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.
You always hurt the one you love.
The one you shouldn't hurt at all.
You always take the sweetest rose,
and crush it till the petals fall.
You always break the kindest heart
with a hasty word you can't recall.
So if I broke your heart last night,
it's because I love you most of all.
- The Mills Brothers
All I Want
"Ashes to ashes, dust to dust." The minister's voice rang out loud and clear over the congregation of mourners. Edward thought it was ironic that the minister was quoting from the Book of Common Prayer, when Carlisle had been anything but religious. He doubted his father had ever been inside of a church prior to this. Considering the sort of life he'd lived, Edward wouldn't have been surprised if Carlisle had burst into flames if he'd tried.
Beside him, Esme was working hard to control her grief. She'd been inconsolable from the very beginning and was hysterical up until the hour before the funeral. She'd only been able to pull herself together moments before the service started.
Considering all that he'd done to her, Edward still couldn't understand the depth of Esme's grief for her lost husband. Time had not changed Esme's belief in her husband, that much was clear. The congregation was small. Esme had wanted the funeral to be private with family and some friends only.
In a surprising turn of events, Emmett and Jasper had arrived for the funeral: Emmett with Rosalie, and Jasper with some new woman. It was the first time in a long time that Edward had seen either one of them.
Edward hadn't paid much attention to what the minister was saying, but an unfamiliar rustling noise drew his attention, and he looked up in time to see the minister pull a small scrap of paper from his pocket. As the minister unfolded it he said, "Lastly, I would like to leave you all with these parting words."
Then he began to read it. "Remember, man, as you walk by: As you are now, so once was I. As I am now, so you will be. So prepare for death and follow me."
The service was short. There wasn't much good that could be said about Carlisle.
After the service, the only ones allowed at the gravesite were Esme, Edward, Emmett, Rosalie, Jasper, Jasper's girlfriend, and much to Edward's dismay, Jacob. The sight of the coffin being lowered into the ground was what caused Esme to lose what last bit of resilience she had. Rosalie and Jasper's girlfriend returned with her to the car. That left Edward alone with his brothers. Jacob stood on the other side of the gravesite, away from Edward, Emmett and Jasper. Even though they were bound by blood, Jacob had never really been accepted as part of their family.
"What a surprising turn of events," Emmett said gleefully, as they watched the coffin being lowered. There was a small thump as it hit the bottom. "Jasper owes me five hundred dollars."
Edward looked at him, confused.
"I bet him Carlisle would be the first to go," Emmett explained.
Edward gave him a disgusted look. Clearly his brothers had not changed. On the other side of the gravesite, Jacob had turned to leave. Edward watched his departing form with curiosity. Carlisle's lawyer had called a meeting between Esme and Edward for later that day. Jacob had not been invited, but he had insisted on being there. He knew the future of Carlisle's company was the topic, and he didn't want to miss it.
"So, how's the whole Bella thing coming along?" Emmett asked. "Word on the street is you found her and some kid she claims to be yours, and the three of you are shacked up in the middle of
"And which street did you hear that?"
"The Rosalie street," Jasper answered for him.
"Who heard it from Esme boulevard," Emmett said.
"Don't you have something better to do than discuss my personal life?"
They both answered, "No" in unison.
"I also hear she's still fighting you. Geez, bro, when are you going to take my advice? Let her come to you," Emmett said, like it was the most obvious answer and Edward just wasn't getting it. It had worked with Esme and Rosalie, and so Emmett assumed it would work with Bella.
"She'll come with a hatchet," Edward said. Turing to Jasper, he asked, "Speaking of, what happened to Alice?"
"She gained self-esteem and morals," Jasper replied. He shot Edward a disgusted look. "Your wife is toxic. Luckily, I met Maria."
Edward smiled. He'd rather Bella be "toxic" than submissive like Rosalie and Esme. It meant she stood for what she believed in and had the ability to influence others into making the right choice. She'd done it with him and now with Alice.
Thinking of her now reminded him that he'd been away from Forks for a little more than a week, and he was anxious to get back. He missed Bella and Alexis. They were the only true family he had left. He knew Alexis missed him too. She'd informed him of that every time they spoke.
They stayed until the hole was filled up, and once it was, they turned away and headed back towards their cars.
"Well, we're heading out for a drink. Care to join us, baby bro?" Emmett asked.
"No. I have to meet with Peter to decide on the fate of Carlisle's company."
"Well, that sucks. Maybe later?"
"Alright," Edward said, but that was one promise he wasn't planning on keeping.
His brothers were bad news, and Edward preferred to stay clear of them.
Esme was silent as Edward drove them back to the Cullen household. She was so wrapped up in her grief that conversation was futile. When they arrived at the house, Edward saw Jacob's car already in the driveway. It seemed his half-brother was anxious to get his paws on Carlisle's money.
Peter and Jacob were already seated in Carlisle's office when Edward and Esme walked in.
"Edward," Peter said, holding out his hand as he stood. Edward shook briefly with the man.
"Mrs. Cullen, I'm so terribly sorry for your loss," Peter said, turning to his attention to Esme.
Esme only grimaced as if in pain. It was still too raw for her. Edward and Esme sat opposite to Jacob, while Peter sat to the front.
"Well, as you know I called this meeting to discuss your father's will. Mainly, the state of his company." It didn't escape Edward's notice that Peter had put a little emphasis on the last word. Peter paused to take his briefcase off the floor and rest it on his desk. After opening it, he began to pull out several pieces of paper.
"He's left his assets at the hands of the new owner. Assets including his remaining sum of— " Peter said before Jacob cut him off.
"Yeah, yeah yeah. Enough with the introductions. Who gets the business?" he demanded. Jacob was practically bouncing in anticipation.
"Edward does," Peter said. His voice was hard. Clearly he wasn't thrilled about being cut off.
"What?" Jacob yelled in disbelief. "He gets the company? Why?"
"It was your father's wish that it went to Edward," Peter explained. He held the paper out to Jacob, who snatched it from him. Jacob's eyes scanned the paper, and when it arrived at the section Peter was speaking of, it was as though a fire was suddenly lit within him.
"This is bullshit," he yelled, throwing the paper back. "He has a company already. Why does he get two?"
"If Jacob wants it so bad, then let him have it," Edward said calmly. He had no interest in Carlisle's type of business.
Peter shook his head. "I'm sorry. Your father specifically said that you are the only person who is to acquire it. He emphasized that he doesn't trust anyone else with it."
Jacob yelled in frustration before knocking over his chair and storming out of the room. He made sure to slam the door on his way out. With raised eyebrows, Peter looked at the door where Jacob had just exited. "Okay then."
"And if I refuse to accept it?" Edward asked, wanting to get back to the topic at hand.
"Then it remains stagnant."
"Why isn't it community property?" Edward asked.
"Esme signed a prenup," Peter explained.
Esme, who hadn't been paying much attention to the conversation, looked up at her name being mentioned. She nodded in Edward's direction to let him know it was true.
Carlisle's decision sat wrong with Edward. He'd assumed that after almost thirty years of marriage, Carlisle would want to leave something for his wife. Maybe a little compensation for all that he'd put her through.
"Well, you don't have to decide it now," Peter said. "I'll hold onto it as executor of your father's estate. I'll be in town until day after tomorrow, so if you could let me know before then that will be great." He began to put away the papers Jacob had thrown back at him.
"Okay, I'll let you know," Edward replied.
Peter left shortly after, leaving Edward alone with Esme.
Esme's eyes were rimmed with red, and she seemed to be far away. Now that Carlisle was gone, she was alone. Odds were, this appearance by Jasper and Emmett was a one-time thing. Edward was more than ready to get back to his wife and daughter. He wondered if the potential loneliness was what caused part of her grief.
"What are you going to do?" Edward asked her after a moment of silence. "Are you going to stay here?"
Esme shook her head. "I can't stay here."
"Then where—," Edward began.
"You're the only one who seems to care," she said. "I can't blame them, Jasper and Emmett, for not wanting anything to do with me."
Edward didn't know if she was talking to him or to herself, but either way he remained silent. He gave her the opportunity to let it all out.
"I was selfish," she whispered, so softly that Edward wasn't sure if he'd heard her right.
Esme bowed her head forward and started to cry. Her shoulders shook as she let her grief out.
Even though the sight of her crying wasn't new to Edward— he'd seen her crying on multiple occasions because of Carlisle— it still disturbed him. He didn't know how to comfort her, so unable to stand the heaviness in the room, he left.
It had been some time since Edward had walked the hallways of his parents' house. After Bella had left, he'd avoided it as best as he could. The hallways were empty now. The staff had been given the day off.
Edward paid little attention to where he walked, and somehow he found himself in the kitchen. He was surprised to find Rosalie reading one of the magazines Esme kept in there. He'd assumed she would be with Emmett.
"What are you doing here?" Edward asked. "I thought you were with Emmett."
Edward had never really spent any large amount of time with Rosalie, so he barely knew her. All he knew her as was his brother's wife.
Rosalie jumped slightly at the sound of his voice. "You scared me. I thought you were still in your meeting."
"No, Peter left already."
"Emmett went out drinking with Jasper. I came over to see how Esme was," Rosalie said.
"Oh," was all Edward said. Rosalie and Esme had always been close. It always struck him as odd how Rosalie and Esme had managed to bond, while Esme and Bella seemed to repel one another. He'd always wondered about that but had never got around to asking Bella why. Although, he was pretty sure that if he did ask her, she would just blow his question off. Rosalie, on the other hand, might be able to shed some light.
"Hey, Rosalie, when Bella was in Chicago, the two of you were close, right?" Edward asked.
"Sorta," she said. "Why?"
"I was just wondering how Bella and Esme got along."
Rosalie's eyebrows rose in surprise.
"I know they never got along," Edward explained. "I was just wondering why."
Rosalie sighed. "I can't believe Bella still hasn't told you."
"Told me what?"
Rosalie sighed again. She seemed to weigh for a moment whether or not to tell Edward. "Esme treated her horribly when she was here."
Now it was Edward's turn to be surprised. "What are you talking about?"
"I don't think Esme ever got over the fact that Bella gave you a hard time, and as a result, she took every opportunity to ridicule Bella and put her down. That first time Bella went shopping with Esme and me, Bella left in tears because of how Esme treated her."
"Why didn't anyone tell me?" Edward demanded. "All those times I'd forced Bella to interact with Esme, why didn't she tell me?"
Edward didn't think it was possible to be any more angry or horrified, but somehow, life had managed to spill another secret. Another card was removed from his house of cards, and there was another threat of it falling down around him.
"She thought you wouldn't care."
Edward's eyes narrowed. "Why does everyone keep saying that?"
Rosalie didn't respond. Looking at his sister-in-law, it was crazy how much Rosalie reminded him of Esme. Edward knew that just like Esme, he couldn't force Rosalie to see how dangerous her husband was. Just like Alice, Rosalie would have to come to her own realisation.
With this new knowledge of Esme, Edward left the kitchen. He wanted to confront Esme, to demand to know why she'd treated Bella so badly, but on his way back to the office something Rosalie had said stopped him in tracks.
Rosalie had mentioned that the first time she, Esme and Bella had gone shopping, Esme had been so horrible to Bella that Bella had left in tears. That night had been the change in Edward and Bella's marriage. It was the night she'd told him she'd never loved him, and he'd reacted by hurting her.
He'd blamed Bella for it when really it was Esme's fault, and his by how he'd reacted. With the guilt heavy on his shoulders, Edward kept walking.
He found Esme in the same room he'd left her. A few tears still rolled down her cheek as she stood by the window looking out into the distance. It wasn't fair to confront her while she was still mourning Carlisle, but Edward had to know.
"Is it true?" Edward asked.
She turned to face Edward. Her eyes were still red and puffy.
"Is what true?"
"About how you treated Bella while she was here."
Realisation dawned on Esme, and she closed her eyes as if she was in pain. When she opened them again, Edward could see the devastation on her face.
Esme just nodded in response.
"Why?" Edward demanded. "Why did you treat her so badly? What did she ever do to you?"
Esme opened her mouth to respond, but she seemed at a loss for words. Even she didn't know how to truly defend her actions. Grief had taken the words right out of her mouth.
"Why did you dislike her?" Then he realised something else. "And you wanted to take Alexis away from her?"
New tears started to form in Esme's eyes. "I knew if I left it up to her, she wouldn't want me around Alexis."
"And for good reason," Edward interjected. Things were finally beginning to make some sense.
"I just wanted to meet my granddaughter," Esme said tearfully.
Edward shook his head in disbelief. "Well, that sure as hell isn't going to happen. Bella isn't going to let you, and I am not going to go behind her back."
"Edward, please," was all Esme said.
Edward shook sadly shook his head. "I can't handle this right now."
With one last look, he left the room. The last thing he saw was Esme still crying by the window.
Edward walked until he reached the library. The room still looked the same way it did the last time he'd found Bella in there perusing its shelf. Neither Carlisle nor Esme was much of a reader; the room was merely there for show.
Standing in the room now, he could almost see Bella there as she examined the spines of each book. He'd never understood her fascination with literary characters, but over time he'd accepted her devotion to books as part of who she was.
Thinking about her now reminded Edward that he hadn't called Alexis for the day. She was supposed to be going to a birthday party today, so he knew she would be anxious to tell him everything that had occurred at the party. He needed some distraction from what he'd just learned.
The phone rang once, twice before Renee picked up. She told him Bella and Alexis hadn't arrived back as yet, but just as he was about the hang up, they returned home. He only had to wait a moment before Alexis came on the phone.
"Daddy!" Alexis said in greeting.
"Hey, how are you?" Edward asked, unable to keep the smile from coming to his face at hearing his daughter's voice. Alexis had the gift of bringing some light in the darkest of days.
"How was the party?"
That was all the prodding Alexis needed to jump into a full recap of everything that happened at the birthday party. Edward listened intently to every word she said.
"Sounds like you had fun," Edward said at the first opportunity he got.
"Yeah, and then Mommy and I went out for ice cream with Drayven and Sebastian, because they ran out of it at the party."
It was almost an automatic response that his heart seemed to drop. He should have known that Bella would seize the first chance she got to get closer to Sebastian.
"Well, that sounds like fun," Edward said, working to keep the pain out of his voice. He would never grow used to the idea of Bella and another man. "Alexis, I'm going to let you go now, because I know you have to get ready for bed. Can I talk to your mother?"
"Okay," Alexis said.
"I love you."
"I love you, too. Goodnight." Then he heard Alexis called out, "Mommy! Daddy wants to talk to you."
A few moments passed in which Edward used the silence to calm himself down and think clearly. He wanted to lash out at Bella for getting closer the Sebastian, but he knew that wasn't the right way. Arguing with Bella never solved any of his problems.
"Hello?" she said. Edward could hear the uncertainty in her voice. She knew something was up.
"Bella..." Edward said, and then he sighed. He was tired. Tired of all the arguing. Tired of the trouble and tired of all the pain. He just wanted her to forgive him. He just wanted her to not hurt him anymore, but he had no right to be mad at her. All of this was nothing compared to the pain he had caused her. Nothing compared to the pain Esme had caused her. He'd messed up her life in more than one way. It was nothing compared to the pain he was causing her every day by trying to make something between them.
When he spoke again, there was sadness in his voice. "I just wanted to say goodnight."
"Goodnight," Bella said.
He didn't know what else to say or how else to make it better.
"I still love you," he whispered softly.
Her only response was the click of the phone being hung up, followed by the dial tone. She'd never know how much that hurt him.
Slowly, Edward hung up as well. Surrounded by silence, Edward began to feel a familiar sense of loneliness. It reminded him of those dark years when Bella had first ran. The memory of that time without her was still fresh in his mind. The barely healed wound and the throb of pain whenever he thought about it was a reminder of the anger, loneliness and fear he'd felt in her absence.
Edward had assumed that nothing could distract him from the guilt he felt whenever he thought of how much he'd wronged Bella, but he was wrong. Work turned out to be a much-needed relief. So long as he kept his mind distracted and occupied, he didn't have to think about anything else. During the brief moments when his thoughts got the better of him, he would remember all the memories he had tried to suppress. A reminder of the pain he'd caused her would come rushing back. When that happened, he would work hard again to distract himself.
He'd kept up a rhythm. So long as he focused on work, he could get through this day. The only thing that was able to distract him was the ringing of his cell phone.
A quick glance at the screen showed it was Dean. Dean knew not to call him at work unless it was an emergency, so even though he wanted to keep up his distraction, he answered it.
"What is it?" Edward demanded. He didn't like being bothered.
"She ran," was all Dean said, not knowing how else to bring up the situation to Edward.
"What?" Edward asked. Surely he'd heard him wrong.
"Mrs. Cullen managed to slip away from security and escape," Dean said.
There was a brief moment of silence as Edward let the words sink in. For some reason, it took a few minutes for the information to seep into his brain, and once it did it took a while longer for him to make sense of it.
"What do you mean she slipped away?" Edward asked, needing the clarification his brain refused to make.
"There was traffic over one of the bridges, and when the car had stopped in the traffic, she opened the door and ran. Security tried to catch her, but she evaded them by jumping over the railing into the water below. They didn't see her come up. I've had teams searching the river and the area, but so far we haven't found anything."
It now made sense to Edward. Her wanting to go to the shopping center. She'd planned it all along, and he'd been too caught up in his guilt to realise it. Then with the realisation came the anger. She'd tricked him.
Edward hung up the phone and called down to Leah.
"Have security bring the car around," he snapped. Before she could answer, he hung up again. He couldn't believe he'd fallen for it. He should have known she was up to something, but he'd been so wrapped up in his own thoughts that he didn't pay much attention to her these last few days. Now he was paying the price. It didn't matter. He wouldn't make that mistake again. Bella was his, and no matter how far she ran, nothing would change that.
The fury on his face was enough that Leah didn't ask anything as he stormed past her and out the door.
"How the fuck could they let that happen?" Edward demanded, as he walked through his front door a few minutes later. Dean was already there waiting, having anticipated Edward's arrival.
Dean remained silent, He knew that in Edward's furious state, anything he said would be shot down.
"I don't care what the hell you have to do. Find her and bring her back here. She couldn't have gotten very far. Have security search the entire area."
"Yes, sir," Dean said.
With one last nod, Dean left. If any of the maids were in the house, they kept clear of Edward. It wasn't a secret that he was in a foul mood. One of the maids, who'd managed to slip out of the house quietly while Edward was talking to Dean, hoped that wherever Bella was, she would do whatever it took to stay away. The maid didn't want to know what awaited Mrs. Cullen if she ever came back.
Once alone, Edward didn't know what to do. Work was no longer an option. He wanted to go down and supervise that search, but he would be useless there. He needed a strong distraction. Walking into the kitchen, Edward poured himself a glass of scotch. After draining it, he threw it against the opposite wall in anger.
Bella escaping had hit him hard. He felt betrayed.
Music was the only thing strong enough to distract him from real life, so, walking over to his piano, Edward began to play.
As he played, afternoon turned to dusk, and dusk turned to night, and still there was no sign of Bella. Edward called every hour to see what progress security had made in finding her, but it was hopeless. It was as if Bella had just vanished. They couldn't find any sign of her having made it out of the river. It was during one of Edward's status calls that Dean ran another scenario through to Edward.
"Sir, there is a possibility that she didn't make it out of the water," Dean said.
Just like before, it took a moment for the information to get through to Edward.
"What are you saying?"
"It's possible that she may have been swept away by the river," Dean said.
"Until I find evidence of that, we are working with the idea that she is still alive," Edward said. His voice had gone soft and deadly. Bella dead was one possibility that Edward refused to let into his consciousness.
"Have them keep searching," Edward said. "Don't stop until you've found her."
After he'd hung up on Dean, Edward buried his head in his hands. Karma was definitely catching up to him, and he wasn't happy about it. If Bella thought that he'd just let her go, she had another thing coming. He was determined to find her, and when he did, he would ensure she never left him again.
A few days after the funeral, Edward was finally on a flight back to Forks. He'd called Peter and refused to take on the responsibility of Carlisle's company. He'd survived long enough without dealing in Carlisle's type of business, and he planned on keeping it that way. The company could die along with him.
He hadn't seen Esme after he'd last spoken to her in the office. She'd called him a few times, but he'd let the calls go to voicemail. He wasn't ready to face the truth of what she'd done as yet.
The cabin was quiet as the plane soared over the clouds towards Forks. The quiet gave him another chance to think. The news about Esme had hit him hard and made him realise just how much his relationship with Bella had been doomed from the start.
He loved her, it went without saying, but he was slowly beginning to wonder if that love was enough. He'd hurt her, time and time again, and nothing would ever change that. Bella obviously had feelings for Sebastian. So much so that she'd slept with him. She hadn't come right out and said it, but her actions spoke volumes. One thing she had spoken of was her disinterest in Edward. It was as if he was doomed to be pining after her for the rest of his life while she moved on. He knew that if she did truly move on, he would always be waiting in the wings wishing for what could have been.
It was late when Edward found himself on Bella's street. He knew that there was a slim chance that Alexis would still be awake, but he at least wanted to see Bella. Edward felt a sense of calmness come over him as he drove down the familiar street. Part of his family resided there, so in a way, it felt more like home.
Only the porch light was on when he stopped in front of the house. Someone was sitting on the front step. It only took him a moment to recognize Bella. His heart soared at the sight of her. A familiar ache and longing came over him. She looked up in surprise at the sound of his car.
After shutting off his car, Edward walked up to her and sat beside her on the front step.
"Is Alexis asleep?" he asked.
She nodded. "I didn't know you were coming back tonight, or I would have let her stay up a little later."
"It's alright," Edward assured her. A few minutes of silence passed between them. Despite everything, sitting beside Bella was a familiar and comforting thing.
"What are you doing out here?" Edward asked.
"I just needed some fresh air to clear my head," Bella said. She was looking up towards the sky and out towards the woods opposite to them.
Edward let a few more seconds of silence pass between them before he finally said what was on his mind.
"Rosalie told me about how Esme had treated you while you were in Chicago," he said.
Bella didn't look at him or show any sign of surprise at his words.
"So?" was all she said.
"So, why didn't you tell me?"
Bella looked at him, confused. "I didn't think you'd care. You'd already established time and time again that you didn't care what happened to me so long as you got what you wanted."
"Why does everyone keep saying that?" Edward said angrily. "Of course I would have cared."
"You keep saying that you would, but would you have really? You were horrible then, Edward. You were determined to do whatever it took to get what you wanted. What makes how you treated me different than how Esme did? The only difference is that she used words where you used force."
Edward looked away from her, ashamed. She was right, and they both knew it.
It was a cool, dark night. The only sounds to be heard were of insects in the surrounding forest.
Edward didn't know how to express how sorry he was. Words could never explain the depth of his remorse, and he knew his words were fruitless.
"Well, I'm going indoors. I suppose we'll see you tomorrow," Bella said as she stood.
Edward stood along with her. He wanted to apologize now but didn't know how to do it, so he said the only thing he could think of. "I'm sorry."
Then, seeing her confused look, he added, "I'm sorry for how Esme treated you and how I reacted."
Bella just nodded, but Edward could tell she didn't actually believe he was sorry.
She turned to continue to walk into the house, and Edward started heading towards his car.
"I didn't sleep with him," Bella said.
"What?" Edward asked as turned back towards her.
"Sebastian. I didn't sleep with him. We went back to his house to watch a movie, and I fell asleep halfway through. That's why I arrived back here so late."
Even though Edward tried to keep the relief off of his face, he couldn't help it. A small smile came to Bella's face as she narrowed her eyes.
"No need to look so pleased," she said. "Goodnight, Edward."
Then she continued into the house.
"Goodnight Bella," Edward said.
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