Disclaimer: All things Twilight belong to Stephenie Meyer
Just a short look at what's going on in Edward's head!
"Hey," I greet Chelsea when I answer the knock on the front door to find her standing on the doorstep. She stretches up on her toes to kiss me and I bend down to meet her, knowing she'll never reach otherwise, even in those heels. "How was your day?" I ask, closing the door as she slips off her jacket and shoes.
"I had a great time. Your mom's so nice," she tells me, hanging her jacket up. I smile.
"Where'd you go?" I ask her as we wander back through to the living room and I settle back onto the couch where I'd been watching TV when she arrived. She sinks down next to me and I lift my arm to let her tuck herself in next to me.
"Just Port Angeles," she says, her eyes on the TV. "Oh!" she exclaims suddenly, looking up at me now. "Guess who I met in the coffee shop this morning though?"
"Who?" I ask, amused by her demeanour.
"Bella!" she announces, watching me as she clearly waits for a reaction. I'm a little shocked because, even though I knew Bella was back in Forks, her name was the last one that I was expecting to fall from Chelsea's lips. I'm aware that I'm slightly frozen and have paused a fraction longer than is normal as I picture my girlfriend, my mom and my ex-wife in the small coffee shop in town.
"Oh?" I say, trying hard to make it sound light and uninterested.
"Yeah, she was with a girl with short dark hair."
"Probably Alice, Jasper's wife," I tell her. There are more than a few questions I'd like to ask about Bella, but I know that directing them at Chelsea isn't appropriate. I also know that Bella's still with that Riley guy. After seeing them together at Fort Worden; the way he doted on her and the late night chat Bella and I had, there's no way I'd do anything to jeopardise that for her. Up to that point I was all set to fight for her, but Riley was like a slap in the face; like the truth and reality of what happened between us slamming against me. That was the point I laid down everything I was planning to fight with and walked away, determined to leave her be and find a way to move on. I hadn't seen her since the night we talked over cocoa, months ago.
I suddenly realize that Chelsea is looking at me expectantly. I clear my throat nervously.
"Sorry, did you say something?" I ask. She looks away.
"Never mind," she replies in a small voice. She's unnaturally quiet all through dinner and into the evening too. I try, but my heart's not in it, and when she asks if she can stay over I make my excuses and send her home.
As I lie wide awake in bed a little later, my phone rings. It's Chelsea. She doesn't even say hello.
"It was because of your ex, wasn't it? You started acting weird as soon as I mentioned her name to you." I have the feeling she's been going over this in her head all evening and trying to work herself up to this call.
"I really like you, Edward, but if you're not over her, then you shouldn't be with me. It's not fair on you or me."
"You know?" she asks tentatively. I sigh as I cover my eyes with my hand.
"Look, Chelsea, I've not found things easy since my divorce. I've been feeling better lately though; I thought I was over it, but hearing her name out of nowhere shook me up. Maybe I'm not ready. Maybe I shouldn't have let things between us go anywhere," I tell her, being completely honest.
"Oh." She sounds surprised. I'd thought this was what she was expecting me to say, but now I'm not so sure. "If you want to try making things more casual for a time, then I'm cool with that," she says quickly. "I didn't mean…" I really don't have the energy for this kind of thing.
"Chelsea," I sigh. "Let's just leave it, ok?"
Silence. And then…
"Goodbye, Edward," she whispers. I say goodbye in reply, but when I check the screen of my phone I see that she's already ended the call.
I manage to avoid everyone for the rest of the week, but when I arrive alone for dinner with my parents on my birthday, I'm left to explain why to my mother.
"Oh, honey, Chelsea was such a nice girl too, I thought you liked her," she says as I help her in the kitchen. I turn to look at her, which is a mistake because all I see is the disappointment on her face.
"Please don't look at me like that, Mom," I say. "I did like her."
"But she broke up with you? She seemed so smitten—"
Thankfully my dad chooses that moment to walk into the kitchen.
"Happy birthday, son," he says, clapping me on the back as he passes.
"Thanks, Dad," I reply.
"I really thought you were getting ready to settle down again," my mom continues, thankfully forgetting I hadn't replied to why Chelsea broke up with me. "It's nearly two years since you and Bella broke up and Chelsea was the only girl you've made any kind of effort with in that time." She stops what she's doing and turns to face me. "I worry about you, Edward," she says.
"I know," I tell her. "But you don't need to; really, I'm fine."
"But I'm not so sure you are. First there was the whole mess with Bella, and now you just don't seem able to move on," she tells me. As if I didn't know. Does she think I don't worry about this shit too?
"Well maybe I don't have to be in a relationship to have moved on," I tell her. "Why can't I be happy on my own?" And even as the words leave my lips, I realize that believing in this may just be the best idea I've had in a long time.
Of Pleasure & Pain has been nominated as one of The Lemonade Stand's Fic of the Week as of 21st December, 2012. If you get chance, please go over to tehlemonadestand dot net (misspelling of 'the' in the address is deliberate – it's how it's spelt in the url) and check out the 'Meet the Poll' section to vote :o)
Wishing everybody a very Happy Christmas!