Chapter 13: Flying

Edward kept trying to find a way to tell Bella how he felt. Every night Emmett would ask him if he'd done it yet. He'd make a threat to tell her for him, but never did it.

Today was her special day, and the numbers were pounding inside him. Her mom said Bella ignored her birthday.

But there was no way he could do that. Not when she meant so much to him. He'd celebrate her birth every day if he could.

Once his dad found out he'd paid for those expensive concert tickets with his credit card, it was taken away. Well, that was fine. He figured out a free way to celebrate today in a way he thought she might approve of.

Everything was in place. Hopefully she'd cooperate.

He stepped into biology, and he had to stifle a giggle when he thought of his secret plans.

"Hi," he said, tucking his head down to hide his explosive smile.

"Edward, you're giddy. What's going on?"

He shrugged and sat down. A second later, he snagged her hand and put it in its proper place.

"My mom said you stopped by last week in the evening. Why didn't you tell me?"

The bubbly, laughing feeling inside quieted. "She was unhappy I was there. She said she told you to stay away. But you've ignored her. I'm glad you did; is that wrong?"

She shook her head and bit her lip through a smile. Her lip popped out of her teeth's hold. "It's not wrong. You've got a bit of a naughty streak in you, and I love it at times." She pulled her hand back and leaned back in her chair, tipped it a little and chuckled.

"I should be bad? That makes you happy?" His head and eyes both followed her as she leaned back further then rocked back and forth on a chair that was supposed to be stationary.

"You don't have to be anything but you." She dropped the chair with a slight thud sound. "Speaking of which, I have something for you for having to deal with my dragon of a mom." She opened her backpack up and showed him two of those half sized cans of soda.

"I can have those?"

She nodded. "But . . . I want you to always eat a full meal beforehand with lots of protein in it. Then you can have only one. So spread these two out over two days. If you do it the way I'm telling you, there should be less of a shock to your system. Sip it—no chugging. And this time, I hope you'll figure out a way to get rid of the evidence before your sister finds it."

"I could chuck it out the window and into the pool. Sometimes homeless people wander through our alley and toss stuff into our pool."

"No. They might ask you about it, and you're no good at lying."

"Am to!"

She chuckled and went on, "Where's some place you go your family doesn't in your house?"

"The piano. Nobody touches it. They hate it."

She bobbed her head several times in increments. "That sounds perfect. And then maybe on the day the recycling's being emptied, you can find a way to stuff it down into the bin where nobody can see."

"I can do that. I can, Bella! You're the best!" He lurched forward and hugged her tight.

"Not the best really—just know how to be a dealer." She snickered.

He let go of her and tuned into the beginning of the lecture, but before long he wanted to be closer to her.

The lights went out for a slide show.

Edward scooted near her without a sound.

Bella paid no heed.

He pushed her hair over her shoulder, and still she was paying attention to the lesson.

This was perfect. Her birthday should be awash in clever, clandestine kisses. He leaned in, kissed from her ear to her collar bone. It was done so slowly, with such precision, no one could have heard it.

That was until Bella moaned softly.

He covered her mouth with his hand, slid his hand between her legs and kneaded at her thighs.

She began to weave around in her seat like she was losing her balance and might fall off.

So, he slung a leg over her lap to keep her in place.

He nipped, sucked at her collar bone, continued to play between her legs, getting dangerously higher and higher.

She tilted her head away from him, making the area easier to access.

When the lights went on, he didn't care. He slowly pulled away and reveled in the way her eyelids were half closed and she wore a lazy smile.

"At lunch time, I want you to come with me somewhere."

Her eyebrows rose.

"It's on campus—I promise." He crossed his heart and grinned.

"Okay."

He could barely sit still after she agreed. The class finished up and they dutifully attended English.

He found ways to touch her in secret places some more but it was harder to do with the lights on.

It didn't matter though. He was having fun making her feel good on her birthday.

The best part was she had no idea why he was doing this to her.

When the bell ran, he dragged her behind him.

"Where're we going?" she asked.

"You'll see . . ." He breathed hard, the numbers were edging their way into his mind. His nerves jumped about. What if she hated this and thought it was immature?

"My arm may fall off if you keep up this pace," she teased.

He giggled like a kid. "It won't. I need you to have both arms for what we're gonna do."

"What're we gonna do?" Her voice rose.

"Hmm . . . Looks like rain," he said.

He could feel her behind him, angling her body to look up at the sky. "It's sunny as usual," she disagreed.

"No, definitely." He held out his other hand, palm up like drops were landing on it. "It's gonna rain. And that's good—you told me in the first week I came here you liked to have rain. You also said you liked real green grass." He smothered another giggle with his free hand.

"Edward . . . What's going on?" She pulled back on his arm, but it did nothing to deter him.

"We don't have much time to enjoy it, so you should walk faster."

They stopped behind the fenced off playground for the preschool kids they had here.

Edward signaled to his brother hiding behind a bush with a hose.

There was an umbrella, two rain slickers and a medium sized plastic shoe box with a lid on it, sitting on a bench.

Edward grabbed them. He helped her put the slicker on, and as soon as it was secured, the fake rain began.

She mentioned fake green grass, but said nothing about disliking fake rain. So, he brought her the weather she wanted.

Bella turned to him in awe as he placed the umbrella over her head.

"You did this for me?" Her eyes were so big and brown, they were like inviting chocolate, melting candies.

"Yeah. It's your birthday, and I love you." He blinked and looked down but kept the umbrella steady.

She grabbed the umbrella out of his hand, tossed it to the ground. They were both being sprinkled on, but he was good with it because she threw herself at him and wrapped him up with her body.

"Thank you," she whispered, rocking him back and forth.

He squeezed her with one arm and tugged on the ends of her long, now damp hair with his other hand. It was fun to do that.

"I usually hate my birthdays," she admitted.

He knew that, but kept it to himself.

She let go, put her palms out and walked in a slow, turning circle, experiencing the false rain from every angle.

He picked up the shoe box on the ground and grabbed a handful, then tossed it at her.

Grass clippings from his lawn that was always irrigated were sticking to her slicker. "You've never come over to sit on my lawn with me, so I brought it to you."

She burst into giggles and he was uncertain if tears were on her cheeks since there was hose water on her head, dripping down.

"You are too good to be real." She pulled the rain slicker off and the hose stopped.

Good. Emmett's instructions were to keep her clothes dry if he could.

"Sorry your hair got wet. But I'm prepared." Emmett came out of the bushes, handed him a green towel and left.

She waved at him with a big, goofy grin and then turned to Edward.

"You wanna dry my hair for me?"

"I . . . I don't know how," he choked on his words. He extended the towel out to her.

"It's not like you mess this rats nest up. I don't do anything with it. And if it's wet, people will think I was at PE or something. Nobody's gonna notice."

"O-okay," he stammered.

She turned around, he slipped one hand under her hair. It was much darker while wet, but he liked that too. It was a shade darker than her eyes, and so lovely.

He sandwiched her hair between the towel, rubbed, but only enough to space out the strands; not hard enough to pull or hurt her.

After he was done, he set the green towel down. "Was this enough for a birthday gift? I didn't know what else to get you. I don't have any access to money right now."

She turned around to face him. "You already bought me concert tickets, you've changed my days so they're like walking on clouds with an angel."

He smiled and bit the insides of his cheeks so he could keep from saying something dumb.

"No, not walking. Flying. I think you put me on your back between your wings and then soar as high as you can with my weight burdening you."

He opened his mouth to protest, but she kissed him.

She pulled away after a short moment and said, "Perfect. This was the perfect gift. The best birthday present I've ever had."

And with that comment, he was the one flying. All these weeks he had this umbrella, the rain slickers and towel in his car for inclement weather, was not wasted. He was glad he'd made that note that first time she wore a tank top and covered it up with a sweater.

She was wrong though about one thing—she was the angel—not him. Never him. He had no idea how to fly without her.

.

.

After Bella's birthday, things were different. She found it harder to distance herself from him. He was a new drug, a new addiction. He made her feel better than anything she had ever snorted, shot up, smoked or drank.

He said the most beautiful things to her, making her almost believe she was redeemable. It was nice to live in his dream world for a while. It gave her a sense of peace she hadn't ever really known.

And right now, she was about to hurt him. It couldn't be helped.

She drove up to his house after dinner time and parked in his driveway. Her whole body was shaking with electrified nerves. If only she could stuff him in her suitcase and take her with him.

She sat slumped over her wheel for several minutes trying to give herself a pep talk, but it wasn't working. If anything . . . she was more determined to just skip town and not say a word all to avoid seeing that look of devastation in his eyes that would be inevitable.

She sighed, opened the car door and when she slammed it shut, she jumped from how loud it was.

Her legs dragged as she approached his front door. She barely knocked once when the door was flung open.

"You're here!" he whooped.

He took a huge step forward, picked her up and hugged her so tight she could barely see straight.

"Yeah, I came to see you. I can only have a short visit though."

He set her down and beamed at her with those gleaming perfect white teeth. She could almost see his matching radiant white halo over his head. Why did he have to be so damn perfect? It would be easier to do this if he wasn't.

"Can I come in?" she asked.

"You can always come in my house!" He took her hand but let her lead the way. He was patient with her.

Another trait she envied of him.

When she was inside the living room, his father stepped into the room.

He sighed and a look of disappointment crossed his eyes then settled in his tight jaw. "I know you two are still friends, but I have to say, Bella, I don't really approve. Especially of the cigarettes."

"I know, sir. I wish I could say I was working on quitting but I'm not. It's the least of my problems."

He motioned for her to sit. "Then tell me about these problems. I need to know what my son's gotten himself involved in."

She sat down, heaved a great sigh and looked him straight in the eye. Now was as good a time as it would ever be to give him the basics of how low down and filthy she was. "I know Edward's life got turned around at age twelve—"

"We're not gonna discuss him—I want to hear about who you are. Start telling me, or you're leaving . . ." His eyes were stern, crinkled at the corners, but it made him look wise, not mean.

"I wasn't going to talk about him, just say that was how old I was when things went to hell for me too." He glared at her use of the word hell. "Sorry . . . I'm a little nervous." She swiped at her face a little with her free hand. Edward was seated on her right, holding the hand closest to him tightly to the side of his thigh. "I was babysitting, and there was an accident. The baby girl died. This was during a summer I was visiting my dad in a little town where he lives in Washington State. I'm actually here to say goodbye to Edward because that's where I'm gonna be for all of this next week during fall break."

Edward gasped. "I wanna go too." His shoulders hunched up.

"You can't," both Bella and his dad chanted in unison.

He exhaled loudly as if to protest.

"Before I go, I figure I should tell you the rest of what happened to me. My dad was chief of police, he made sure no charges were pressed and I never got put in juvie or anything like that, but it was definitely my fault. After that, well, I got drunk and high every chance I could get. I traded sex for drugs since I was poor, and I was in rehab at the age of fifteen. I had a relapse shortly after, but, well . . . I've been clean ever since. I don't drink, I don't do drugs, but I'll continue to smoke because other than Edward, it's the only thing I have that keeps me from going ballistic."

"You need therapy, young lady, and lots of it," he said, but it was done in kindness.

"I know I do. I've been therapy off and on for years, but it hasn't seemed to help. Both my parents are a wreck and they've basically given up on me. I've tried to get Edward here to do the same but he won't—"

"I won't ever stop loving you," he interrupted.

"Love's a very strong word," his dad cautioned.

"I know that, and I know how I feel. Emmett helped me to figure it out. I love her, and I want to be with her. I know she's made bad choices, but so have I. We need each other," Edward said. He took her hand and kissed her knuckles.

"There were other things I did along the way I regretted, but I won't bore you with the details. Just know . . . I try to get good grades, and I never curse around your son, because I try to respect your family's rules, but I'm not gonna stop smoking around him. I get tense, and if I want to be able to be there for him emotionally one-hundred percent, then it means I need a smoke now and then. I'll try to keep it at a minimum. In fact . . . I've stopped smoking before school. I only smoke after, so during the day at school, he won't smell it on me."

"Well, that makes everything better then, doesn't it." His father rolled his eyes. "I think this conversation is over. Be friends at school—fine. But other than that, keep away."

"I will." She stood up to go. Edward hugged her from behind.

"I'm not gonna let go," he warned.

She pulled his hands apart he had interlocked around her waist.

"You have to. But come and say goodbye at the door." She turned around and smiled. He was on the verge of tears.

She took his hand and led him to her exit.

Once there, she said, "Don't try and find me. Promise me you won't." She cupped his jaw.

"I have to. I won't promise you that."

"Listen to me . . . Your father cares and wants the best. I do too. And getting some distance from me might be good for you."

"How can it be?" The tears splashed on the carpet now.

"You can call me all you want, text, email. I can keep in touch too, but you can't see me during this next week."

"Why did you wait until today to tell me? I mean, are you leaving right now?"

She nodded. "On my way to the airport when I leave here."

"But I'll miss you."

"I know, 'cause I'll miss you like crazy too. I'm sorry I waited. I didn't want to ruin your week at school and make you stressed out. I thought it'd be better this way." She kissed the corner of his mouth and swiped it away with the pad of her thumb like she always did while cupping his chin.

He grabbed her hand to keep it there. "Someday . . . Bella, I'm gonna have a bed we can share together, but not to sleep together. Emmett told me that means sex, and I know you don't wanna have sex with me." He frowned.

She ran her thumb over his lower lip. It was pouting. She laughed hard. "You have no idea what I want, Edward, and I'm glad you don't. It would dirty your soul."

"Don't go . . ." he whimpered.

"I have to. I don't have a choice." Tears welled in her eyes. Her lips trembled. "Believe me, if I could stay, I would. I'd much rather see you every day than go to that hell hole."

"I can save you. I can keep you here." He took her hand in his and placed it on his heart. "You'd be safe with me."

"I wish that was true for you as well, but it's not." She kissed him, pulled away and left before she did something really stupid.

An hour later she was on a plane flying to Forks, Washington. The town that drizzled constantly because God was pissing on it, to mark it as his official toilet for humanity. That's where her life got flushed away.

She deserved to rot there forever.

The flight was fairly dead; not many people were traveling.

She tried to sleep, but found herself floating in and out of horrific memories of her few summers she had spent in that Podunk town.

Several times she took out a pad of paper and a pen to write a letter to Edward.

In the end, they were all garbage so she tore them up and stuffed them in her carry-on.

She wished she'd left him with a soda at least to cheer him up, but she hadn't been thinking clearly when she stopped by to say her farewell.

It was one in the morning when she arrived. She had no idea if her dad would be there to pick her up, because she refused to talk to him before she left for this excursion. What was there to say? I don't want to see you, I hate that town, and I get sick when I look at you? Better to remain silent.

She moved through the airport, grabbed her bags and when she was ready to call for a cab, she saw him.

Oh hell had already found her and its jaws were gaping after her.

"Why are you here?" she asked by way of greeting.

"Your dad sent me to get you." His eyes raked over her while he smirked. "You look edible, like my next meal. And you know where I like to eat."

"With the pigs in the wallow."

"In my bed with me between your legs."

"Give it a rest, Jake. You know I'm not your girl anymore. I never really was. I used you to party and get high." She walked past him. Waiting for a cab with him yapping in her ear was going to be less than pleasant, but better than being stuck in a car with her.

He ripped her bags out of her arms. "Don't be like that. I'll help you dejunk your dad's house, I'll give you the good stuff, and you'll let me and my buddies do whatever we want to you."

Slaaaaam!

She had him by the throat, her forearm wedged tight; he was up against the outside brick wall of the airport. "The only way you'll ever touch me again is when I'm pulling the last breath out of your body like I'm doing now." She jammed her elbow harder into his Adam's apple.

"You always were dramatic . . ." He chuckled and reached out to grab her hip, bringing her closer.

"And you were always a loser. Still are." She pushed off him with a look of pure disgust. "I'll walk."

She grabbed her stuff and took off.

He chased her down. "C'mon. I was only messing around. I'll take you home."

"It's not my home," she gritted.

"Whatever." He had her bags again and was running to his stupid, beat up Rabbit.

He set the bags down, popped the trunk and put her things inside.

She got in the backseat and stretched out.

"So, what's the deal? Got a boyfriend or something? You never tried to choke me before." He laughed. "That was fun."

"You and your nasty-ass fetishes." She shook her head. He was probably into that erotic asphyxiation. It wouldn't surprise her.

"Exactly. My nasty-ass and that's where you belong. You're the only one that could do it right."

"And only when I was high. I'm clean now. Have been for over a year, and it's gonna stay that way." She stared out the window.

"Why?"

"Why what? Why don't you run away and be homeless for a week and then ask me why I don't do that anymore." She popped her knuckles. Her whole body was tense, even her toes.

"So, eating garbage from dumpsters is what snapped you out of it?"

"No, being a step away from selling my body to strangers and realizing I'd probably die of AIDS before I could vote is what did it for me." That and the idea of turning out like her old roommate in rehab, Tori, was what shut her veins off from all that stuff.

Tori had become a Meth addict. Her teeth were black, she was losing her hair and looked like she had escaped from a concentration camp. She was all skin and bones. It was the scariest thing she'd ever seen when Tori found her on the street. It had been a year since she'd seen her friend back in rehab, and she was not the same at all. It was difficult to have a coherent conversation with her. It was even harder to look at her too with all the sores on her face, not to mention she looked to be in her mid-thirties when she had barely turned twenty.

What sent Bella over the edge was seeing her pregnant belly, watching her vomit every hour, sending Bella into her episodes.

Bella ran back home that night. One week on the streets and she was cured of wanting to be a junkie.

She'd never be that again.

"You're not better than me," he huffed.

"The day I'm better than anybody is the day the world stops turning. Just drive, Jacob. I wanna get to bed." She pulled out her phone, plugged in her earbuds and tuned him out.

Edward's mixes were amazing. She had enjoyed working out to the them. Tonight she'd listen to the ballads he did so she could maybe sleep a little.

It was doubtful it would drown out the nightmare she always had when she was here, but she'd try.

After a long, uncomfortable drive, the car stopped. She pulled the earbuds out.

He rested his arm on the back of his seat and turned to look at her. "It wasn't your fault, you know."

"Yeah? Whose was it then? Yours? You were probably there when it happened. Though, I'm sure that's when you were shooting up, so who the hell knows." She opened the car door. He grabbed her by the arm.

"Quil forgives you." He was breathing on her face.

"Why would he do that?"

"He realizes he was only a teenager too. He didn't know what he was doing asking a twelve year to babysit and giving you those stupid instructions. He hates himself, not you." He let go of her arm.

She moved away. "Well, he can hate me instead of himself, because I was stupid enough to follow his instruction."

"You were high, Bella. What do you expect?"

"I was never more sober in my life. You shot up, I didn't. I performed your sexual favors, you left, and somewhere in there she died." She kicked his back wheel.

He opened the trunk, thrust her bags in her hands and spit on her foot. "Fine, be a bitch about it. I'm telling you the tribe has said you can come back."

"You think I want to after what happened? You think I can step on your lands without imagining that one-year old's lifeless eyes as she lay in her bed covered in vomit?" Her stomach roiled just thinking about.

"It was SIDS, Bella. That's all."

"That's not all. I did my homework. SIDS happens to baby's when they're infants. She aspirated on her own throw up because she was crying so loud for me to help her. I ignored it. I probably heard it." She shrugged. "I don't even remember how loud her wails were."

"There's nothing to feel guilty about," he shouted, slammed the trunk shut then punched it hard.

"The fact you have a clean conscience over this is exactly why I can't stand to be around you!" She took off, ran to the front door of the dilapidated house with its peeling light green paint.

It was unlocked as usual. She pushed her way in, dropped her bags and locked the door.

She heard the car speed away and rested her forehead on the door.

After a beat, she turned her head to the side to see the silhouette of roundness reclined in a chair.

"Hi, Dad."

She was greeted with a dying grunt.

This week was going to be exactly what she deserved.

A/N:

I have more great news. I have 3 pre-readers now. Amandac3, Paxson Adkins and Dinia Steel are willing to help out in this way, and I'm so thrilled. A big thank you to my beta, SunflowerFran.

Scarlett