Gif #: 59

Word count (not including author's notes/header): 12500

Pairing: Edward x Bella

Genre: Romance/Angst

Rating: M

Summary: We are what we are – little crazy, a little fucked up, and mostly insatiable. I love it. I hate it. It's a passion I can't control. And when it gets overwhelming, I put my words on paper. On this paper. Not much needs to be said, for talk is cheap. Our language is more along the lines of breathless moans and grunts and whispered promises that will never be seen through. This is our life. And tonight, we are making us last forever. We are setting our story on fire.

Warnings (if necessary): Strong sexual content, language



Your arms are the safest haven.

Your heartbeat is the sweetest sound.

Your laughter is like sunshine.

Your gaze makes me feel cherished.

Your lips make me feel beautiful.

Your words find their home on my skin.

Your skin is warm like the winter sun – not too much, but enough to warm me down to my chilled bones.

The time you share with me is all I think of when we're not together.

The smiles you give me are the most real ones.

The tears you give me make me human.

The soul you have is that of a beautiful man, through and through.

You are an angel. You are a sinner. And you are my reflection.

To me, our sin together is more powerful than all miracles combined.

And if that is love, then yes, I love you.

I watch every crease in the paper. I have folded and unfolded this more times than I can remember. In every word, there is a piece of me. Of him. Sometimes, he sleeps here, but only for an hour or so. I stay up and watch him sleep. Sometimes, I steal a kiss or two. Or ten. Sometimes, he smiles. Sometimes, he rolls over and grumbles, making me smile. These are the few precious hours I get with him, and some nights I feel so much that my heart threatens to burst. But I can't afford to be a dreamer. I can't fall into wishful thinking. We are what we are – little crazy, a little fucked up, and mostly insatiable. I love it. I hate it. It's a passion I can't control. And when it gets overwhelming, I put my words on paper. On this paper. Not much needs to be said, for talk is cheap. Our language is more along the lines of breathless moans and grunts and whispered promises that will never be seen through.

This is our life.

And tonight, we are making us last forever. We are setting our story on fire.


Sometimes I go back to the start…back to where the spark ignited.

He kisses me languidly, his tongue invading my mouth and his hand gliding down my back till he is cupping my ass. We are surrounded by so many people but he is big on PDA. Me? Whoever gave me the right to have an opinion on it?

"Mmm…people are looking at us," I whisper as I pull away.

"Why does it matter, darling?"

I shrug. "It's a formal event, and there are a lot of people with sticks up their asses. I don't think they would consider this as appropriate. In fact, I can practically feel the disapproval radiating off your mom."

He looks around and I follow his gaze. I am right. Sure enough, quite a few grownups are looking in our general direction, even though we are in a dark corner. They look like they are chewing on lemons.

He runs his hand through his blonde hair. "Fuck this. Let's go back to the hotel."

"Jasper, please. You bought me this new dress and these shoes…at least let me show off for a while," I bat my eyelashes in that seductive way I've learnt to do. Please delay the sex as much as you can.

He grins at me. His left cheek has a dimple. I would be attracted to him if I wasn't who I am. What I am.

"Alright, fine. Let me get a drink."

He gives me one more kiss before he disappears into the crowd, going where the bar is set up. I use the distance to take a deep breath and call over the waiter. Unlike Jasper, I'm not that picky with my alcohol. He wants his drink the way he wants it – with all his instructions of this much this and this much that. I just want something to ignite my fucking throat and make me numb. I grab a glass full of whiskey and head off towards the staircase. The party is in a penthouse, so I am glad that I only need to climb two sets of stairs in this floor length silver dress and high heels. I open the door that leads to the roof. Jasper will call me when he can't find me. Till then I have time to at least check out the skyline, get some air, and prepare myself for what I know is going to happen once we're out of here.

I take a large gulp of my drink and shudder at the taste. Fuck, that burns so good. For about a minute I can't think of anything else but the view before me and the fire in my throat.

But then my phone vibrates inside my clutch and I curse. Loudly. I don't pick up. I scowl at thin air and throw back the rest of my drink, this time grunting at the discomfort. I am out of practice with this alcohol thing. My scalp prickles and at first I think it's the alcohol, but then I sense movement behind me. It's the sense of being watched.

A throat is cleared discreetly and then I hear a low whistle.

"That was impressive," a soft voice says. I turn to my right to stare at him. He's dressed in all black, but his jacket is undone, and so are the upper two buttons on his shirt. For a black tie event, he looks a bit messy. His hair is…well, thoroughly fucked. Or he looks like he has been. At least his shoes are polished.

"Are you checking me out?" he asks wryly. "What's with the creepy head to toe inventory?"

"Like you don't check out women. I have a theory that black tie events were invented just to encourage ogling. Why else would they put everyone in such uncomfortable clothes?"

He laughs. "Touché. Speaking of ogling, you have a nice ass."

I crack a smile. "I've heard that one before."

"I would be disappointed in the male species if you hadn't," he grins, and under the moonlight, I take a proper look at his face. Holy fuck, he is gorgeous. Like one of those ridiculously handsome guys that every girl wants but is too intimidated to approach. The kinds that make straight men insecure. The kinds that step out of GQ magazine or some shit. His hair is brown. Or reddish brown. It's hard to tell in this light. His lips are full and pouty, and red from the wine that he has in his hand. And his eyes…


My smile falters and I take a step back instinctively. I know him. Or I think I do. I can't be sure, but he reminds me of a guy I used to know…back when I had a normal life. He had such a face. Such eyes. Such green, beautiful, kind eyes that would crinkle whenever he smiled. And he smiled at me back then…a long, long time ago.

"Are you alright?" he asks, sounding concerned.

I'm not so sure so I just shake my head.

"Do you want me to take you back to Jasper?"

My eyes flash up to his. "You know him?"

"He's…" he hesitates. "Well, he's my friend. Sort of."

Speak of the devil…my phone vibrates again. I pick it up and tell Jasper I'm in the washroom, and will join him in a couple of minutes.

When I hang up, this guy blurts out, "Don't date him."

I raise a brow and resist the urge to snort. "Oh, yeah?"

"He's not a good guy. I needed to warn you, and that's why I followed you up here."

"Wow, Samaritan. So nice of you," I mutter.

"Look, I…" He runs a hand through his hair, which just fucks it up even more. Then all of a sudden he holds out his hand. "I'm Edward Cullen."

I gasp, and my mouth hangs open. He looks confused, and takes his hand back awkwardly when I don't shake it. He then fidgets with the almost empty wine glass in his other hand.

"You don't remember…" I whisper, more to myself. But I do. I remember him.


"Me. You don't remember me."

"Um…should I?"

I shrug. "Not really, um…" I look for words to explain, mentally slapping myself for even wanting to explain, and suddenly, I grin. "When you were fourteen, your mom wanted you to play the piano in the local church."

His eyes narrow to slits. "How do you know about that?"

I purse my lips, trying hard not to laugh. "The church was being decorated for Christmas by the kids from Forks Middle School. You helped a girl put the decorations because she couldn't reach the top of the tree and you were taller. But you had to climb atop the small chair to do it, and you fell and sprained your wrist. Your mom was furious. And hysterical. But you were relieved that you wouldn't have to embarrass yourself in front of your friends who were oh–so–cool. Rings a bell?"

"I did help a…?" he mumbles to himself and his eyes widen in a few seconds. Then he looks at me again, this time more carefully. "You're…you're her? You're Chief Swan's daughter?"

I flinch and look away. "Yeah."

"Bella, was it not? Bella Swan. Oh my God, what the hell happened to you?"

I give him a bitch brow.

"I mean…I didn't mean to imply that…" he stammers. "I just…wow, you've changed."

"It's called growing up."


"You haven't changed at all, though. Still the same gangly, red–headed fucker."

"Brown," he says exasperatedly. "My hair is brown. Oh for God's sake…"

I bite my cheek to stop the grin. I only know him from those couple of years. His family had moved away before I turned sixteen. We were never good friends. Just classmates. He was way too 'cool' for my nerdy league. But I never forgot how guilty I felt for months that he sprained his wrist because of me.

"I must be going now. It was nice to meet you again, Edward," I say softly, and turn to leave.

"Wait, Bella, please." In two long strides he is in front of me. "I need to talk to you about Jasper."

I roll my eyes and keep walking. He walks with me. "We're not that serious," I say lamely.

"You don't understand. Like I said, he's not a very good person."

I chuckle. "I thought you were his friend."

"Family, actually. I, uh, I'm married to his sister."

Oh. "Oh." Where is my eloquence when I need it?

"Yeah, well. He's just…he's a major flirt. And the worst part is that he wants physical intimacy with no strings attached."

"I don't think you should be outing your brother–in–law's dirty laundry to some girl you used to know."

"Well, you seem like a decent woman, and I don't want you to get hurt."

A decent woman. That one hits like a blow to the gut. "I'm not," I say with a frown.

"That's not the point." He halts when we are at the empty staircase and I am forced to look at him. He speaks in a very low voice. "He visits strip clubs and…those places…rather frequently." He looks around, leans closer and whispers as if he's about to confess to a murder. "He pays for sex. He has broken way too many hearts and spent way too much money on…prostitutes." His expression is like he has violated his mouth just by saying 'prostitute.'

"I appreciate your concern," I mutter.

"How would someone like you end up with that douchebag, anyway?" he asks as if he is genuinely concerned.

I snort, and give him a bitter smile. "If he frequents whorehouses and tells you about it, how come you don't know yet how he found me?"

And then I rush down the stairs without looking back. He knows me. He is the only person who knows who I was, and now will know who I am. Why did I open my mouth? I can't face that. I left my home, I left my life, I left it all back in Forks.

For the first time in ten years, this is my past catching up. And it's all my fault.


Sometimes, I think of that little burn that the first spark left behind.

The lights are low as always in this room. Maria, my only sort–of friend here waits the tables, and when a client is led to this room, it's her job to make sure he signs the form and pays first. We don't do shit half–assed. Can't say we love our jobs, but we do love our paychecks.

I unpin my hair and rake a hand through it. It's worse in summers. The air conditioner never works right and Marcus, the owner of the club, never does shit about it.

"He paid for an hour, doll," Maria drawls in her Southern accent and gives me a kiss on the cheek.

I never have any words before I do this, so I just nod and watch her as she places the chilled champagne and the glasses on the bedside table and walks out, closing the door behind her.

Seconds later, the door opens again and a man walks in, shuffling his feet uncomfortably and with his hands in his pocket. He fidgets. He looks like he'll run any moment. First timer. I can sense those.

"Hey," I say casually, waiting for him to step closer so I can see his face. Like I said – the lights are dim in here.

If it was possible, he goes even more rigid – pun unintended – and nervously rakes a hand through his hair. The action throws me off a bit but I shrug and take a step in his direction. I'll have to do all the work here.

"Uh," he starts, and I could just laugh at how his voice sounds. It's almost a squeak. I stop moving.

"Just don't piss your pants or anything," I deadpan, and am rewarded with a small chuckle.

He finally moves towards me, towards the light from the lamp, and it's like time stops. I always read about such silly moments in silly novels, watch them in silly movies, and wonder about the general silliness of the human mind. Like, how can time stop? But it does. It genuinely does. Except, there is nothing romantic about it.

I reach for the glass on the table, fully intending to throw it on the wall behind him to scare him off, because, how dare he?

"Don't…don't do that, please. I can explain."

I grit my teeth. Customer service, be damned. "How the hell did you…just…what the fuck?"

He shrugs, finally taking his hands out of his pockets. "I wanted to see you again."

At first I don't get it. I don't understand why he would want to. And then he steps forward even more and sits down on the bed, and I realize that I don't have to get it. It's like a reflex now. I follow suit and take the two steps till I'm standing right in front of him. He looks up at me hesitantly and red covers his cheeks. I would find that endearing anywhere else, but not in this room. Here, it's just a matter of making him comfortable, which he clearly isn't.

I push his shoulder gently, and his face contorts in what I can only describe as panic.

"Um, Bella, I, uh…"


I take off his jacket first. He's still in his office clothes, and I can see the sweat on his neck. Fuck that air conditioner. I loosen his tie next but don't take it off. It looks sexy, hanging loosely around his neck. I look at his face and the doubt in his eyes is palpable, but I know I can take it away. I put a knee up on the bed, near his thigh, and when his hands go to my waist to support me, I climb on the bed fully, so I am straddling his lap, with my arms around his neck. The zipper on my thigh–high boots is making this a lot more uncomfortable for me than it has to be, but I've left them on anyway. Most guys like it.

"So," I breathe against his ear, "what do you wanna do?"

He gulps and shakes his head a little, as if to clear it. "Nothing."

I smile and plant a small kiss under his ear. He shivers. "You want me to do all the work?"

"No, I –"

"I've been told I suck pretty well," I whisper and suck on his earlobe.

He leans away and I have to pull back to look at him. His face is red as a tomato.

"Aw, you're cute," I tell him honestly. "Never done this before, have you?"

He shakes his head again, and doesn't meet my eyes. That could also be because his eyes are glued to my boobs, which are pretty spectacular in this corset.

"Can we talk?" he asks softly.

I raise a brow. "Dirty talk does it for you?"

"No, no, like, normal talk."

"Nothing about being here is normal, sweetheart." I roll my eyes. "Be more specific."

"How did you end up here?" he blurts out.

I clench my jaw. This is what I was afraid of. Nothing good ever comes out of this talk.

I shift so I'm back on the bed, leaning against the pillows seductively. I reach out and grab his tie, pulling him to me. "Come here and maybe I'll tell you, Edward..."

As it turns out, he is serious about the talk talk. He doesn't let me try anything even remotely sexual. He just about runs away from me if I try to touch him. He wants details of my life – details I don't want to tell him.

"You know…we could be friends," he murmurs as he sips his champagne.

"Spoken like a true social worker." I bring my glass to my lips but pause. "Wait – you aren't actually a social worker, are you?"

"No, I work in finance."

And so he tells me all about his life. He's pretty naïve and trusting for baring his soul to a…prostitute…but who am I to complain? He just paid five hundred dollars for this hour. If he wants to be stupid, then he can be stupid all he wants. At least there's champagne.

I get to know small but significant details. He doesn't love his wife. He has a three year old daughter who is his world, and his reason to stay with his wife. He is rich and spoils his daughter. He is still in contact with the pimpled boy Mike who was in our class in Forks Middle School. His mom is still as crazy as she was back then. His sister is still a bundle of energy and starts most conversations with 'Oh my God'.

He even tells me that it makes him uncomfortable that I do this for a living.

"Technically, I pole–dance," I correct him.

"I know that," he says. "I saw downstairs. You've got some stellar moves."

I smile at his attempt to bring normalcy to this whole conversation. "Your hour is almost up."

He frowns. "Will you call me?"

I force my face into a blank mask. "I don't do morning–after."

"Come on, Bella, you know that's not what I'm talking about."

"You are completely ignoring the fact that I'm a whore."

He flinches. "Just call me. Here's my number." He hands me his card. "Please," he adds in a whisper.

I let out a long breath. "I'll think about it."

I take off his jacket from around my shoulders – he put it there because seeing so much of my skin, erm, bothered him – and usher him out of the room with a smile and an 'It was nice to see you'.

Because it was. For the first time, it was nice to see someone in this room.

This is how we begin. I eventually end up calling him a couple of weeks later – of course – because even whores need friends sometimes. And he is a great friend. He totally cleans the vomit I am passed out in when he arrives to my apartment for the first time. Somehow I managed to call him, give him my correct address, and tell him where the spare key was hidden, minutes before I passed out from the alcohol.

He cleans me up, hears me cry, lets me wipe snot on his crisp shirt, and lets me sleep, wrapped around his arm like a baby koala. He leaves god–knows–when, and I wake up to a cup of coffee (gone cold, though) and a note under the cup.

'You said in your sleep that you are so alone. You're not. I'm here. – E'


Sometimes, the flame needs to be rekindled, and I am glad you stirred in me a desire to be better. To strive for something bigger. To get beyond what I am. To live.

This is the third time he is in my apartment, and this is the first time I am completely sober in his presence.

It's been three weeks since the last time he was here – not that I'm counting or anything – and his hair has grown out. It looks pretty uncontrollable. I ask him why he doesn't cut it.

"Don't have the time."

"You have time to visit your local whore, but no time to get a haircut?"

"Will you please stop calling yourself that?" he says exasperatedly, running a hand through his locks, messing them up further.

"Call a spade a spade, man. Don't get your panties in a twist. I don't sugarcoat stuff, and I'm not new to this."

He looks at me sadly. "How long?"

"How long have I been doing this?"

He nods.

"That's a complicated question…" I mumble to myself and think. "Let's see. I left home when I was eighteen, started working at the club when I was twenty two. I used to wait on tables back then. Then Maria trained me in pole–dancing, so I did that after a year." I take a deep breath. "I sold my body for the first time when I was…twenty four. Yeah, I remember that one." I chuckle bitterly. "It was a week before my birthday. Worst birthday I ever spent, bent over for a nameless guy."

"We're thirty now," he says. His face is ashen as he chokes out, "Six years. You've lived this way for six years. Twelve if we count it all."

I shrug.


I reach out and place a hand on his. "I don't want you to waste your time on feeling bad for me. No one forced me to do this, okay? I made some shitty choices and this is where it led me. You don't have to feel sorry for me."

"Bella, you used to be my friend. This is hard for me."

"It's not as hard once you've had this many years to think over it. I used to cry a lot in the beginning, but I learned pretty quickly that nothing becomes of it. It's as productive as banging your head against a wall. No one gives a shit."

"You couldn't go back?" he asks softly.

"No." And my tone is enough for him to get a hint that this is not up for discussion.

"I'm sure there are some social services…"

"I don't want to live on someone's charity. What you read on paper – what is theoretically true – does not always translate to reality. Step out of your naïve dreamland, Edward. Like I said, no one gives a shit. Try sitting on the roadside with a 'Homeless' board. No one looks up. People drive by in their fancy cars and walk past in their fancy clothes and shoes, shaking their heads in disgust and wishing people like me never existed to taint their pretty city with filth."

"You did that? You were homeless?" He looks so heartbroken that I have the urge to comfort him.

"Homeless, hungry, with nothing to my name." I shake my head to rid myself of the images. I would do anything to makes sure I never have to repeat that. Then I snort. "You know, it's funny, even people on streets do this – exchange sex for bare necessities. At least doing this in a prestigious club saves me from STDs." I shrug and extend my arm to take his empty coffee mug from his hands, but he grabs my wrist instead and pulls me to his side of the couch. Without a word, he wraps his arms around my shoulders and tucks my face against the crook of his neck.

"Promise me you'll tell me if you need anything," he begs.

"I'm not anybody's charity case, Edward."

"Please. I won't let you go through something like this. I won't."

"That's sweet of you, but –"

"Wait," he cuts me off and pulls back to grab me by my shoulders. He looks excited. "I could get you a job at my company right now and –"

"Shut up." I have to stop this before it goes any further. "I know where you are going with this, and no. The answer is no." His face falls and I have to steel my resolve. "For the third time, Edward, I will not be a charity case. You've already been far too kind to me and thank you, truly, for caring about me at all, but I can't."

"I'm not making you a charity case. This is what a friend would offer to another friend," he insists.

I put a hand on his cheek, pull myself up and give him a tiny kiss on the nose. "Thank you. I've never had a better friend. But I can't. I'm sorry. I should tell you, though, that I'm saving for college. I never got to go."

He smiles. "Really? You want to study now?"

I blush, uncomfortable. "I mean, I should at least be smart, right? When I left home, I left with a guy I just about pledged my life to. I never got to go to college." I stop myself. I've never talked about this before – to anyone.

"And?" he asks softly, and it's the acceptance in his eyes that keeps me going. He won't judge. He never does. He's my friend – my best friend.

I take a deep breath. I can do it. For him, I can.

"And we lived together in bliss, but it only lasted a few months out of the two years that I was with him. He lost his job – he was a few years older – and then got into gambling and addiction soon afterwards. It was a downward spiral. He was supposed to support me for college, but I ended up doing odd jobs to make sure we had food on the table. Then one day he just up and left after we had a huge fight…I don't even know where he went. He never called, never wrote. The landlord let me stay for two months without rent, just out of pity, hoping that I would either go back to Forks or get myself on my feet. I failed at both."

Edward strokes my hair gently, letting me know in his own way that it's okay. That he gets it.

"I didn't have the heart to go back. My ego didn't let me. Dad had been so angry when I'd left with James…" I shake my head, unable to continue. I can't. I can't talk about this.

"And your mom?" he asks, still soft as a whisper.

I swallow the lump in my throat. He's been so kind. He deserves to know this much at least. "My mom passed away of a heart attack when I was seventeen. Dad took it pretty hard and was never around. He drowned himself in his work. He wouldn't be home for days at a stretch. Which is why I got so attached to James…taking whatever attention I got… He made me forget, you know? When I was with him, everything in my world was right," I pause. "Well, for a couple of years, anyway."

"What did you do then, after he left?" he asks after a few minutes of silence.

I shrug. "Hunted for jobs. Got one, and then got fired pretty soon. Sold my stuff to stay fed till I had nothing left and was on the streets. If I got lucky, the Church down the road would have some food…maybe a bed at the shelter. If I didn't, I'd starve for days, wander the streets at night, sleep on park benches in broad daylight so no one would rape me…till one fine day I saw the 'Help Wanted' board outside the club."

"Jesus, Bella, you were on the streets for two years…" he murmurs as he hugs me again.

"A little over a year, technically. I'm okay, now," I smile against his chest, even though I feel like crying my eyes out. "I'll always find a way to be okay."


Sometimes, we have to forget who we are to become what we should be. We have to be put in flames, to be melted and molded again. You were not a sinner before we met, and probably you shouldn't be, and probably I am selfish for making you one. But for once, you are happy. Ironically, you feel like a better man because you are living. You told me so. And nothing that makes you happy will ever be wrong in my book. Immoral? Sure. Wrong? Never.

We've been friends for six months now. No one knows about it, of course. He is a respectable man in society, and God forbid I taint that with my baggage. He shows up at my doorstep every Tuesday evening after work, under the pretense of meeting with a new client. Everyone who knows him thinks he is working on a super-secret deal for his company. I wonder how long he can keep this excuse up but whatever. I'm not complaining. Sometimes we watch a movie, or sing Karaoke (he loves it and I hate it, because he sounds so good and I sound like a croaking frog), or just order pizza and talk.

It's like high school allover again, except this time I actually get to hang out with the most popular guy.

Edward once told me that I can read him like an open book, but the truth is he can read me better. He can tell when I'm down in the dumps, so he goes out and gets ice cream for me. He can tell when I need a comforting shoulder, a pep talk, or just a hug. My budget was a little tight last month – business was not good at the club – so I got my cable cut. I don't even know when he noticed that, but he did, and despite all my protests, he gave me his money, not only for the cable, but enough to feed me for a month without earning a penny. That same week, he showed up at the club and paid for two hours with me.

I was angry. So, so angry. I hated being treated like a helpless, poor girl. I wasn't, dammit. He knew I would be stubborn about it, so he promised he would take that money whenever I could pay him back. It didn't stop me from crying, though. Those two hours that he 'bought' me for, I spent crying on his chest.

But today I get to pay him back. I've been working double shifts; waiting tables in the morning, dancing/whoring myself in the evening. And I finally have the money. He shows up with an ice cream tub and I joke about weight gain hampering my 'business', and all of it being Edward's fault. He doesn't even smile. I hand him the money and his mood worsens.

I sense that that ice cream is more for his sake than mine.

"Come on, I wanna show you something," I tell him, and without waiting for a reply, grab his hand and pull him up from the couch. He doesn't protest or ask questions as I make him wear his overcoat again while I put on a thick sweater. I take out a couple of blankets from the cupboard and take him to the rooftop. He looks surprised that it's so clean, compared to my messy apartment. I playfully smack his arm and tell him that it's because I spend a lot of time here.

I spread out the blankets and lie down, patting the space beside me and asking him to do the same. He puts the ice cream tub on his side (he's not going to part with it tonight, I just know it) and imitates my position. Facing the sky, we lie together in this freezing weather, and watch the sunset. It's quite relaxing.

After a few minutes, I can't take the silence anymore. I shift and lie on my side, to face him.



"Are you okay?"

He lets out a long, foggy breath. "I've just had a bad few days." Then he turns his head and looks into my eyes. "I'm a lot better now. With you."

I raise my left hand and hesitate for a second before reaching up to his forehead and smoothing out the furrow between his brows.

He sighs and captures my hand, bringing it to his cold lips and placing a small kiss on my fingers.

"Talk to me," I whisper.

And he does. He tells me how regularly he's been arguing with his wife, Tanya. He tells me how they both almost hate each other, but can't stand to put their daughter, Sophie, through the ordeal of being raised by a single parent. They want a divorce, but they won't do it. They have to live together but they sleep on the opposite sides of the bed. He tries to give her flowers and she wonders what he wants from her. He gives her whatever she needs, and won't even get a thank you in return. He's just so fed up of living like a stranger in his own house, of tolerating Tanya as the trophy wife. He is fed up of his family nagging him to take a decision and leave her. He hates that Tanya won't even make time for their kid, but has time to get her eyebrows done. He wants her gone, but knows that if it came to a custody battle, she will cry her silly tears and take the light of his life away from him. Not only that, her father and Jasper own a major portion of the shares in his company, and if he divorced Tanya, that would hamper his business also. He hates that he got family and business entwined.

By the end of it all, he looks exhausted. He looks defeated. So I lean forward and give him a much needed hug. I tell him I'm sorry about his situation. I tell him if there was anything I could do to help, I would do it.

"You're already helping. When I'm with you, I'm myself. Free to feel what I feel. No more hiding," he tells me, and holds me tighter. We're so close that we're on just one blanket, so he reaches behind me and pulls the other blanket over us. I'm a little taken aback. This intimacy is as rare for me as it is for him. I sleep with a lot of men, but I don't lie down with them and bask in twilight. I don't embrace their body heat and allow myself the simple pleasure of a blanket over us in cold weather. I don't snuggle deeper into their chests while they place small kisses on the top of my head.

And I most definitely do not kiss.

So I am stirred to my bones when his kisses move down my face and his lips touch mine softly, questioningly. My only answer is to twine my fingers in his hair and pull him closer, to hold on to this rare feeling of being cherished for as long as I can. I don't care about the wedding ring on his finger. I don't care that it's so cold outside. I don't care that he's only seeking comfort and taking it where he finds it.

My selfish heart only knows that it has never felt so alive before. My soul knows that this feeling makes my toes curl and makes me feel my heartbeat everywhere. My skin is warm and content with his lips touching it, and I just never want to lose this moment.

The heat of the kiss changes slowly. From a soft, sensual kiss, it burns with passion and intensity in a matter of a few minutes. Our tongues mingle and gooseflesh springs up on every inch of my body. In my daze, I gasp when I feel his cold fingers moving down my face and neck, to my shoulder, under my shirt and under my bra strap.

"Inside," I beg against his lips and we only part for the five seconds it takes us to stand up. His lips are back on mine even before we've reached the staircase, and the blanket and ice cream are promptly forgotten. We somehow shut the door to the roof and make it down the stairs without falling face first. He wraps his arms around my waist, hugging me from behind, and places hot, wet kisses on my neck that drive me wild.

Our shirts are off even before we've made it to the bedroom, and once there, we don't stop. If anything, our movements become more frantic than ever. At some point, he confesses he has no condom with him, and I shrug it off because what kind of a whore would I be if I wasn't on birth control anyway?

He gets upset that I call myself a whore again, but that is soon forgotten as the rest of our clothes come off.

I have never felt more complete than I do when we become one. What he makes me feel frightens me, but also gives me hope. It hurts me somehow but it's the sweetest torture.

When we lie together in the aftermath of crossing the point of no return – his weight over mine, his head on my chest and my legs around his waist – I expect guilt. From him, from myself. But there is none. There are no spoken promises, no life shattering statements…just no words. None are needed. We've found the balm to heal our souls.


Sometimes, the flames are so bright that the light is blinding.

Edward doesn't show up on Tuesday. He actually has a meeting to attend. He sends me a quick text so I don't wait for him for dinner. I end up ordering Chinese food for myself. I hate cooking – it reminds me of home, when I used to cook for my parents. My mom, Renée, was a horrible cook. Or it reminds me of James, and how I used to wait for him for dinner till one in the morning. The food would be too cold to eat so late, but I would eat anyway because it was my hard earned money and leave his untouched just to prove a point.

So, usually, it's Edward who does some magic with whatever groceries I have and makes sure I eat home cooked food at least once a week. Two months of this routine with Edward, and I still haven't made myself capable of making anything but a bowl of soup, and tea or coffee without depressing myself.

It's Sunday today, and it's my day off. Saturdays exhaust me – for obvious reasons – so I spend most of Sundays in bed. Sometimes Maria stops by with a homemade dish for me, which I reheat and eat all day. But today there is a Parent–Teacher conference at her kid's school, and that's where she has gone. Bored and alone, I eat a bowl of cereal and watch TV, snuggled on my huge couch.

I feel something cold and wet touching my face and, irritated at the disturbance, I roll over to bury my face in the back of the couch. I hear a chuckle and finally my sleepy brain catches up with my senses and I gasp, alarmed. My adrenaline rush fades as quick as it had come when I realize it's just Edward, sitting on the floor beside the couch, leaning over me to kiss allover my face.

"You scared me," I breathe, taking his hand and putting it over my heart so he can feel my pulse racing.

"I'm sorry. I wanted to surprise you, but you were asleep and I only have a couple of hours…" he says sheepishly. The sleep fog slowly lifting from my head, I realize he never shows up on a Sunday.

"It's a Sunday…"

"Sophie wanted to spend a day at Grandma's…so she is with my mom."

"And Tanya?"

He frowns. "The fuck I know. She left early in the morning. Must've gone to a spa or something."


"So anyway, I'm here," he smiles. "I'm here so we can celebrate your birthday."

I don't even know how he knows. "When did I tell you about that?"

"You didn't. I caught it off our old yearbook."

"Shut the front door! You still have those?" Now I am grinning like a loon.

"It was buried in some cardboard box somewhere. I hunted for it."

He gets up off the floor and sits beside me in the tiny space. He then leans towards me and captures my lips with his.

We don't make love that evening. We cut the cake he brought for me, and he gives me a necklace with a silver butterfly pendent.

"Because you're going to fly one day, and you're just as fragile."

I scowl. "I'm not fragile."

"You are to me. I know you're strong – you're actually the strongest person I know – but when I hold you like this," he squeezes me into his embrace, "all I want to do is protect you from the world. You're my butterfly."

I roll my eyes at his logic but the stupid grin doesn't leave my face till he leans down and kisses me.

We spend the whole two hours just sitting on the couch, snuggled and cuddling and kissing. It's enough. It's his way of showing that what we share is much deeper than an arrangement based on sex. It's something far more powerful. He consumes my thoughts in a way I never thought would happen. I worry when he doesn't call all week. I worry when the bags under his eyes become more prominent than usual. He takes care of me and makes me feel treasured. He suggests almost every time that I should quit what I do. That he could pay for my education, under some pretense or the other. That maybe he could take a loan on my behalf – no one would question him. But I can't take advantage of him.

Hurt flickers across his face when I refuse – yet again – but he quickly covers it up with a smile and a kiss on my forehead. I can't stop hurting him, but maybe I can say something to make it better…or worse, depending on how he takes it. I turn around in his arms, straddle his lap, and touch his precious face.

He closes his eyes, leans into my hands and sighs as if my touch has brought him the greatest comfort.


"Yeah, sweetheart?"

"I think I love you."

He looks up, smiles at me, and I lean into him and put my head on his shoulder, just being. I don't expect a reply. I don't want one. I'm content. I'm happy. For once in my life, I'm just happy. He has brought so much light into my life that I'm blinded by all the happiness coursing through my veins.



"What did you wish for when you blew the candles?" I can hear his smile.

I think for a moment and finally whisper, "Light."



"I think I love you, too."


Sometimes, the flames lick and torture. The embers burn my skin down to my bones.

His face is buried in my neck as he thrusts. Slow. Torturously slow. His teeth leave little nibbles on my neck. The gesture is so primal that I almost come undone. I bring my hands over his chest and up to his neck, so I can grab his hair and tug, letting him know how much I need this. I turn to face him and kiss his cheek. It's such a simple gesture, that he smiles. He smiles and brings his lips to mine, not once breaking the rhythm our bodies have set. We break when we can't breathe anymore, and, panting with need, I do to him what he was doing to me. I suck the bead of sweat off his neck, and nip at his skin.

It's like an instinct. He moves his head away as if I've burned him. He doesn't stop his movement, but I can see that I bothered him to the point of distraction. He gives me a small, apologetic smile and moves to kiss me again. I try not to let it get to me – maybe I am overthinking things. But it's confirmed when I try to kiss his neck again and he moves his hands from either side of my shoulders, where they were supporting his body weight, and strokes my cheeks with his thumbs.

His weight on top of me is stifling; as are his words. "Don't mark me," he whispers.


"You know why," he says, and as if to highlight his point, I see his wedding ring gleam from the light of the night lamp.

I give a small, bitter smile. "Oh yeah. So you can mark me as yours, but I can't mark you mine. Because you aren't."

My traitorous, traitorous heart wants it all sometimes. His love is like a drug. The more he gives, the more I crave, and at the end of it is a temporary satisfaction. Earlier he was talking about Sophie – his little princess – taking part in a fancy dress, and for once Tanya is being so attentive to her, and how happy it makes him. Did he not even think how insecure that would make me? That I would never have his child, never bring him – or any man, or myself – that happiness? Because I'm almost thirty two and this biological clock shit sucks.

He sighs, my irritation making him annoyed. "Can we not talk about this now? Please?" His eyes close again and his forehead rests against mine.

Fine, then. He can have it his way. I grab him and urge him to go faster, harder, deeper, but I don't feel any of it. I am thinking far too much about that wedding ring that I'll never wear.

"Bella?" he says breathlessly, trying to bring me back to the moment. I pull on his hair, and there is nothing gentle about it. I scrape my nails across his back, digging them into his skin, and there is nothing loving about it. If I'm hurting, so must he. He moves faster when he catches on. He senses my sadness, my anger, and suddenly his expression hardens. I have ruined the moment and I know it. He doesn't like to be reminded that what we do is wrong. And now I feel his anger in his punishing rhythm. I feel his frustration in how the fingers of his right hand dig against my waist.

He is not angry at me. I am not angry at him. We just are.

He takes and takes and I willingly give. He hurts and I hurt and we hurt ourselves emotionally, instead of hurting each other physically.

"Let go, Bella."

"I can't."

"Bella, please. Just don't."

I don't reply. Don't what? Don't ruin it further? Don't think? Don't feel? Don't go numb? Am I numb?

"Stop thinking so much," he pleads, but I will have none of it.

I touch him everywhere, frantically, because he won't stop trying and will eventually exhaust himself. But I can't let go. Not tonight. I hurt too much but won't let him suffer for it. I drag my nails across his back again, this time a lot gentler, like I know he goes wild to. I take his bottom lip between mine and kiss him soundly. I meet him thrust for thrust till I break his resolve.

"You let go, Edward," I whisper in his ear, and he does. He gives in with a strangled groan, breathless and angry that I made him come.

"Why did you do that?" he growls and punches the pillow on the right side of my face.

I don't have the strength for this, nor the inclination of arguing it out with him, so I just move myself from under him and he lets me. Then I turn myself away from him and leave him to his harsh breathing. I don't think I can look at him without breaking down, and my eyes sting anyway. Minutes pass in silence, and I breathe deeply, pretending to be asleep. I know he is awake. He hardly sleeps here. I hear him move before I feel the mattress shift. His arm snares around my waist and he pulls me to him, my back flush to his chest.

"I'm so sorry, baby. You know I am," he whispers. He sounds devastated. So I cry. I don't turn around. I try to hide my tears from him, but instinct wins out and I end up sniffling. He holds me tighter but leans up on his elbow so he can kiss my face.

"Please don't cry, baby. Please, please, please…"

And thus we spend our assigned four hours of Tuesday evening – spooning in my bed, upset and frustrated, and him holding me as I cry.


You breathe upon my skin and leave your imprint. My clothes smell of you. My pillow smells of you. My soul smells of you.

I can't breathe. My head spins and I've thrown up twice already, ever since returning from the club. This just feels so wrong. My skin is too sensitive as I wash myself in the shower. My heartbeat is thudding in my ears. It's so loud, I wonder if it echoes in the confines of this bathroom but the echo is being drowned out by the sound of the shower spray. God knows it's echoing in my head, hurting my head with every beat.

Make it stop, make it stop…

I take the scrubber off the shelf and scrub my arms furiously. He – I don't know his name, or don't remember it – ran his hands allover my arms. Over and over and over. I hated his touch. I hated his breath on my neck. He smelled of too much alcohol. He smelled like filth and vomit. And now I smell like him so I take the body–wash and wash myself for the second time. Or is it the third?

My head pounds, goddammit.

His teeth. His teeth broke my skin. I can feel my shoulder throbbing. I can feel the mark if I touch it…the slight swelling of the area. I scrub it. Get it off, get it off, please let this thing come off.

It doesn't. I scrub myself harder. I try to breathe deeply, but the in and out of air is shallow and I'm gasping. I want to breathe properly. I don't know what's happening to me. Is this how my mom felt just before she died? Your whole body failing, your limbs wanting you to just give up and sink to the floor, your blood reminding you of all the wrongs you did.

Because it was wrong. So wrong. Tonight was all wrong. No encounter has ever made me feel so weak and broken. I'm falling to pieces. I gasp and gasp and gasp and sink to the floor…


Someone's calling my name…I know this voice…

"Bella, baby, open the door."

My mind is playing tricks. It's one in the morning – or two – I don't remember – it's really fucking late. And it's a Saturday night. Technically Sunday morning. I don't know. I don't care.

But he can't be here right now. He can't be here tonight. It's not a Tuesday. I know that.

"Edward," I cry.

"I'm here, sweetheart, just open the door." His voice sounds frantic to me. Why is he so desperate? Why is my mind conjuring his panicked voice? Is he alright? Did something happen?

There's a loud thud. Really, really loud. I jump and almost shriek in fear. Another loud noise. And again. And yet again. I cover my ears and close my eyes. I rock back and forth, curled up upon myself, under the shower spray.

I hear the noise one more time before something metallic clangs to the marble floor. I am about to scream again when the shower curtain is moved but my scream gets caught in my throat when he bends down, fully clothed, and I see my Angel's face.

"Edward…Edward…" I try. I try really fucking hard to explain to him what happened but no words will form.

"Shh," he soothes and sits beside me on the bathroom floor, under the shower spray. At once he wraps his arms around me, and I try to breathe his scent. But the more I breathe, the more I choke. And then I can't stop crying. Loud, strangled sobs escape my throat and I have no idea what is going on. I just want this to stop. He's saying something in my ear. I need to focus. I need to focus on his voice and everything will be alright again.

"Shit, baby, you're bleeding," he says, sounding so pained that I sob again.

"I'm sorry."

"It's not your fault."

"How did you…?" I ask him. How did he get here? How did he know I needed him? Does he know what happened? I want to ask so much but right now I just want to lose myself in him and not think at all.

"Maria called me an hour or so ago," he explains, correctly guessing my question. "She said you looked out of it and wouldn't speak coherently when you left. You refused to wait till Maria could drop you home. She had to put you in a cab hired by the club to drop off people who are too drunk."

His voice is soothing. I relax minutely. I am not hyperventilating anymore. I'm okay. I'll be okay. He's here and I'll be okay.

"Bella, are you listening to me?"

I nod.

"Did you do drugs, Bella?"

I shake my head. I always stay away from drugs. Being a whore is bad enough; I don't need to be a crack whore on top of it. He is holding my wrist in his hand.

"Your pulse is too fast, baby. Let me take you to a doctor."

"No, no, please, Edward, I'm fine. No, no doctors." I'm shaking my head too fast and the room is spinning, so I cling to him again.

"Make it go away, Edward," I sob.

He moves his hands to my face and wipes my tears, even though the shower is running so it doesn't matter. "Make what go away?" he asks me tenderly, as if I were a child, asking someone to dispel my nightmare.

"His scent. His face. His teeth. Just get him off of me."

"Oh, baby, I am so sorry," he sounds like he is choking too. He pulls me back to him and I suddenly remember.

"He gave me my drink. I don't usually drink like this but I did tonight. He put something in it, Edward. I know he did. Everything's falling apart since then."

"We should get you checked –"

"No, and he – his hands – he was too strong. He was too close. I felt too much. I don't feel so much. I don't want to feel it anymore," I plead with him, as if he can make it all okay just by his words.

"Okay," he says soothingly. "It will stop. Just breathe with me, alright?"

He brings my head back to his chest and urges me to match my breathing with his. I try and it works. He breathes deeply and I breathe with him. When I am a bit calm, he slowly pulls us off the ground, and I tug at his t–shirt.

"Take it off," I tell him, and he complies.

He takes off his soaked clothes and throws them aside. I belatedly notice that he isn't wearing a jacket, so he must have removed it before he decided to break my bathroom door. He then stands under the spray, with my face buried in his shoulder. I finally feel like I've come home. Like I won't fall apart anymore. He strokes my hair rhythmically and it is so soothing that I almost fall asleep right there. He feels the tension leaving my body and kisses my hair. I place a kiss on his pecs in return and just let him hold me till we run out of hot water.

Once he closes the shower, he takes a large towel from the shelf and wraps me in it, and then takes another to wrap it around his waist. He asks me to go sit on the bed and I do so, hearing him rummage in the cabinet for something. He comes back out with a first aid kit in his hand and it's then that I notice what he meant about me bleeding. I scrubbed my arms too hard. I have angry red skin on both my arms – some of it bleeds – and he gives me a sad smile as he notices the same. He carefully cleans the cuts, and wraps gauze around them, while I just sit there like an imbecile, drowning in shame and guilt. He kisses the bite-mark on my shoulder and my tears start falling. I wonder how I have any left since I've already cried so much.

"I'm sorry," I say, just like I did in the shower. Because I am. How could I be so stupid to take a drink from a man like that? How could I just do what I did tonight? What am I doing with my life?

He kisses my forehead once he is done putting a bandage over the mark as well. "It wasn't your fault," he repeats himself as well. "Do you feel any better?"

I nod and look down. He puts a hand under my chin and makes me look at him, brushing my tears with his other hand.

"No more," he says. "You are not doing this anymore and that's that. I've had enough of your pride and ego and self–destruction."

"It wasn't self–destruction," I mumble.

"From where I see it, you've spent almost fifteen years of your life putting your dreams on the backburner for this shell of a life. This is the last straw, Bella. Where did your courage go? Are you that big a coward now?"

"Don't call me that!" I say fiercely.

He leans forward and whispers against my lips. "Prove me wrong. Don't go this 'job' of yours anymore. Abandon this lifestyle. Don't take any favors from me if you don't want to but go out and find a decent job."

"I have no qualifications, Edward, you know –"

"Bullshit. You are a high school graduate, and there are plenty of jobs if you just look. So just look, Bella. Try. Try for me."

"You don't understand," I shake my head as more tears spill.

"You're right. I don't. I don't understand why you would throw your life away like this." He strokes my hair again. "I love you, Bella. I love you enough to leave my house at midnight, without giving anyone any explanations, and come running to you because I know you need me. But seeing you like this hurts me too much. Won't you do just this for me? Won't you try?"

I sniffle and bury my head in my hands. He takes me in his arms again as we lie down, and hums a melody to put me to sleep. In the two years that I've known him, it's the first time he stays the night. His love makes me forget.


You can shatter my heart into tiny pieces, and you're the only one who can put it together again and cherish it like a priceless gift. Because in breaking my heart, you break yours too. We sin. We're both sinners. You sins against your wife and your kid; I sin against wanting to be your wife and bearing your child. We sin against our souls, just to appease our hearts.

It's been three weeks after that horrible incident, and I haven't sold my body ever since. Last week, I quit my job as a pole dancer as well. Ironically enough, I am starting out as a babysitter for a friend of Maria's. I look after a three year old girl named Kathleen, who is actually a devil in disguise, and my God she makes me work for my money. I've been babysitting her for six hours each day since the past week for a tiny sum, and I am already tired. Edward is all too pleased, though. He thinks it's endearing that I get to watch a kid. It stabs me a little whenever he says so, but I'll never tell him that, because that just makes him feel worse.

Today I have a decent amount of cash. I just withdrew a little money from the account and I've decided to go grocery shopping. Like, the real deal. Not some milk here and bread there. I actually have a list. Edward helped me write it last Tuesday, and since Sunday is the only day off from babysitting as well, here I am.

I don't shop in such large stores often, so I am constantly bothering one employee or the other to know where stuff is. I am on the aisle for toys for kids. If I get a little gift for Kathleen, maybe she won't be too antagonistic towards me and stop throwing her milk on my clothes. Honestly, kids these days…

I am choosing between the various toys that I can afford, when I hear a small girl whining.

"Mom, pleeeeeease can I get that? Please, please, please?" She pulls on her mother's dress and even stomps her tiny foot. It makes me grin. I am waiting to see what the mother does, but she just brushes the kid off, telling her she's on the phone with someone very important.

"But, moooooom!"

"I said no, Sophie. Let mom talk!" the woman says in a scolding tone, and my heart sinks. Sophie. Sophie. I look at the little girl, no older than six, dressed in jeans and t–shirt, with a cap holding her ponytail, and a pout on her tiny face. I look at the mother, impeccably dressed in a beige dress, nails freshly manicured, looking like the picture of perfection that only belongs on a magazine cover. And I know. I just know.

He confirms it. Out of nowhere, Edward reaches out, his clothes matching that of Sophie, and lifts her into his arms. She squeals and giggles and the onlookers smile as they pass by. I can't even move.

"Let Mommy do whatever she is doing. You come to me, okay? What do you want, Princess?" he asks her as he kisses her cheek.

"I want that," she says with a smile, pointing towards the toys next to me. When Edward looks this way, he is just as shocked as I am. But then he carefully composes his face into a blank mask, plasters a smile and comes my way with Sophie in his arms.

"Hey," he quietly says to me. I can't reply because my mouth is suddenly parched. I feel like my insides are constricting, making it hard to breathe. Wordlessly, I give a worried glance to Sophie and Edward just shrugs.

"Hey, Princess?"

"Yes, Daddy?"

"Say hello to my friend."

"Who is that?" she whispers in his ear, but it's loud enough that I can hear it.

"That lovely lady is Miss Bella," he grins at her, and the adoration in his eyes for his daughter is so clear that I feel an intense pang of longing. I want to feel this – what he feels. I want him to look at my kid – our kid – this way. And the possibility of that is next to none.

Sophie says a timid 'Hi' to me and I mumble a 'Hi' in response, my thoughts filled with crushing fantasies.

"Your butterfly is so pretty," she whispers in awe as she points to my necklace and when I look at her radiant smile, I see Edward in her face. I see Edward in that little dimple she gets on her chin. I see Edward in her green eyes.

"You like it?" I ask, and she nods. So I tuck my grocery list somewhere between all the stuff in my cart, push my hair back and unclasp the chain from around my neck. Then I take Sophie's arm and put it round and round her wrist like a bracelet, and clasp it shut again. "It's yours, Butterfly."

"Bella, you don't –" Edward starts but I don't let him finish. I leave my filled cart right there and, thankful that I at least have my wallet in my jacket pocket, make a run for it before my tears spill. I don't care about the concerned and mildly amused looks that people give me. I just run out of there and take the first bus to my house.

Once there, I bury my head in a pillow and sob out all my sadness and desperate longing for the impossible.

He calls me over and over. He leaves voice messages on my phone, but in all the messages I just hear a frustrated sigh before the line goes dead. I have time till Tuesday, I think to myself. I just need to get my shit together till then. I need to face the facts and stop living in daydreams.

When he finally shows up on Tuesday, he is clearly not happy. He runs his hand through his hair and asks me why I haven't returned his calls, and I don't have an answer. He asks me why I ran away, and I don't have an answer. We soon lose ourselves in kissing – angry making out is a pretty effective distraction technique than just being angry – and before we know it, we are a panting, sweating mess, but decidedly far more relaxed than we have been since Sunday.

He hovers over me and kisses the corner of my mouth.

"Smile for me?"


"You haven't smiled at all tonight."


"The amount of times you smile is directly proportional to how happy I feel."

I snort. "You're full of it."

"I'm serious." He kisses my cheek and makes me look at him. "I actually count your smiles. Last Tuesday you smiled twenty seven times. A week before that it was fourteen. On your birthday, I lost count because you pretty much smiled all night and were so happy. But tonight? None."

I'm silent. His explanation stings worse.

"What can I do?" he asks softly.

I look at him in confusion.

"Tell me what I can do to make you smile."

"I'm fine, Edward. Just go to sleep for a while. Or you should be going home. Sophie needs you. Your wife must be wondering where –"

"Stop. Stop. I'm not going anywhere till you smile." His hand unconsciously makes patterns on my stomach, as if he's going to tickle me.

I sigh exasperatedly. "Will you drop it, please?"

"Just tell me what to do. What do you need?"

"What do I need?"

He nods. Seriously. I'm silent. He waits and waits.

I look into his kind eyes. "I need you."

"You have me, baby."

"Do I?" I ask incredulously.

He sits up some on his right elbow, and his left hand stops its movement and comes to rest on my cheek.

"Heart, body and soul, I'm yours." His eyes are fierce.

"Not in the eyes of everyone else."

He closes his eyes. "Fuck everyone else."

I snort. "I already did."

His eyes open, his nostrils flare and he glares at me. "You know that's not what I meant."

And the dam breaks. I can't hold back. I can't even look at his face anymore. I talk to his chest, his heart.

"I know you didn't mean it like that, but what else do I say? I can't smile. I don't want to. You think my heart is made of stone? You think you can stand in the middle of a grocery store and introduce your daughter to me and call me 'that lovely lady' and it doesn't hurt? Well, it hurts. It just hurts, Edward.

"It hurts that you go home to your wife and your kid and your white picket fence, and then expect me to smile because I couldn't possibly want a white picket fence, your wedding ring and two point five kids of my own. Whores don't want any of that, do they?"

"You're not a –"

"I am! I have been for years. And with the way things are going, I won't be surprised if I become one again. You can't change things overnight, Edward. I'm a whore and apparently I don't have a heart that bleeds every damn morning, and more so on Tuesday nights when I reach to your side of the bed and my hand touches cold sheets. Nope. Not at all. I don't have tears that burn my soul when I look at your picture perfect family and realize that I'll always be your dirty little secret. I don't have emotions that threatened to choke me when a guy would be fucking me from behind and all I would see was your face behind my eyelids. When I would just pray for it to be over soon. I don't even feel whole, Edward. My heart is in tiny pieces and I let you break them further because you're the only thing that makes me feel anymore. So no, Edward, I don't have you even when I do; I will never have you or be a part of your life. I will never love another man and will die homeless and alone, with twenty cats surrounding me, so excuse me for not fucking smiling about it."

When I look back up, I see tears streaming down his face, and so help me, I want to take back every word I just said. I have never, ever seen him cry, and in an instant his tears become my torture. My anger, my frustration melt like snowflakes in hell and all my passion turns into helpless pleading.

"Don't," I beg him. I put a hand on his cheek and wipe the tears but they are never ending.

"I'm sorry," he whispers, and I know he isn't apologizing for the tears. I shake my head, pull him closer and kiss his tears away. He should never cry. Never, never ever.

I hold him to me and he buries his face in my neck, apologizing over and over. I hate myself for causing him so much pain. "Please don't cry, Edward. I'm sorry."

He shakes his head against my shoulder. "I'm yours. We'll work this out, I promise you. You won't be alone. You're not my dirty little secret; you are the love of my life."

He lifts his head and his red–rimmed eyes meet mine. "I love you, Bella. I'll make you happy again, I promise."

He kisses me then – soft and sweet and full of hope and promise.

"I wanna show you something," I say, and wriggle myself from under him to open my bedside drawer. I take out the piece of paper that says more than I ever could to him, and hand it to him without a word.

He looks at it curiously, and shifts us so we're both lying on our sides, facing each other. Our legs entwined, he quietly reads the words, his face slowly losing all the pain and reflecting his happiness, his love.

When he is finally done, he has tears in his eyes again, but this time they aren't the sad kind. He asks me for a pen and asks me to face the other way. He then rests the paper on my back and scribbles on it, the movement tickling my shoulder and making me giggle. When I turn back around, he turns the paper around and I smile at his words. It's silly, it's high–schoolish, and it's crazy, but that's what our love is like.

"This is ours," he says reverently and holds the paper between our chests.

"Let's burn it."

He raises a brow. "Burn it?"

I nod. "Because it will be consumed by the light and the heat that you are to me, and it will be ours forever."

He kisses my lips. "Whatever you want."

We go to the terrace, with bed–sheets wrapped around our naked bodies, and I carry the matches from the kitchen with me.

I hand it to him while I hold the paper. "You light it."

"You sure?"


He lights up the match and brings it close to his face for a moment, the flame reflected back in both his eyes and mine. Then he brings it to the paper and sets a corner on fire.

The flames lick away at the paper…every word slowly turns to ash. This is our story – in these ashes at our feet. In these words that will never be heard by anyone else but us. We burn it. We burn our story to the ground because in these unspoken words is immortality. It does not matter if no one else sees them, reads them, breathes them. We've seen it, read it, breathed it. This piece of paper is a part of our light now. The words 'I love you more, Butterfly' written in his elegant script are the last to be consumed in this light. He is the light. He is life.