While this Brit was sleeping, The Search hit over 1000 reviews. Despite being the biggest waffler ever, I simply can't find enough words to convey how much this means to me. Writing this story is both a creative and personal journey and to receive such heartfelt and enthusiastic feedback makes me happier than you could ever know. My heart leaps every time a review pops into my inbox and I instantly, feverishly, devour every word.
I'm posting my Fandom4Hereos contribution (a Edward POV of Chapter 10) to say thank you for your continued reading, alerting, pimping, rec'ing and reviewing. THANK YOU! xxx
I'm knotting my bow-tie with an ironic smirk when my mobile rings.
"Hi, Alice," I answer wearily. Since I made the mistake a week ago of admitting to my sister that my feelings for Bella may have developed beyond friendship, she has been calling and popping in non-stop to pressurise me into "making a move."
The problem is that every day since the Love Actually incident I've become more and more anxious. Seeing Bella at work is beginning to drive me insane. It was painful enough when she was just this sexy-as-fuck girl who was entirely off limits, but now she is this sexy-as-fuck girl who I also know to be sweet, caring and funny. Who has me stumbling my words and blushing for Christ's sake. Who has me questioning everything; my lifestyle, my sex life, my confidence. And she doesn't even know it.
Admitting, even to myself, that there is a possibility I may want more from Bella than the usual one-night-stand was difficult. It has been so long since I've felt anything close to this and I feel like a pathetic lovesick puppy.
Fuck, did I just say lovesick? Don't even go there, Cullen.
Unfortunately, my all-knowing sister caught me in a weak moment, lubricated with Jack Daniels, and I admitted my dilemma to her. She seems a lot happier about this recent development than I am.
"Alright, Bro. All set for tonight?" She greets in irritating merriment.
"If by "all set" you mean nervous to the point of nausea, then yes I'm good."
"Oh come on, it's going to work out fine, I promise. She likes you too, I know it."
My heart starts to pound as I think about what this evening has in store. I could just back out, I could just keep quiet and continue to perve inappropriately over my PA during working hours and masquerade as her friend outside of them.
I could continue to be miserable.
Or, to quote an Alicism, I could "Grow a pair of bollocks and do something to make myself happy."
"How do you actually know that Alice, eh? All she has done so far is rebuff my drunken advances and then accept me as a friend after my gentle coaxing. What part of those facts makes you think that things are going to work out in my favour?"
"She has an honest face." Alice says simply.
"At Selfridges the other day every time I said your name her eyes kind of flashed and she glowed a little."
"Glowed? Ali, you're actually mental."
But inside my heart is pounding, and not entirely in a good way. Admitting my feelings to Bella is one thing but, if by some miracle she does want me too, I'm not entirely sure how I'm going to deal with that either. My interactions with women usually consist of fucking and not calling back.
"God, I'm really not sure about this."
"Ed, be a bloody man."
"No I'm not talking about that now. I'm talking about Bella. What if...what if I'm not what she needs?"
"How do you mean?"
"In case you hadn't noticed I'm not exactly...boyfriend material." Even the word 'boyfriend' makes me shudder a little. "That poor girl has just gotten divorced, evidently from some sort of fucking nutcase. Doesn't she deserve someone who can offer her some, I don't know, emotional stability? What if I'm wrong? What if I'm just totally misconstruing a severe case of lust with something more?"
I take a deep breath. "What if I'm not enough?"
Alice pauses, having the good grace to actually consider my fears.
Eventually she says, "I think Bella just deserves someone who is right for her; who can make her happy. All you really need to do is put all your neuroses aside and your past behind you and consider 'Is that you'?"
I grip the phone tightly. "How will I know?"
"Listen to me, I've put her in a fuck hot dress so you are going to be blown away when you see her. You're not going to know what's hit you in fact. But then, if it's right, you'll just know. Everything will become very...clear."
Alice takes my silence for what it is, scepticism and confusion.
She sighs. "Just follow your instincts, you'll be fine."
"Hmmm...okay thanks. I think." I glance at my watch. "I gotta run, Al. I'll call you tomorrow."
She let's out an excited little squeal. "Okay, good luck good luck! Oh one last thing - don't get too pissed."
Yeah right, I'm already imagining my first drink.
"Remember, Ed, as long as you're not a pussy about all this you could have Bella in your arms by midnight!"
"Yeah or I could go home alone and with an assistant's position to fill. See ya, Sis."
I fasten my cufflinks, pull on my dinner jacket and grab my keys and wallet. I'm suddenly reminded that before this emotional trauma takes place, I have three hours of networking ahead of me. Although it's comforting to realise that, in contrast to being a good enough man for Bella Swan, this is something I'm actually confident about.
Can we just get going already? Why Aro has insisted we all arrive at this party 45 minutes early is beyond me. As he chews my ear off now about the upcoming budget review I imagine what he would say if I suddenly burst out with "Mate, do you think we could drag the clients in here now so I can schmooze my arse off, chuck 'em out again and concentrate on humiliating myself in front of the most beautiful woman I know?"
"Are you all right?" Aro is asking me, probably as I've clearly not been paying attention to his last three sentences.
"Yes, yes fine. Sorry." Hold it together, you cretin.
I may be insane, it's looking more likely by the hour, but I could have sworn I actually sensed when Bella entered the room. I whirl around and curse my sister for not doing anywhere near enough to prepare me for this sight.
Bella Swan stands ten feet away wearing the most stunning dress I have ever seen. Fuck it, that isn't true. The dress is entirely ordinary but she makes it beautiful. Her hair is swept up elegantly and her gorgeous features literally take my breath away. I rake my eyes down her body, lingering on her subtle curves and my every nerve ending is poised to leap over there and run my hands over every inch of her. She watches me with those adorably shy eyes and—Fuck, don't do it—chews her lip nervously. I hope my jacket is hiding how much she is affecting me.
I make my excuses to Aro and stride towards her, hoping I don't appear as much like the stalking lion I see in my mind. Close up she's even sexier and I vaguely feel my nails digging into my palms. Her lips look incredible and I want to run my tongue over them.
I say something, her name I think, but my voice catches and I sound ridiculous. I clear my throat and try again.
It's never going to be a line from Hamlet but it's good enough considering I'm having an emotional epiphany and an arousal party in my trousers simultaneously.
"You look...fantastic." I tell her. It's the most lacking adjective imaginable but it will have to do until I can tell her and show her what I really think.
She asks me what I need from her, work-wise, and I'm grateful. I need to calm myself and get this evening on track. Where on earth is Cocky Ed? My usual persona seems to have callously abandoned me.
I gather myself and give her the low-down on the evening, telling her I'll need her later to introduce her to some people. I don't mention all the other things I need from her. Like...everything.
I have an overwhelming desire to reassure myself that what Alice suggested is true, that maybe Bella does feel this attraction between us, that maybe it isn't entirely in my head. Just before Aro begins his speech I lean in and whisper:
"And don't forget about that dance you promised me." Unable to resist a small touch, I place my hand at the base of her spine. I can feel the heat of her skin beneath the satin of her dress.
I can't help noticing that she looks a little flush, a little breathless and it gives me hope.
The evening wears on, same shit different day. An endless parade of Volturi's clients and I perform my usual networking monkey tricks for all of them. The difference is that tonight I keep one eye on Bella the entire time. She is as captivating as ever, following Jess around nervously. Eventually her shyness wanes and she settles down a little, laughs with a few clients, chats to the other PAs. She radiates innocence and natural beauty and I'm definitely not the only man here who has noticed.
When I introduce her to Michael Coleman she smiles warmly and greets him confidently. Ridiculous as it sounds, I feel proud of her. Whatever the secret details are, and I'm still desperate to hear the truth, she clearly went through something very unpleasant in Washington and I'm so relieved to see her happier here. All I want is her confidence to grow.
Seeing her with my old PA Kate, only highlights the change in me the last few weeks. Kate was a wonderful assistant and a fun workmate but Bella is so much more than that. She's become a real friend. I've already let her further into my life than most other people. Am I willing to risk losing that by telling her the truth?
But equally, am I willing to risk the chance of having more than friendship with her because I'm afraid?
Bloody hell, I need another drink. A proper one. I suggest moving on to Soho for more drinks and Kate goes off to retrieve her and Bella's coats. We're suddenly alone and the air seems to vibrate between us.
Suddenly, Bella bursts out: "Wait! There wasn't any dancing!"
As the truth of her statement registers with my brain I can't help smiling. She remembers my promise of a dance, she has obviously been thinking about it.
She wants to dance with me.
Still grinning I say,"Of course there wasn't, Bella. This was a networking event - and we tend to chat to clients, not smooch with them. But that isn't what I meant when I asked you to save me a dance. We'll get our chance later. If you come to Soho that is?"
When we reach the bar I feel nervous again. The evening is getting late and I need to find away to be alone with Bella. I turn to watch her from the bar, where I'm waiting to buy our drinks, when I realise who she is talking to.
The idea of Rosalie and Bella being together, in the same room, and talking fills me with dread. What happened between Rose and I was...fucked up and I really don't want Bella to know about it. I don't want her to know what sort of person I used to be. And how dare that bitch show up here anyway? After basically trying to destroy my career.
I storm over just in time to hear Rose asking Bella about her role at Volturi. She probably wants to take Bella away just like she did my clients, all part of her revenge. There is no way I'm going to let that happen.
"She works for me," I say, startling them both.
Rose turns to me and tries to do her usual false friendship bit but that isn't going to fly. I know there is no way she wants to be my friend, not after what I did and what she did back.
I drag Bella away. "What were you talking to Rosalie about?" I try to keep my voice calm but I'm fairly certain I'm failing.
"Nothing, I just met her about 30 seconds ago,"
"Was she trying to poach you?" Paranoid much, Cullen?
She laughs and my blood heats up. "No! Edward, you're being ridiculous."
"Don't fucking laugh at me, Bella. It was a legitimate question."
"God, of course she wasn't trying to poach me! Jesus, you consultants are so paranoid about that stuff."
"Comes with territory in this game," I say wryly.
"Edward, I swear I was talking to her for five seconds. She wasn't interested in offering me a job!"
"Good. Because you're mine."
Fuck. Did I really just say that out loud?
"Um, I mean, you're my PA." I try to back-pedal uselessly.
Bella's jaw is set and I realise my little caveman act might actually have pissed her off. God, I'm an idiot.
"Edward, I'm sorry but you are being a little insane. I don't plan on being poached by someone I met in a bar two minutes ago and I'm kind of insulted that you would assume that I would be."
I need to apologise but she isn't finished.
"And I want to get something else clear too. I do not "work for you". I am employed by Volturi, and they assigned me to you. I'm not your property and I'd rather you didn't treat me as such."
"No Edward, it's "bollocks" as you'd call it. If you want to have a pissing contest with an ex-colleague because she once bruised your ego then that's up to you, but leave me out of it. And lastly, don't physically drag me off from a conversation with a stranger just because you've gone all caveman all of a sudden!"
"She isn't a stranger to me." I say, sadly.
"Clearly!" Bella shouts, just as there is a break in the music. The entire bar turns to stare and it's so ridiculous that we both can't help bursting into laughter.
We both apologise and I'm so relieved that the situation has diffused itself but I can't help feeling depressed that this mini-drama has ruined my chance to tell Bella how I feel tonight. I need to get it out there. I need her to know the truth. How she deals with it then is up to her.
Maybe I should just be honest with her, right now.
"This isn't really going according to plan." I tell her.
"What plan?" Her eyes are wide and somewhere between curious and afraid.
No backing out now. "I had a three-fold plan."
She is silent for a moment and then asks, "What was the first point on your plan? Maybe it's salvageable."
Relieved that she isn't running for the exit already I say, "The first item was pretty simple - Buy Bella a Drink. Didn't really think it was possible to mess that part up." I laugh self-deprecatingly, realising I abandoned the bar to drag her away from Rosalie.
After we've gone back to the bar and downed our drinks she asks, a little nervously.
"What was the second plan point?"
I take a deep breath "Get Bella to Dance with Me."
When she replies "Well, you got it, boss." my heart leaps up to my throat.
I take her hand and the touch of her bare skin sends a shiver through me. I lead her to the dance floor and pull her gently into my arms. Her scent surrounds me and I'm afraid to breathe for fear that I won't be able to control myself. We begin to move and I notice her shiver a little.
Please, Bella. Please tell me you feel this too, because if I'm alone in this then I must be going mad.
I pull her closer and I'm surprised when I feel her move her hand up the back of my neck, her soft fingers on my sensitive skin makes me breathless and I briefly wonder how I'd ever be able to stand being inside this woman when the simple touch of her hand on my neck does this to me. When she slides her hand up into my hair I can't control the strange groan that comes from the back of her throat. My fists clench with the effort of not pulling her tighter against my body and kissing her until neither of us knows which way is up.
It's now or never, Cullen. Be a man.
"Your hair smells amazing," I tell her, because, my God, it does. "You are amazing, Bella. You look so beautiful tonight. Alice was right; she said when I saw you I wouldn't know what had hit me but then at the same time I suddenly would. She said that everything would become clear if I let it, and she was right about that too."
Alice was right. I need Bella in a way I've never needed anyone before.
"Can I attempt the third point in my plan now?" I whisper.
"What is it?"
Unable to resist the lure of her eyes I pull back and look at her. I'm frightened but calm all at once.
"Tell Bella the Truth."
She gives a small nod before casting a glance around the room.
"Not here" she says and I realise she's right. This bar is full of Volturi staff and here I am practically molesting my PA in the middle of the dance floor. I lose all sense of self-preservation when it comes to Bella.
I lead her outside and find a quiet spot, my heart warmed by the fact that she hasn't let go of my hand.
In the back of my mind the old Eddie is reeling. What are you doing? You're going to bare your soul to this girl? This woman you hardly know. Why would you do that? What makes you think she is any different from anyone else? What makes you think she won't crush you from the inside out like Tanya?
She is NOT Tanya, I growl back.
I push down my fear and take a deep breath.
"It feels like ever since you came here all I have done is apologise to you and I'm afraid I'm going to have to again." I begin.
She frowns "What for?"
"I should never have insisted we be friends, Bella. It was a stupid idea. I knew from that first moment in Aro's office that I wanted you and when you made it clear you definitely didn't want me I should have left well alone. I should have kept things professional, like you said, but I couldn't. I just wanted to be near you however I could. I feel this...connection between us."
I glance up at her, desperate to know what she is thinking but her face is blank.
"Being friends...hurts. Every moment with you has my heart in my throat. When we're at work I can't keep my eyes off of you - your body, your smile, your bloody hair. It's driving me insane and I'm tired. I'm so tired of not telling you."
I may as well admit everything. "This isn't even me, Bella. Or at least not the person I've been for many years. I'm not used to this and it's like every day there is a new fucking feeling and I have nowhere to put it or nobody to tell it to so I guess that's what I'm doing. Telling you. Because I can't not tell you any more."
Now I've said my piece I'm afraid, more frightened than I've been in years. I try to reassure myself that Alice is right, that Bella wants me too, that I'm not imagining it. I try to tell myself that if she rejects me it doesn't matter. I can just go back to how I was. But in truth I don't know if I can. Bella has made me want to be someone new, someone better. How can I go back to my old ways, my old defences, when I can't look that person in the eye anymore?
I wait. When she eventually speaks her words are light years away from what I expect.
"But what about the other women, Edward?"
She's worried about that, about something as ridiculous as...as competition. Does she not realise how entirely she has captured me?
"Oh please Edward, what sort of fool do you take me for?"
I feel the first tendrils of hurt creep into my chest.
"What are you talking about? I'm talking about us. What do you mean?" I hate how desperate my voice sounds.
Her jaw is locked, her eyes cast downwards.
"You don't feel anything for me, Edward. You're kidding yourself. This is nothing but a game to you."
A wave of heat rolls over me - humiliation and anger. I flinch at little away from her.
"You're wrong," I mutter, tightly.
"I'm not wrong, Edward. I know everything about you. You have a different woman every week. You fuck any woman you like. You wanted to fuck me but I wouldn't let you."
I clench my fists and try to control my rage. I can't believe she is using that against me. That she has entirely ignored our friendship and reduced me to nothing more than office gossip. But more than anything I'm furious with myself. Furious that I did carelessly fuck so many women, that I did try to kiss Bella on her doorstep in a drunken stupor. Furious that I'm not good enough for the one person I need to make mine.
But why the fuck does she care about this stuff anyway? If I mean nothing to her then why does she feel the need to throw my promiscuity in my face? If she wasn't interested she could have just told me so and walked away by now, sparing us both this.
I examine her face more closely. Her tight jaw, her clenched fists. Her eyes are glistening as if she is holding back tears. She's shaking slightly beside me.
It suddenly becomes very clear. She is pushing me away on purpose.
I stand up. "Stop this bollocks, Bella. You do know me, and you know I'm telling the truth. You're just too afraid."
"Oh yeah?" She snarls, standing too. "Well if you are so fucking into me then what about last Wednesday?"
Now I'm really confused. "Bella, I have no fucking idea what you are talking about. What about Wednesday?"
"I have eyes, Edward. I saw your shirt. I know you didn't go home. So you might be kidding yourself that there is something between us but it didn't stop you fucking someone else in the meantime."
If I hadn't been certain of how she really felt before I would be now. Her face tells me everything. She is jealous and hurt and so, so afraid. I don't know whether to hold her or throttle her.
I take a step closer.
"Last Tuesday night me, Jasper and some of the guys had a poker night. I had half a bottle of scotch and fell asleep on Jasper's couch."
Her face twitches, her armour cracks. "Fine, maybe not then. But there are others, aren't there? You can't help yourself."
She clutching at straws and I'm still angry. Why is she denying how she feels? Just to humiliate me?
"Bella, why are you doing this?"
"I'm not doing anything. I'm just pointing out that if you were serious about me you wouldn't still be banging every woman in London!"
I've had enough.
"I'm NOT!" I yell, my voice echoing in the quiet park. "Do you want to know why? Do you want to know why I haven't laid a hand on another woman since the moment I laid eyes on you?"
I don't wait for her to answer.
"Because I can think of nothing - NOTHING - besides you! You consume every thought in my head and I finally find the guts to tell you and you're so fucking afraid that you say anything and everything you can to try to push me away."
Everything seems crystal clear to me now. She does have feelings for me. She's just frightened to acknowledge them. I don't know if it is my past or hers but something is making her hold back. But I'm done pretending.
"But you know what? All you have done, Bella, is given me hope. Hope that you feel enough for me that you're willing to go to such extremes to get me to leave you alone."
I watch as tears fill her eyes and my whole body aches with the need to comfort her. I step closer.
"But it won't work, Bella. I see you, I know all about your barriers and your walls because I have plenty of my own. I don't pretend to know the reasons behind them and I would give the world for you to let me in but it doesn't matter right now because I see what you're doing and I'm not letting go."
"You can try to push me away with everything you have but I only have one response now."
I touch her face and she trembles, I press my forehead to hers and say -
I press my mouth against hers and I almost want to cry from the relief of it. Her lips are so soft and perfect and it's as if they were made for mine. The urge to rush this, to take her mouth the way my body craves is so powerful. But I won't. She needs to lead this. She needs to accept this, to accept me.
Please, Bella. Please don't deny me, deny us. This is right and you know it.
Her arms go around me and the fight goes out of her at once. I pull her closer in desperate relief and when she brushes my lip with her tongue I can't resist her any longer. Our mouths open together and my tongue seeks hers as if they are old friends. Our mouths move together and I can't think about anything other than how good this feels, how perfect, how right.
I hold her face in my palms and I know she is crying. I can taste the salt of her tears. I try to tell her everything I need to say with my kiss.
Don't be afraid. Let me help you. Let me protect you. Let me take whatever happened to you and make it right again.
I eventually pull away and crush her towards me, desperate to protect her entire body with mine. She leans into me and my heart flies with the knowledge that she needs me the same way I need her.
"Do you see now, Bella?" I whisper. "Do you see what we are? What we could be?"
She pulls back to look at me and my chest clenches in dread when I still see her armour back in place.
She turns away from me. "It doesn't change anything, Edward."
No please please please.
"Bella, don't do this."
"Why can't you see that I'm doing this for you? Why can't you just trust that I have good reason and let it go?"
What secret can be so bad that it causes her this much pain?
I pull her back towards me."Listen to me, whatever it is that you can't tell me, it's okay. I can handle it. It won't change anything."
She looks so broken. "If you knew you wouldn't feel that way. You wouldn't want me and I wouldn't blame you. I'm not making you give it up."
"Give what up? Bella, please!"
"I'm sorry, Edward." She whispers. "God, I'm so sorry."
She turns and runs.
I stumble, stunned. I collapse on the bench and run my hands through my hair. How can this be happening? How can she kiss me like that and then still say we can't be together? What the fuck happened in America that has left her so frightened?
Why the hell did I just let her run away?
On autopilot I stagger to the tube and head towards Camden. I don't know what I'm going to say to her, I don't know what I can say that I haven't already tried but I know this isn't over. I need to see her and I need to know the truth. I deserve the truth.
She opens her door and I begin speaking.
"Years ago my father and I had a fight. He tried to tell me what I wanted and what was best for me and I disagreed. It's never been the same between us." I have no idea why I'm bringing him up but it stands to reason as he is behind all my control issues.
"I know you think you know what's best, Bella. I know you think I won't want you when I know the truth. But here is something you might not know about me. I've spent a lot of my life fighting for what I know I want and I'm not about to stop now."
I'm relieved that she hasn't thrown me out at least. "What if you end up feeling differently?"
"I won't. But regardless, shouldn't that be something we worry about then. Shouldn't that be my choice?"
She watches me carefully. I wait, hardly daring to even breathe.
"You're right," She finally says and relief rushes over me as I put my arms around her.
"So we can talk? You'll tell me what happened and we'll deal with it together?"
She shakes her head. "I don't want to talk right now. There have been too many words tonight already." She whispers in my ear. "Kiss me again, Edward. Touch me. Make it all I can think about."
My instantly hard cock is more than happy with this arrangement but surely we need to discuss some stuff first?
"Please, Edward." She interrupts. "Stay here with me. I want you. Please..."
It's the words I have been desperate to hear but something feels a little off. I look at her face but she now seems perfectly calm. Every part of my body is crying out for hers and I decide that we've denied each other long enough.
When we kiss again it is just as intense. More so because we both know it is leading somewhere else. I relax a little, knowing now that she wants this, that I no longer have to coax her into agreement. I revel in her touch; her hands in my hair, her mouth on mine, her body pressed tightly against me.
Finally able to fulfil a fantasy I've been harbouring since we met I pull back to remove the pins from her hair, watching it cascade elegantly down her shoulders like a chocolate waterfall. She's never looked so beautiful and I tell her so.
She kisses me hard and when she presses herself against my cock I lose control. I need her. Now. I lift her up and she wraps her legs around me and I feel like I might go out of my mind if I don't get inside her soon.
"Show me your room, Bella," I tell her. "Before I lose my mind completely and take you here in the hall."
At this point it feels like a distinct possibility.
In her room, pressed against the door I say ""Do you have any idea what you are doing to me right now? Can you feel what you do to me?"
Because she needs to know; she needs to know how much I want her. How this isn't like all those other women; how being with her will mean so much more.
"Yes, Edward." She says, playful. "I think it is quite clear..."
But that isn't enough. I realise that isn't even what I meant. It is the opposite in fact. I need her to know this isn't just about sex.
I put her gently down and find her eyes with mine in the half-light. I grab her hand and place it on my chest, over my heart that hasn't stopped pounding hard and fast since the day I met her.
"What about this? Can you feel what you are doing to me here?"
"It's racing," she whispers, eyes wide.
"For you. Ever since the first moment I saw you. It was waiting for you, I think. My heart was searching for you before I even realised I was."
Once again her eyes flash with some sort of internal struggle. I wish she would just tell me what it is.
Eventually she places my hand over her own heart
"It's already yours, Edward."
For a second my mind fills up with one word, one feeling. A word I haven't uttered in a decade and a feeling that I'm nowhere near ready to acknowledge.
For now I just kiss her and hold her and undress her. I feel her skin against mine and my lips against hers and her breasts in my hands. I want to touch all of her at once, taste every inch, take her entirely. I want to give her everything.
When she touches me through my underwear I wonder if maybe we should slow it down, afraid if she gets her hands on me everything that has been building for two months will just overwhelm me.
"Fuck, I need to touch you too baby..."
My fingers slide between her legs and that's when I notice it.
She stiffens. Her breath hitches, and not in a good way.
"No no, stop it STOP IT!" She suddenly shouts.
She struggles underneath me and I come to my senses and sit up quickly, bewildered.
"Bella, it's okay -"
"No, I don't want to. I can't breathe!"
She struggles to a sitting position and clutches her chest, her throat. Her eyes seem glazed as if she doesn't even know I'm there. What the...?
I put my hands gently on her shoulders. "Bella, calm down, you're safe-"
But she pulls out of my grasp and tears are running down her cheeks, her eyes still glazed, her breath coming in gasps.
I panic. Shit. What's going on? Is she having some sort of panic attack?
She's still shouting in between gasping breaths and most of it seems to be nonsense but I hear her ex husband's name. I manage to pull her around to sit on the edge of bed and kneel between her legs on the floor.
"Bella! Can you hear me? Baby, you need to calm down."
She still looks through me with the same terrifying, glazed expression. She's stopped shouting now and is just gasping and wheezing, and I start to fear that she actually can't breathe. My head spins.
Fuck fuck fuck fuck.
Should I call an ambulance?
I try one last time to try to get her to see me.
"Bella!" I'm shouting now. "Bella? Can you hear me? Bella! Please Bella!"
Her glazed eyes finally focus a little and she drags in a jagged breath.
"Can you hear me, Bella? Baby, look at me."
She looks at me, tries to speak. I listen closely to the air raggedly going in and out of her parted lips.
"It's okay, it's okay, just take a few deep breaths okay? Breathe in and out when I do, all right?"
I place my hands on her shoulders and stare into her eyes while we both take several deep breaths. I let the relief seep into me.
"Are you okay?" I ask.
I can't help pulling her into a hug. "Thank God, thank God. Fucking hell, what the hell happened just then? You scared a shit out of me..."
"I...I don't know."
I look at her. "You don't know? Bella, you...I don't know...had a panic attack or something! One minute you were fine and the next you were shouting and thrashing and saying you couldn't breathe and - Jesus, I was terrified."
Her conflicted look is back and she looks sad and resigned.
"I can't have sex with you, Edward," she finally says.
"Well, shit, Bella I got that!"
Does she really think that's still what I'm thinking about? I thought she was going to stop fucking breathing for Christ sake!
"We don't have to do anything you don't want to do, you hear me? Do you understand? We can take this as slow as you want. I just want to talk, I just need you to tell me what's going on." I tell her gently.
"No, that's not what I meant. You don't understand."
She needs to tell me the truth, all of it. I capture her face in my hands. "So make me. Please."
Her gorgeous face is distorted with pain and conflict. What can possibly be this bad? My anxious heart races.
"I'm not saying I don't want to sleep with you, or that I won't. I'm saying I actually...can't."
She stares at me and I hold my breath.
"I can't have sex, Edward."
I have a few ideas knocking around for other outtakes, including J and Ali's story, so if that's of interest please put this on alert. Thank you so much for reading.