I don't own Twilight but I will own up to an obsession with Robert Pattinson...oh, and the plot of this story is mine alone ;)

Special thanks to my kick-ass beta, X-NessieCullen-X and our mascot, Aiden! The girl gets paid in nothing more than sexy Rob pics that I have a habit of cramming her inbox and message feed with...not that she ever complains about that ;) Then again, who would?! Love ya, girlie!

Part 3

You Bleed Just to Know You're Alive

Bella and Edward didn't say much as they drove back to Bella's apartment for the night. Wrapping a hand around her inner thigh, he pulled her to the middle of the cab and took comfort from feeling her against him. "You should have your seat belt on." She just grinned and shook her head. The rest of the ride was silent.

He unlocked the door to her apartment with his own keys and was surprised when she took them from his hand the second the door was closed, lazily dropped them onto the shoe mat, and kept a hold on his now empty hand. She didn't pull him, just guided him back to her bedroom. With her flip-flops kicked off by the door, he kicked off his shoes at the foot of the bed where she helped him to sit down. He watched as she went through slow, almost robotic motions: stripping off her watch, her bracelets and her bra-which she unhooked and pulled out from under her shirt, not revealing anything to Edward.

The shorts were off next and she was in just a gray V-neck tee and a pair of light purple cotton panties. Stalking over to him, she pushed his shirt over his head and then reached for the buckle on his jeans. He stood then, knowing it would be easier for her. When they were off, as well as his socks, she pulled the comforter down and climbed in. He was more than happy to follow. "No sex tonight. This is just me and you, Edward," she whispered in his ear as her body curled into his side.

"I love you," he whispered in response, bringing a hand up to run it through her hair.

"Your mom knows and now Jess. It went better than I was expecting but I can feel how tense you are. You need rest, babe."

"I need you," he argued.

"I'm right here."

This was without a doubt feeling like one of the most serious discussions they'd had in a long, long time. There was meaning behind their words and therefore what they were saying couldn't be taken at face value. "Bella, Jess knows. You know what you have to do next. I can do it if you want me to. It needs to be done, though. If I'm not who you want, then fine but not him. I won't allow you to exist in a world where a man hurts you that way. Never again."

"It's always been you," she breathed, her lips coming up to meet his. After about fifteen minutes of their tongues being intertwined, he realized that she had to be up early for work in the morning-her job sometimes demanded she worked Saturday mornings until eleven. Breaking away from her, he pulled her even closer before turning her away from him so that his face was buried in her hair and whispering the words that always calmed her all those many nights ago in his childhood bed. "Sweet dreams, Bells. I'm here."

Two hours later, his mind still wouldn't shut out the images that kept running through it of Bella and Jacob and how he could hurt her. The man was going to snap and Edward absolutely had to come up with a way to save her. He felt her stir and a few minutes later heard the sniffling. A wetness began to form on his bicep that Bella's head was now resting on. "Bells, I'm still here. I'm right here."

She grabbed onto his arm that was below her head and gripped, feeling his muscular arm and kissing the inside of it. "I'm sorry. I know. I'm just scared. I know I have to tell him...but...I'm afraid."

Edward hated himself. Her shirt had pulled up by her ribs and he ran his finger over the scars that Jacob had given her. "I've failed you," he said softly in a defeated tone, his arms pulling her so that she was on her back and he could lean up and over her.

When they were face to face, she shook her head in confusion. "What are you talking about?"

"I swore I'd never let you get hurt. I'd always tell you that I was here, that there was nothing to fear, but I fucking failed you, Bells. My sweet Bells. I let this man break you literally and figuratively. I'm a fucking coward. I was man enough to put an end to a man hurting you all those years ago but now that I am a man, I didn't man up and stop it this time..."

"Shh. Stop it," she half begged him. Craning her neck to kiss his lips again, she let a few more tears fall. As she clung to his arms that were now encasing her, he saw her nipples harden despite the tears. When she let go to push her panties down, he had no doubt of what she needed. "Please," she begged and they both knew it had nothing to do with what they were talking about before.

Releasing his erection from his boxers, he rubbed the tip against Bella and held on tightly to her, kissing her lips and neck until she began to feel slick. This was so like those nights when she would sneak into his room, only tonight there was no condom to mess with. As tears continued to fall, she held even tighter to him and raised her hips. With one, smooth thrust, he was deep inside of her and let out a soft groan.

"I'm sorry for letting him hurt you, Bella. It won't happen again. You're mine now. For good."

Desperately, she let out a loud cry and gripped his arms, using them to pull herself up to meet him thrust for thrust. "Stay with me..."

"Always. I'm right here, Bells. I'm right here," he cried out as he felt her walls begin to pulse around him. That was all it took for him to spill into her. She was crying, he was exhausted, and they were both sweaty and panting. "I'll never fail you again."

His heart stopped. The little tremor in her voice had more to do with the fact that she was lying as it did that she was scared. It had been only been two weeks since they discussed what they were going to do about Jacob Black but never finished the discussion. Now, Jacob was coming for a visit. Gritting his teeth, he asked with a leveled tone into his phone, "It's him isn't it?"

"Yes," she whispered.

"Bella..." he said slowly and angrily.

"I'm going to end this with him, Edward. He said he was coming and I want him to. I want to be done with this. He'll be here in a couple hours."

"You are so... Dammit, Bella! He's going to hurt you! Why didn't you just fucking tell him over the phone? Haven't you begged him to leave you alone before? Why open yourself up to another one of his visits? When is he coming? I'll be there."

"No, you won't." Her tone was sharp. Adamant.

"Fuck you, Bells!"

"Don't do this. Please, please don't do this. I can handle myself."

"You can't even say that without sounding like a complete liar. You can pull that shit with Ally but don't try it with me. I know you, Bella."

"I'm sorry, Edward. You have to trust me. I have to go. I'll talk to you...in a few days." She hung up before he could say anything else.

A few days? Edward was livid. Bella had just called him while he was playing with Trent at the local playground. He walked a few feet away to answer the phone, knowing his son wouldn't notice considering he'd found another little boy to play trucks with. Trenton was just telling the little guy about his own daddy's truck and how fun it was. It was the only thing keeping Edward from breaking something.

He had spent most nights with Bella since Jessica had found out about their situation but so far Jess had been true to her word on Trenton. She never interfered with them and even allowed Trenton to stay once in a while with his favorite babysitter-Aunt Bella. That was the part that shocked the shit out of him but he wasn't going to argue. He figured it had something to do with Jess seeing Mike often and needing someone to take Trent while she was out. Of course, he had him in the evenings and on the weekends when these dates occurred but Bella was there during the day once in a while and Trenton always asked for Bella instead of going to his grandma's.

Since the night two weeks ago when Bella had broken down and decided to come clean with Jess, Edward was having trouble focusing on anything but getting her the hell away from Jacob. She was restless when she slept, waking him throughout the night to satisfy the need she had to get her mind off of things. He was more than willing to cooperate with her desires but she was ready to go like they were back in high school again. His body knew this sure as hell wasn't the case, though. He didn't spring back the way he used to.

"Daddy, I no want play trucks no more," Trenton said, standing and rubbing his eyes. Someone was sleepy.

"Why don't we head back to the house?" Edward asked. His son was known for his melt downs when he was tired.


"Trent, come on," Edward said sternly, walking over and picking him up, even though he fought his little boy fought it.

"I want Aunt Bella!" he shouted.

Edward froze. Was this just a tired little boy who was mad at him wanting someone else or did he connect her with Edward? Maybe he was smarter than they gave him credit for. "Buddy, Aunt Bella is...busy...today."

"I want to go swimming!"

"Alright, how about we make a deal? Why don't we go back to grammy and pappy's? If you take a nap, I'll let you play in the pool."

"Aunt Bella there?"

"No, bud. I bet Aunt Ally is, though."

Trenton just quit fighting and tucked his head into Edward's neck. Other parents shot him a large number of different looks. Some of the people just understood the difficulties of having a sleepy toddler. Others, though, knew of his personal life a little more and looked at him condescendingly. He tried to not flip those people off-there were kids around and that included Trent.

He was scared and on edge the whole time he was tucking Trenton into sleep at his parents. He had left Bella's that morning and knew that Jacob very easily could have announced his presence when he was already in Forks but he prayed that he at least gave Bella a few hours to prepare. The fact that Bella had called Edward at all told him that there was no risk of Jacob being there with her already. She was safe, hopefully, for a few more hours. He wouldn't risk calling Bella, though. He wouldn't risk her life. Groaning, he thought about just the fact that her life was at risk. He was done with this shit.

Alice was lounging by the pool when he stepped out onto the deck. "I need a favor. I need you to keep an eye on Trent for me. I'll let Jess know he's here. There's something I have to do."

Her face dropped into a frown. "What's wrong? You look...shaken."

"I just have to do something that I should have done years ago," he replied, bending down to kiss her forehead. "I meant what I said about Jazz. He's a good guy, Al. I'm happy for you both."

"Edward, wait," Alice called out as he turned to leave, her face looked stricken. "Tell me what's wrong. You're scaring me!"

"Make sure Trent gets to swim when he wakes up. I'll try to be back soon."

The next stop he had to make was his old home. He had put so much work into the place that it was literally his blood, sweat and tears that made it up. It bothered him that he no longer officially lived there but his son deserved to know that as his home and Edward was at least able to stay with Bella. He prayed that she would at least think to hide the few clothes and toiletries he had left over there. Panic pulsed through him again. Even though he was insanely pissed off at her for this, fear overrode every other emotion he felt. It wasn't that he was afraid of Jacob; it was that he was afraid of what Jacob would do to Bella.

Pushing through the front door, he heard hushed voices in the living room and found Jess and the guy he recognized as Mike watching a movie. "Edward, what are you doing here?" she asked, obviously annoyed. Then, looking behind him asked, "Where's Trent?"

"At my mom's. He's napping. Alice is there. I needed to run over here and pick something up."

"Oh, okay. Mike, this is my ex-husband, Edward. Edward, this is Mike."

He didn't think the customary 'It's nice to meet you" fit into their situation so he just nodded towards the guy awkwardly before heading up to the bedroom. Grabbing the key to the safe from under Jess's jewelry box, he made quick work of the lock and pulled out what he came for. He'd bought the gun when Trenton was a few weeks old and it came time for him to return to work from his paternity leave. He didn't like them being home without some sort of protection. Jess had thrown a hissy fit and refused to touch the thing. So, for years, it had been locked away. His other guns, the hunting rifles he'd accumulated over the years were at his parents' house locked away with the ones that belonged to his father and Emmett. Even Alice had a pink gun over there but he knew she'd never use it.

He made sure to lock everything back up as he tucked the gun into the waist band of his jeans. Jess would flip if she saw him carrying it. Grabbing a few bullets from the box under the bed, he had insisted they keep the gun and bullets separate when Jess said she wouldn't use it anyway, he stood back up. Shoving a handful into his pocket, he turned the light off and went back downstairs. "Jess, Trent's at my mom's and Alice said she'd be there with him. If...if you don't hear from me by eight o'clock or so...can you call there?"

"Edward, where are you going?"

"Mike, can I talk to you outside?"

Jess's eyes narrowed but Mike cleared his throat and stood. He was nowhere near as tall as Edward or as fit but he seemed nice enough. Average. A man who seemed to have himself together. As soon as they were out by the truck, Edward took a deep breath. "I know what can happen to kids whose parents hurt them. Foster parents, step parents, and even biological parents. Jess is a good person and it just didn't work out for us but Trenton is my son and my entire life. She said you wanted to meet him and she told you no for right now. I agree with that and it's ultimately her decision. Still, when you do meet him, you treat him with respect and you protect him like he's your own. I'm not asking you to pay for anything for him or provide for him but just make sure he knows he's safe. Even if you don't like him, fucking pretend. Got it?"

Mike nodded furiously. "Yeah. Absolutely. I've always wanted a family and I'm more than willing to meet and get to know Trent. I don't want to step on your toes, though, man."

"As long as we're good. I have to get going. Go back in to Jess. Good luck with things."

"Um, thanks."

He looked at the time on the dash. It was almost an hour and fifteen minutes since she'd called him. Pressing down a little harder on the gas, he prayed he wouldn't get pulled over as he didn't have a permit for the gun. Bella's apartment was above a little farmer's market owned by a kind old man who Edward had known since he was a little kid. The guy was constantly sending fresh fruit up to Bella and she would sometimes joke that at least she didn't have to worry about coming down with scurvy. There was parking in the back but if Jacob showed up while he was there, he'd suspect something was up so he pulled right up front and found a spot to park along the sidewalk.

Getting out of the truck, he walked through the market to the back door. Bella's car wasn't there and he knew she wasn't home at that point. Stifling a curse, he went back to his truck. He waited and waited, knowing better than to send her a text when she was with her bastard of a boyfriend. He didn't want to make things worse for her. Where the hell are they?

Mr. Claar came out holding a bag of apples and tapped on Edward's window. "Hey, Edward. I heard about you and Jessie. It's a shame but you're a good kid...and I know that little boy of yours is still gonna be cared for and all. Here are some of those green apples he likes so much." Reaching back for his wallet, Edward asked how much they were and the man waved him away. "They're on the house. You waiting for Bells?"

Edward said thanks and then nodded. "You know where she is?"

"No," he frowned. "I didn't see her car out back for a few hours now. There weren't any lights on upstairs..."

"She hasn't been home for a few hours?" Edward asked, slightly frantic.

"Nope." Then, giving Edward a knowing look, he shrugged. "I assumed she was with you."

Edward looked at the man and debated the pros and cons of lying and saying there was nothing between them. Still, if anyone knew about Bella and Edward, it would be Mr. Claar. He had to notice Edward's truck parked out back often enough. He decided to not argue.

"Bells is a good girl, Edward. I hope she's not in trouble..."

"I'll take care of it, Mr. Claar. Thanks for the apples." He pulled out carefully and went to floor it when he reached the main road but the sudden realization hit him that he had no clue where to go. Feeling helpless and defeated, he pulled over again to think when his phone rang. It was Alice.


Bella was shaking as she stood at the airport waiting for Jacob to arrive. He called her right before his flight was leaving, expecting her to drop whatever she was doing that day so that she could be there to pick him up when he flew in. She had hoped to spend some time with Edward and Trent but had to call when she got off work to tell Edward she couldn't. After hanging up on Edward, something that made her sick to have to do, she went through the apartment and threw everything of Edward's into a large plastic tote which was labeled 'decorations'. She wondered which Jacob she'd get this time: the already angry, violent Jacob or the Jacob who brought her flowers and just wanted sex.

She was weak. She was pathetic. She knew that. Still, she had to do this on her own. She had to prove to herself that she could get herself out of the mess she made. Bella swore that she would do it this time. He had called and said he was on his way, giving very little warning and then hung up before she could argue. She wanted to tell him over the phone but she knew he'd come anyway and that would mean he'd have a whole plane ride to stew over it. It would have made matters worse. Surely Edward would be mad at her but it was better than him breaking the news to Jake. She couldn't stand the idea of him getting hurt because of her.

Jacob was as handsome as they come. His raven hair and dark eyes complimented his naturally tanned skin. Perfect teeth gave a brilliant smile and the confidence he seemed to exude always turned heads. Bella wished more than anything that he'd just find one of those other girls who fawned over him so much and leave her the hell alone. She refused to let him get what he wanted this time. She would play along long enough to get him to the car and then tell him there. He wouldn't hurt her in a public parking lot at an airport.

He approached her with a smile and she swallowed hard. The way his eyes were traveling over her body left very little doubt as to why he was there. Forcing a smile, she accepted the hug he was offering and whispered a weak 'hello'. "Bella, you shouldn't wear shirts cut that low in public. You never know what perverts you might attract. You like that, though, don't you? You like being used that way."

She hated that there were already tears in her eyes and automatically began to regret this. She should have asked someone to come along...even if it was a fucking police officer. "I'm, um, parked outside..."

He just looked at her like 'Where the hell else would you have parked?' but led her towards the doors. "I want to drive. I've had enough of being the passenger for one day."

"We need to..." He grabbed the keys from her hand and ignored her, going around to the driver's side and climbing in.

"Jake, really, we need to talk..."

"So talk. We have a drive ahead of us." He only hesitated to throw his duffel on the backseat.

As they were already pulling out the parking lot, she closed her eyes and stayed silent. She'd blown it. He had control of the vehicle and she knew there was no telling him until an hour later when they'd be at her apartment and he wouldn't try to wreck her car or drag her into the woods somewhere. "I, um, just wanted to know...how work was going..."

"Well," he gave a cocky grin. "I made partner. It's part of the reason I came here to talk to you. I don't know if you are over this 'wanting to be closer to your family' shit or not but I think it's time you move back with me. There's something else I want to tell you but I'll wait until we get to your place."

After about ten minutes of silence, Jacob reached over and ran his hand up her outer thigh. She choked back bile and squeezed her eyes shut. Her legs stayed clenched together but he tried to pull her leg to allow his hand between them. "Bella, I haven't seen you in weeks. Open up for me, baby..."

"Jake, I'm sorry. I'm...I'm not feeling well."

"You really piss me off, Bells," he said with a smile but his tone was harsh. She saw him flash his white teeth. She tried not to cry. Edward was right. She was so fucking stupid. If she could just get through this visit, maybe she could wait until he got back home and then tell him she was done. She shook her head at herself; she told herself that every time he came to see her and she never did anything about it.

The rest of the ride was absolutely silent. It was deafening and she was trying not to let him feel her shaking under his hand. When she allowed the chills to overtake her, he reached over and turned up the heat, making it feel stifling. Bella had to remind herself that Edward would come to her if she hadn't shut him out. This was her bed and now she had to lie in it. Bella silently prayed the whole way home that she'd be strong enough to cut ties with Jake and that Edward wouldn't hate her. She caught a tear before it could slide down her cheek. Edward said he failed her but she failed him. He'd save her once but he shouldn't have to do it again. This was all on her. She wasn't a kid anymore.

Her phone rang and she jumped, grabbing it from the console's cup holder and angling it towards her. Alice. Biting down on her lip, she debated on whether or not to answer. "Answer it, Bella. Holy shit. How long are you going to let it ring for?"

He pulled the car into a spot behind her apartment and she numbly answered with a solemn 'hello'. "Bella? Have you heard from..."

Bella immediately cut her off. "Jake's here. He came in to visit me. I'll call you later, okay? Thanks. Bye!" Ending the call, she took a deep breath.

"Who the hell was that?"


"Your sister?"

"Um, yeah." She unbuckled her seat belt and Jake grabbed his duffel bag before taking her hand and squeezing it tight. Fear made it so that she had trouble controlling her body causing her to stumble over her feet as they made their way inside and he let her fall, not bothering to hold her up. She knew he could hold her; there were more times than she could count that he had plenty of strength to hold her down.

He looked around like he always did as if it was his first time there. "Grab me a beer, baby."

She was pulling herself up off the floor while he plopped down in her recliner. Just yesterday Trenton had sat there and played with the little replica of his daddy's truck that he loved so much. She swallowed hard. God, how she loved that little boy. Edward was right about that as well. Trent had a mother but Bella would always treat him as her own.

She came back and handed Jake a beer but he was more interested in her. She faked a smile as he yanked her into his lap and kissed her neck. "Are you ready for your surprise?" he asked, setting the unopened beer on the coffee table.

Another fake smile later and she was watching him pull a box from his pocket. She thought she might be sick. "Bella, I already spoke with the priest at my family's church and I made arrangements with a real estate agent to come take us to look at houses." Opening the box to reveal a ridiculously large diamond ring, he took her hand and slid it on.


"I can't wait for you to become Mrs. Jacob William Black. You'll do great. We need to do something about this shyness of yours but you'll come around eventually." Bella was breathing heavily, unable to take her eyes off the too-big ring. This wasn't at all what she had been expecting and wasn't able to fully accept what was happening. She knew she had to fight this but had no idea how. Her face flew to his as soon as the next sentence was out of his mouth. "I can't wait to start a family with you." No. Bella nearly had a panic attack over that one. "Stand up, Bella."

On shaking legs, she crawled off of his lap and stood like a zombie staring at him. "Jake, I..."

Reaching over, he unbuttoned the top button of her jeans and she instinctively backed away. "Bella, take them off. I want to see you."

For once in her life, Bella managed to find her voice. "No." It came out hard and convicted.

"Bella, I'm not playing this fucking game. Take. Them. Off."

"Jake, please. I don't want to..."

Pushing to his feet, he grabbed her by the waist and shook her a little. "I came all this way to see you. I asked you to marry me. Take. Them. Off."

When she looked away from him and still refused, he grabbed her by the waist band of her jeans and all but dragged her back to her bedroom. She fought him the whole way. For once in her life, she tried to fight back and even though it was just pissing him off more, it felt exhilarating. Until, that is, she took a firm punch to the head. Dizziness caused her to sag into him and she was so disoriented that she couldn't stand on her own. Jake wasn't as smart as her father. The bruise would appear just beside her temple for all to see. She had no idea why that pissed her off even more.

"There's someone else!" she screamed through the confusion and the momentary nausea.

That caught Jacob's attention. He was currently pulling off his shirt and kicking off his shoes but he stopped and looked at her with disdain. "What the fuck are you talking about?"

"I found someone else. Someone who loves me..." she was interrupted when Jake grabbed her by the hair and pulled her towards him. Refusing to let him talk, she also added. "I'd rather be dead than be your wife! Go ahead and kill me!"

"Who is he? Who are you fucking behind my back? You stupid, little slut...I could have given you anything you wanted! Cars, money..."

"Fuck you!" Bella spat.

"Gladly," he sneered, pulling off his belt with the hand that wasn't holding her wrist. He was squeezing her so hard she could feel her fingers starting to tingle from lack of circulation. Kicking with her feet, Bella managed to nail him in the stomach but he just grabbed her legs and rolled her onto her stomach. She fought to pull herself away but he wasn't letting go and she only managed to pull the comforter towards her.

Turning to face him, she begged him to stop when she saw he was raising his belt as if to bring it down across her back. "I'm sorry!" she yelled, giving up her strong facade and turning her face so she wouldn't have to see him hit her.

She was crying and her entire body was shaking but the blow never came. "No, she isn't sorry!" a deep voice rang out over her sobs. A loud crash sounded behind her and she turned to find that Edward had joined them in her bedroom. Realizing she could move, she pulled herself off the bed hands first and landed on her side. Her head spun when she tried to stand and then she saw it. Edward had a gun.

Taking a step forward, her arm outstretched, she screamed his name loud enough to get his attention. He looked at her with concern on his face and as she fell to the ground again, unable to get her body to work with her, she saw him waiver. Trenton was too important to allow this to happen. He didn't need a father in prison. "Edward, please. I can't..." Her vision was starting to get fuzzy and the two men were distorted. Voices filled the distance but she was unable to look away from Edward. "I need you," she managed to get out as her head lolled to the side.

Another set of arms came around her and lifted her to his chest. Bella remembered back to all those years ago when Carlisle Cullen had done this exact same thing. She had been beaten and shoved into the kitchen cupboard under the sink at Charlie's when Carlisle had come for her. Now, he was rescuing her again, but this time, the headache was too much. Closing her eyes, she gave into the darkness.

"...have no right! Where the fuck is she? Get out of my fucking way! I am family!" Bella came awake with a start and quickly regretted that her eyes had flown open. She had to be sporting the worst headache in the history of mankind. Then, she remembered what happened and froze. The voice causing all the commotion in the hallway was Edward's. The hallway belonged to a hospital. Reaching up, she unclipped and pulled out the wires that kept her confined. Edward was a few feet away. She had to get to him.

A panicked nurse came running in, "Isabella, you have to stay in bed."

"I need to see Edward Cullen. He's in the hallway..." Bella rasped.

"What does he look like? I'll get him..."

"He's the one screaming at your friends," Bella replied with more acid in her tone than she'd intended.

"Your parents are out there with him now..."

Bella wasn't up to explaining that they weren't her parents. Pushing past the scrub-clad woman, she stepped into the hallway and thanked God she remembered to keep a hand on the back of her gown. "Edward!" she called out, though her voice was hoarse enough that she was surprised he heard and turned to face her. The nurse was chastising her in frustration but she ignored the woman.

A strange expression fell over him and he headed straight for her. "Bella, what the fuck are you doing?" It was obvious that he was pissed but he was still gentle with her as he wrapped his arms around her and hauled her back into the room. Practically tossing her onto the bed, he grabbed the first thing he saw that she'd pulled off-the blood pressure clip that was on her finger and stuck it back on.

"Sir, let me get her settled..." the poor nurse practically begged, trying to get Edward to back up and let her take over. When he ignored her, she crossed her arms. "I'm two seconds from calling security if my friends that you were screaming at haven't done so already..."

"Son, let the nurse do it," Carlisle said firmly as he stood in the doorway. The nurse gave him a small smile. Obviously, she knew him.

Relenting, Edward took a step back and ran a hand through his hair. The nurse took over, fixing Bella back up again before looking to Edward. "Don't push me, sir. She's under a lot of stress. Don't give me reason to have you escorted out of here. I don't care if you are Dr. Cullen's son or not. Don't tempt me."

As soon as the nurse was gone, Esme stepped in and Bella saw that there were tears on her cheeks. Emmett stood in the hallway looking in at them. After Esme sat down on the bed and pulled Bella into her chest, smoothing her hair, Bella saw Carlisle staring at Edward. Touching is wife's shoulder, he whispered something to her and they left, promising to come back soon. The second they were gone, she looked to Edward. All he did was grab her hand and snatch the diamond ring from it.

With a lowered voice, but one that still exuded anger, he grit his teeth and asked, "What the hell did you think you were doing? How could you do this? How could you do this to yourself...to me?"

"I messed up."

"Jess and I are over. She's okay with you being around Trent. This is what we've wanted for so long and you fucking pull shit like this. Why, Bella?"

"Why don't you ask Jake? He'll tell you how stupid I am. Him and my father both, Edward. They'll tell you," she whispered angrily.

His face fell as he pulled at his hair and rubbed his face. "You're not stupid, Bella," he said slowly as if he was talking to someone who was Trenton's age. Still, it was better than him being so angry.

"I thought I could handle it," Bella said as strongly as she could. "I was wrong."

"Bella, you are many things but stupid and a fighter are not included on that particular list. You should have told him before he got here. You should have called the cops. You should have..."

"I fought back, Edward. I finally fought back," Bella cried.

He plopped down in the chair that was positioned by her bed and put his head in his hands. "He could have...he was trying to... Do you want me to order a rape kit?" he managed.

Bella's stomach turned. She wished he were closer. She wanted to take his hand to offer encouragement. "No. It didn't get that far. We were both pretty much clothed when you came in..."

"He could have done even worse than that! Do you understand how badly this could have ended? Do you know how it feels to hear the person you love screaming and begging someone to stop hurting them? I could've done more in the past. I should have put a stop to this when I heard you pretending that you were happy with him around our friends and family. I completely failed you. I take responsibility for that but I don't see how you could have gone behind my back after all of this and take the guy on yourself."

"You had a gun," Bella stated suddenly, not really knowing why it came out accusatory.

"I wanted to make sure that I could protect you. I never met the guy and had no clue what he was like. He could have been a sumo wrestler for all I knew. I wasn't going to risk letting him hurt you all because I wasn't strong enough to take him down."

"Did you...did you shoot..."

"No. I didn't. I wanted to, though. I wanted to hurt him enough to make him feel pain for the rest of his life...but Em and my dad showed up."

"Did you tell them what was going on?"

"Bella, Alice already knew about it. She knew about what Jacob was doing to you. She knew about us, too. She always has. I dropped Trent off with Ally after talking to you and she knew something was up. She called them because she suspected I was going to do something stupid when she found out Jacob was with you."

"You brought a gun," Bella reminded him warily, resting her head back as a wave of dizziness hit her again."You could be in prison for murder right now..."

"I was acting in defense of you. Even if I did end up in jail, I could live with that."

"You'd miss Trenton. That wouldn't be fair to him, either. For what it's worth, I'd miss you as well."

Edward became quiet for a minute and then rubbed his face again. "I could have lost you forever, Bella. He could have killed you."

"He didn't, though," she whispered.

"You hurt me. When I saw you fall to the floor..." he shook his head as it fell into his hands. "That's what stopped me from killing him. I was mad enough to do it but you needed help and I had to make sure you got it. Dad and Em are only part of the reason I didn't keep fighting him."

"Where is he?" she asked in alarm, just realizing that if he wasn't dead that meant he was somewhere.

"He was arrested. My dad called the police as soon as Ally called him."

"Arrested? Oh..."

"Bella, the police are going to want to talk to you and should be here soon. You'll be fine but you need to tell them the truth. All of it. I still have the pictures on my phone from that night with the vase if you don't have them."

"I don't have my phone..." She frowned, looking around the room. "Edward, I really don't want to be here. I want to go home."

"You can't. They think you have a concussion and want you to stay for observation."

"Can't Carlisle talk to them?"

"No, Bella. You're staying," he said firmly.

They became quiet for a long while and when he did open up his mouth to saying something, there was a knock on the door. Alice came in to say hi and then two uniformed cops walked in. They asked Alice and Edward to leave. Bella reached for him at first, panicked, but he literally shrugged her off and told her she'd be okay. Something was off with him and she began to feel a little sick. This time it wasn't because of her head. After a lot of hesitation, she eventually gave in and started her story. She told them everything, showed them her bruises while they took pictures, and she handed them Edward's phone that he had left behind with the picture of her ribs on it.

Both officers looked genuinely upset and angry for her and the female officer even reached over to pat her shoulder. "We're going to do what we can for you but we suggest a restraining order. I'll get to work on it. We'll probably have you come down to the station in a few days. Relax for now. I'm hoping we have enough to hold him but if we don't we'll make sure someone keeps close watch on you and your apartment."

Bella just nodded numbly and the officers left. Turning to look out the window, Alice came back in unaccompanied by the person she really wanted. "He took Trent home," Alice said, as if she could see the disappointment on Bella's face.

"He's never going to forgive me for this."

"Give him time. You scared the hell out of him today, Bella. Besides, he has to come back. He said you have his phone." Her little smile did very little to appease Bella. "Relax. He loves you. That's why this is all so hard on him. Really, he just needs to calm down a little."

"I only did this because I didn't want him to get hurt and because I was sick of being pushed around-literally-by men. I'm done with it, Ally."

"I know."

"You've known this whole time, like since high school, about Edward and I, haven't you?"

"Yeah. I used to see you leaving his room or going into it at night. I was also there that first morning you stayed with us and saw the way he took your hand and calmed you down. I always knew you two would never end up as brother and sister."

After Alice left and Esme came in, the doctor came in to speak with her as well as a nurse and they gave her the rundown of her injuries-as if she couldn't feel them. When they left and Edward still hadn't returned almost two hours later, Bella looked out the window opposite of Esme and let herself cry. She felt Esme take her hand but she couldn't focus on anything the woman was saying. Was it possible that she lost her love by doing something he'd begged her to do for years? The woman who took her in, who had been so mad at her a few weeks ago, now held her tightly late into the evening and encouraged her by saying that Edward would be back...to just give him time.

He did come back to see her, the next day. She'd gone all night sick at the possibility that it was over completely between them and when he walked into her room with dark circles under his eyes and the rumpled shirt he had on yesterday, her breath caught. When he reached for the phone, she saw that his knuckles were swollen and there was a small bruise on his right cheek bone. "Edward, come here," Bella asked softly, patting the bed next to her.

He did as asked and when she reached towards him for a hug, he complied. Still, he seemed distant. She cleared her throat and mumbled into his shoulder. "I get to go home today."

"How are you feeling?" The words came out like he was being stubborn and didn't want to ask them but his body didn't give him the chance to remain silent.

"I'm okay. My head still hurts a little but I'll be okay."

"Where do you want to go home to?"

"What do you mean?"

"Are you okay with going back to the apartment?"

"Yeah. They said they're going to have someone watching me in case Jake ends up getting out of jail. He has money. I know he can afford bail if it comes to that. I really just want to go home."

"Alright," he said before taking a deep breath. He still had his arms around her and she could feel it. "Bella, Alice is going to stay with you for a few days...make sure you're okay on your own..."

Bella's heart nearly stopped as she instinctively tightened her grasp on him. She didn't want Alice. She wanted him. "Edward, please..."

"I need space for a little while," he replied, but his actions were the opposite of his words as he pulled her even closer into him. She could feel him bury his head into her shoulder. They sat like that for a long time.

When he pulled away, she felt her heart breaking and realized how he must have felt when she walked away from him to leave for college. This wasn't about revenge, though, this was about her having done something stupid and making him wonder if she was still what he wanted. She began to cry again. "I love you but this...I need to get things in order with my son anyway." Standing up, he kissed her on the lips and walked out of the room. Just like that, he was gone. Everything Jacob had ever done to her didn't even hold a candle to the pain she now felt. Her world had just shattered.


It was one o'clock in the afternoon and yet Edward was lying on his childhood bed completely exhausted and unable to sleep. He wanted to scream, to hurt something. He wanted to do anything that would take away what he was feeling. Alice would be getting Bella ready to be discharged and he felt like the world's biggest asshole for not being there. There was just too much doubt in his mind over what was going on. Bella had said she was too afraid to end it, for years that was what she had told him. Why should he believe that she would end it now? After all this time of playing Jacob Black's little play thing, why would she suddenly find the courage to do it now? Was it possible that she never intended to? Could it be that what he'd walked into was the norm for them?

He was in physical pain over the situation. Remembering Bella as she was being held down by Jacob, seeing him raise that belt, it literally turned his stomach. When she had reached out to him, begging him to help her, all he felt was anger. Not towards her but towards her attacker. It wasn't until his dad carried her out that he had seen the ring on her finger and if Emmett hadn't been there, Jacob would have been dead. Bella was right, he'd acted irresponsibly. He had made a bad call that could have left Trent without him while Edward sat in prison. He hated himself. He hated the situation. He wanted Bella.

As sick as that realization was, he felt awful. He truly thought he could walk away from her to allow himself time to think but no thinking was really being done. It was a continuous circle: blame her, blame Jacob, blame himself. Over and over again, that's all it was. It still never changed the deep-seeded feeling that he needed to be with her. Remembering the way she called out to him, telling him she needed him, made a fresh round of tears come to the forefront. He felt like such a pussy. There was just something about Bella that made him need her just as much as she needed him. It had always been that way.

"Dude!" Emmett called from the doorway. "You're being a major dumb-ass right now. You do know that, right?"

Edward just groaned in response before flipping his brother off. Emmett came in and sat down then. "So you've been bedding little Bella this whole damn time?"

Edward glared at him before shaking his head. "I don't want a lecture, Em..."

"Who's lecturing? I'm just a little surprised. I didn't know about any of this until I ran into Jess at the store. I got quite an earful and then found out like two days later from Ally that it was true. Why did you never say anything to me?"

"Mom and dad didn't want us together. We didn't tell anyone. At all."

"Wow. So, you done being a gun-yielding maniac?"

"I guess I did kind of lose it."

"Kind of? Yeah. I'd say. The gun is in the glove compartment of my Jeep by the way. I think I'll hold onto it for a while, Rambo."

"Thanks, Em. I almost made a really big mistake."

Emmett just shrugged, "He would have deserved it. I would have liked to get a few punches in myself when I heard what was going on but you were beating his face in enough for both of us. I literally would have just been beating a dead horse."

Edward rolled his eyes at the little joke and then laid back against his pillows. "I only would have regretted it for Trent. He needs me. I don't care who Jess brings into his life, he's still mine and no one will ever be better than what I can be for him."

"So, are you and Bells done now, though? I know you just left Jess but if you've been sleeping with Bella I assume there's some type of relationship still there between you and Bells."

"No. We'll never be done."

"Like I said before, you're being a total dumb-ass. She's getting out of the hospital today after her abusive boyfriend nearly raped her. Perhaps she could need support, asshole."

Edward flinched at the truth he'd been fighting with himself over since coming back from the hospital the night before after dropping Trent off at Jess's. It killed him that morning to pull away from Bella like he did...like he was. "Since when did you turn into Dr. Phil?"

"Since my little brother is breaking someone I love like a sister's heart and fucking up his chance to be with her for real now. Jess and you are done. Jacob's out of the picture. Mom and everyone else knows the situation. After all that, here you are like some pussy hiding out and letting Bella feel like you hate her..."

"I don't hate her!"

"Then why aren't you there with her?"

Edward didn't think 'because she did something dumb yesterday' qualified. It seemed insubstantial after thinking about her being sent home feeling like he didn't want her anymore. He hated when his brother was right. "You're right," Edward huffed, angry at himself.

"Oh, I know I am. I also know that you should be thanking me for all those condoms you used to steal from my room when you were being a teenager with raging hormones. I assumed that mom was throwing them away. You're welcome, bro, for the fact that you didn't knock Bells up in high school."

Edward couldn't help but chuckle a little at that before getting up and going towards his closet. "Don't be so full of yourself, Em. Still, thanks for the condoms."

"Where are you going?"

"I've decided I've been an asshole for long enough. Wouldn't you agree?"

"You said it," Emmett shot back with a one shouldered shrug.

Bella's apartment was quiet when he unlocked the door with his key and stepped inside. He smiled at the three foot tall fruit basket sitting on the living room floor. Alice came out of the bedroom then, jumping when she saw him standing there. "You scared the hell out me!" she whispered.

"I'm sorry. I should have let you know I was coming."

"How is she?"

"She's fine, no thanks to you. I still think you're being a dick. She told me what happened, Edward. She doesn't fucking love him and I have no clue what you're trying to prove by treating her like you want nothing to do with her right now but it's very shitty."

"She had a ring on her finger," he blurted, as if that was a capital offense.

"Maybe you should ask her if that's even what she wanted. Get over yourself for ten seconds and talk to her. You look just as bad as she does and you weren't the one that was beaten yesterday." At that, Edward walked away and went over to her bedroom door. "Edward, she's finally sleeping! She's been crying for you all damn morning! Leave her be!"

Ignoring his little sister, he headed into the darkened bedroom and climbed carefully onto the bed. Her eyelids were swollen, her hair was a mess, there were dried tears on her cheeks, and she was whimpering every now and then in her sleep. He was the one who deserved to be shot. She flinched a little when he put his arm around her and he wondered if she would want him there at all. When her breathing evened out again, he kept hold of her and tried to figure out what to say when she woke up.

He wanted her to know that what she did was wrong but the more he thought about it, the more he realized he did this to hurt her. Subconsciously, he wanted her to feel pain. After all those years of her being away, of her leaving him and now this. He wanted her to hurt. That thought alone made him want to die. He had failed her yet again. According to Alice, she was more hurt by him than what Jacob had tried to do. He was no different from the other men in her life, in fact, he was worse. He never saw her so shaken in his entire life. Sure, she'd been upset last night but she never responded this way during the aftermath.

So, he laid there with her for three hours. He knew she needed rest as the hospital would have kept her up most of the night due to the possible concussion. Bella had always hated hospitals, a fear Charlie Swan instilled in her so she wouldn't be tempted to seek help for the injuries he gave her. Guilt made it hard to breathe when he thought of leaving her alone from early in the evening through the night and into late morning. He could have been there most of that time and he should have fought to be able to stay with her during the night. She'd been through hell over the past twenty four hours and he had pretty much forced her to walk through it on her own.

Bella had moved a little over the past few hours and he tried to make sure she had the room she needed so that she wouldn't wake up. Alice had left a while ago. He couldn't bring himself to move away from Bella or else he would have answered the phone that was ringing in his pocket. Finally, the moment came when she opened her eyes and looked directly into his. Her mouth opened as if shocked and she went to back away from him. He wouldn't let her go.

"I'm sorry," the strangled words came out as he pulled her tightly into him. She didn't seem to know what to do but she didn't fight him. When he tucked her head into his shoulder, she began to cry and he pulled them both up into a bit of a sitting position. "I fucked up. I left you. I shouldn't have left you..."

"I did this. Not you..."

"Bella, this is my fault, too. I've begged you to end it with him but I...I mean, you did try to end it, right?"

"He...I wanted to...and then he...put the ring on me..." she was obviously overwhelmed and he pulled away to give her room to breathe. Reaching into his jeans pocket, he set the ring on the bed so she could see it.

"Tell me what happened from the beginning."

Taking a deep breath, she launched into the story from him calling her that morning while she was leaving work to the sad excuse for a proposal to Jacob dragging her back to the bedroom. He felt awful over the assumption he'd made that Bella willingly accepted the proposal. When she was finished, she looked down at her hands and shook her head. "I made a mistake. I know that. I really did plan to break everything off while we were at the airport but when he took my keys, I got scared. I never wanted any of this. All I could think of when he was here was you and Trent and how much I wished I could be spending my day with you guys. I don't love him, Edward. I never, ever even thought I did."

He wanted to tell her it was dumb, that she should have called the police...or just not shown up to get Jacob from the airport at all, but he knew it wasn't going to change what did happen. Knowing that Bella wanted him and had no intention on continuing things with the asshole she called a boyfriend made him feel one hundred times better about the situation.

"Are we okay?" he asked. "I never intended for you to think I was walking away from you for forever. I was upset and made a stupid call. I shouldn't have left you at the hospital like that."

"I'm not a child," she said, her voice wavering though she was trying to sound strong. "I don't need you to care for me like you do Trenton. I can handle myself."

"Is that what you want? To be on your own?"

Her eyes widened. "No! I just don't want you to think I only want you around to protect me. I love you. I want a leveled playing field with us. I want us to both feel we need each other, not just me needing you..."

"Bella," he practically gasped."If you don't think I need you then you're insane. You were gone for a few years and I ended up making the biggest mistake of my life by marrying someone who wasn't right for me just because I was upset with you and was lonely. I love having Trent but I never should have gotten married. Then, last night, I didn't sleep at all. I actually went for a jog at three thirty this morning. Do you know who does that? Crazy people who are lovesick, that's who."

Bella gave a small laugh and he felt like crying it sounded so good. "You should have ran your cute butt over to the damn hospital. I wasn't really even allowed to sleep so when I could force my mind to shut off, someone was waking me up every ten minutes. I could have used the company."

"I'm sorry, baby," he leaned over and kissed her forehead, then her cheek and eventually her mouth. "How much sleep did they actually let you get?"

"A couple hours over the whole night," she said, her eyes heavy. "I was scared that you...weren't coming back. I mean, I know I had your phone but I didn't think you would come back for me..."

"I was stupid. I was panicked and stupid and when mom said that Ally was down in the lobby with Trent, I decided to take him home to Jess where he could at least play. I know I should have come back...I just...I was stupid..." he shrugged, as if there was no other way he could defend himself.

Trying to clear her throat, she frowned. "I need some water. I'll be back..." but as she went to stand she let out a hiss and brought a hand to her forehead.

"Bella?" he asked, concern dripping over her name.

"I'm okay," she waved his hand away as he reached out to steady her. "I just got up too fast."

"Lay back down," he ordered going around the bed and heading towards the doorway. "I'll handle it."

He returned with a bottle of water and some Tylenol. Once she took two of the pills and chugged the whole bottle of water, he helped her into the bathroom and then back to bed. Of course, she protested the whole time that she didn't need help. The shorts she had put on when she got home revealed goose bumps on her legs so he found her a pair of old sweats and helped her into them. Finally, she was ready to lay down. "Edward?" she asked through a yawn, her eyes wide, though.

"What's wrong?"

"Are you leaving again?"

"No. I haven't slept much more than you have. If you'll have me, I'd love to sleep the rest of the day away with you."

"That's all I want right now. What about Trent, though? Do you need to pick him up or anything? I don't want you to sleep through his bedtime..."

Edward smirked at her. "I don't think you've ever reminded me about my son before."

"I've never felt the need to. You're a little strung out today," she said with a bit of a frown.

"Well," he laughed. "As usual, you didn't need to. Jess knows some of what happened and I told Trent I was going to go see you and make sure you were feeling better. I told him you were just sick. I haven't seen him since bedtime last night but Jess promised she'd read him an extra story for me. I'm glad she's cool with me being there to tuck him in at night. I just leave after he's asleep to either come here or mom and dad's. He told me to give you a big hug and kiss your boo-boo."

"Your son gives good advice," she snuggled into him.

"My mom and Alice both called me while you were sleeping but I didn't get to call them back. I sent a text saying that we both needed sleep and we'd call them tomorrow. Everyone's worried about you."

"I love your family. I always have."

"They're your family, too. Enough about all this, though. Go to sleep."

"Promise you'll be here when I wake up?"


The next day, Edward woke with his body wrapped around Bella. She was muttering something in her sleep and he smiled, knowing it wasn't something to wake her over. She always made sounds in her sleep. What did wake him, he now realized, was someone knocking on the front door. Trying to untangle his limbs from Bella's without waking her, he sighed and decided that the person better have a damn good reason to be bothering them. He could feel his hair sticking up as he padded barefoot into the living room and chose to leave it the way it was. His mom and Alice were likely waiting for their chance to see Bella but they should have called first. He'd thrown on a pair of old sweatpants that Bella had pointed out were in a tote under the bed the night before.

Still shirtless, with bed head and unfocused eyes, he twisted the lock and threw the door open. "Ally..." he began, ready to ream out his little sister after she had been the one to lecture him on Bella needing her rest. It wasn't Alice. Jess was standing there holding Trenton's hand. The second Trent looked up at him, the little boy's chin began to quiver.

Jess took him in with wide-eyes and a deep breath before looking away in embarrassment, despite the fact that she'd seen him less clothed before. "I'm sorry," she blurted. "I tried to call. I just assumed...well, Trent's really upset that you weren't there for bedtime like you have been these past few weeks and he's worried about...her."

Edward saw that Jess was looking behind him, a strange expression on her face, and he found Bella wrapped in a pink flannel robe standing in the doorway to the living room. Both girls were definitely apprehensive of each other. "Trent, come here, buddy," Edward said as he knelt and held out his arms. His son ran to them a second later.

"Jess, I should have just ran home to tuck him in..."

"No. No, it's okay. I understand what happened. I get it. If you want me to take him back home so Bella can rest, I will. He's been really cranky and kind of mopey since yesterday when you brought him home..."

Edward lifted his son in his arms and squeezed him tight before kissing his forehead. "What's going on, buddy?"

"Aunt Bells is sick."

Edward felt awful at that point. "Trenton, no. Bella's going to be okay. Daddy's going to help her, okay?"

"I make this..." he said, holding up a piece of paper that was very wrinkled. There were crayon scribbles all over the white paper and Edward took it in without saying anything, hoping that Trent would enlighten him on what exactly it was for. "Aunt Bells get not sick. I make a card..."

Bella stepped towards them, looking to Jess hesitantly at first and then came towards Edward and Trent. Trent held the card out to her with a sad smile on his face and she kissed his cheek before taking it. Edward watched as she studied it, a smile coming across her face, and she put a finger under Trent's chin to lift it off Edward's shoulder. "Well, what do you know?" she asked in a slightly fake but very happy voice. "It worked! I feel so much better!"

Trent gave out a loud laugh and reached for her. Edward had to readjust his position so he didn't drop the flailing toddler. Taking a deep breath, Edward looked to Jess. "We'll keep him here with us for a little while if that's okay. I'll drop him off this afternoon..."

"Edward, it's already two," Jess replied with a confused expression.

"In the afternoon?" he exclaimed, shocked that they had slept for so long.

Jessica just rolled her eyes at him and shook her head. "I'll be home. Just give me a call before you drop him off in case I run out to the store or something. Are you sure this is okay...with you..." She asked this last part as she looked past her ex and her son to Bella.

Bella just smiled and nodded. "I love having him here. He's always welcome."

"Alright, well, I'll see you later." Leaning in, she gave Trent a kiss on the cheek and told him she loved him. He said it back and grinned but buried his face into Edward's chest afterward.

Edward let her go, not really having anything to say, and carried Trent to the couch. "Bella, really, if you're not up to us both being here, I'll understand. I just don't want to leave him if he's upset like this..."

"Stop. You two together are my favorite thing to watch. I feel better already just having you two on my couch."

Edward felt Trent slipping a little and looked down to see his that he son had fallen asleep. "Well, let me set him down and I'll help you into a bath."

"I'm not an invalid."

"You're alive. He's asleep and should be since he hasn't slept much lately. I want to let my son get some rest and I want to be with you until he wakes up. I thought I lost you, Bells. I need to just...be sure that you're okay..."

"It wasn't that serious, Edward," she breathed out but let him lead her to the bathroom. He ignored that, sitting down on the closed toilet seat and reaching over to turn on the water. When it was clear that there would be no comment from him, she muttered, "I was the one who almost lost you."

He looked at her with a raised eyebrow and then pulled her into his lap. "You'll never lose me. I tried to stay away from you for days when my parent's first brought you home. I tried to get over you when you were away at school. Hell, I even tried to tell myself that the affair between you and I shouldn't be happening. I couldn't. I was an idiot to think I could put space between us last night. I also hate myself right now for trying."

"I'm the one who messed up. Jacob is right about a few things... I'm not always that smart..."

Ice flooded his veins and he clenched his fists against her hips. Jacob was absolutely wrong about that. His Bella was smart, smarter than he ever was. She knew if she hadn't gone away and cut ties with him that even weekly phone calls would be too much to keep the distance between them. That was always the problem with their relationship, the farther they were pulled a part, the harder they fell. "No more trying to leave, okay. Neither of us. Ever again. We suck when we're apart, Bells," he smirked.

He held her tight while she laughed and played with his hair. "We do kind of suck when we're separated. It's like we can't function without each other..."

"Yeah, well, know this. We might not make the smartest choices when we're not together but you are not stupid. I never want to hear you say that about yourself again. Jacob was never right when it came to you. Do you hear me, Bella?" he asked, turning his head awkwardly so that he could look her in the eyes.

She smiled and kissed him hard on the lips. "I love you so fucking much."

"What was that for?" he asked with a chuckle, bringing one hand up to touch his lips.

"Jacob and my dad used to order me around. Constantly. They always took that tone with me..."

"Shit. I didn't mean to..."

"No, it's not like that. That's the point. You could order me to do just about anything and it wouldn't feel like that...an order. I trust you. Edward, before you, I have never trusted anyone. Not my mother, and none of my friends, and not even your parents. You make me feel happy and safe...and like I don't have to constantly be on guard and afraid. I've never had to afraid of you. I've given you my entire self over the years and I've never had to regret it and that means more to me than you or anyone else will ever be able to understand."

He wanted to forget the bath and just carry her to bed so that he could worship her the way she deserved. Forcing back that carnal urge, he couldn't believe the amount of love he felt or how hard his heart was beating. Bella reached over to turn the water off and stood to take off her shirt. He reached up, rubbing his hand over her scarred back, and let out a shaking breath in relief at the fact that there were no fresh wounds from the night before. He'd seen her in a bathing suit so many times, she had even gotten to the point that she'd wear bikinis-which he was more than happy for, and it amazed him that he was able to see past them. It was almost like her inner beauty reflected outward.

"What are you doing?" she asked him with a sly smile.

"Being grateful that I got there before he had the chance to hurt you again...physically. I know I was too late on the mental part."

"Yeah but you saved me again, Superman. After yesterday, I think it's safe to put what Jess said past us. We've bled for each other and now it's done. Your mom is learning to accept us, Jess is still cooperating and letting me be around Trent, and Jacob is...out of my life. My future is looking up for the first time since I realized my parents didn't want me and I wanted to give up," she said this last part with a sad but hopeful smile.

"You're mine completely now. I know you struggled with men having control of you. I don't want control but I won't tell you I don't have the urge to be ridiculously protective. You have to tell me if I get too...possessive of you."

"I can honestly say that I never think you will be but I promise to speak up. I'm done staying quiet and not fighting back. Still, you and Trenton are what I've been living for since moving back here from school all those years ago. I'm yours completely, Edward."

Three Months Later

Giggling. A mixture of Bella's and Trenton's laughs were something Edward would have to figure out a way to nonchalantly record so people wouldn't think he was crazy. He'd never heard such an amazing sound. "Shh..." he heard Bella whisper and Trent laugh harder but it sounded muffled now. A smile broke across his face as he listened to them conspiring something. Rounding the corner in the new apartment he and Bella had just moved into and stepping into the kitchen, he saw them standing in front of the counter with strange expressions and puffed out cheeks.

"What are you guys doing?" he asked, trying to sound like he didn't know something was up.

Trent was the first to give a hint. He went to say something but whatever was in his mouth was obviously keeping him from doing so as he tried to move it and talk around it. Bella, fighting laughter, was trying to swallow whatever it was-he could see her throat working. He had to look back to Trent before his mind thought too much about that. "Trenton Anthony, where's the jar?" Edward asked with a smirk.

Bella looked to Trent, knowing they'd been caught and Edward saw that she was holding something behind her back. With one last, hard gulp, she breathed a sigh before biting her bottom lip and laughing again. Trenton finally managed to clear his own mouth because he looked back and forth between his father and Bella before pointing to his favorite girl. "It was Bella's idea!"

"Is that so?" Edward asked, stalking over to her and putting both of his hands behind her back to grab the offending object. With the jar wrapped in his hands, he lifted it up and over her to present them with the jar of peanut butter. Bella quit laughing and looked down at the floor as if waiting to get yelled at. He knew she was aware that she wasn't actually in trouble but she still seemed a little hesitant. He let her sweat it out before quickly leaning forward to kiss her forehead and then Trenton's before holding the peanut butter close to him and running out the kitchen. "The rest is mine!"

Delightful squeals and stomping feet followed him through the living room and back to the bedrooms. As they both tackled him to the bed, Bella kissed him while Trenton jumped on the mattress. The jar of peanut butter fell to the floor and was forgotten. He pulled them both into him and breathed deeply. "As much as I'm loving this moment, Trent, buddy, we gotta get you ready. Momma's on her way to get you."

"No..." he whined. "I stay here!"

Edward sighed, wishing his son could stay with him as well. Still, Jess had been very good about letting Edward see his son whenever it was convenient for everyone and he agreed to let her take Trent on one of his days because they were going to meet Mike's parents. "You get to go meet Mike's mommy and daddy. It will be fun." He hoped he sounded more convincing than he felt.

"But Mike no read the books right. You read books good."

Bella just drifted off the bed and into the next room, giving the two some privacy. Taking Trenton into his lap as he sat cross-legged on the bed. "Trent, look at me, buddy. I know this is hard to understand but there are some nights when I'm just not going to be able to be there to tuck you in. Mommy and Mike love you just as much as Bella and I do, though."

"I know," Trent huffed, being tired of hearing that.

"Do you remember what else we talked about? What I asked you yesterday?" He nodded, his eyes lighting up again. "Do you want to do it now before mommy gets here?"

Trent began to nod excitedly, pushing away from Edward to jump up and down on the bed again-as if his little body was too excited to contain itself. "Now! I do it now!"

"Okay...do you want to see it first?"

Trent's eyes widened as Edward brought the black box out of his jeans pockets and opened it. "Shiny!"

"Do you think she'll like it?"

Trent just shrugged. "She likes peanut butter but she like this, too."

Edward wished he could feel so nonchalant about the situation. There was still a chance Bella could say no. Getting serious again, he looked into his son's eyes, "Trent, are you sure you are okay with this?"

Trent nodded happily, playing with the box now. "I like Bella. She happy."

"She's very happy when you're here with us. How do you want to ask her?" Edward questioned with a playfully raised eyebrow. Trent shrugged again and hopped down off the bed. "Hey! Where are you going?"

Jumping up, he followed Trent as he padded his way back to the kitchen where Bella was just starting to cut up the vegetables she was planning to use in the soup for supper for her and Edward later. Before he could say anything, Trent tapped her on the back and waited patiently with the box behind his back. When she turned and looked down at the little boy, Trent looked at her with the most serious expression Edward had ever seen a three-year old give. "You happy and daddy happy," the toddler stated as he brought the box into view and held it out to her.

She gave a curious and slightly confused smile before taking it from him. "What's in here, buddy?" she asked, opening the box carefully.

The gasp she gave took Edward's own breath away. "Trent...Edward...I... What's happening right now?" she asked, turning to Edward in uncertain shock.

"You be daddy's wife," Trent shrugged, looking up at her and answering the question before Edward could.

Bella stood stock still for a moment and Edward was genuinely worried. "Bells?" he asked softly.

She blinked a few times and he saw tears cascade down her face. Stooping down to Trent's level, she kissed his little cheek and nodded as she looked up at Edward. "Yes. Absolutely, Trent. I love you guys..."

Trent hugged her back and then watched along with Edward as she grabbed the box back off the counter and slid the ring onto her finger. Stalking over to Edward, she wrapped her arms around him and said again, as if for confirmation, "I love you both."

Jess actually gave Bella a hug and told her congratulations when she came to pick up Trenton and the excited little boy announced the news. Edward had never seen Bella so...bright. She was no longer shying away from things. She looked healthier-mentally and physically. After a long goodbye to Trent, he closed the door softly behind them and turned to Bella. The place always felt so quiet when Trent wasn't there but Bella's beaming smile put his heart to rest this one time.

Scooping her up, he carried her to the bedroom and fell onto the bed as her legs were already wrapped around his waist and it seemed they weren't going anywhere. "Are you absolutely sure about this?" she asked slowly against his neck.

"Bella, I've never been more sure of anything in my life..."

"The divorce just went through and..."

"Do you want to do this?" he asked pointedly.

"It's all I've ever wanted," she whispered against his lips. "I just don't want you to rush into something you aren't ready for."

"I'm ready," he replied enthusiastically, propping himself up on one hand and taking hers in the other. As he brought her hand to his mouth, he kissed the ring before placing a quick trail of kisses up her arm to her neck. "I want to give you the biggest wedding there ever was..."

He frowned when she wiggled out from beneath him and scooted to sit up against the headboard. "Edward, wait. I don't want something big and extravagant. I want...happy and small."

"A happy wedding?" Edward chuckled at her adjective of choice.

"I want you and Trenton...your family...and that's it. Maybe Angela...and Rosalie. That's it."

"Okay. Whatever you want."

"Why do you look so disappointed?"

He sighed, remembering how drawl his first wedding had been. "Bella, I don't want to start off our marriage the same way I started with Jess. Even then, I didn't really want it and I kind of blew it off. It was nothing special at all. We didn't even go away for a honeymoon-I don't think we even...consummated...anything until about three weeks later. Sorry..." he cringed, seeing her flinch at that.

"Well, why don't we meet in the middle? I get the small wedding with just a few friends and family but we'll do it at a church and have a proper reception. You get a honeymoon...anywhere you want to go."

"Anywhere?" he smirked, having the perfect place already in mind.

"Anywhere," Bella smiled sweetly before sliding down to lay beside him.

Against his lips again, she was more than a temptation and the things he wanted to do with her were making his groin tighten. "I want you on the beach. Underneath me."

"Which beach?"

"I don't care," he groaned as she rolled her hips into him. "Fuck, we can go to La Push for all I care."

"I've never been to the beach before. I don't want to be in front of people with my...marks...in a bathing suit..."

"First, I don't plan for you to be in a bathing suit. Second, if you aren't in a suit, do you really think I'd want you in front of anyone else? You are mine to enjoy and no one else's."

"So, we're just going to find a private beach somewhere?" she asked skeptically.

"I have the money. I've been working a lot of overtime-at least that wasn't always a lie when I told Jess I was at work. When we get back from our trip, I want to take Trent to Disneyland. He's old enough now that he'd enjoy it... This apartment is just temporary as well. I'll take care of everything..." he responded with conviction. She just gave him a smile and shook her head. "What?"

She glanced down where he was working the belt on her jeans. "It's a good thing you're not the one having to take care of our birth control...we wouldn't want another shot gun wedding..."

"Why not?" Bella pregnant with his child would be... He shook his head. There weren't words.

"Edward..." she said with warning. "I'm finally getting to be with you. I want to take a little while to just...get to...be with you. I'm not ready for that yet."

Knowing he had put it there, he felt bad for the sad look that was now on her face. "When do you want to get married?" he asked her softly, changing the subject and leaving her pants alone for the moment. She looked like she needed some time to get herself together.

"Next fall. On your birthday. It's a Saturday... I already looked into it while you were getting Trent ready to leave."

He smiled at that. "I'd love that. It'll be the best birthday ever."

"And," she added, "I'll go off my pills so that I'll be ready that night. Just give me until we're married. Let me enjoy our engagement without worrying about the baby dealing with my stress."

That's all it took. The idea of Bella being his wife, birthing his future child...or children, and just knowing that she was his made it impossible to control himself. It had been almost a decade since Bella stumbled into his life and he realized that until this point, there hadn't been one moment of complete peace. It amazed him how another human being could possibly be so vital to his life.

Things wouldn't be smooth sailing all the time. There would tears that they couldn't fight and there would always be people, especially those that knew of their past, that would have problems understanding their relationship. All that mattered, though, was that Bella knew who he was and knew he wouldn't let harm come to her again. For the first time in a decade, he was exactly where he needed...and wanted to be.

Well, I hope everyone enjoyed this little three-shot that almost wasn't! If you want to check out another contest piece, check out Let's Roll, which is now also on my page. Thank you for the reviews and thank you for inspiring me to continue this on with two extra parts than I was planning. Darkest Valley is probably going to be wrapping up soon and I'm read to release my new story, Our Place Upon the Ashes. I hope to release that sometime soon. I'd love to hear what you think of this chapter, though. Leave me some love, Letzy xx

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