanted to do in that moment was hit her back. I pulled my fist back and realized I was going to hit her. I closed my eyes and punched forward. My fist connected with the wall next to her head with a sickening crack. I felt a burning pain in three of my knuckles and when I opened my eyes she stood completely still, staring back at me with a mixture of anger and fear clouding her beautiful brown eyes.
"I'm sorry…" My words trailed off and I hung my head in shame. I backed away from her slowly and cradled my injured hand against my chest. This was too much. No relationship should ever reach this point and ours had a while ago.
"Edward," she whispered. She walked towards me and cupped my cheek with her palm. I leaned into her and closed my eyes. Hot tears streaked down my cheeks and I felt like my breath was caught in my throat.
"I can't do this anymore Bella." I opened my eyes and looked at her. Her eyes were filled with sadness and her body shook with silent sobs. I ran my good hand down her arm before going to our closet and pulling out my suitcase.
"Edward, no! What are you doing?" She ran across the room and grabbed the suitcase from me, tossing it back in the closet and sliding the door shut. "We can get through this baby, we always do. It's just an argument."
I dropped my head to my hands and twisted my hair between my fingers. "This is more than just an argument Bella. You hurt me. Physically. I tried to hurt you. This isn't healthy for either of us anymore. It hasn't been healthy for either of us for a long time."
She slid to her knees and buried her head against her chest. Her sobs were audible now and they broke my heart. I fell to my knees in front of her and wrapped my arms around her small frame. She clung to me, her tears wetting the front of my t-shirt.
"Please don't do this Edward. I can't exist without you. I don't know who I am without you."
I leaned back and cupped her face in my hands. She looked so vulnerable and for a second I was tempted to give in and tell her we could try and work things out. Unfortunately my heart ruled me and it was telling me it was time to let go.
"Shhh." I kissed her forehead softly. "You're a strong woman Bella. You can exist with or without anyone. And maybe it's time for us both to figure out who we are without each other."
I stood up and watched as she crumpled into a ball on the floor. I trudged back to the closet, pulling out my suitcase and shoving clothing into it. There was more I'd have to send for from the apartment, but I would do that after I got to Portland. Right now I just needed to get as far away from Bella as I could. It was for the benefit of us both.
I got dressed silently and grabbed my bags. I stopped and turned around in the bedroom doorway. Bella was sitting up now, leaning against the bed and staring at me with silent tears coursing down her cheeks. It took every ounce of strength I had not to run and take her in my arms.
"Goodbye Bella," I said softly. "I will always love you." She squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head back and fourth. A loud sob escaped her and a fresh round of tears coursed down her face. I swallowed my pain and walked away, closing the door on the previous five years and leaving behind the love of my life.
That was the last time I'd seen or spoken to her. She'd tried to call and email me in the first few months after I was gone, but eventually she stopped. A year later I met Tanya and eight months after that we were married. Six months into it I found out she was cheating on me and divorce number one followed. I played the field for a while and then I became involved with Kate. I honestly thought Kate was the one, so I proposed and we had a big, fairytale wedding. Of course it was only after we were married that I realized Kate wasn't Bella and never would be, and so came divorce number two. I resigned myself to the fact that I would never fall out of love with Bella, and not wanting to break any more hearts, I'd been single for a little over a year now.
My friends in Portland always asked me why I didn't try to get Bella back after things fell apart with Kate. The thought had crossed my mind plenty of times, but I knew she was happy with Jake and I didn't want to screw that up for her. He'd been there for her after I'd left, soothing her, drying her tears, and supporting her emotionally. Alice always kept me updated, telling me how Jake made Bella laugh and how their relationship ebbed and flowed naturally. In the back of my mind I always thought things would be different for Bella and I if we tried again, especially since we were both older, more mature, and different people in general. Knowing that she was already in such a good place with Jacob was the only thing that stopped me from trying to find out.
The sound of a nearing police siren brought me back to reality. When I looked up the hotel lobby was empty. It's now or never, I thought to myself. I screwed the cap on the Jack and stuffed it back in the paper bag before slipping it in my pocket. I took a deep breath and jogged across the street. I glanced around the lobby once more before heading inside and straight for the elevator.
I took a risk staying in the same hotel where Bella and Jake were having their wedding reception. Of course I had no idea they were also having the rehearsal dinner here tonight until I almost ran right into Renee in the elevator earlier.
I unlocked the door to my room and slipped inside. I kicked off my shoes, undid the first few buttons on my shirt and flopped down on the bed. I grabbed my cell off the nightstand and held it in my hand. As much as I tried to pretend, I didn't travel halfway across the country just to watch Bella from a distance. I wanted to see her. I needed to see her, to feel her one last time before she belonged to someone else forever.
I flipped the phone open and punched her number in the text message box. Six words later I hit the send button and exhaled.
I leaned back on the pillows and stared at the ceiling, waiting on a woman who might never come.
I hugged Jessica tightly and watched as the last of the wedding party left the hotel. Jake and I were spending the night here along with our parents and his brother. Charlie and Billy were talking about some fishing trip they had planned in a couple of weeks and Renee was busy listening to Jacob tell her about a trip we'd taken to Michigan City a few weeks earlier. Jake got to the part about me falling in Lake Michigan and this caused my mother to erupt into a fit of laughter. Seeing her laugh made me laugh, and soon we were both clutching our stomachs and straining for air.
"Such a klutz, my beautiful Bella." Jake wrapped his arm around my waist and pulled me towards him. I looked up at him and smiled as he pressed his warm lips against mine. Renee sighed and covered her heart with her hands. Mothers, I thought to myself.
If only she knew that every time Jake kissed me it was Edward's face I pictured when I closed my eyes. Jacob had yet to give me a single kiss that came anywhere near the caliber of Edward's kisses.
"Alright, alright, that's enough. We're going to have to watch you two kiss enough tomorrow, we don't need a show tonight." Charlie winked at me and grabbed Renee's hand. "I do believe your mother and I are going to retire for the evening."
"We should probably get some sleep too. We have a big day ahead of us tomorrow." Jake kissed the top of my head and squeezed my shoulder affectionately. A pang of guilt pulsed through me and I wrapped my arms around my chest protectively. I was getting married tomorrow. This was supposed to be one of the happiest moments of a woman's life. After tomorrow I would belong to Jacob, and he to me, as husband and wife, forever. I should feel like a princess on the verge of entwining herself to her best friend, lover, and lifeline.
Jacob was none of those things to me though. Well, he was my lover, but he didn't know me well enough to be my best friend, and I knew that if he walked out the door tomorrow I could live just fine without him.
My best friend, lover, and lifeline had left me six years earlier. With good reason, I chided myself. I cringed when I thought about our last argument. I couldn't believe how I'd behaved. I would have left me too in that moment.
If only he would give me the chance to show him how much I'd changed. I knew he was still in Portland, Alice told me that much, but I didn't know how to contact him and I didn't dare ask anyone. Everyone in Chicago was convinced I was happy with Jake, and I didn't want to put any cracks in my delicately constructed façade.
I pushed the intruding thoughts aside and hugged my parents goodnight.
"I can't believe the wedding is tomorrow. It feels like I just proposed yesterday." Jacob unlocked our room and I followed him inside.
"I know. Time flies so fast." Our engagement lasted almost two years, at my request, even though we'd been together for three before he proposed. After everything that happened with Edward I didn't want to rush anything with Jake. Even though my relationship with Jake was nothing like my relationship with Edward, I couldn't help but fear that things would end in disaster for us. There was a point in my life where I'd been sure Edward and I would get married too and look where that got me.
Oh, stop trying to fool yourself Bella, my subconscious scolded. You waited as long as you could to get married on the off chance that Edward would come back to Chicago.
"I'm going to take a shower. Want to join me?" Jake winked suggestively and ran his fingertips along the waistline of my dress pants. I bit my lip and shook my head. I was too nervous to do anything of a sexual nature tonight.
"I think I'm just going to head to bed. I have to meet the girls downstairs at seven tomorrow morning for our hair appointment." Jacob smiled and pulled me into his arms. He pressed his lips against mine and dipped his tongue into my mouth. I wrapped my arms around the back of his neck automatically and pulled him to me, deepening our kiss. I put on a good act when I tried.
"I love you," I whispered when he pulled away. Boy, that sounded awfully convincing. He smiled and planted one final kiss on the tip of my nose.
"I love you too."
I wandered over to where my suitcase sat and changed into a pair of cotton shorts and a t-shirt. I pulled my hair up in a ponytail and smoothed some lotion over my legs. Across the room my cell phone dinged, alerting me to the fact that I had a new text message.
"What the…" My breath caught in my throat, cutting off my words. I sank onto the bed, my eyes not leaving the screen. Six years later and I still knew his number by heart.
Room 731. The door is unlocked.
I took a deep breath but it did nothing to calm my nerves. It had been six years since I last saw him, since I last heard his voice or felt his touch. He never made any effort to keep in touch with me or to keep our friendship alive after our love died.
That's because our love never died.
I trembled involuntarily and blinked back tears as the realization that he was in the hotel sank in. Alice must have told him about the wedding. That was the only way he could possibly know I was here in this hotel. Leave it to Edward to swoop in when I thought I finally had things under control.
I contemplated sending him a message back but decided against it. Instead, I grabbed my hoodie and stuck my head inside the bathroom.
"I'm going to take a walk," I shouted over the sound of the water. Jake's head appeared around the edge of the shower curtain. He looked so cute with shampoo suds clinging to his hair and water dripping off his face.
"Want me to come with you? I'm almost finished."
I shook my head. "No, that's fine. You go ahead and finish your shower and relax. I'll be back in a bit." I eased the door shut behind me and skipped towards the elevators. The only sound I could hear was my heart pounding furiously in my chest. When the doors opened on the seventh floor, I started hyperventilating. I leaned against the wall and took a few deep breaths. I shouldn't be doing this. Jake was so happy with me, and I owed him this wedding, especially after all he'd done for me following my breakup with Edward. I didn't want to do anything to jeopardize what I had with Jake or to throw it away.
You aren't throwing anything away, silly girl, I chastised myself. You're going to say hi and ask him what he's doing here. And if that goes well, you can catch up with him like old friends would.
Yeah, right. Who the hell was I kidding?
A few minutes later I composed myself enough to get down the hall. The terror returned, however, as soon as I found myself standing outside his room. I debated running away and going back upstairs, but my legs wouldn't move. I took a deep breath and pushed the door open.
He was lying on the bed in a pair of dark wash jeans and a long-sleeved button down shirt. His green eyes were bloodshot and his chin was colored with a five o'clock shadow that looked incredibly sexy. His unruly bronze hair stood out in all directions, just like it always had when we were together. I felt tears stinging my eyes and I gently pushed the door shut. His eyes met mine and I wasn't sure what I saw. Joy? Pain? Anger? Regret? Or maybe it was a combination of all four?
"Bella…" He stood up and ran a hand through his hair, tousling it even more. A sob escaped my lips and I felt my knees grow weak. So much for staying composed, I thought. I couldn't believe that after all these years he still had this effect on me.
He walked around the bed and stopped a few feet in front of me. He cocked his head to the side and looked at me. His green eyes blazed into mine and, against my better judgment, I launched myself forward and into his arms.
"Oh Edward." My tears flowed freely down my cheeks. I buried my head in his chest and clung to him. He wrapped his arms around me protectively and rested his chin against the top of my head.
"Shh, it's okay." He smoothed my hair and hugged me tighter. I took a deep breath between sobs, letting the familiar scent of clove cigarettes mixed with fabric softener and Axe body wash comfort me. I could smell faint remnants of whiskey on him too, but it didn't matter to me, I was too amazed by the fact that after all these years he still smelled the same.
"I can't believe you're here." I leaned back and wiped the tears from my eyes, taking in his features. I ran my hands down his arms and across his chest, my fingertips tracing the outline of the muscles hidden beneath his shirt. His body tensed and he sucked in a breath of air.
"I've always been here, Bella," he whispered. He tucked my hair behind my ears and cupped my face in his hands. His thumbs traced small circles on my cheeks. "I might have left physically, but my heart has always been with you." Honesty painted his features and his eyes were filled with love. He leaned back and paused for a moment, as if trying to decide what to do, before bending down and gently brushing his lips against mine.
One chaste kiss was all it took.
I grabbed his head and pulled him to me, parting my lips and kissing him deeper. His hands slid down to my ass and he lifted me in the air. I wrapped my legs around his waist and pressed my hips against him while our tongues danced together in a bittersweet reunion.
"Bella…" He ran a trail of kisses down my jaw and across my collarbone. "Are you sure we should do this? You're engaged…"
I shook my head vigorously. All thoughts of Jacob had left the room as soon as I felt Edward's touch. "I don't care. I want you. I've never wanted anyone but you." Those six words were all it took and his mouth was on mine again. He staggered backwards and we fell onto the bed. My fingers made quick work of the buttons on his shirt and he shrugged it off and tossed it to the floor. I ran my fingers across his naked chest, stopping to pinch one of his nipples. He gasped and lifted his hips, his erection straining against the denim fabric of his jeans. His hands slid beneath my t-shirt and he pulled it over my head effortlessly.
I slunk backwards on the bed, planting kisses on both his nipples and his navel. I unbuttoned his pants and slid them, along with his boxers, down to his knees. His cock sprang up before me and I grabbed it in my waiting hand.
"Uhhh…" He moaned through clenched teeth. His eyes met mine and I took him in my mouth, running my tongue up and down the length of his shaft. He grabbed my hair in his fists and pushed his hips up to meet me. I leaned back and swirled my tongue around the head of his cock, massaging in the salty drops of arousal that had collected on the tip. I ran one hand up and down the part of his shaft my mouth didn't hit. I cupped his balls with my other hand and squeezed them gently.
He grabbed my arms and gently pulled me up. "My turn." He flipped me over so I was on my back and crawled on top of me. The sight of his naked body sent shivers down my spine. His hand slipped inside my shorts and he kissed me as he slipped a finger inside me.
"Ah!" I broke free from his kiss and cried out. He slid his finger out and massaged my clit gently. He took my right nipple into his mouth and sucked hard. His free hand moved to my left, pinching it and pulling on it.
"Sensitive as ever," he muttered and I could feel him smiling against my skin. He trailed kisses down my stomach and over my bellybutton. He slid my shorts and panties down my legs and I kicked them to the floor.
I looked down at him and he smiled, nudging my knees apart with his shoulders. He ran his tongue up my thigh, stopping just before he reached my sensitive spot. His finger slid inside me again and he blew a cool breath across my clit.
"Mmm," I moaned, tightening my thighs around his head and trying to pull him towards me.
"Always so impatient," he teased. He blew on my sex once more before running his tongue over me. I moaned and arched my back involuntarily. He slipped another finger inside me and flicked his tongue against my clit. I could already feel my orgasm building and I knew I wasn't going to last long. He ran his tongue in circles around my clit before sucking gently on it. I gasped and ground myself against him. He slid his hands beneath my ass and lifted me to his mouth, continuing his torturous pattern of gentle licks combined with gentle sucking. A familiar warmth spread throughout my abdomen and soon I was catapulting into the depths of my amazing orgasm. I felt my body shudder and an indecipherable combination of words left my mouth. Edward dipped his tongue into me, tasting my arousal, before lifting his face to mine and kissing me passionately.
"I need you Bella," he breathed against me. "I need to feel you, to be inside you. I need to be one with you again." He reached down and aligned himself with me and looked at me questioningly.
"I need you too, Edward." I lifted my hips and he pushed inside of me slowly. My head fell back against the pillow and we groaned simultaneously. He started moving inside me, slow, calculated strokes, in and out, in and out. I met his pace each time, wrapping my arms around his neck and digging my fingers into his back.
"Bella, my god Bella, you feel so good." His lips were on mine and our tongues were dancing together once again. My insides were twisting and turning as another orgasm started to build.
Edward sat back, pulling me with him. He eased me onto him and I felt myself start to come undone. I cried out, burying my face in his shoulder and biting him gently. He grabbed my hips and held me still, thrusting into me in long, hard strokes. I could feel his cock swell inside of me and soon he collapsed against me in release.
I wrapped my arms around his shoulders and rested my head on his chest. The room was silent except for the sounds of our heavy breathing. Eventually I disentangled myself from Edward's arms and sprawled out across the bed. He lay down next to me so we were facing each other and draped his arm over my waist.
"That was amazing, Bella."
"I can't argue with that." I traced the outline of his abs with my finger and sighed contentedly.
"You have no idea how much I've missed you."
Tears sprung to my eyes again. "Why didn't you ever answer or return my calls Edward? We could have stayed friends. We could have stayed in one another's lives."
He shook his head and brushed his fingertips over my naked hip. "We needed a clean break from each other, Bella. Things were so violent, we were always so angry. That was the only way to do it – the best thing for us."
I nodded sadly and buried my face in his chest. He ran his fingers through my hair and kissed my forehead.
"I'm glad you're here, Edward. I needed this."
"Me too," he murmured against me.
I took a deep breath and looked into his eyes. "Tell me everything about the last six years. I want to know it all." He smiled and started telling me about his life in Oregon and his two failed marriages. My heart ached when he told me that he didn't want to be with anyone else again. We were both so young and I couldn't help but blame myself for the fact that he was already jaded.
I told him about my relationship with Jake and the journey that led to our engagement. I told him about finishing school and working in the art gallery and getting a vacation house in Michigan City. He seemed genuinely happy for me, but there was an underlying tone of sadness in his words and facial expressions.
The hours ticked by and before I knew it I was waking from a heavy slumber. I was curled around Edward, my head resting on his chest. He had a peaceful expression on his face.
Shit! What time is it? I looked over my shoulder at the bedside clock. It was eight thirty. I slid out of bed quietly, careful not to wake the angel sleeping next to me. I put my shorts and t-shirt on and checked my reflection in the mirror. My skin was flushed in a post-coital glow and my hair was sticking out in all directions. Anyone who looked at me would know I'd just engaged in a night of debauchery. How on earth would I ever explain myself to my friends waiting downstairs? I was supposed to be downstairs an hour and a half ago. They had to have gotten in touch with Jake by now, asking where I was.
I splashed some water on my face and prepared to face the inevitable. Jacob and the girls were probably worried sick. I took one last glance over my shoulder at Edward's sleeping form. A burning ache radiated throughout my chest and I felt tears well in my eyes. How could I leave him? He was Edward – my Edward. Deep down inside I knew he always had been, even in the years we were apart. His words last night affirmed that for me. Of course I'd always belonged to him too. And even after I walked down the aisle and became Mrs. Black today, I would still belong to him.
I choked back a sob and eased the door open. "Goodbye Edward," I whispered. I blew him a silent kiss and headed down the hall, mentally preparing to start a new life with Jake.
I reached across the bed and felt nothing. My eyes blinked open and I realized I was alone in a mass of twisted sheets. Last night must have been a dream; a very realistic dream, because I could still feel Bella in my arms and taste her on my lips.
I sat up and listened carefully. The shower wasn't running, the TV wasn't on, there were no noises coming from anywhere in the suite. She left, I realized. She left to marry someone else, just like you left so many years ago.
I knew Bella still loved me. She'd revealed this to me last night. My stomach fluttered just thinking about it. She'd waited so long for me before going with Jake. It was overwhelming to hear, overwhelming to think that we were both still in love with one another after all these years.
And here you thought you might have a chance. You're a fool.
I stood up on shaky legs and made my way to the bathroom. My hair was smashed to the side of my head and my upper arms and back were speckled with marks from where her fingers had dug into me during our sexual adventures. I climbed into the shower and the hot water soothed me a bit.
I had to figure out a way to move on from Bella. She was obviously ready to move on from me. My mind was filled with thoughts of her as I packed my things away into my duffle bag. I scanned the room once more to make sure I had everything before making a slow pilgrimage to the hotel lobby.
"Thank you for staying with us, Mr. Cullen. Is there anything else we can do for you today?"
"I just need a taxi to take me to O'Hare please." I hoisted my duffle up on my shoulder and hung my head sadly. The desk employee motioned to the concierge, who picked up a phone and mumbled a few sentences. I turned towards the door and came face-to-face with my sister.
"Why didn't you tell me you were here?" She crossed her arms over her chest and tapped her foot impatiently. Even at eight months pregnant Alice managed to look intimidating.
"Alice, please, not now." I ran a hand through my hair and looked around nervously. The last thing I wanted to do was cause a scene here in the lobby. Alice stared at me for another moment before flinging her arms around me and hugging me tightly. I hugged her back gently and my big brother instinct kicked in. "Be careful, preggers, we don't want you smooshing the baby."
"Bella called off the wedding," she whispered. I leaned back from her in stunned silence. She squeezed my hand and pulled me towards a secluded hallway.
"What do you mean she called off the wedding?"
Alice turned to face me abruptly. "She called off the wedding this morning. She said she couldn't marry Jacob because she didn't really love him."
My jaw dropped as I digested her words. Did this mean … could Bella want to be with me? Alice's attention was now trained on something behind my shoulder. I turned slowly and saw Bella and Rose standing before me. Alice nudged me forward and Rose gave me a knowing smile.
"Bella, what are you doing? It's your wedding day!"
She swallowed back tears and gave me a weak smile. "The only man I want to share the altar with on my wedding day is you, Edward." My heart leapt into my throat and tears filled my eyes. I wrapped my arms around her and pulled her into a tight embrace.
"You're such a silly girl." I kissed her cheek and looked into her eyes. "But you're my silly girl, which is all that matters."
"I've always been your silly girl, Edward. I hope I always will be."
I laughed and brushed my nose against hers. "Of course you will be. Nobody else can even compare to you, Bella. I'll never find someone like you." She cupped my cheeks in her hands and pulled me down to kiss her. Alice and Rosalie looked on in silence with warm smiles on their faces. It felt good to see everyone again. I didn't realize just how much I missed Chicago until now.
"Rose, it's so good to see you!" I gave her a hug and kiss on the cheek. She hugged me back tightly, and I could tell I was forgiven for my past transgressions.
"We've missed you Edward. Welcome home" She smiled and squeezed my arm. "Emmett will be thrilled to see you."
"Jasper will too," Alice piped in. She gave me a weak smile. "Everyone has missed you, Edward. It hasn't been the same without you."
"Especially not for me," Bella murmured, wrapping her arms around my waist and hugging me close. She swatted her hand at her friends playfully. "Now that he's here I don't want to share him quite yet."
"Fine, fine." Alice let out an exasperated sigh. "But, you two have to promise to come over for dinner tomorrow night. I'll get mom and dad to come too." I nodded in agreement and waved as Rose and Alice walked back towards the elevators. Bella grabbed my hand and pulled me towards the hotel doors.
"Where are we going?" I asked curiously. She grinned and planted a soft kiss on my lips.
"Out for brunch and back to my apartment. We have six years of catching up to do." I tipped my head back and laughed. I hadn't felt this carefree in years. I wrapped my arm around her shoulders and followed her out onto the street.
As we got into the back of a cab, I felt the weight of my past lift from my shoulders.
What was merely a dream yesterday was a reality today. Together, we were riding into our future.
Riding into our forever.
A/N: Reviews = love, so share your thoughts, please! :)