FINALLY! I still own nothing.

Bella

In the bathroom, with my back against the door, I was foolish enough to believe that I would be left alone. But it hadn't even been ten minutes before a quiet knocking interrupted my solitude. I waited, thinking it might have been my father, but it wasn't his voice that called my name.

"Bella," Edward sighed. "Please open the door."

I remained silent- hoping he would take the hint and just give up and leave.

"You will eventually have to talk to me," he continued. "And I will sit out here all night if that is what it takes."

His persistence annoyed me, and for nearly half an hour, I sat with my back against the door and listened as he talked. His footsteps, pacing back and forth, became louder with time and I knew frustration was starting to wear on him.

A sharp knock on the door startled me. "Bella!"

It was quiet after that- no talking, no pacing. And I thought that maybe he had finally left. But then, his voice ragged and defeated, Edward said something that made my heart stop and my entire body freeze.

"Are you ever going to stop punishing me? I'm not your mother."

Getting up off of the floor, and against my better judgment, I opened the bathroom door. "You think I don't know that?"

Lamely, he shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know what you think. You won't talk to me!"

I made to shut the bathroom door again, rolling my eyes in the process, but Edward's hand grabbed the heavy piece of wood and yanked it away from me. "Stop running away from me."

Angrily, I tried to shove him away, only to get more aggravated when it had no effect at all. "What the fuck do we have to talk about?" I yelled. "You broke my heart and I broke yours! What else is there? We hate each other!"

"You can sit down on that beach and let me hold you, and tell you everything is fine, but as soon as we are back here- around other people- you freeze up and act like you don't even know me, Bella! I know this is fucking hard, believe me, I know! But this didn't just happen to you! You think I don't need closure from all of this? You think I don't have any questions?"

I laughed once before saying, "Gosh Edward, I am sure you are just incredibly saddened by the loss of your esteemed boss."

"This isn't about your mother and you know it."

"No," I shook my head. "That is where you are wrong. It was your decision to work for her, to be here, that ruined everything!"

Yelling, his face became red with anger. "I told you- I didn't know she was involved until-"

I pushed at his chest. "And you knew I couldn't come back here, regardless!"

Slapping my hands away, he kept going. "I would have stayed, Bella! It didn't have to be Forks! It didn't even have to be Washington! But you fucking leave without any Goddamn consideration for anyone else but yourself!"

"Then why did you come back here? Why? If you knew- if you looked for me- if you really wanted me back then why did you come here?" I screamed at him. "Because seeing you here, happy and working for her; is like a fucking knife in my heart, Edward!"

"Because I had no other choice!"

"What does that even mean?" I asked, shaking my head. "You always had a choice!"

With his eyes closed, Edward took a step away from me while breathing hard through his nose. I watched, silently, as he walked in a small circle- pushing his hands through his hair. When he started muttering to himself, I asked what the hell was going on. It took a few minutes, but when he did answer me, his voice was very small and very quiet.

"I… couldn't get a job in Seattle."

My hands instinctively went to my hips. "Excuse me?"

Looking at the floor, he shook his head. "With my record… I applied for fifteen different jobs in Seattle but no one would hire me, not with the way I was. So I had to come back, I had to live with my parents and… when I got another letter from Hope House, asking if I wanted a job, I didn't have a choice."

"What are you talking about, Edward?"

Reluctantly, his head lifted until he was looking at me. "Three DUI's…alcoholism… I was a walking disaster for over two years. I felt like a complete failure until a company took a chance on me, gave me an opportunity. So yeah, I came back. And I stayed. But don't think, for one second, that I ever forgave your mother for what she did to you."

"I didn't…" Slowly, I shook my head, trying to process everything he was telling me.

"Your mother didn't pay me, Bella. The state does. And she was hardly involved with anything I ever did. But I stayed after I found Renee was involved because I like my job. I make a difference there. I help people. And at a time when I had absolutely nothing, that job and those people, put me back together. I was able to focus on helping them instead of hurting myself."

I had absolutely no idea what to say, or do. So I simply stood there.

"I'm sorry that you think I came back here, simply to spite you. And I am incredibly sorry that seeing me now, working there, makes you so unhappy. But you're the one that walked away, Bella. You're the one that left. And when you did, you took a huge piece of me with you. And this organization is the only thing that has ever been able to make me feel whole again."

With that, Edward slowly walked past me, heading back to the door that would lead him into the hallway. But, before he left, he stopped and looked back at me.

"For what it's worth, Bella, I don't hate you. I love you… and regardless of if I should or shouldn't, I probably always will."

xXxXxXx

It had been three days since my mother's funeral, and I hadn't left my bedroom. I'd hardly moved from my spot in the middle of the bed and eaten only enough to wave off the feeling of my blood sugar plummeting. People came and went, quietly begging me to get out of bed, but I would fake being in a comatose sleep- unable to hear them. In truth, I heard everything. But, I ignored all of them.

I didn't want to move. Or think.

So, after Sue had sat a plate, holding another meal I wouldn't eat, down onto my nightstand, I listened for the door to shut behind her. Once it had, my eyes opened and I blankly stared at the shadows that moved against the ceiling- glad to, once again, be left alone.

xXxXxXx

"Bella."

My father's voice- louder than it usually was- woke me from the restless sleep I'd been in. I looked up at him, blinking quickly, and tried to figure out why the room was so damn bright. When I saw that the curtains were pulled back, I turned away from him and onto my stomach. "Go away."

"Wake up." He said, yanking the blankets away from me.

"Dad, I'm tired and-" Before I could finish telling him I just wanted to go back to sleep, he'd ripped the pillow out from under my head. Annoyed, I turned onto my back to glare at him. "What the hell!"

"Exactly," he nodded, exaggerating his movements. "What the hell!"

I pointed at the pillow he'd taken from me. "I was asleep and you come up here, yelling and-"

He interrupted me. "You've been holed up in this room for a week, Bella! You won't talk to anyone! You don't eat!"

"I'm tired!" I yelled back at him, enunciating my words.

"People have been coming by to ask about you and your damn phone has been ringing constantly! I finally just told Sue to turn the damn thing off!" He continued ranting- complaining about my lack of social interaction and personal hygiene- until I finally sat up and threw off what little blankets remained tangled around my legs.

"Jesus Christ, Dad!" Getting out of bed, I pushed hair off of my face. "I'm a grown woman!"

"My point exactly! And you-"

"And I don't need you to fucking babysit me!" My mouth snapped shut as soon as the words had left my lips, and I looked away from my father's eyes. Never, in my entire life, had I ever talked to him that way. The guilt made my stomach heavy, but even though I knew I should have apologized, I didn't.

After a few minutes of silence, he took a deep breath. "You can't keep going on like this, Bella."

"I'm fine."

"Don't lie to me," he said, throwing the pillow down onto the bed, "and don't lie to yourself."

Instinctively, my hands flew to my hips. "What do you want me to do, Dad? Should I just act like nothing has happened?"

"No, but you can't keep yourself locked up in this damn house- alone- ignoring everything and everyone! If you're mad then be mad! If you're upset then be upset- but you have got to talk to someone! You have got to move on with your life!"

"What life?" I yelled, throwing my arms up. "I have no life here! I can't just fall back into the same routine with them! I can't-"

"Then leave, Bella! Settle all of this shit with your mother's estate and go back to Arizona if that is what you need! Go back to work, back to your real life! Just do… something!"

At the mention of Arizona- and the job that I no longer had- the anger that had been fueling my argument faded. It only made me more aware of the fact that I literally felt like I had nothing. The only thing I was left with was an overwhelming sense of failure and confusion- stuck in a town that held nothing but haunting reminders of a past life that I'd worked so hard to forget.

Dad watched me as I clumsily sat on the corner of the bed. He was silent, waiting for me to say something, but I couldn't. I didn't even know where to begin. Especially since I had absolutely no desire to tell him what had happened the day I'd left to come back to Forks. I didn't want to talk about Arizona, I didn't want to talk about the anger and hurt that I still felt towards my mother, and above all, I didn't want to admit to myself- let alone anyone else- that I could not stop thinking about Edward. I replayed everything in my mind- the night on the porch, the beach, the kitchen, the in my bedroom…My feelings, my thoughts… none of it made sense.

"Bella?" Dad prompted, gently touching my shoulder.

Looking up, I said the one thing that I knew would ease the worry that weighed down my father's heart. "You're right."

And he was. I couldn't keep pretending that all of this would somehow fix itself. I had to meet with Jasper, I had to deal with all of my mother's affairs, and I had to decide what I would do once I went back to Phoenix. Because one thing was certain; I had to get the hell out of Forks and away from the memories and unanswered questions it held before I ended up making a huge mistake.