I don't own anything -except apologies on how long it's been. Meet me at the bottom, mkay?
Crazy amounts of love to my girl T, I love you for putting up my crap and being the best beta...EVER.
As I stood pounding on the red door, soaked from the thunderstorm that raged around the little house, my fury escalated to new heights- heights that it had never seen before. I knew that some of it was misplaced, and I shouldn't be angry at Alice, and then take it out on Edward, but her words were still haunting me.
The baby -h e knew about the baby.
That brought on a whole new wave of rage. There had always been so many questions about what happened between us, but the thought that Edward had ignored the fact that I was pregnant overshadowed all of them.
My hand was stinging as I pounded my fist against the door, and I began to formulate a breaking and entering plan if he didn't open the door soon.
As my hand came down against the wood one last time, the hard surface beneath my fist gave way and there stood a very confused looking Edward. His tie was gone, and the first few buttons of his shirt were open, revealing the top of his chest piece. The swirls of color teased every ounce of my self control.
"Bella?" he asked as I stormed past him, and I stomped into the room.
"You wanted to talk, right? Well, right now would be a good time." Folding my arms across my chest, I narrowed my eyes at him, and I my breath came out in short pants.
"Yeah," He started as he closed the front door behind him.
"I can see how responsive you will be to anything I say right now," his words dripping with sarcasm.
His stride across the room was slow, and it only served to piss me off even more. Slowly, he sat down in the old chair that I placed by the fireplace years ago.
"So, where do you want to start? I can see that something is obviously on your mind."
Before I could even stop myself, I was across the room and kicking the corner of the old chair that once belonged to me.
Anger flashed across his face, but then it was gone as soon as it appeared.
"Don't do that. If you want to be angry with me, then fine, I deserve it. But don't come in here and destroy my things."
"Your things? Are you kidding me? That chair belonged to my grandmother!"
Staring up at me with sad eyes, he replied. "Why do you think I kept it? Hell, Bella. Look around you."
I had glanced at the things in the room when I first stormed in, but I hadn't noticed all that much in my state of fury. As my eyes scanned the area, wall to wall, door to door, I realized that it hadn't changed -at all. In fact, the Southern Living magazine was still lying on the sofa table, just beside the bottle of lotion I put on my elbows every night. Everything was clean and dust-free, so I knew that it wasn't a sign of neglect that these things were still out.
"Tell me where to start, and I will tell you everything you want to know."
He was being honest, straightforward, and staring at me like the boy I once knew. Slowly, my armor began to crack, and my anger faded.
"Why did you shut me out? Why couldn't you just lean on me?"
My lip was already trembling, and the burning in my eyes told me that this wasn't going to be easy. I had spent so long holding things in and ignoring what lay simmering just beneath the surface. It was finally time to stop that.
Edward took a deep breath and slowly blew it out. The emotions that crossed his face were so scattered and fleeting that my knees could barely hold me up. Now that my anger was dimming, I was feeling exhausted and hurt. I slowly sank in the chair opposite Edward and watched his green eyes lock on the fire.
"Did you ever wonder why exactly I went from being the All-American golden boy to..." he chuckles, "a pain in the ass?"
I know it isn't a question that he's looking for an answer to.
"When I was twelve, our neighbor, Mrs. Craddock, called us on our way home one day. Her little girl had the flu, and her husband was out of town. We'd been visiting dad at the hospital, so she wanted us to stop by the grocery to pick up some soup."
He chuckles and smiles at the memory.
"When she had you cornered, you were going to be talking for a while. So, mom just motioned me to go on in the store and grab the soup while she stayed on the phone in the car with her."
He jaw tightened, and he pressed his eyelids shut tight.
"This boy came up to me, he was about 17. I didn't know the things then that I do now, but it was obvious he was on drugs. He looked homeless. His actions were erratic, and quite frankly -he scared the hell out of me."
Finally looking away from the fire, Edward blew out a breath and stood. Walking the length of the fireplace, he alternated between running his hand through his hair and searching for the words to say.
"He was my brother, Bella. I'll spare you the details and shit that he spewed at me, but apparently, he'd been watching me for a few days, looking for a time when I was alone."
His brother? I can't help but let the shocked and confused look show on my face. His brother? I never knew.
"Our dad was an asshole but must have actually loved my mother. Apparently, he had a lot of guilt about leaving her. So, when he heard she died, he didn't handle it well. He made their lives miserable before he killed himself. And then...his mom remarried. His stepdad didn't make things any better."
Edward sat back down and hung his head between his hands.
"Edward, you can't help that the man cheated on his wife with your mom. You can't help that he tore his family apart," I protested.
He slowly smiled, "I know that -now. But imagine a twelve year kid, being cornered by his big brother, and being told that everything is his fault."
My fingers itch to reach out and comfort him, but I manage to stop myself. I have to remember why I'm here.
"Did Carlisle and Esme know this?"
He shakes his head. "Not until a couple years ago."
Slowly, the pieces start to fall into place. He thought that he was responsible for his mother's death. Then, his big brother tells him he is to blame to his father's too. I can only imagine what was going through his head while Emmett was in the hospital.
But that doesn't excuse his behavior.
"You should have talked to me." I could barely manage to get my voice above a whisper.
"I know. You have no idea how much I wish I could go back and do it over. All this time apart." He blew a shaky breath out.
"Wasted," his whispered.
The silence settled between us as I tried to soak in what he'd told me. So many questions filled my mind; questions from before, questions from now.
"It was supposed to be you." His voice was so low, so quiet, that I had to wonder if I had actually heard him.
"If you hadn't gotten held up, it would have been you in that seat, Bella. I would have killed you. When I woke up, that was all I could think about. Every time I looked at you, I thought about how close I came to killing the only thing in the world that I couldn't live without, and..." He stopped talking as he chewed his lip, fighting back the tears that threatened to overtake him.
I wanted to reach out to him, to hug him and kiss his forehead. I just couldn't let myself.
"Edward, I can understand that you were in a bad place and you felt responsible. I think anyone would have. But you shut down. You barely spoke to me and then to...cheat...on me."
Edward's neck snapped to the side quickly.
"I told you, Bella. I have never cheated on you."
The realization that it was finally time to deal with all the pain settled on my shoulders. All these years, not knowing the details have been torture, but now, it's time to delve into the past.
"That day, the last day...I saw her."
Edward's forehead scrunches in confusion.
"I still don't understand."
"Kate. I saw her leaving our house. I found the note in your truck. She had written, 'she never has to know.' Edward, of all the nasty people to have messed around with. If you were going to cheat, couldn't it have been with someone a little -cleaner?"
"Wait. Kate? Who is Kate? I mean, seriously Bella, I don't know what you're talking about. Leaving our house?"
Swiping beneath my eye with the back of my hand, I took a deep breath and tried to steady my breathing, but the sobs remained just beneath the surface.
"That last day, I came home early, and I saw her leaving the house."
I could see the realization sweep across his face, and I knew the moment he pieced it together.
"Kate? As in the same skank that hung around the track with Eric Yorkie?"
I'm a little startled by his implication.
He dropped his head, let out a chuckle and then scrubbed his face with the palms of his hands.
"I was struggling with life, Bella. Eric managed to convince me one day to try some blow. By that time, no matter how much I drank, it didn't seem to dull the day, so I did. The first and only time was that night at Alice's house. You know the night we..."
He trails off, but of course I remember the night. It was the only time in the entire last year of our relationship that we were intimate. It was raw and rough, and I mistakenly thought it was reconnecting. I remember being devastated the next morning when I woke up and things were just the same as they had been the day before.
"Anyway, after the one time, I refused to again."
Edward hung his head.
"I hated the way I treated you that night Bella."
It's my turn to be confused, because I can't understand what he means. He was happy that night, mischievous and playful. I remember it was the best he had treated me in a long time.
"What do you mean?"
His jaw clenches, and I can make out how hard he swallows as his Adam's apple bobs.
"I was so -rough. I just, just..." He runs his hand through his hair and practically jumps from the chair as he makes his way over to the fireplace.
"I just fucked you that night, Bella. I manhandled you. I had no concern for you at all! I, I..."
He turns his back to me. "I hurt you." I can hear him whisper.
I sink back into the chair and dig through the recesses of my mind. Had he hurt me? Had he really been that rough? I can remember it was raw, and passionate. But hurt? No.
"Edward, you didn't hurt me. I liked that night. I liked everything about it."
He turns around and looks at me with fire in his eyes.
"Well, I didn't, and you shouldn't either. I pray that no one has ever treated you the way I did that night!"
For the first time since I've been back home, I see it, the self-loathing.
"I told Eric to stay away from me, and to keep that shit to himself."
He takes a few minutes to calm his breathing, but he stays by the fireplace.
"He stayed away all right, but Kate didn't. She would show up at the track and try to give me 'samples.'" He turned and looked me deeply in the eyes.
"I won't lie to you." His expression was intense. "She hit on me -a lot. She said she wanted to party together, and everyone knew that Eric passed her around."
Desperation marred every feature of his face. Finally, he came to rest in front of my chair, on his knees, with his hands cradling mine.
"I swear to you, Bella. I never touched her. Even in my darkest hour, I had more respect for you than that."
When I looked into his eyes, I believed him. I don't know why. He'd hurt me so much and that pain was still raw, but I really believed him. It felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders, and knowing that there was never another woman freed me in a way that I hadn't felt in years.
It's with that freedom and the sensation of our cradled hands in my lap that I found myself accepting Edward's lips as they closed the distance to my forehead.
With a simple and innocent touch to my skin, he sat a fire in me that I hadn't felt in so long. My heartbeat accelerated quickly, and thought, logic and reason all managed to flee my mind. When Edward's lips left my forehead, his cheek pressed firmly against my own as he nuzzled my face. My breathing quickened and I found my arms circling around his shoulders.
"Bella," his breathing matched my own.
"Tell me...to stop." He said as his nose stroked the length of my jawbone, and I searched for the ability to grant his request. He took my silence as a green light and lightly pressed his lips to my own. He smelled and tasted like my Edward, but there was something different. He mouth was gentler than it used to be, his lips softer.
As his lips parted and our tongues met, I found my body pressed against his. I have no memory of how it happened, simply that it did. When my legs wrapped around him, he stood, taking me with him. Our mouths and hands began to explore a desire that had been so intense and deeply buried; I hadn't realized it still existed.
Edward kicked open the door to the guest suite and softly laid me on the bed.
"Bella, if you want to stop, that's fine. But, uh," he looked down and my eyes followed him to the bulge that rested in his pants, "now is the time to tell me."
As I searched my heart and head, my conflicted emotions told me many things, but I couldn't bring myself to listen. I simply couldn't imagine being anywhere else in than in that moment but with my Edward.
As I looked up at him, I conveyed everything I had felt in four years with my eyes. I wanted him to understand what this meant. That even if these were our last moments together, they would mean the world to me.
When his eyes became glassy, he lowered himself and placed soft, sweet kisses on my collarbone. I couldn't stop my body from arching into his, shamelessly begging him for more. He groaned at the friction that was created as our pelvises made contact.
"Bella..." he whispered.
Edward slowly unbuttoned my shirt, taking his time to relish every moment. With each open button, he placed a butterfly kiss on the skin exposed below. The sensation was amazing, but the anticipation was becoming nearly unbearable. As I squirmed out of my skin, he chuckled and continued his perusal of my body. I couldn't take being separated anymore, so I quickly removed his shirt, ready to be skin to skin.
"Anxious?" he laughed.
As my eyes scanned his chest and arms, and I realized just how much he had changed. His training sessions with Emmett had filled him out quite nicely. He had added several pieces to his artwork, and there was barely any open skin left. I looked at a few of the pieces that I was familiar with, even a few I had been present for, and then my eyes moved on to those that were new to me.
Woven in between the pieces that had been there before and new tributes to people in his life, Charlie, Emmett, Esme and Carlisle, was a large white swan. The subtle shading blended it with the other pieces, but there was no mistaking what it was, or the initials that hung around its neck on a heart shaped pendant, BSC.
Glancing up at Edward's eyes, I couldn't help but hold back the tears that threatened to flow over. Bella Swan-Cullen. When his eyes met mine, he smiled at me tenderly.
"I knew you were hesitant to lose the Swan before..." he trailed off.
Before Charlie, he means.
A huge part of my head screamed at me in warning, but my heart stomped on her toe and duct-taped her mouth. All I could think about what the fact that this man, my Edward, was here -with me. For the first time in so long, Edward was with me -finally.
Sliding my hands down his chest, I swirled the pads of my fingers over his nipple before I continued my way down. His breath caught as I made my way down his side and over his back, taking both of his cheeks firmly in my hand and squeezing as I thrust my hips upward.
"Shit, Bella. You can't do that too much, okay?"
I couldn't help but giggle.
Edward's hands found their way south as well, and each stroke he made, slowly, languidly along each lip before a gentle touch to my core, drove me insane.
When we had finally explored each other to the point of frustration, Edward began to align us, and I had to reach down to stop him.
"What?" The fear was already clouding his face.
"Is what you said earlier true? I mean, that I..."
Just like the Edward and Bella we used to be, he knew exactly where I was headed.
"You were the last woman I ever made love to? Yes." The sincerity in his eyes and voice cleared any doubt that was lingering, and I couldn't help but smile.
"Jamie, he was the only one." Guilt and shame clouded my heart, and in that moment, I wanted to tell Edward there hadn't been anyone else either.
"I mean, we were safe, but you may want to..."
Edward's gaze was strong and intense and I didn't want to hurt him by talking about my sex life with another man, but I thought it was his right to know.
"You were safe? Always wore a condom?" he asked.
His lip lifted in a smirk.
"So, what you're saying is that, technically, I'm still the only guy who has ever REALLY been inside you?"
I couldn't help but laugh out loud at his twist on our past. I shook my head, and my laughter was soon erased as Edward filled me.
"I intend to keep it that way." He whispered into my ear, sending chills all over my body.
His pace was fast and hard at first, just like I like it. As I clawed at his back, meeting his thrusts with my own, his pace slowed and his gaze held mine. The beauty of the moment was so pure that I forgot everything but the happy memories that once filled our lives.
After we had both had our fill, twice, I laid n Edward's arms and enjoyed the feeling of his fingertips as they stroked down my back.
But no matter how wonderful he felt, or how full my heart seemed, I couldn't forget what tomorrow's light would bring.
Okay, so I have a few apologies here. First of all, I'm really sorry about the delay. I was hoping that after the difficult part of this semester was over, I would be ready to get back on track. That however, did not happen. However, the good news is that I graduated! I now, finally, have my bachelor's...and a mound of student debt. (Any takers on paying for that?) So, that means that I am hoping to get back on track.
Second, I apologize to the AMAZING people who reviewed and never replied to me. I got back to a few people, but I had a particularly mean review that destroyed my motivation for a bit, but I'm over that now. Don't like it? Move on. I can't tell you how many fics I've flounced but I have NEVER left a bad review. If I don't like it, I just click the 'X'.
Lastly, I know this chapter seems like there is a lot of rushing without resolving a lot, but trust me okay?
I love you all and I have to thank whoever nominated me for TLS. It makes my heart happy. Maybe one of these days I'll make it to that permanent column on the side, huh?
Until next time...