When I look at Bella, I try to hate her. I force myself to remember the way she used to kiss me, the way that her fingers would glide up the back of my head, messing up my hair. I force myself to remember finding her naked and passed out cold in Edward's bed after our graduation party. I force myself to acknowledge all that I have given up for her.
But really, who am I kidding?
The Bella I loved, and the Bella that is always by Edward's side are two different people. After she had Edward's child, the spitting image of him, she became a quiet, sad looking girl. Her hair lost its luster, her brown eyes permanently downcast. I still have to convince myself that I don't want her.
Edward walks around feeling smugly satisfied. He knows that we both wanted the girl and that, in the end, only the victor gets the spoils. Our father taught us that at a very young age. Edward was always better at being heartless than I was. He's three years older than me, set to enter into his first year of med school. I am twenty two. Bella, twenty.
Sometimes, I catch her walking around, the baby tucked into her hip. She always looks too tired, too lost, too desperate for someone to reach out to her, but I never do. Reaching out to Bella would involve making myself vulnerable again, something she taught me to avoid. All the same, I allow myself to imagine. The piercing green eyes of her baby boy have become blue, like mine. The auburn coloring of the baby's hair has become brown ringlets, like her. I am standing beside her. My arms are secured around her waist so that she knows, beyond a shadow of any of her doubts about herself or my feelings, that she is mine. Her arms are around our baby.
When she places our baby down, my voice is whispering a lullaby made of promises, both to her and the baby. I will be faithful to you. I will love you, both of you. I will remind you of how beautiful you are. Never, in my mind, can I be positive when the promises that bind me to the baby boy become the promises that bind me to her.
She turns around, her hands coming into my hair just like they used to. My hands go to the skin under the shirt she is wearing. I find her body beautiful, attractive. I always have. I always will. In my dream, she falls into me, needing me just as badly as I need her. In my dream, my lips never leave her breasts. In my dream, my body remains connected to her's until, like a thunderstorm ending, we have both gotten rid of everything that we need to be rid of.
But this is a ridiculous dream. I know that.
Falling back onto my bed, I run a hand through my hair. It's like this every night, only getting worse the longer her scent lingers in my clothes, the longer her shampoo rests beside mine. The longer I watch Edward neglect her for his school work.
The baby has begun crying again. A sustained, droning wail that has me burying my head in the pillows behind me, praying that Edward will attend to his child. I fall in and out of sleep for a half an hour or so, the minutes have become to blur, and the baby has not stopped crying.
"Edward!" I hear her voice calling. She walks past my room, the baby bouncing and sobbing on her hip. Her shirt is huge, hanging well past her waist. She wears no pants. "Edward, please!"
"Bella, this is your child." I hear him hiss. "Deal with him. I have to study."
I try to make myself not care. I imagine her body, naked and prone, in Edward's bed. I imagine Edward's lips on her lips. On her breasts. It does no good. I rise slowly, walking to the hallway.
Bella is leaning against the wall. Her eyes are red already, so her tears haven't made much of a difference. She is sniffling silently, her torso jerking with the force of sobs held in.
"Bella." I whisper, walking towards her.
She looks up at me. "Jazz." Her word is half whisper, half sob. "He- he..." She can't fight against the sobs that rack her torso, that make her clench her teeth against them. The bags under her eyes do nothing to ruin how beautiful she is.
I reach out, wrapping my arms around and under the warm infant, tucking him into my chest. He doesn't cry anymore, merely gives a small hiccup of recognition, before he lays his head down on my shoulder, leaving a wet spot of saliva behind. The silence, now that James is no longer crying, echoes between us.
In my head, I never got past the part where I grabbed the baby from her. I merely wanted some peace and quiet, a way for myself to fall asleep. Now that she is standing so close to me, crying her eyes out and exhausted, there is only one right thing for me to do. I reach out, grasping her small hand between mine.
As her fingers slip into the places where they belong, between mine, I try not to let the way I feel show. She can't know how quickly my heart has sped up. She does not protest as I walk her into my room.
I close the door as she wanders over to my bed. My room is beautiful, thanks to my mom, but it looks warm and inviting now that Bella is here. She stands by my black bed, running her fingers over the bed spread. The wall of windows that looks out over the forest in the backyard is completely dark, the night completely still.
"Can I?" She asks.
I want to ask her if Edward would approve. If he knows or even cares. Holding her baby to my chest, I nod. "Whatever you want." The baby stirs.
Bella lays down in my bed slowly, curling onto her side towards me, just like she always used to. Her lips part in a sigh, and her eyes close softly. Her hands grasp the fabric of my blanket, crinkle it like paper, wrinkle it like water. "Put him next to me." She murmurs.
Leaning down to her, like I am going to kiss her, I place her child next to her fingers. The baby picks up her hand. Saying nothing, she puts her arm over her child, cuddling against him. I wonder, for her, what he smells like. If he smells of Edward or if he smells of milk and baby powder and clothes fresh from Baby Gap.
"You can lay down here. If you like." Her eyes are closed.
Not knowing whether I'm speaking to myself or her, I sit on the bed, "Are you...?" Am I asking her if she will be okay? Or am I asking myself if I can lay in the same bed as her again?
I lay down next to her and Edward's baby. My hands stay under my head, my body curved the exact opposite way of her's. If we wanted, we could still fit together. Not quite knowing what I'm doing, I reach out, rolling one of her curls around my fingers. The smoothness of her hair astounds me.
Her eyes flutter open, "What are you doing?"
I don't respond. I can't. Instead, I withdraw my hand, pretending nothing has happened. My eyes close on her and the inquisitive expression written on her face.
When I wake up in the morning, there is nothing but a warm imprint where she used to be and the lingering fragrance of her hair. She is, just like last night, yelling at Edward to help her. To take her to the doctor.
I step out of the room with the piano in it and immediately see Bella. She is standing in the hallway, her eyes wide and honest. "Please, Edward. I need you to take me. Someone has to look after James while I go."
Not aware that I'm watching, Edward stalks down the hall, grasping Bella's wrist tightly in his hands. "Shut up. Go to the doctor."
Bella winces, "Please come-."
Edward raises his hand like he's going to slap her and, suddenly, there isn't enough air in the entire house. In the entire world.
"I can't listen to your screaming all day." Edward hisses, "I have school. Figure it out." With that, he releases her hand and retreats.
As I watch, Bella completely deflates. She falls back against the wall, her hands going to her face, to cover up the redness that has spread across her cheeks and up her neck, to cover up the tears that write her sadness onto her face for everyone to see. With Bella, emotions are private. Her tears make her emotions public. They are no longer personal.
I turn around, retreating back into the room.
Later that night, once everyone else has gone to bed, once everything else in the house has faded to black, I hear a knock at my door. I am laying on my bed, sprawled and shirtless, and I know who it is. I don't say no to her. I don't say anything.
Bella walks into the room quickly, shutting the door behind her. Her lip is being worried between her bottom teeth. "Hey." She whispers.
I look at her. "Bella." I want to close the void between us, make the spaces between her and me become nonexistent. There is nothing I want more than to be with her, but I don't do anything. I lay on the bed. "What are you doing here?"
She shakes her head. When I look at her, I can't help but see the girl who was standing down the hallway from Edward, her wrist caught much too tightly in his grasp. The silence in the room has become stifling as she gazes at me. Running a hand through her dark brown hair, she reaches down to her pale thigh, moving her shirt lower, "Can I stay awhile?"
I move over on the bed, not trusting my voice in that moment.
Bella walks toward the bed, laying down on her side, a hand extending toward me like a peace offering. I don't want peace. If peace means silence and coldness, I don't want it. I want to yell at her and scream, and when we're done, I want to pin her to the wall and kiss her so angrily that her lips bruise beneath mine. When her lips turn dark red beneath me, I want to bite her neck and watch her squirm. I want to dig my fingers into her hips too hard, too much want.
But that hasn't happened. We are laying in a bed together for the second time in two days, not talking, not touching. Just looking. Maybe she is wanting me. But I'm wanting her so much it aches in my chest.
She reaches out to me again, trailing a finger over the scars on my chest.
As her fingers run over my stomach, my muscles jerk and jump under her touch, my breath coming faster. My mind has begun to short circuit, and I reach out, grasping the edge of her shirt.
If she wants me to stop, she doesn't say so.
My hands crawl up over her soft stomach and the even slopes of her breasts, coming to settle on her nipples. Her breasts are larger than they were the last time we were together, a product of her having a child with Edward, and when I bring my head to her chest, lifting up her shirt, she moans.
I suckle on her nipple. For every moment I have played this situation out in my mind, it is nothing like I imagined it would be. I feel a tide of emotion coming over me, but it is not all good emotions. I feel regret and anger that I have fallen back into her arms. I feel love. A love so crushing I can't breathe.
As I lift her shirt, helping her shrug it off, she puts her hands under my pants, lowering them. I am aroused, of course, and I can only hope that she is wet for me as well. She sits up, bringing herself to sit on my chest, settling herself onto my erection.
Coming together with her is how it always was: we are like the sun and the moon, alike and different and we work. One of my hands rests on her chest, the other pulls her head down to mine by her deep brown hair, securing her lips to mine. We are kissing and I am falling, and I want nothing more than to stay here forever.
She rides me slowly, prolonging her orgasm to wait for me, to prolong the suspended feeling of time when we are together. I don't know. I don't care.
Our hearts beat together, our breaths gasping out at the same time. I fight to bite back the moans in my throat. She doesn't. Her voice rises, keening, in my ear, and when she bites my neck as she cums, I know that she has left a mark. I spill into her, gasping out her name.
When it is all over, our bodies spent and empty as they have ever been, Bella rises from the bed, pulling on her shirt. She walks toward the door, glancing at me once over her fragile looking shoulder. I can't make eye contact with her, so I watch the even slopes of her shoulder blades.
Then she is gone, just as quietly as she came.