Still don't own Twilight, still don't intend to infringe.
This is it. I'm a little misty-eyed. It's hard to say good-bye. Not sure why but this was probably the hardest outtake to write. It covers quite a bit and so it ended up being the longest chapter of all. I guess it's my little goodbye present to you all. A little extra time with Edward.
For weeks after that fateful phone call to Bella on the morning of her wedding, I lost myself in drinking and debauchery. It was a miracle I passed any of my finals. During the day I struggled through my classes, often hungover and always exhausted while most nights I went out with Alec to hit up any bar we could get into or whatever party we could find. Each night I drank until I no longer compared every girl I met to Bella. That wasn't hard, considering the type of places we frequented, most of the girls we met were vapid and superficial but I didn't care. I wasn't looking for conversation, I just needed a way to get out of my own head for a while.
I'd been extraordinarily lucky not to have been left with a physical reminder of my night with Victoria and no matter how much I drank, I was very careful not to tempt fate again. To be honest, most of the time I found I couldn't stand my company long enough to get her into my bed anyway and usually settled for rounding just a base or two in dark corners before moving along.
I ended up staying and working in Hanover over the summer after all. I just couldn't face the idea of going home and spending the entire summer trying to avoid running into Bella and her husband. Mom wasn't happy and though I told her it was just because having a little work experience would be beneficial down the road, I was sure she saw right through me. She told me she understood and promised they would fly out to visit me here instead.
As my sophomore year progressed, I cut back a bit on my partying with Alec. We still went out on the weekends but I didn't want to completely sabotage my future. After all, my future career might be all I ever have, might as well make sure it was a good one right?
By junior year I'd grown sick of the ridiculous girls and stopped paying them much attention. None of them ever lived up to the girl who still held my heart and the drunken encounters were no longer helping the dull ache in my heart. There was just no point in it anymore. I refocused my attention on my studies with renewed vigor. I still hung out with Alec and the rest of my friends on the weekend but we'd all grown up a bit and none of us were as interested in the excessive partying anymore.
I was surprised by how easily I settled into life in New Hampshire. I suppose it was easier once I realized that Forks no longer held anything for me. I'd only gone back once since learning of Bella's marriage. As much as I wanted to, I just couldn't bring myself to tell my mother I wasn't coming home for Christmas. So, I spent the week there hiding in the house, avoiding any trip to the grocery store, diner or any public place where I might accidentally run into them.
As I started my senior year I finally decided that I'd had more than my fill of dorm life and found myself a tiny studio apartment just off campus. It was small but it was bigger than a dorm, it was quiet, and it was all mine. I loved it.
I was not the only one who moved that year. My parents relocated to Seattle and after spending my first Christmas in their new home there I came home excited about starting the last semester of my senior year. Even though I still had my Masters to complete, I was so close to completing this small step towards the rest of my life. I was finally beginning to feel free.
I was just gathering up my things after my advanced macroeconomics class when a silky voice approached me from behind.
I spun around and came face to face with a tall woman with long strawberry blonde hair. She was very attractive, gorgeous most would say though I didn't really look at women in that way anymore. I smiled politely and nodded.
"Hi," she said with a broad smile as she extended her hand, "I'm Tanya, Tanya Denali. So, I'm not going to beat around the bush here, I initially had you pegged as a pretty frat boy just paying his way through a degree here, but based on your comments during class it seems you actually know your stuff."
I stifled a small laugh. She wasn't kidding about not beating around the bush. "Well, you don't exactly look like the typical econ major either," I retorted playfully. Jesus Christ, was I flirting? I didn't flirt. Not anymore.
"I get that a lot. You'd think it would teach me not to judge but whatever, that's not why I'm here. I need a study partner and I'd really like one who isn't a complete idiot. I ended up basically tutoring my last two study partners and I don't need another pupil. What do you say?"
I was thrown completely off guard. I wasn't sure what I expected her to say, but that wasn't it. "Oh, um, well…" I mumbled, hesitating.
"Good hell, Eddie, I'm asking you to study with me not go to prom. It's really not a hard question."
She was a bit of a spitfire and seemed genuinely focused on her studies. I decided I liked her. I didn't want a girlfriend but I wasn't opposed to a friend who was a girl. "Alright, I tell you what. You promise to never call me Eddie again and you've got a deal."
"I think I can handle that," she said with a smile.
We exchanged information and set up a time to meet up. Over the course of the semester I found that I grew to enjoy Tanya's company. She was driven and ambitious but also funny and caring. We became fast friends and our study sessions went from the all business in the library to casually comparing notes over pizza and beers.
After our last final we celebrated with friends at a restaurant overindulging in rich food and too many drinks. It was late by the time our little party split up and went their separate ways. Both of us too drunk to drive, I ended up walking Tanya back to her apartment. I'd been to her place plenty of times over the last few months but as she unlocked the door and invited me inside, I recognized that something was different this time. Our friendly banter was gone, replaced with something different, a tension of sorts.
Though Tanya had never indicated that she wanted anything more than friendship from me, I wasn't surprised when she leaned in and kissed me. It felt as though we'd been unconsciously heading in this direction for a while. It wasn't anything I planned or even thought I wanted, but kissing her came easy. She was warm, inviting and I was just so lonely. I didn't even realize how much I missed physical contact until her body pressed against mine.
I woke the next morning hopelessly confused, unsure of how to proceed. Tanya was my friend, one of my closest friends lately and the last thing I wanted was to hurt her but I wasn't sure I could give her my heart. At the same time, I was sick of spending my nights alone. In the end, I decided to just let go, give it a shot and see what happened.
Tanya and I never really discussed it but after that first night together we seemed to just fall right into a relationship. It was easier than I'd expected but while I cared deeply for Tanya, there was always a Bella-shaped wall keeping me from giving her my whole heart. When Tanya confessed her love I merely echoed the sentiment. It felt wrong to lie to her but the truth would hurt her more. If not for Bella, Tanya would have been just the kind of girl I wanted to end up with. Now Bella was out of the picture, why shouldn't I try to make it work with Tanya?
Weeks turned into months and my heart stubbornly refused to catch up with my head but I enjoyed Tanya's friendship and company far too much to hurt her now. She loved me, cared for me, cheered me up when I was feeling down. In return, I played the role of perfect boyfriend. I wanted to be her perfect boyfriend.
Christmas that year brought a few surprises. I went to Seattle to spend the holiday with my family while Tanya went to Alaska to see hers. What I hadn't expected was how much I would miss her. I still wasn't sure she'd ever replace Bella in my heart but somehow she'd carved out her own small piece of it.
When I learned that Bella had married I had been angry and heartbroken but as time went on envy had been added to my feelings on the subject. She'd moved on, found someone else and would have a family of her own while I'd been sure I would spend my life alone. Suddenly I had a different option. Tanya may not have been my first choice, but she was a choice, a good choice. We could make a life together.
I waited until the end of March, until her birthday, and took her to her favorite restaurant, popping the question over dessert. She accepted immediately, throwing her arms around me as the other restaurant patrons clapped and smiled. I was confident in my decision and it should have been the happiest moment of my life but for some reason, with Tanya's arms clasped around my neck, all I could think of was Bella.
We decided on a long engagement. Tanya had her heart set on a big summer wedding but with summer only a couple of months away, it was too soon to accomplish this year. Waiting until the following summer would allow me to finish my MBA and for us to save up a little money for our own place.
My parents flew out immediately upon hearing the news and insisted on taking us to dinner to meet my new fiancé. Dinner went well but my mom seemed subdued and I pulled her aside later that evening to find out why.
"You don't like her?" I asked.
"Oh, Edward, she's a lovely girl. I like her just fine."
"I'm sensing a 'but'," I stated. Mom always prefaced bad news with compliments.
She sighed and smiled sadly. "But I always hoped you and Bella would find a way."
Her words hit me like a freight train and I stepped away stunned. Mom's face fell as she saw that she'd touched a nerve. "I'm so sorry, dear. I should have kept that to myself but it just slipped out. I didn't realize that was still such a sensitive subject. It's been so long."
"It's fine mom," I insisted.
"Oh my boy," she whispered, pulling me into a hug, "it clearly isn't and it makes me wonder if you know what you're getting into."
"I know exactly what I'm getting into, mom."
She shook her head. "I don't think you do. There are clearly unresolved issues at play and I'm just so worried that someone is going to get hurt."
"You worry too much," I said with a forced laugh, trying in vain to put her at ease. "I promise mom, I'll be just fine."
"I never said it would be you," she replied as she stroked my cheek and turned to seek out my father.
My mother's words haunted me for weeks after. Tanya had been thrilled when I asked her to marry me and it was hard to imagine her being hurt by this when she seemed so happy. I tried to write my mother's fears off as just that, a mother simply overreacting, but there was a new nagging voice in the back of my mind telling me that she was right. I cared for Tanya but I didn't love her because I was still hopelessly in love with Bella.
Ugh! Why couldn't I get this girl out of my head? She didn't want me. She'd moved on the first chance she got. I just wanted to be free of her.
The universe continued to conspire against me in the form of a phone call from my old friend, Liam.
"Hey man, long time no talk. Wondering if we might be seeing you at the reunion."
This was the first I'd heard of it, probably my own fault for not bothering to keep my information updated with the alumni committee but in all honesty, who does? Liam apparently.
"Didn't even know about it," I replied.
Liam laughed and gave me the info for the event which was just over two weeks away and taking place back at the Lodge in dear old Forks. My parents were gone and the place held nothing but memories anymore. Memories I'd been desperately trying to forget.
"Yeah, don't think I'll be coming," I chuckled. "It's kind of last minute. I probably wouldn't even be able to get a hotel reservation."
"It's the Forks Lodge, man, not the Waldorf Astoria. Besides more than half the class still lives in the area. I doubt finding a room will be a problem."
"Still, it's a long way to go for one night and airfare is expensive these days."
"Or you just don't want to run into a certain ex of yours. I know for a fact that Rosalie Hale is planning to go. You know if she goes, Bella will."
That was definitely a surprise. I couldn't imagine Rosalie wanting anything to do with anyone from high school anymore and it just didn't seem like something Bella would be interested in. Not the Bella I knew anyway.
"It's not about her," I scoffed. "She's married now anyways."
"If you say so."
I spent the next two weeks trying to ignore the fact that I had a definite time and place where I knew Bella would be. It was dangerous information to have and it was beginning to drive me crazy. Tanya even picked up on my unease, her worries ranging from illness to cold feet. Who knows, maybe it was just cold feet.
The date of the reunion was practically flashing on every calendar I passed, calling out and beckoning me with the promise of seeing Bella again. Each time I would shake those thoughts from my head, reminding myself that seeing Bella meant seeing her with her husband. No thank you.
The closer we got to the reunion, the crazier I felt and the more worried Tanya became. She even offered to put all wedding plans on hold if it would make me feel better, promising that she could wait until I was ready. I felt like such an ass for causing her to doubt me, even if she was right to do so.
By the night before the reunion, I was sure I was going to lose my mind. I lucked out in that Tanya had gone to Boston for the weekend with some of her girlfriends, leaving me alone to silence the warring factions of my brain with a large bottle of Tequila. I decided the best way to approach the situation was to remain either drunk or passed out until the reunion was over. The more I drank, the more desperate I became. I didn't want to feel this way anymore. I wanted to move on. I needed to move on.
Just before midnight, an idea hit me. Maybe I just needed closure. The last time I saw Bella was naked in my bed. Of course I was having trouble moving on with that memory as my last. In order to get this girl out of my mind and heart I needed to see for myself that she'd moved on. I needed to see her, laughing, happy, and in love with someone else. It would be just the thing to purge her from my mind. The thing that would force me to close that door. It would work. It had to work.
I booted up my computer and shook off the alcohol haze as I searched for a plane ticket. The price was ridiculous, but I actually found a ticket to Seattle leaving first thing in the morning. I couldn't believe I'd been able to book a ticket so last minute. It felt like a sign, like I was meant to do this.
I put away the liquor after that and drank several large glasses of water before passing out. The blaring of the alarm threw me off the next morning and I laid there for several minutes trying to figure out why my alarm had been set when I had nowhere to be that day. Then my eyes fell on the ticket confirmation page that I'd printed off the night before and it all came back to me.
I strongly considered calling the airline and explaining that the ticket purchase was a complete mistake and seeing if I could get my money back before going back to sleep. I couldn't bring myself to make that call though. In my hands I had a ticket to see Bella. I wasn't sure anything would have stopped me from using it.
As I packed I made a call to Tanya which thankfully went straight to voicemail. It was early and she'd gone for a friend's bachelorette party, she likely wouldn't be awake to get my message until I was halfway to Washington.
"Hey, babe, something came up and I'm going to head to Seattle to see my folks. I should be back around the same time as you. Don't overdo it too much. I'll see you when I get back."
I felt bad lying to her but I wasn't sure how to explain the truth without hurting her. It seemed everything I did was sure to hurt her anymore. Hopefully that would change after tonight.
The cab ride to the airport went quickly and before I knew it, I was on a plane heading straight to Seattle where a smaller plane waited to deliver me to Port Angeles. I was going home. On the plane I developed a plan of attack. I wanted to see Bella, but I didn't want her to see me. I couldn't sit there and smile and bullshit as she introduced me to husband as just her old high school boyfriend, laughing about how young and silly we were. I couldn't stomach the idea of that. I decided the best way to avoid that was to not let her know I was even there at all, which meant I needed to avoid almost everyone else as well. Was that even possible? I hoped that I could sneak in once the reunion was well underway, stick to the back, hide in the shadows until I caught a glimpse of her. That's all I needed. Just a glimpse of her happy with someone else and I could bail, get back on a plane and go home to Tanya with the demons of my past exorcised.
My nerves were beginning to get the better of me once we touched down in Port Angeles. After renting a car, I stopped and bought a bottle of tequila and a small silver flask, knowing I would need more than a little liquid courage in order to follow through with this absurd plan. I drove straight to the Lodge, not wanting to pass anything that might remind me of Bella. It was hopeless though, everything in this little town reminded me of her. Despite all the years I'd lived there before she arrived in my life, Bella and Forks would be forever linked in my mind. It was all so painful that I made myself a vow. By this time the next day I would be putting this town in my rear view and I was never coming back.
It turned out that Liam had been right. Despite not making any reservations, I had no problem getting a room. I took an excessively long, hot shower, washing the funk of air travel from my body and giving myself a silent pep talk. I could do this. Sneak in, get a glimpse, sneak out, drink self into oblivion, and wake up new man. Simple.
I'd turned my phone off during the flight and realized as I stepped from the shower that it was still off. I had no doubt that there was sure to be several worried messages from Tanya by now. I knew I should check them, should call her back and reassure her that everything was ok. But I didn't. I kept the phone off and tucked it into the pocket of my carry-on. I would call her later, when I knew everything was ok. I didn't know anything at the moment.
I took my time getting dressed, well aware that the reunion was just getting underway several floors below me, aware that, if Liam's information was accurate, Bella was in this building somewhere. That thought was the one that had me popping open my just purchased bottle and taking several large swigs before filling my new flask.
A couple more drinks and I found the strength to leave my room. Another swig in the elevator and then I was there. I could see vaguely familiar people lingering in the lobby but quickly made my way to the large ballroom where music was playing loudly. I slipped into the room unnoticed and sticking to my plan, remained near the back of the room, where it seemed the darkest as I began scanning the area for Bella.
I took several more drinks from my flask as my eyes searched the room. She was nowhere to be found. I was just about to give up, sure that Liam had heard wrong and that this entire trip had been a colossal waste, when there was a break in the crowd and suddenly she was there. Even from this distance I could see that she was just as beautiful as ever, possibly more so.
I knew in that instant that this whole trip was pointless. Nothing was ever going to stop me from loving this girl. My heart would always belong to her and there was nothing I could do about it. I felt a pang of guilt as I remembered that there was another girl. A girl on the other side of the country who loved me, who would be there waiting for me when I returned home and who I had never felt the kinds of emotions towards that I was feeling right now. I knew in an instant that what I was doing to Tanya wasn't fair. She deserved to be someone's first choice, not their runner-up. I couldn't spend my life lying to her, making her believe I felt things that I couldn't. I didn't want to be that kind of man.
After promising myself that I would make things right with Tanya, I turned my attention back to the stunning beauty in front of me. She was dancing with a tall dark skinned man who I assumed to be her husband though they didn't appear to be completely comfortable with each other. Bella was holding him at arm's length and looked a little uneasy which I found strange. I took a few steps to the side so I could get a better look at this man who'd stolen my love. I nearly gasped when I realized that I recognized him.
It was Tyler Crowley. I'd known him most of my life. Tyler and Bella? That didn't make sense. I remembered that they'd been friendly, I think they shared a class, but it was always just a casual acquaintance. Could they have grown closer after I left? I shook my head. No. That was impossible. Tyler went to Stanford. I remember the day he got his acceptance letter. He'd been so excited that he showed it to everyone he passed. I remember congratulating him and showing him my own letter from Dartmouth.
So then what I was watching was just two old classmates catching up. I breathed a sigh of relief. The music slowed and Bella began to look nervous, clearly not comfortable slow dancing with Tyler. I waited to see if her husband would cut in, or if she would excuse herself from Tyler and go to him. Trying not to make myself known, I stepped away from the wall and quickly glanced around the room, looking to see if anyone else was watching them. I saw no one and no one approached them.
Without another thought, my feet began to carry me out onto the dance floor. I wasn't sure where this husband of hers was but I couldn't resist the chance to talk to her alone. I tapped Tyler softly on the shoulder and asked to cut in. I noticed Bella stiffen considerably at my arrival and it hurt my heart. What had I done to make her so uncomfortable in my presence? She began to look around the room wildly again, no doubt looking for the husband that was sure to come and end our brief conversation. I couldn't believe he'd let her out of his sight at all. She looked breathtaking and I told her so.
She was still frozen, seemingly in shock, but she allowed me to place her arms over my shoulders. My heart pounded with the feel of her in my arms again. She asked me nervously why I was there. Apparently, she'd been checking up on me as well. I decided to go with the truth and told her that I'd come all this way just to see her. I saw her trademark blush spread across her face and my heart leapt, overjoyed at being able to elicit that reaction from her still after all these years. She tried to hide it but I wasn't having that. I knew it shouldn't but it gave me an irrational surge of hope. She tried to write it off as a result of heat and alcohol but I knew better. I knew that blush. That was my blush.
She was still obviously nervous and I attempted to put her at ease, admitting that I'd also overindulged as a result of nerves, showing her the flask I'd hidden in my jacket pocket. Nerves caused by her and her still absent husband. I commented on her missing spouse and she stunned me by admitting that he hadn't come with her.
Knowing that our conversation wouldn't be interrupted by another man's fist in my face made me bolder. Or maybe it was just the alcohol, but I ended up making a suggestive comment about not letting her leave my bed looking as good as she did here in my arms. I shouldn't have said it no matter how true it might be.
My comment brought out the fire in her. She jumped immediately to her husband's defense before surprising me with the fact that she no longer lived in town. I couldn't imagine Forks without her. I also couldn't hide how thrilled I was to have her to myself but that only seemed to make her even more angry. She snapped at me and snatched the flask from my hand, helping herself to a large drink before I could warn her of its contents. She didn't seem to care and took a second drink before I could wrestle it away. I took a shot of my own before tucking the flask back into my pocket.
I pulled her closer, reveling in the feel of her body against mine. It was wrong and I knew it. She was a married woman after all, but I couldn't stop myself. She was like a drug, pulling me under her spell. I couldn't get enough. I nearly stopped breathing when she actually rested her head against my chest. Her arms around my neck tightened, pulling me closer. I couldn't believe what was happening.
I lowered my lips to her ear. "God, I've missed you baby," I whispered, admitting to her the one thing I'd been trying to avoid admitting to myself for the last year.
She pulled away and looked up at me, her warm brown eyes peering into mine. I never wanted to let her go. Her husband could go to hell for all I was concerned. I needed this woman like I needed oxygen. She was drawing me in. I was just about to capture her lips with mine when she mumbled something and then disappeared. Before I knew what was happening she was pushing through the crowds of people, running away from me. I was losing her all over again.
I couldn't do this again. I shoved past bodies, desperate to catch up with her. I just couldn't let her go again. I broke into a sprint as I saw her reach the elevator, my hand catching the door just as it began to close. Bella shrank into the corner of the small room as it began its ascent. I asked her why she'd run and she admitted that she'd had to get away, eventually confessing that it was me in particular that she was run from, telling me that she couldn't stand in that room and pretend with me. I was so confused. What were we pretending?
Then she completely floored me, saying the last thing I'd ever expected her to say, that she'd been hurting just as much as I had but she didn't stop there. She continued on, telling me that she'd thought about me every day. She detailed the depths of her pain and I couldn't believe what she was saying. The description of her pain so closely mirrored my own. I felt the elevator slow to a stop as Bella told me that she hurt so much because she didn't think I ever thought about her that way. Was she crazy?
The door behind me dinged open but I was too in shock to notice. Bella placed her little hands on my chest and pushed me aside, shooting out the door and down the hall, leaving me replaying her words over and over again.
She thought about me.
She thought about me every day.
The doors began to close before I snapped out of it and realized I was alone in the elevator. I stopped the doors and threw myself from the elevator, hurtling myself down the hall to where Bella stood fumbling with her room key. I spun her around to face me and took the card from her hand. I couldn't let her run from me again, not after saying something like that.
She fell against my chest crying, tearing my heart in two. Why did she think I didn't care about her anymore? How could she possibly think that? I took her face in my hand and wiped her tears away; confessing to her she was all I ever thought about.
The next thing I knew her lips were on mine, my body pressed up against hers, trapping her between me and the door but she didn't seem to mind anymore. Her body melted against mine. Vaguely aware that we were making out like teenagers in a hotel hallway, I took the keycard in my hand and inserted into the door. Bella nearly toppled over as the door flung open but I steadied her in my arms.
Once inside, I pulled away. My heart was pounding, my breath was ragged but there was so much I needed to say to her. Five year's worth, but Bella didn't want to hear what I had to say as she threw her arms around me and kissed me again. Oh well. Tonight I would just show her my love. I would make her mine again. There'd be plenty of time to talk later.
I woke early, afraid that the previous evening had been nothing but a beautiful dream. My heart leapt as I opened my eyes and found Bella's perfect, naked body draped over my own. It had really happened, she was really here! I reveled in the feel of her skin against mine before reality snaked its way back into my brain. Bella was a married woman and I'd seduced her. I had a fiancé back home, a good woman who I'd betrayed. I knew I should have felt guiltier but I was just too happy. I had my Bella and wasn't giving her back to him, not without a fight.
I placed a gentle kiss against Bella's bare shoulder and was seriously considering waking her for another round of lovemaking when I heard the quiet sound of a phone vibrating. I slid out from under Bella and snatched my pants off the floor before remembering that my phone was tucked away in my own room. The sound cut through the quiet room once more and I followed it to the end table by the bed where Bella's phone lay.
I knew I was invading her privacy but I couldn't help but pick up the phone, curious who might be calling her so early. I should have known. Who else would be calling at this time but her husband, probably wondering why she hadn't called the night before. I should have minded my own business but I didn't.
I looked down at the little phone vibrating in my hand. There was a picture flashing on the display under the title 'Home'. The picture was not the face of a man as I'd been expecting, but that of a little girl. One who couldn't be more than three or four years old with dark brown hair and eyes I'd have recognized anywhere. They were Bella's eyes. It was unmistakable. This sweet little girl was Bella's daughter.
She had a child. A young child. A child who was waiting at home for her mother to return. A mother who I'd just been planning to steal away.
I was a monster.
Could I really tear this little girl's family apart for my own selfish desires?
I dressed quickly and stepped out onto the little balcony hoping the fresh air might help quiet the voices fighting in my head. The monster who just wanted to keep Bella for himself and the gentleman my mother had raised to respect the sanctity of family.
The more I thought about it, the more I knew that I was completely fucked. Either I convince Bella to leave her husband for me, singlehandedly ripping that tiny girl's family to pieces or I bow out, ripping my own heart to pieces instead but leaving my integrity intact. In the end, I knew the only way I could look at myself in the mirror each day was to do the right thing. I couldn't let Bella harm her child for me. I wasn't worth it.
What followed was the most excruciating thing I'd ever done. I lied to the love of my life, I told her it was just a mistake, I told her to go home, and when all that still wasn't working, I used Tanya once more to make my love hate me. I became Bella's monster to avoid being her child's monster. My heart was broken but at least I could live with myself.
I went straight from Bella's room to my own, gathered up my things and checked out as soon as possible, driving straight to the airport and taking the first available plane ride home. Once home, I drove straight to Tanya's apartment. She wasn't back yet but I had my own key and I took advantage of that time to clear out the handful of things I had left there before Tanya arrived home.
She knew straightaway that something was wrong. I still hadn't checked my messages, hadn't even turned on my phone, but it was obvious she'd left plenty.
"Well, I'm glad you're not dead at least," she snapped as she dropped her bags in the entryway. "Are you going to tell me where you were now? Because I called your mother, I was so worried, but she didn't know what the hell I was talking about."
"I'm so sorry," I began, hating myself for what I was about to do to her. "I lied to you."
"No shit! I just told you I called your parents and you sure as hell weren't there."
"Not just that," I said, shaking my head. "I've lied to you about everything."
"What are you talking about?" she asked before a light flicked on in her head. "Oh God! Is there someone else?"
I nodded and Tanya collapsed to the floor. "I've been in love with the same girl since high school. I lost her then and I thought I was over it but I've been lying to myself, lying to you."
Tanya was hugging her knees to her chest as she looked up at me. "Have you been seeing her this whole time?"
"What? No, she lives…," I sighed and tugged at my hair. "Well, I'm not sure where she lives actually."
Tanya looked up at me, her tear soaked eyes knit together in confusion. "I'm missing something."
"I promised you my heart but it turned out to be something I couldn't offer, because this other girl still owns it."
"So you haven't been sleeping with her while you were with me."
"But you did this weekend. That's where you went. You went to her." She always was a smart girl but I was surprised by how quickly she was able to put it all together.
I nodded. "It was my high school reunion."
"And you couldn't tell me because you went to see her," she stated.
I nodded again.
"So, you and this girl? You two back together now or something?"
This time I shook my head. "No. It's not going to work out."
"I don't get it. If you're not leaving me for her then why come clean? You could have made something up and I'd have been none the wiser. Why throw this away for something you can't even have?"
Did she really think I could just come home and pretend nothing had happened? "I respect you too much to keep lying to you," I said, "to keep hurting you."
Her tears began falling harder now. "So, you just don't love me."
"I wish I could. I wanted to." I said softly, knowing it was the truest thing I'd ever said to her. I knelt in front of her and pressed my lips to her forehead. "I'm so sorry for hurting you," I whispered.
She didn't look at me as she pulled the diamond ring from her finger. I put my hand on hers to stop her. "No, I bought that for you. It's yours."
Tanya shook her head, tears falling freely. "It was never mine to accept." She placed the delicate ring in my hand and folded my fingers over it. "Please take it."
I slipped the ring into my pocket and stood slowly before gathering up my things and walking out of her life. I could only pray that she would find someone who was worthy of her soon. Someone who would make her forget that I had ever existed.
4 Years Later
I stepped out of the steaming shower and wrapped a towel around my waist. I dried my hair with another towel as I headed to my closet searching for something to wear. Mom was hosting some kind of book club or get together with a bunch of her friends and I was taking dad out to eat so he wouldn't have to hide out in his office the whole time.
I dressed quickly and sat on the edge of the bed to tie my shoes. My eyes falling upon the small frame on my end table, on the picture I found in a tattered box at my mom's house just a couple of months earlier. I looked at this picture several times a day now but her beauty never failed to make my breath catch. I'd made so many mistakes when it came to her, so many assumptions and bad decisions that all I had left was this tiny memory, this moment in time when everything had seemed so right, just before it had all gone wrong. Before I'd done everything wrong. Oh how what I wouldn't give to go back. For one more chance to make things right. I shook that thought off as my phone began to ring. I couldn't think like that. It hurt too much.
"Hey mom, what's up?"
"Edward, I just found out that Renata is bringing her granddaughters with her tonight and I don't have anything really kid-friendly to offer them. Would you be a dear and pick something up for me on your way here? Cupcakes maybe?"
"Cupcakes?" I asked, puzzled.
"Sure, little girls love cupcakes. I'd really appreciate it. You could just pop into that cute little bakery around the corner from your place."
I just couldn't resist adding that last little bit in. Even though I know he gets his happy ending, I felt compelled to get him back to Bella.
I hope you don't all hate my Tanya and the fact that she isn't a fake, manipulative, bimbo slut. I think she gets a bad rap sometimes and when I set out to write this story I didn't want to create a villain. Most relationship conflicts don't stem from a third person, they come from the two people in the relationship through misunderstanding, assumptions and lack of communication. My Bella and Edward are their own worst enemies and stood in their own way when it came to their happiness. I wanted to write a story about two people growing up and learning from their own mistakes. I can only hope that some of this came across in my story.
Sharing this with you all has been so much more than I ever expected it to be. I literally held my breath when I read the first few reviews, certain they'd be nothing but people telling me how much I suck. (Ok, I admit I still might hold my breath a bit. I can't help it.) The fact that so many of you have told me that you not only enjoyed it but loved my story is just too much for me to handle. I think I've been in a perpetual state of disbelief.
Well, until next time :)