After a forced marriage filled with violence, Bella escapes from Edward with their unborn child. Almost four years later, Edward has found her and their daughter and he refuses to let them go.

The Velveteen Rabbit (or How Toys Become Real) is rightfully owned by Margery Williams, and no copyright infringement is intended.

If you've never read it, try giving it a chance. It is a really beautiful book.

"The marks humans leave are too often scars."

- John Green

Chapter 18


Edward could hear the groan and splutter of Bella's truck as she pulled away from the curb. When the sound had faded into the distance, Edward reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone. He briefly checked to make sure that Alexis and Renee were out of earshot.

Dean picked up on the first ring.

"I need you to follow Bella," Edward said, not waiting for Dean to start speaking.

"Yes, sir," Dean answered. After working for Edward for so long, he was unfazed by Edward's frankness.

"But keep your distance. I don't want her to know you're following her."

If Bella knew that she was being followed, it would not end well. Even though she hadn't mentioned him by name, Edward knew she was going out with Sebastian. It seemed he hadn't been wrong in guessing her relationship with him. Edward tried desperately to justify his reason for having her followed. He didn't trust Sebastian, and he needed to know that she would be safe. But even as he tried to reason it out, he knew it wasn't true. He knew he was sending Dean to spy on her.

"Is there anything else?" Dean asked.

"No, that's it."

After hanging up, Edward went into the living room where Alexis was waiting for him.

"Read this one!" Alexis said, holding up a book with a rabbit on the cover. The book had seen better days. The cover was faded and a few pages were ripped. Nevertheless, it was Alexis' favourite.

Edward couldn't help but groan slightly. He'd read that book so many times that he didn't need the book to remember how it went.

"Are you sure you don't want another one?" Edward asked.

"No, this one," Alexis insisted.

Pulling Alexis onto his lap, Edward took the book from her and began to read the familiar pages. Alexis had her ragged bear gripped in her arms.

Towards the end of the book, Edward stumbled upon the quote that had became all too familiar. Even though he'd memorized it by then, it wasn't until he read it out loud to Alexis that night that he slowly began to understand it.

""What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real." "Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit. "Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt." "Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?" "It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.""

"Mommy said he's real," Alexis said, holding up her bear.

"He's got the shabby part down," Edward said, before he continued.

When the story was finished, they both sat in silence for a moment. This was usually the time when Bella would come in and put Alexis to bed. Edward wondered if, seeing as Bella wasn't there, if he would have to do it.

Alexis was so quiet that Edward has assumed she'd fallen asleep. It wasn't until he checked that he saw her eyes were wide open.

"Can you stay with me tonight?" Alexis asked.

"I don't think I can," Edward said. "Your grandmother will stay with you tonight."

"But I want you to stay with me," Alexis begged.

Out of the corner of his eye, Edward saw Renee standing in the doorway.

"I'll see you tomorrow," Edward promised her. "And your mommy will be here before you wake up."

"But I want you," Alexis said.

Edward sighed. It wasn't that he would mind spending the night with Alexis, it was more that he was positive Bella wouldn't be happy.

Edward looked towards Renee, who shrugged. "I don't mind," she said. "I'll grab some blankets from the cupboard, and you could make up the couch."

A few minutes later, ignoring the voice in his head that whispered that it was a bad idea, Edward found himself lying beneath the covers on Bella's couch, a sleeping Alexis on his chest. Alexis had refused to let Renee put her to bed.

Edward sighed again, hoping that Bella wouldn't be too put out.

For the next two hours, Edward couldn't stop himself from glancing, every few minutes, at the clock hanging on the wall. Bella hadn't said what time she would be returning home; she just promised Alexis she would be back before she woke up.

A small thump at the side of the couch made Edward jump slightly. Edward shifted Alexis slightly, then, reaching to the floor, Edward's hand came in contact with soft, matted fur. Lifting the object, Edward saw that it was Alexis' bear.

Using the meager light that streamed in through the window, Edward regarded the bear that held so much fascination to Alexis. Really, he couldn't see the appeal. It was so tattered, the bear itself looked like it was ready to be dumped.

"I guess that's what makes him real," Edward mused quietly to himself.

Tucking the bear back underneath Alexis' arm, Edward went back to staring at the clock and listening for the sound of Bella's truck.

When the clock struck two in the morning, Edward's panic reached an all new high. He'd assumed she would be back by then.

Pulling out his phone, he dialled Dean's number.

"Good evening, Mr. Cullen," Dean said, greeting Edward.

"Are you still following Bella?" Edward asked, careful to keep his voice down so as not to wake Alexis or Renee.


"Where is she now?" Edward asked.

"She's currently at a residence not far from her home."

Edward felt his breath catch. "Is she alone?" He was afraid of the answer.

"No, sir. She entered the house with a gentleman."

At Dean's words, Edward felt a pain course through his body. It started in his chest, then seemed to sweep through him. She'd gone home with Sebastian. His worst fears had been realised. She had chosen him.

Edward hung up the phone without telling Dean goodbye.

The tick-tick of the clock seemed so much louder as Edward fought to catch his breath. Panic and pain had seized him, and it wasn't letting go. Resting his hand on Alexis' back, Edward used the timing of her soft breathing to regain control of his own.

It took several minutes, but he was able to regain his composure, but when that settled, the heartbreak came in waves. One after the other. Each one worse than the last. The only thing that kept him from screaming out loud was the sleeping child on his chest. Alexis was blissfully unaware of the pain her mother was causing her father.

Edward had known there was a possibility Bella would chose Sebastian over him; after all, Sebastian wasn't the one who kidnapped her, locked her away and tore away her future. Sebastian wasn't the one who'd given Bella a reason to build the wall she protected herself behind.

It was all on Edward.

But even with his reasoning, Edward's ego was in full swing. He didn't care that Sebastian had never hurt her. He didn't care that he, Edward, didn't deserve her. None of that mattered. All he knew was that he loved her. He loved her with the sort of love that blinded him to all rational thinking. He loved her with the sort of love that, even if she didn't love him back, he loved her anyway.

He couldn't let Sebastian come in and ruin everything. He wouldn't let Sebastian take away the love of his life. It was the same thing that had happened all those years ago that had led him to have her kidnapped. Someone had stepped in and was infringing on what belonged to him.

The same green-eyed monster that had reared its ugly head when Tyler was encroaching on his turf, reared its head again now that Sebastian was doing it.

Then a single thought ran through Edward's head that made his blood run cold.

Was she sleeping with him?

Just when Edward thought the pain couldn't get any worse, it did. The thought of Sebastian, or any man, being with Bella intimately made him sick. It wounded him even more than he thought was possible.

The universe had finally caught up to Edward and was dishing him back an ounce of the pain he'd caused Bella. Alexis shifting slightly on his chest pulled him from his thoughts. Edward realised, with a sinking feeling, that now that Bella and Sebastian had gotten together, that meant Sebastian would be more a part of Alexis' life. That was a jagged pill to swallow.

Edward remembered what Esme had said about challenging Bella for custody. He knew for a fact that his name was not on Alexis' birthpaper, but with enough money and influence, that wouldn't be a problem.

Edward stopped his thoughts from going any further. It was one thing to be angry at Bella. It was an entirely different thing to take it out on Alexis. No matter how much Bella hurt him, he wouldn't do that to her or Alexis.

Edward wished he could carve his heart out of his chest, so he wouldn't have to feel anymore. Loving Bella hurt too much.

At some point during his inner turmoil, sleep took over Edward, and the soft sound of a door clicking shut, woke him the next morning. Glancing at the clock, Edward saw that it was a few minutes after five.

Slipping out carefully and quietly from under Alexis, Edward went out into the hallway.

There he saw Bella leaning against the front door. Her eyes widened slightly when she saw him. At the sight of her, Edward felt another piece of his heart breaking off.

"What are you still doing here?" she asked, unaware of the pain she was causing him.

It took several moments before Edward could find his voice. "I want to talk to you outside," he said quietly.

Bella's eyebrow rose in surprise at his tone. She knew something was up, but she still opened the front door and let him lead her outside.

Bella followed him to the end of the driveway where her truck was parked. There he rounded on her. Pain and anger etched on his face.

"Did you sleep with him?" Edward demanded.

Bella looked confused for a moment, then her eyes narrowed.

"What I did is none of your business," she snapped.

"Yes it is," Edward seethed. "We are still married."

Bella scoffed. "Still playing the old marriage card? Time to get a new defense, Edward."

"You didn't answer my question," Edward said. "Did you sleep with him?"

"I don't have to answer anything. We might share a daughter, but that is it. I told you there is nothing between us."

Edward was speechless. All the times Bella had told there wasn't anything between them, he'd chalked it up to her anger. To her denying her feelings. Now he was really beginning to see. Bella was determined to move on, and he was left licking his wounds.

Edward felt another crack in his heart. He didn't know what more he could say, so with one last look at Bella, he got into his car and left. He couldn't be there anymore. He just had to get away.

When he arrived back at his house, for some reason, the silence that met him caused him to lose it. Picking up a vase that was on a table next to the entryway, Edward threw it at the wall. Then walking into the living room, he upturned a small table. Picking up one of the small wooden chairs in the living room, he began smashing it against the wall, but no matter how many times he tried to vent his anger and frustration on the furniture, it wasn't enough to ease the pain.

The ringing of his home phone distracted him for a moment. He wasn't in the mood to talk to anyone. After a few rings it stopped, only to start back again. After ringing for the fourth consecutive time, Edward grew irritated and answered it.

"What?" he snapped, not caring who was on the other line.

"Edward?" Esme's voice came through. Her voice sounded odd, like she'd been crying.

"What is it?" he asked, taking some of the edge out of his voice.

"Carlisle's dead," she said, her voice choking up as she uttered those words.

"What?" Edward's brain was moving annoyingly slow.

"He left last night and said he had a meeting to go to. When it was late, and he still hadn't returned, I still didn't worry. It wasn't until late morning when one of the maids found his body on the front porch. It looks like he'd been shot." Esme's voice faded into a sob at the end.

Edward couldn't believe it. He knew he shouldn't feel any type of sadness; after all, Carlisle had been more of a tyrant than a father, but that didn't stop the emotions from coming.

Passing his hand through his hair, Edward was at a loss for words. What stumped him above all else was the devastation in Esme's voice.

"Can you fly back to Chicago?" Esme asked.

Edward didn't answer for a moment. He didn't like the idea of leaving Bella and Alexis, but he couldn't leave Esme to go through this alone. He doubted that, even now, any of his brothers would care. As usual, that left just him.

"I'll fly back later today," he sighed.

"Thank you," Esme replied. Her voice was still heavy with tears.

Esme's reaction to Carlisle's death both baffled and intrigued Edward. On the one hand, he couldn't understand why, after everything he'd done to her, Esme would still shed tears for the monster who controlled her life, while on the other hand, it made Edward wonder if, even a little bit, despite everything he'd done to her, if Bella would still feel something for him.

Edward threw the phone on the couch and collapsed next to it. After rubbing his hand over his face, he sighed sadly. Everything was coming on too fast. He briefly wondered if Emmett or Jasper would make an appearance in Chicago, but he doubted it. Not even the death of their father could make them show interest.

He knew Jasper was having problems with Alice, and it wouldn't be the first time Emmett wasn't there when a loved one needed him.

Not surprisingly, Bella was silent as they left the dinner later that night. She'd spent the majority of the time as far from him as possible, and on the brief moments when he was able to catch up with her, she would look for the first opportunity to slip away.

"You're awfully quiet," Edward said, as they were driven, by security, back to the house. The streets were dark, and Edward could only see Bella's face when they passed underneath a street light. She looked tired.

Bella shrugged. She was staring out the window, refusing to meet his eyes. Something was different about her. She looked like she was close to tears. Like one more word would break her.

When they arrived back at the house, Bella didn't wait for security to open the door before she jumped out. She didn't speak to Edward for the rest of the night, and just like the last several, she joined him in bed without a fight.

The next day, while he was on his way to work, he got a call from Esme telling him that she had to cancel the lunch they were supposed to have that day. She also had some news. Emmett had gone off on one of his tirades last night, and now Rosalie was in the hospital suffering from a concussion. Esme was going to the hospital to be with Rosalie. Carlisle had gone down to smooth things over at the hospital. In other words, he'd gone down to bribe them into silence. Something he knew all too well about.

Edward was disturbed after hanging up on Esme. He'd always known Emmett was a volatile person, and he definitely knew that Emmett would take his anger out on Rosalie, but for some reason, the fact that this time Rosalie had ended up in the hospital put him on edge. It brought back repressed memories of when he was younger, and Esme had been hospitalized because of Carlisle. He knew it took a deep set of rage to drive both his father and brother to reach so far, and he wondered if, should the day come that Bella pushed his buttons beyond the usual, he would land her in the hospital as well. The thought sickened him.

Maybe it was because, as of late, she'd been contained. Maybe it was because his conscience was finally catching up with him. Either way, the realisation of his actions began slowly taking over him.

Pushing it out of his mind, Edward forced himself to focus on what he had to do that day. He didn't want to open the Door of Morals.

Later that day, Edward was in his office looking over some final drafts for investments when Carlisle barged in unannounced.

"You need a new receptionist. This one actually tried to make me wait while she alerted you," Carlisle said, letting himself in and sitting down opposite to Edward without needing to be asked.

"Yes. Come in. Have a seat," Edward said, sarcasm and disdain heavy in his voice.

Carlisle gave him a sour smile.

"What do you want?" Edward asked.

"I wanted to know if you'd thought more about my proposition. I've been in touch with the Tarasovs, and they are interested in partnering with us."

Edward ignored his question. "Did you hear about Rosalie?" he asked.

Carlisle gave him a confused look. "What?"

"She's in the hospital. Apparently, Emmett went overboard. Esme says she's in pretty bad shape."

"Oh that," Carlisle said, brushing it off. "I heard about that. Not important."

Edward gave Carlisle a disgusted look.

"What?" Carlisle demanded. "It's not news to me. What did you expect to happen? We always knew Emmett had a temper problem. I don't get why it's such a surprise."

"He could have killed her," Edward said. Finally saying what had been bothering him all day.

"So? What did you expect to happen?"

"Aren't you angry with him?" Edward asked, not understanding. "Worried that he could have killed her?"

"Why should I be? Why should you be? You do the same to Bella," Carlisle pointed out.

Edward flinched at the reminder.

With a deep sigh, Carlisle stood to leave. "I see there's no point talking business with you. I'll call you tomorrow."

Then with one last nod, he left Edward to his thoughts. A few more minutes of staring at the door that Carlisle had disappeared through told Edward that it was pointless to try to get any more work done. He paged Leah to have security bring the car around.

The entire ride home, Edward was antsy. The news about Rosalie had freaked him out. He needed to see Bella. When they arrived at the house, just like Bella had done the night before, Edward didn't wait for security to open the door before he jumped out.

"Where is she?" Edward asked the first maid he saw.

"Mrs. Cullen is upstairs," she replied, surprised to see Edward home so early.

With a brief nod, Edward bounded up the stairs. Pushing open the bedroom door, Edward was surprised to see Bella asleep in bed. He breathed a small sigh of relief. For a moment, Edward contemplated waking her, just to hear her voice, but he decided not to. She didn't need to know how freaked out he was.

A few days later, when Rosalie was out of the hospital, Edward and Bella went to see her. She was sitting in the living room of her and Emmett's house when they arrived, and when Edward's eyes finally found her, the sight of her stopped him dead in his tracks.

Rosalie looked really bad. Her face was bruised to the point where it was swollen and purple. There was a small portion of her head that had been shaved, and Edward could see small stitches peeking out.

Esme had been sitting beside her, and at the sight of them she came forward. She gave Edward a slight hug, and her eyes darted to Bella's, only for a moment.

"How are you both?" she asked.

Edward had another question.

"Where's Emmett?" Edward demanded. It hadn't escaped his notice that his brother was not in the room, and his car was not in the driveway. He couldn't understand why his brother would leave his girlfriend when she needed him the most.

"He went out with Jasper," Esme said with a shrug while Bella went over to Rosalie.

"How are you feeling?" Bella asked softly as she sat beside her.

"I'm okay. Just a little tired." Rosalie's voice sounded as bad as she looked. "The doctor told me to just take it easy." She shrugged like it was no big deal, but really it was.

Edward had never considered Rosalie's view of all of this before. He didn't understand how she could just brush it off like that, but at the same time, he wasn't surprised. Esme had been doing it all his life. Bella was the only person among the three of them who actually fought back. The only one who refused to take it, and now that he'd seen the result of not fighting back, he started to realise that fighting back wasn't such a bad thing.

His gaze went to Bella's and his heart seized. A small part of him had always known that raising his hand to her could seriously harm her, but his need and drive for her had always shut the logical side out. It'd worked with his father, and his brothers; he'd assumed it would work with Bella. That if he forced her hand, over time, she would've grown to love him or at least stop fighting him. Somehow he'd pushed aside the realisation that he could really harm her, or worse.

Watching Rosalie, Edward was met with a better understanding of his ugliness. That little voice in his head that had been whispering to him that he could kill Bella had grown louder, and for the first time, Edward began considering what it said. He loved Bella, it went without saying, but slowly he began to wonder if loving her was reason enough for hurting her. It wasn't, and he was only just beginning to see.

"Ouch," Edward heard Rosalie cry out.

"Are you okay?" Bella asked.

Rosalie just smiled, but Edward could see the slight pain on her face.

"It's okay. I just moved wrong," she said, brushing it off again.

Edward and Bella could only stay for an hour before Rosalie's head started aching, so they left her so she could rest. Esme was staying with her. There was still no sign of Emmett.

"Are you alright?" Bella asked as they drove home. Edward hadn't noticed that she was looking at him funny.

"I'm fine," he said softly. A raise of her eyebrows showed she didn't believe that but decided to let it go anyway.

Later that night, no matter how many times he tossed and turned, Edward couldn't get to sleep. Every time he closed his eyes, he kept seeing Bella's face the first time he'd beaten her. The image had finally broken into his consciousness and was causing chaos in his brain. He turned until he was facing Bella. Sleep had come to her easy tonight.

Just like every other time, when night would find him awake and her asleep, he used this brief moment to look at her, uninterrupted by her hostile demeanor.

He never should have taken her. He never should have raised his hand to her, but he did it anyway. He thought that love was reason enough to treat her the way he did; now he was saw that it wasn't. Carlisle, Emmett and Jasper had abused their significant others as well, but they didn't do it out of love. They did it out of control, and the need to be in charge. He'd been following an incorrect example, and look where it had gotten him.

If Bella hadn't hated him before, she definitely hated him now. It was a hatred he deserved. He just hoped it wasn't too late to undo the pain he'd caused. To show her that he really did love her. Edward swore to himself in that moment, to never hurt Bella again, the way he'd hurt her before.

Love just wasn't reason enough anymore.

When Edward passed by Bella's house the next day, he saw that her truck wasn't there. She didn't have school or work and Alexis didn't have camp, so he went in search of them. After combing through the various places they frequented, he found them at the local playground not far from their house. Alexis was off playing, and Bella sat nearby watching her.

They hadn't spoken since the day before. The pain was still raw for Edward, but he pushed it aside for the moment. Everything was happening too fast for him to properly process it.

Bella didn't look at him, even when he was right beside her. It seemed she didn't need to process her feelings. She knew she was still mad at him.

"Do you mind if I sit?" he asked, indicating to the spot beside her. She gave him a hard look. Her subtle way of saying no.

"Okay then," Edward said sensing the hostility, but sitting anyway.

Bella remained silent, her gaze focused on Alexis who hadn't noticed Edward's arrival.

After a brief moment, Edward sighed. "I'm sorry for how I acted."

"No you're not," Bella replied, not looking at him.

"Yes I am," Edward insisted.

Bella sighed. "No you're not."

Edward opened his mouth to deny it again, but he couldn't find the words. She was right, and they both knew it.

"I'm leaving to go to Chicago tomorrow," Edward said. Bella's eyes darted to his and narrowed slightly.

"You're leaving because of our little argument?" Bella asked. Just for a moment, Edward thought he could hear a hint of panic in Bella's voice. He brushed it off to his mind playing tricks on him.

Edward shook his head. "No. Carlisle is dead, and I'm returning just to sort out a few things."

Edward didn't know what to expect of Bella's reaction to the news. After all, she'd made it clear time and time again that she didn't like his family.

For a brief moment, Edward wondered if he should invite Bella to the funeral, but he squashed that idea right away. If Bella didn't like Carlisle in life, why would she mourn him in death?

"How?" was all she asked. Her face remained blank.

"I'm not sure," Edward lied. He didn't want to scare Bella with the news that Carlisle had been murdered. Bella was well aware of the life Carlisle had, and even without saying it, Edward knew she didn't like it.

"How long will you be gone for?"

"About a week," Edward said. "It's just to make sure everything is squared away."

"Well, take all the time you need. It can't be easy for you, losing your father."

"Why not? Carlisle wasn't much of a father," Edward said, trying to downplay it. "He treated my mother like crap and throughout my childhood. I was witness to it."

"He's still your dad," Bella said. "No matter what he did to your mom, you still love him. That will never change."

"How can I love him, after everything he's done?"

Turning to Edward, she said, "Because he's still your father. He was the only father you've ever known. Don't feel bad about missing him. We can't help the way we feel. It's what makes us human." She shrugged.

"Does that mean you forgive me for how I acted yesterday?" Edward asked hopefully.

Bella gave one hard laugh, but she didn't respond.

"I take that as a no," Edward said sadly.

Edward wasn't even sure he wanted her forgiveness. He just wanted the pain to stop.

"Daddy," a small voice called.

Edward looked towards the sound and saw Alexis running to him.

He wrapped his arms around her when she reached him. Alexis was the only normal thing in his messed up life.

"Daddy, I saw a snake," she said excitedly.

"A snake? Where?"

"Outside the house. Mommy and Grandma screamed when they saw it, but I didn't."

Edward looked towards Bella who shuddered slightly.

"Shouldn't you call an exterminator or something?" Edward asked Bella.

"It was a tiny one," Bella assured him.

Edward nodded, then, turning his attention back to Alexis, he said, "I have to go away for a few days, but I'll be back really soon."

"Where are you going?" Alexis asked. Edward could hear the sadness in her voice. At least one of them will miss him.

"I have to go to my other house," Edward said.

"Can't Mommy and I come with you?" she asked.

"Maybe another day," Edward said.

Over Alexis's head, he saw Bella shake her head slightly. Returning to Chicago was definitely not something that appealed to her.

Alexis still looked sad, but she nodded anyway.

"Do you promise to come back?" she asked.

Edward didn't even hesitate. Bella might have chosen Sebastian and broken his heart, but Edward definitely wasn't about to give up the fight. He wasn't about to just walk away. He was still angry and hurt, and maybe the logical side of him wasn't thinking straight, but either way, it wasn't over.

"I promise," he said.

Put the pitchforks and torches down! Remember, not everything is as it seems. ;)

I know I haven't updated since last November. This chapter was finished before Christmas, but there were a few complications that prevented me from posting it. Thank you to everyone who has stayed with me up to this point. I get frustrated from lack of updates as well.

I know I'm not the most frequent updater. Sometimes I update twice a month. Sometimes I only update once a month. Sometimes I don't update for a month. I know some authors are able to stick to a schedule when it comes to posting. Unfortunately, I'm not one of them. I try to finish a chapter as soon as I can. Despite real life getting in the way.

Please remember, this story is rated as Angst/Comfort/Hurt for a reason. It does not mean that it won't have a happy ending. It just means that the road to the end will be a bumpy one.

I know this story is different to other Fanfiction stories. For once, Bella doesn't forgive Edward after a few sweet words and some kind actions. For once, Bella is standing her ground. When I first started writing it, I kept that as my main goal. That for once, Bella would have a backbone.

Also, please remember that this story is fiction. None of it is real, and it isn't suppose to be used as a life lesson for anyone.

If you're interested, I posted a one shot recently called Fiction. You can check it out on my profile.

You can find me on Twitter XxMementoMorix

Special thanks totorisurfergirl and BelleDuJour.