Disclaimer: Nobody owns Twilight, except Stephenie Meyer. This is a story that was donated to Fandom4Support - Suicide Awareness Compilation.
"Rose, I'm not going. End of story. Please, don't make me be mean to you." I sigh into the phone.
"Bella, you're coming. It is our 10 year class reunion. It's a milestone and it won't be the same without you. You have to come!"
Rose is now yelling at me into the phone. She has a flair for the dramatics.
"Listen, if your ass is not on that plane on Friday, I am sending Emmett after you." She pauses and waits for me to say something, but my first line of defense against Rose is the silent treatment…and that starts now.
"Bella, I know you're still there and I know you can hear me…and I know you don't want me to send Emmett. I'm persistent and I always get my way, so I don't know why you're even fighting me on this.
"Are you going to say something? Oh, great. Did you just start the silent treatment? That is so junior high, Bella. I thought you were supposed to be the mature one out of the bunch."
I breathe out another sigh of frustration. "Rose, you have no idea how hard it is to leave the kids and I have so much to worry about when I'm not here. I'm not like you and Emmett; I can't just pack up and traipse across the country whenever I get a whim."
"You're right, B. I don't know what it's like. I'm sorry for not thinking about Owen and Lily. Maybe you could bring them with you? They could stay with Esme and Carlisle. They would have so much fun!"
"Rose, I can't leave the kids with the Cullens. It would just be too weird. Besides, have you seen the price of airfare lately? It's ridiculous. It's cheaper for me to leave them here."
"Oh, like you can't afford it…now, you're just making excuses."
I drop my voice down to a whisper, feeling my emotions getting the best of me. "I just can't face everyone, Rose. I don't want to sit around and listen to everyone talk about their careers and traveling and living the high-life. Most of the people we graduated with are still living like they're in college…or even worse, high school. I don't want to be reminded of all the shit that's happened in my life in the last ten years."
"You need a break. So, if you don't come for the reunion, at least come to get away for a few days."
"I know you're not going to let this go, so I'll say that I'll think about it."
I hear her squeal into the phone. I can picture her bouncing on her six inch heels. "Yay! I knew you would change your mind!"
"I didn't say I was changing my mind, Rose, just that I'll think about it."
"But that means 'yes'."
"You sound like Owen. 'Thinking about it' does not equal 'yes'. Damn, Rose, you're worse than an eight year old."
"I gotta run. I love you!"
"I love you, too."
She is out of her damn mind, if she thinks I'm going to the Forks High School Class of 2002 ten year reunion.
"Owen...Lily...downstairs in 5 minutes!"
I can't believe I'm doing this. I can't believe I let Rosalie Hale con me into this. What the hell am I thinking? Throwing my bag back on the couch, I plop down beside it. I should just stay home. Nothing good can come out of me going to this damn class reunion. Rose will just have to deal with it. She and Alice were planning on coming for a visit after her show wraps for the season, so it's not like I won't see them soon.
My phone ringing in my purse scares the hell out of me. I finally dig it out and answer it.
"You are not backing out. You will get Owen and Lily to the nanny and you will get your ass on that plane. Emmett will be there to pick you up at 5:45. If he gets to the airport and you do not step off of that plane, he has been instructed to get on the next flight to New York. You do not want that to happen. It won't be pretty."
"I'm glad your fans buy your bullshit, because I don't. Save the dramatics for the big screen. I'll be on that damn plane, not because I'm afraid of you or Emmett, but because I don't want to hear your whiny ass for the next ten years."
"I'm so glad we can see eye-to-eye on this. Your cooperation is much appreciated. Safe travels. I love you. Good day."
The dial tone is the next thing I hear. I think she must know how much that pisses me off. She never lets me have the last word. I almost want to call her back and hang up on her, but I don't get the chance. There is a horn blaring outside, signaling that the taxi is here to pick me up.
Five seconds later, there is a knock at the door.
"Keep your pants on! I'll be right there!"
I swear, everyone is so impatient.
"Owen! Lily! Unless you want to be left home alone for the next 4 days, I suggest you have yourselves down here in 5...4...3..."
Kissing the kids goodbye was worse for me than it was for them. They acted like they were ready to just kick me out the door. See ya later, mom! Have a nice life! I just hate leaving them, even for the day while I work, but I know they'll be well taken care of.
Irina lives in the apartment above us and is also our nanny. She is fantastic with the kids. She knows not to let Lily talk her into ice cream at bedtime; and she knows that Owen is sneaky and will stay up all hours of the night reading a book. She has their numbers, that's for sure.
I lean a little further back into my seat on the plane, not really looking forward to the six and a half hour flight ahead of me.
As I close my eyes, my mind drifts to the last time I was in Forks, Washington. I swore I would never be back there. I swore I'd never see him again. I never go back against my word, so why I'm doing it now is beyond me.
One of my last vivid memories of him was the night of prom. We had all gone as a big group, and later ended up at a hotel in Port Angeles. Everyone was drinking and partying. I went to lay down in one of the beds, after getting a splitting headache and rum punch spilled all over my dress. I was probably feeling a little sorry for myself, too.
Edward was there with Tanya that night. I knew they weren't serious, but just seeing him with someone else was enough to crush me back then.
We had gone on a few dates over the summer before our senior year started. We shared a few kisses, but nothing more. I was head over heels for him, but he just stopped calling. I spent our senior year pining for him; he spent our senior year playing the field.
Emmett told me later that Edward had said he thought it was unfair to get serious with me, because he would be heading off to college. I didn't understand why he would flirt and date and make out with other girls, but not me. What was wrong with me?
I was heading off to college, too. I was planning on getting the hell out of Forks. He could have talked to me about it. Even though we weren't going to the same school, I would have waited for him.
I would have made it work. I would have done anything for him.
Until the night of prom.
Edward was wasted and Tanya was taking advantage of him...and he was letting her. I was almost asleep on one of the queen sized beds in one of our 4 hotel rooms. How in the hell Tanya picked the one I was in, I'll never know. I heard them come in, but I was afraid to say anything. I didn't want to be embarrassed. I should have spoken up. I should have said something, but I was such a coward back then. So, instead, I laid there in the dark, not saying a word, while Edward and Tanya made out on the other bed. I don't know how far they went that night. I desperately tried to fall asleep and block it out. I quietly brought my hands to my ears and plugged them as tight as I could. Silent tears fell down my cheeks and soaked the pillow. The next thing I remembered, it was morning.
We sure as hell never talked after that. I would be mortified for him to know that I was in there that night, but somehow I think he knows. Sometimes, I feel like the whole thing was intentional, like he was sending me a message that it was over between us...or maybe that it had never even started.
It took me years to get over that night and him.
I never wanted to see him again. Just the mention of his name was enough to bring up such strong emotions, I felt like crying or punching a wall...or both.
Fortunately for me, he's missed all of the weddings and birthday parties I've come back home for so, I haven't had to miss out on anything to avoid him all these years. I had hoped he would miss this grand event, too, but I have a funny feeling my luck is about to run out.
"Well, if it isn't Belle Starr!"
"Well, if it isn't Rosalie Hale's Bitch!"
I jump on Emmett and hug his neck tight, forgetting manners or the fact that I'm a 28 year old woman. He returns the hug and picks me up off the ground.
"It's good to see you, Bells. I was worried for a while that Rosalie was losing her touch. I thought maybe you were going to stick to your guns and not show."
"You know how difficult it is to say 'no' to Rose. I may be strong, but she's like titanium. You just can't compete with that. Besides, it has been too long since I've seen everybody. I almost forgot you look like a big gorilla."
Emmett starts walking off, with me thrown over his shoulder.
"Emmett Cullen, put me down. Now!"
"Your mom voice doesn't work with me, Bella. Owen and Lily might fall for that shit, but I don't. Say you're sorry."
"I'm sorry you look like a gorilla."
He keeps walking, not letting me down.
"I'm sorry I said you look like a gorilla! There, are you happy?"
"No, tell me how handsome I am."
"Come on, Emmett! You, of all people, do not need your ego stroked!"
"Fine! You're so handsome, Emmett. I don't know how Rosalie fights off all the women."
He sets me on my feet and looks at me like I'm a child. When I'm with Emmett, I, sometimes, feel like I am 16 again. He reminds me of more care-free days.
"Now, was that so hard?"
"I want to kick your ass."
"You love my ass."
"Get your ass down to baggage claim, so we can get my suitcase and go."
"Can you believe they're having our reunion at the high school gymnasium?"
"It's Forks. I'd believe anything."
"Yeah, but it's our ten year reunion. You would think they could come up with something classier than the Spartan gym."
The rest of the drive from Seattle to Forks is fairly quiet, except for the occasional conversation over what is playing on the radio or the rundown on how Owen and Lily are doing. Rose and Emmett usually visit twice a year, but with Rose's busy schedule, they haven't made it this year. My kids think of them as their aunt and uncle, the same goes for Alice and Jasper. Since I'm an only child and they don't know Jake's family, they are the only extended family my kids know, besides my mom and dad.
Every time I'm up here, I remember that the one thing I actually miss is the beauty. It just oozes out of the thick forests. The lush green of the moss and trees, and the occasional lake or pond that breaks up the vastness of the woods, is what fairy tales are written about. I remember when I was little how my imagination would run away with me. I would dream up all sorts of fascinating stories in my mind. I really need to bring Owen and Lily here. No one should miss out on seeing this. I've kept them away for selfish reasons.
"What are you thinking about?"
"Nothing, just taking in the scenery."
"You're never that quiet unless you're in deep thought about something."
"I was just thinking about how beautiful this place is and how I need to bring the kids up here."
"Why haven't you? You know my mom and dad would love to meet them. I mean, they practically feel like they know them already from all of us talking about them, but they would love to see them in person."
"I know. I'd love for them to. I just..." I pause, looking out the window.
"What, Bella? Is it about Edward?"
"No, Emmett. Nothing in my life is about Edward."
"Hey, no need to get pissy with me. I was just asking a question."
"I'm sorry, but it's not about Edward."
"Ok, if it's not about Edward, then what is it?"
"I'd rather not discuss this right now."
The car is quiet for a few minutes, as it winds through the curves of Highway 101.
"He's going to be here, you know."
"Don't remind me."
"I just want you to be prepared. Don't go AWOL on us. You've got to be the strong, confident Bella we all know and love, and just face the past. You'll feel better when you do and we'll all get to stop walking on eggshells around you two."
"What do you mean?"
"We can't talk about Edward around you, and we can't talk about you around Edward. I know you may not realize this, but you've been punishing us for the last ten years, Bella. Edward is my brother and I love him. You are like a sister to me and I love you dearly. It would really help everyone involved, if the two of you could at least get to the point where you can be in the same room as each other. We're all adults now. It's time you guys start acting like it."
"Emmett," I warn.
"Don't 'Emmett' me, Bella. You know what I'm saying is the truth and I'm only saying it because I love you...and, well, Rose made me."
"You are so Rosalie's Bitch."
As we pull up to the Cullen's house, I'm relieved that I recognize all of the cars in the drive. I know some time over the next few days, I'll be forced to face him, but I'm not ready...not yet. I see Rose standing at the front door. Her long blond hair is hard to miss and she's so damn tall. She's what movie stars are made of, but to me, she's just Rose.
"I'm glad you're still scared of me," she says from her spot on the front porch.
"Whatever, Rose. I told you, the thought of hearing you bitch and complain about me missing this stupid-ass reunion is the only thing that got me on that plane."
There actually was a time I was afraid of Rose. During our senior year of high school, Rose had the biggest crush on Emmett. We all knew she had the hots for him and that it would only be a matter of time until they were together. Emmett was going to a junior college in Port Angeles. If you ask me, one of the reasons he stayed close that first year out of high school was because of Rose. He had liked her for years, but had never acted on his feelings. When they were around each other, the tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife.
The funny thing is that Rose thought that I liked Emmett, like liked him, liked him. Apparently, she was willing to take me out to get to him. One day in the locker room, she confronted me about Emmett, warning me to stay away from him. I tried to tell her that we were just friends, but she didn't want to hear it. Emmett was actually the one that set her straight. He told her that he liked her, too, but if she couldn't accept the fact that he and I were friends, then they wouldn't be able to be together.
So, that was that. We've all been friends since then.
Rose crushes me in a hug, squeezing me tight. "I've missed you, Bella." She can be sappy and sentimental every once in awhile.
"I've missed you, too, Rose. It's really good to see you."
"Let's get in the house," Emmett says, walking up behind us with my suitcase.
"I'm not staying here, Emmett."
"Don't be stupid, of course, you're staying here."
"No, I'm not. I already called and got a room at the Forks Motel. Their toiletries leave a little to be desired, but the view is outstanding."
"Are you serious? Why would you stay in that dump when you can have a nice comfy bed here at Hotel Cullen," Rosalie says, as she sweeps her hand out in a grand gesture toward the house.
"You both know why. Now, put my suitcase back in the car. I'm going to go in and say 'hello' to Esme and Carlisle, and then you're going to drive me into town." I don't give them a chance for a rebuttal, instead I walk into the house and right into a brick wall, otherwise known as Edward Cullen.
"You knew he was here! You knew it and you didn't even warn me! I kind of hate you right now, Rose!" I'm doing that thing where inside you're yelling, but on the outside you're whispering, but it's getting very difficult to keep from screaming at the top of my lungs. I need to release this tension or I am going to blow.
I don't think I've been this frustrated since Lily poured flour all over the dog and Owen tried to clean up the mess with the sprayer from the kitchen sink. Our living room and kitchen looked like it had snowed. There was flour all over everything and the dog was on the verge of turning into a statue. I locked myself in the bathroom and screamed, until I felt calm enough to come out and handle the enormous mess.
I can't really do that this time. I'm locked in the bathroom alright, but Edward Cullen is about 20 feet away from this door I'm leaning up against for support.
Rosalie slaps me across the face and my hand flies up to my cheek to stop the sting.
"Ow, Rose! What the hell did you do that for?"
"I'm sorry!" She huffs and puts her hands on her hips, in true Rose fashion. "You were freaking out and I had to do something to get you to calm down and be reasonable."
"This is not your soap opera set! You can't just go around slapping people!"
"I said I was sorry! Now, listen here, you're going to go out there and hold your head up high. You have nothing to be worried about or ashamed of. You did nothing wrong. He's the one that was boning every girl in our senior class!"
"Ok, maybe he wasn't boning them, but he sure was making the rounds. Anyway, my point is that you have nothing to worry about. We are all adults and believe it or not, Bella, prom night was more than ten years ago. I don't understand why the two of you can't just bury the hatchet."
"This was a mistake. I shouldn't have come here."
"No, it's not. You have just as much of a right to be here as he does."
"No, I don't. This is his house, or his parent's house, at least. He has much more of a right to be here."
"You know that Esme and Carlisle love you like a daughter. We all just want the two of you to forgive and forget. It would be nice for us all to be in the same room together again."
We stand there staring each other down for what seems like an hour. I have my arms crossed, not budging. Rose is still standing with her hands on her hips, tapping her foot.
"I guess we can't stay in here forever. I'm just going to go out there and speak to Esme and Carlisle. Then, Emmett can take me to my hotel. I'm exhausted. I'm sure you all have a lot of catching up to do."
I lean up off the door and turn the handle, releasing the lock and opening the door. Rose walks past me and lets out a frustrated breath of air. "You are so stubborn and impossible," she says under her breath, as she passes by me.
The hour that I spent at the Cullen's was awkward, to say the least. It's like Edward and I were keeping track of where the other one was, so we could avoid crossing paths. I chatted with Esme and Rosalie in the kitchen for a while, but when Edward and Emmett came in to get beers, I conveniently slipped into the living room.
"It's been too long, Bella," Carlisle says, from where he's sitting.
"Yes, it has been. How have you been? How's the practice?" I walk over and have a seat on the sofa.
"Good. The practice is doing well. We recently brought on a new doctor from Seattle. It's nice having some new blood around. How have you been?"
"Busy. I mainly work from home, which helps, but it's still a lot to keep up with."
"I'm sure the kids keep you extremely busy. How are they?"
"They're good, growing like weeds. Owen is 8 now and he thinks he's grown. Lily is 6, going on 16. I'm not ready for them to grow-up yet."
"I know that feeling. It felt like the boys were babies one day and moving out the next. Somehow, life prepares you for the changes and you manage to appreciate all the different ages and stages. You know, Bella, you should bring the kids for a visit. Esme and I would love to see them," he says, with a soft smile.
"I know. I really do need to bring them here. I was just telling Emmett that same thing on our drive here, but..."
"There's no 'buts', Bella," he says, with a serious tone. "Don't let things from the past keep you from joys of the present."
I laugh lightly, clasping my hands together, as I try to think of a response to that.
Someone in the doorway clears their throat. I look up to see that it's Edward. When our eyes meet, he quickly looks away and runs his hand through his hair. I know that trick. He does that to calm his nerves. I know everything about him...or, at least, I used to.
"I didn't mean to interrupt," he says quickly, turning around and walking back toward the kitchen.
"I think I should go."
Carlisle looks at me, with a funny expression. "You really should stay for dinner. You must be starving after traveling all day."
"I am kind of hungry, but exhaustion has taken over. I think I'll choose sleep over dinner."
"You should have stayed for dinner. Mom made lasagna and you know how good that is!"
"I know. I just think I'm more tired than I am hungry."
"Well, good luck finding something around here," Emmett says, as he pulls into the Forks Motel.
"I'll walk over to the diner, if I decide to eat later."
He pulls up in front of the office and puts the car in park.
"If you'll pop the trunk, I'll get my suitcase out."
"I can get it for you, Bella. You don't always have to do everything on your own, you know."
"In my world, I do." Without another word, I get out and walk to the back of the car. Emmett finally pushes the button and the trunk opens. I get my suitcase out and walk around to his side of the car. "Thanks, Emmett, for everything. Not just for today, but for always being there for me and making me feel like you're on my side." I lean my head through his open window and kiss his cheek.
"You're welcome. Rose and I only want what's best for you. So, don't be mad at her for today. She just thought that if you and Edward were forced into seeing each other, that things might be different."
"Tell Rose that I'm not mad at her and I'll call her tomorrow, OK?"
He nods and puts the car into reverse. I walk up to the office and turn around and wave as he drives off.
Feeling completely exhausted, I check into the motel and get my room key...and I mean, literally, a key, like the kind you put in the lock and turn. Forks Motel hasn't upgraded to the fancy schmancy key cards of modern hotels and motels.
Forks Motel hasn't upgraded to anything, actually.
The room is basic, and by basic, I mean, one step up from a roach motel. I flip on all the lights and put my suitcase on the bed. As I make a sweep through the room, I decide that it's clean enough and it's a whole hell of a lot better than sleeping at Casa de Cullen, and trying to avoid Edward for the next 24 hours.
I flip through every channel on the TV, which is a grand total of 15, talk to the kids for half an hour, finish a book I started on the plane, and I still can't make myself go to sleep.
As I lay here tossing and turning, my mind drifts to Edward. I hadn't let myself process that little nugget of information yet. Outside of a few family photos from Rose and Emmett, I haven't seen Edward in over 10 years. He's aged and matured, but in the best way. He's absolutely stunning. Is that even a word used to describe men? I'm not sure, and I should know, because words are my job. I kind of hate that he looks so good. This would be a lot easier, if he had gained 50 pounds and had a premature receding hairline.
I finally get pissed off, because the blankets and sheets are twisted all around me, and I get out of bed. I walk into the bathroom and stare at myself in the mirror. Other than the bags under my eyes from being so freaking tired, I guess I don't look too bad for being a 28 year old mother of two. I stay in shape and I eat healthy. I should probably thank my mom and dad for good genes; because I don't have grey hair yet, and I've managed to keep wrinkles at bay. That could be attributed to growing up in the Pacific Northwest, too, and my lack of pigmentation, which keeps me in sun block year-round.
I turn around and look back into the room. I could easily go stir crazy in here. If I was at home, I'd clean or organize a drawer or something, but there is absolutely nothing to do in this small, bare motel room. Too bad I didn't have Emmett stop me by the liquor store on the way here. A couple glasses of wine would definitely do the trick.
Maybe I'll just slip some jeans on and walk down the street to the bar. I know that sounds completely crazy, but this is Forks, Washington. I really couldn't care less if anyone sees me.
A few minutes later, I'm walking down the stairs and out into the cool of the night. It doesn't take me long to get to the bar. You could walk from one end of Forks to the other in less than 30 minutes. I open the door and see a familiar face standing behind the bar. He may not know me, but I remember him. His name is Waylon, I think, and he used to work at the diner we ate at all the time when we lived here. I walk over and sit on one of the bar stools. There's another older gentleman sitting at the end of the bar, and a few more men playing pool. I look back behind me and survey the rest of the patrons, seeing if I recognize anyone. I notice a couple people dancing on the dance floor, but no one looks familiar.
"Can I get something for you, Miss?"
I turn back around to the bar and look at my options behind him. "I'm guessing you don't have wine?"
"I'm guessing you're not from around here," he says back, with a smile.
"Well, I used to be, but I wasn't old enough to come in here the last time I was in town."
I can tell by the look in his eyes that he recognizes me.
"Bella Swan, right?"
"Yes, how did you know?"
"I remember you from the diner. Are you in town for the reunion?"
"Man, how time flies."
"Tell me about it."
"Well, Bella, what can I get for you?"
"I'll have a vodka and tonic."
He gives me a wink and turns around to make my drink.
Before I know it, I've knocked back four vodka and tonics and my lips feel tingly. I should have stopped at two, that is usually my limit. But I didn't feel like limiting myself tonight, so I order antoher.
I see someone take a seat at the end of the bar. The back wall, behind the bottles of liquor, is mirrored, so I use it to see who walked in, without looking like I'm being nosey.
Of course, he would have to walk into this bar. Tonight, of all nights. That's just my damn luck these days, apparently. I'm not sure what I did to deserve this, but it pisses me off.
I slam my now empty, fifth glass down on the bar and get up from my bar stool. I think about leaving, but I decide against that. I respect fate and destiny and all that shit, so I'm not going to pass up this opportunity.
I reach out and grab on to the edge of the bar, steadying myself. I think the vodka has hit me harder than I realized. "Hey, Waylon! I need another...minus the tonic." He looks at me with a weary look, but fills my order anyway. I slap three twenty dollar bills down on the bar and tell him to keep the change. This will be my last drink of the night.
Waylon slides my drink to me and I catch it, only spilling a tiny drop.
I feel Edward's eyes on me, so I turn around to meet his gaze. I wasn't sure what I expected his expression to be, but it's not this. He looks worried or, like he wants to say something, but he's afraid to. Well, I'm not. Thanks to the liquid courage I just tossed back, I'm feeling pretty good. Pissed, but good.
Edward looks over at Waylon and Waylon raises his eyebrows, but doesn't say anything.
I feel like they're talking about me and it infuriates me even more.
I take a couple of steps down toward Edward's end of the bar. I notice that he's not wearing the slacks and button-up shirt like earlier. He's changed, more relaxed. Why did he have to go and do that? The white t-shirt and jeans is too much like what he wore in high school. It does funny things to my body.
Before I get sidetracked and forget what I came down here to say, I let him have it.
"Why the hell did you have to come here?"
"Last time I checked, this was still a free country, Bella." He turns back toward the bar and does that funny silent conversation thing with Waylon again.
"I hate you!" This gets his attention and he turns quickly, sitting on the edge of his bar stool. I now feel other eyes on me, but I'm too worked up to care. I don't care what these people think of me anyway.
"Tell me something I don't know." He laughs a little, but it's not in humor. "Maybe, you can start with why, Bella? Why do you hate me?"
"Where do I start?" I know my voice is loud, but I feel like yelling, so I do. "Maybe, because you never gave me a chance! Maybe because you dumped me and started whoring around with every girl in our senior class! Maybe," my voice goes up another notch, "it's because you slept with Tanya the night of prom, while I was laying in the other bed!" I break up each word for emphasis. "You didn't even have enough decency to turn on some fucking lights and see if you were alone, before you started sticking your tongue down her throat and God knows where else! And if none of that fits the bill, then maybe it's because you ripped my heart out of my chest and hired a mariachi band to come a do a little dance on it, when you were finished!" I finally pause to take a breath.
"Don't 'Bella' me, Edward! You don't get to say anything! You crushed me! The least you can do is hear me out!" I feel hot tears running down my cheeks and I wipe them away with the back of my hand, only for them to be quickly replaced with a new batch. I can't help it. My emotions are running away with me. It's like I have no filter, like I've lost all control.
"I loved you, Edward. I would have done anything for you," I'm looking down at the wood floor, so that I don't have to look at him. I wouldn't be able to take the rejection in his eyes.
"What did you say?" I hear the disbelief in his voice.
"You heard me. I said I loved you." I choke on some tears and pause to get my voice back. "Emmett said that you didn't want to be with me, because you were leaving for college. You didn't want to be tied down or some bullshit like that." I finally make eye contact with him again and it's not rejection that I see, it's pain, but I don't know what from. "What about me, Edward? I was leaving for college, too. Lord knows, I wanted to get out of this one horse town!" I spin around and look at my audience. "You guys know there's a big world out there, right? The world doesn't end at the Forks City Limits sign! It's like you people are stuck in the fucking 20th century! I had to open my motel room with a key!" I almost lose my balance and fall over, but a pair of strong hands holds me up.
"I think that's enough, Bella."
He doesn't give me a chance to say anything else, instead he manhandles me like Emmett, and throws me over his shoulder.
"Put me down! Now, Edward! I mean it!"
Ignoring my demands, he turns around and says 'goodbye' to Waylon, tossing some money onto the bar.
I kick my protest up a level and start hitting his back, but he doesn't even flinch.
"I'm taking your ass home."
"Home is thousands of miles away, Edward! Put me down or I'm going to throw up all over you!"
He sets me down in his car and closes the door. I feel my vodka and tonics coming back up. I reach for the handle to open the door, but I'm not fast enough to avoid the car. I throw up inside Edward's shiny Volvo.
I hear Edward open the driver's side door.
As I lean back into the cool leather seats, those are the last words I remember before blackness takes over.
Where the hell am I and what died in my mouth?
I roll over and try to remember where I am and why I feel so horrible.
"Oh, shit," I moan. I threw up in Edward's car.
My voice is hoarse and the events of the previous night gradually start coming back to me.
I slowly sit up and remember that I'm at the Forks Motel, Home of the Hard-ass Bed. I rotate my neck, trying to gain some mobility. There is sunlight peeking through the curtains, so I know it's at least morning. Glancing at the nightstand, I see that the clock says it's a little after 8 am. Even though I'm away from home, without kids, and hungover, I still can't sleep in.
I look down and notice that I'm still dressed, except my shoes. They are neatly placed beside the nightstand.
The last thing I remember from last night is getting sick down the side of Edward's car. That's it. I don't remember how I got back here or getting in bed.
I sit there for a few more minutes and decide I need to get out of these clothes and shower. I feel disgusting.
Standing in the shower, I think more about last night. I can't believe I said all of those things. Not that they weren't the truth, but sober Bella would have never let her guard down like that. Now I really won't know what to say if I'm face to face with Edward again this weekend, which seems inevitable. He may expect an apology or something, but I'm not sorry. I meant every word I said, including my side rant to the nice people of Forks.
When I get out of the shower and start drying off, I hear my phone in the other room. I streak across the room and answer it, catching it before it goes to voicemail.
"Good morning, Sunshine. How are you feeling?"
"Oh, hey, Rose."
"Well, that's not a very chipper response."
"Sorry, I just thought you'd be Owen and Lily, that's all."
"Nope, I'm your gorgeous best friend, who is going to be in to pick you up in less than an hour."
"I just got out of the shower, and I feel like shit, so I don't want to be picked up. Where were we going anyway?"
"I thought we'd go into Port Angeles for some lunch. Alice and Jasper should be there by the time we get there. Their flight was supposed to get into Seattle about 2 hours ago."
"Ugh. Alright. I'll be ready when you get here."
Wait. Rose asked how I was feeling, which means that she knows about last night.
"Are you really going to let me get off that easy? No harassment? Maybe the question is are you feeling OK?"
"I figured that you've paid for it enough by now."
"Well, aren't you feeling generous."
"Besides, it will be a lot more fun to harass you in person."
Of course, with that, she hangs up. I swear she forgot how to properly end a phone conversation.
As I put my phone back on the table, I see a folded piece of paper laying beside it.
It's a note with four simple words written on it: "We need to talk."
I look out the window and see Rose pull up downstairs in front of the motel. Grabbing my purse, I pull out the biggest pair of sunglasses I own, and head out the door.
After I slide in the seat, I look over at Rose and she's flawless, as usual. Her blond hair is straight as a board and she's wearing a blazer, with a pair of jeans and knee-high boots. She looks like she just stepped off the cover of an Anthropologie advertisement.
"I really hate going places with you, and I especially hate it today."
"Don't be such a sour puss. You love being with me," she says, as she backs out of the parking space. "If you hadn't stayed out causing trouble at the local bar last night, you'd feel a little more chipper this morning."
"I don't want to talk about it."
"You don't have to. Edward already told me everything," she pauses. "Unless, of course, you'd like me to hear your side of how things went down, because I got to tell you, from what Edward said, you really put on a show."
"I didn't put on a show. I just..." I take a deep breath and search for the right words, "I just got a few things off my chest."
"Well, sounds to me like you decided to air your dirty laundry."
"What does it matter, Rose? I mean, this is Forks for Pete's sake. Who really cares what those people heard. All I have to do is make it through tonight and I'll be back on a plane tomorrow. I just need to get back home, because this place obviously makes me crazy."
"I think this place makes you feel things you don't want to. I think seeing Edward makes you feel things you don't want to or that you've pushed them down so deep, that you forgot you could feel those things anymore. Don't block out love, Bella. It deserves another chance...you deserve another chance...and Edward deserves another chance."
"I do not love him, Rose! I might have at one time, but not anymore."
"You keep telling yourself that," she says, as she pats my knee.
"Don't patronize me." I'm starting to get pissed.
"You only have that high of emotions over people that you love or hate, and I don't think you hate Edward. I think you hate what Edward did, but not him."
"When did you become Dr. Phil?"
We park the car in the lot across the street from the restaurant.
"Have I mentioned how much I hate going out in public with you?"
"Oh, come on, Bella. It's not that bad. I only really have to worry about it when I'm in LA. That's one of the things I love about being here. No one ever even looks twice."
She's delusional if she thinks that no one looks twice at her.
"Emmett and I are thinking about buying a summer house out by Crescent Lake. He wants to be closer to his parents and I'd love to get away from the Hollywood scene from time to time."
We cross the street and head over to the restaurant. I spot Alice right away. She's sitting over in a corner booth, sipping on a glass of wine.
When she sees us walk in, she jumps out of her seat and meets us halfway. We all hug and squeal for a minute in the middle of the restaurant. Nothing like causing a scene.
"It's so good to see you, Al!"
"You, too, Bella! I've missed you!"
"Rose, you look beautiful. How's Hollywood?"
"Smoke and mirrors. Same as always," Rose says.
"Where's Jasper," I ask.
"Oh, he went ahead and drove on to Forks, so that he could have some male bonding time with Emmett and Edward. I told him I'd just catch a ride back with you guys."
We all sit down at the table. Fortunately, the restaurant isn't too crowded, so we didn't draw too much attention. Everyone seems to be going back to their own conversations and meals.
Our conversation is fun and light, just like it always is. Rose and Alice are my people. We may live hundreds of miles away from each other, but when we all get back together, it's like no time has passed. We can just pick right up where we left off. I wish we all lived closer to each other. I feel stronger and more confident when I'm with them.
I thought Rose would bring up Edward and the bar, but to my surprise, she hasn't said anything.
"Oh my god, are you Kimber Falls?"
All three of us look up.
"Oh, you are, aren't you? I knew it! Someone said that you're from around here, but I never believed them, because I'd never seen you. I just want to say that I am SO sorry that Luke is cheating on you. I know that you must feel awful," she gasps, and covers her mouth with her hand, "Oh my God, you know he's cheating on you, right? He's been sleeping around with that skanky whore Priscilla. I don't know how you're coping. I would be a mess. You deserve better than that!"
She pauses to catch her breath.
"Can I have your autograph?" She hands over a menu from the restaurant and a pen from her apron. "I can't believe that I get to wait on Kimber Falls!" She squeals and bounces on her toes, while Rose signs her name to the menu.
The girl takes the menu and hugs it tightly to her chest. "Thank you so much! I'll be right back to take your order!" She spins around and runs toward the kitchen.
"Oh, this isn't going to be awkward at all." I deadpan. "So much for you never getting recognized around here."
We all die laughing.
"That girl is a trip. She knows you're not really Kimber Falls, right?" Alice asks.
"Is this what we have to look forward to tonight at the reunion? Because, if people are going to be coming up to you, giving you their utmost sympathy about your pretend boyfriend cheating on you, I'm going to have to pretend I don't know you. Alice and I will just hang out at the bar and watch the show."
"Oh, good. Maybe we'll get a repeat of your performance from last night," she says, as she smiles sweetly.
"Emmett and I will be back to get you around 6:00," Rose says, as she drops me off. "Are you sure you don't want to come and get ready with me and Alice out at the Cullen's?"
"Yes, I'm sure. All of my things are here at the motel. It would just be a hassle."
"OK, then we'll see you at 6:00. Oh, and Bella?"
"Yeah," I say, peeking my head back in the car.
"You won't be able to avoid him all night."
"I can and I will," I say abruptly, shutting the door forcefully behind me. Feeling good about not letting her get the last word in, I make my way up the steps to my room.
"You're impossible," Rose shouts at me out of her open window as her and Alice drive off.
That earns her a ladylike wave with my middle finger.
I take a second look at myself in the mirror of the motel bathroom, making sure I didn't forget something important. I opted for the traditional little black dress. You just can't go wrong with black. My hair is like it always is, straight. I didn't feel like putting any extra effort into it tonight. I really just want to get this over with, so I can go home tomorrow.
My phone lights up, as a text message from Rose comes in, letting me know that they'll be here in a couple of minutes. I go ahead and grab my clutch and slip on my heels. They are my statement piece tonight, my treasured Louboutins.
It's not that I can't afford them, I just choose to spend my money more responsibly. Usually any extra money goes straight to the kids college funds. I rarely splurge on myself, but on the 5 year anniversary of mine and Jake's divorce, I went out and bought these. I just needed something to make me feel sexy and desirable. Something to remind me that I am more than a mom and an editor. Not that being Owen and Lily's mom isn't enough, it's just that my whole world revolves around them and my work, so I forget that I'm capable of anything else.
Sometimes, on Friday or Saturday nights, after the kids are in bed, I go into the living room and put Etta James on my iPod, pour myself a glass of wine, slip my Louboutins on, and just pretend. I pretend I'm not alone. I pretend that there is someone else coming home. I don't ever really imagine it being Jake or anyone in particular, just someone. It's my own fault. I've created the world I live in. I wanted it to be this way. There's less chance for heartache, when you don't let anyone in. So, it feels good to have a place to wear these shoes tonight, even if it is the Forks High School gymnasium.
"Well, Bella Swan," Jessica says in a sugary sweet voice, "or is it Black? I forget." She is sitting behind a table full of name badges, giving me her disgusting fake smile. I'd like to poke her eyes out.
"It's Swan...and is it Stanley or Newton? I forget." I give her a fake smile back. I know that she and Mike got a divorce...twice, but she deserves to have her shit handed back to her.
"Neither," Jessica replies, her tone turning hateful. She holds up her left hand, flashing a small diamond on her left finger. "Tyler and I got married two months ago," she says, as her right hand goes to her round belly that I hadn't noticed behind the table.
"I thought Tyler was married to Lauren," I ask, confused.
"Were. They were married. Not anymore."
She doesn't offer up any more information. I'm sure I don't want to know anyway. I swear this damn town could be on one of those soap operas like Rose is in.
"Oh, well, I guess congratulations are in order, on more than one account," I say, looking down at her belly.
"Yes, we are very happy."
I grab my name badge and put it in my purse. I have to smile to myself, as I walk off. It's always good to know that the school bitch has been divorced twice and is fat and pregnant.
Taking a deep breath, I look for some sign of a bar or alcohol. I need an elixir, if I'm going to make it through the night.
"Hey, let's grab a table," Rose says, walking up behind me.
"I need a bar."
"Emmett, could you get us a drink while we find somewhere to sit?" Rose asks, when we pass by Emmett and a few of the guys we graduated with. They all turn to look at Rose. I think a couple of them need to roll their tongues back up before Emmett catches them with them hanging out. If it's one thing Emmett is good at, it's keeping people in check when it comes to "his Rosie". Just one of the many things I love about him.
As we sit down, I see Alice and Jasper coming through the door. There is a DJ playing music, but no one is on the dance floor. Most people are just standing around in little groups, similar to the ones they hung out with ten years ago.
"I really hope they don't do any of those cheesy awards, like they did at Emmett's reunion last year. That was seriously embarrassing," Rose says, sitting down beside me.
"Awards? What kind of awards?"
"Oh, you know like Most Successful, Most Famous, Most Improved."
"Oh, God, so this night could get worse? Is that what you're telling me?"
She laughs. "Come on, Bella. It's all in good fun. Just think, you won't have to do this for another 10 years."
Emmett shows up with our drinks and I am very appreciative. Just a couple sips of my vodka and tonic, and I feel instantly more relaxed. I'm surprised I can even drink them after the other night, but it seems to be going down just fine. I'll be sure to stick to my two drink limit.
Before long, the entire gymnasium is full of Forks High School graduates from 2002. I have to confess that it is nice seeing some of the more friendlier faces. I chatted with Angela and Eric for a while. They've been married for almost 8 years now and they are just as cute as they were in high school. They live in Port Angeles and Eric has a photography business. Angela stays at home with their three kids, but she said that she still likes to help Eric when he shoots weddings and events. We all went to school together at U-Dub, until I got pregnant with Owen.
I don't think about that phase of my life much. It's kind of depressing...too many 'what ifs' and missed opportunities. I had my whole life ahead of me when I got there. In two short years, I met Jake and got pregnant. He wanted to move to the east coast and I had no choice except to move with him. There was no way that I could raise a baby by myself.
So, I moved to upstate New York, thousands of miles away from my friends and family. It was probably the loneliest I had felt in my whole life. Well, until Owen was born. I've never felt lonely since. Lily came along 2 years later, while I was trying to finish up my degree at a community college. That was the second time I dropped out of college. I finally finished up my degree six months after Jake left. I knew I didn't have any other choice. It was sink or swim.
"Wanna dance?" Emmett breaks me out of my deep thoughts.
"I can't dance, Emmett. You know that."
"Come on, Bella! Be a sport."
"What is wrong with your wife?" I ask, looking around for Rose.
"She went to get something to drink and this is my favorite song!"
"You're going to regret this," I say, getting out of my seat and making my way to the dance floor with Emmett.
"Just follow my lead. There's nothing to it," he says, as he takes my hand and we begin to step in time with the music.
"So, are you really going to let the night go by without at least talking to Edward?"
"I knew you had an ulterior motive."
"No, I'm just multi-tasking."
"You're such a bad liar!"
I lean my head against his chest.
"Why can't you guys just accept that Edward and I might never be friends. I hate that you spend so much time worrying about the two of us. Some things are just not meant to be. I came to that realization a long time ago. You should, too."
We dance in silence for a minute. I feel Emmett's big chest rise and fall, as he takes a deep breath.
"I won't ever give up on you being happy, Bells. I'm sorry for hounding you about Edward, but I'm not sorry for wanting what's best for you."
The song ends and Emmett and I go back to our table, where Rose, Alice, Jasper, and Edward are having, what looks like, an in depth conversation. I feel like we're interrupting.
"Well, Alice. I think it's time we go show these people how it's done," Jasper says, holding his hand out for her to take.
"Rose, would you like to dance?" Emmett asks.
I give Rose a desperate, wide-eye look, begging her not to leave me alone at the table with Edward.
"Well, I haven't had a chance to dance with my favorite brother-in-law tonight," Rose says, turning to look at Edward. "Wanna dance?"
"No, I'd like to talk to Bella, if that's alright with her."
Emmett clears his throat from behind me. I feel my cheeks flush. I don't know if it's from embarrassment or anger, but I hate it, because it's a dead giveaway of one of those emotions. It's almost as bad as the traitorous tears that fall when I'm mad.
"It's fine," I say, giving Rose a small smile, as she gets up and makes her way to the dance floor with Emmett.
Edward is sitting across from me at the table, fidgeting with his napkin.
"Do you want to go outside or maybe take a walk down the hall?"
"Sure." I get up from my seat and push it in. Edward does the same and we make our way to the exit. It's a little chilly outside, so I opt for the walk down the hallway.
We walk for a few moments without either of us saying a word. My shoes click on the tile floor and Edward breathes deeply a few times, but other than that, there's silence.
"Can we stop here?" Edward asks, as we get about halfway down the hall.
I turn and lean against the brick wall. He stands a few feet away from me. I can tell he's nervous, due to him running his hand through his hair a few times. He crosses his arms and stands there with his feet shoulder width apart, looking at the floor.
He looks so handsome, more than handsome, he's sexy. He's the Edward I've always known, just older. Tonight, he's wearing a tailored suit. It's navy blue and he has a crisp white button-up shirt, with a matching tie. When his sleeve pulls up, I can see a two-toned watch on his arm. I remember when I was little, I always loved my dad's watch. To me, it was what grown-ups wore. It was a sign of maturity.
I don't know why I even noticed it, but now I'm fixated on it. It's hard for me to think about 28 year old Edward. In my mind, we're frozen on prom night. All the times I've thought about him over the years, I've always pictured the same 18 year old who broke my heart.
Standing here, looking at the watch, I realize that he's no longer the teenage boy he once was. He's a man. It makes me sad, in a way. It makes me wonder what I missed these last 10 years.
My head pops up at the sound of his words. Our eyes meet, and I see a mixture of emotions in his. I don't know what to say, so I remain quiet, and lean into the wall for support.
"I'm really sorry, Bella. I had no idea about prom night. Emmett never told me. He just always said that if I wanted to know why you hated me, I had to ask you myself. I'm sorry I waited so long. I always intended on talking to you, but after so many years, it got harder and harder. It was easier to avoid occasions where I had the chance of running into you. I just didn't know what to say or if you wanted me to say anything at all. But you have to know that I had no idea you were in there that night. The last thing I would have ever wanted to do was hurt you in any way."
"Why did you stop seeing me? What was wrong with me?" I ask, in a quiet voice.
Edward's demeanor changes and his voice raises. "Nothing is wrong with you, Bella. Nothing was wrong with you. You are perfect."
I laugh, but there is no humor in it. "Really? So, is that why you made out with all the other girls and never even gave me a second look after we dated over the summer? Because I was perfect? You'll have to forgive me, if I don't believe you, Edward. I was there. I saw everything. It would have been so much easier, if you could have just told me we were over and that we didn't have a chance. Honesty is always the best policy."
Edward drops his head and runs both hands through his hair out of frustration.
"I'm sorry, Bella. I was young and stupid. I thought I was doing the right thing by not getting too serious with you. Over that summer, I fell for you. I fell so hard. It scared me. I'd never thought about a girl like that before. It was so weird, because when I was with you, I could see my future. I could see being married and all that shit that freaks you the hell out when you're 18! I knew that you weren't the kind of girl that deserved to be fucked on prom night and left the next day! You were the kind of girl that deserved to be loved and treated with the utmost respect," he says, with a pained expression on his face. "You were the kind of girl a boy wants to marry, not screw around with for a couple of weeks. I thought I was protecting you. I thought I was doing what was right."
I'm just standing there, staring at him. My mind is reeling from everything he just said. He had fallen for me. He thought that he could see himself married to me. I feel tears pool in my eyes, threatening to spill over.
"I loved you." The words fall out of my mouth.
"I know. Well, I didn't really know, until last night at the bar. But I think I knew all along."
"I loved you for a long time, even after prom night."
"Don't be sorry, Edward. I mean, you should be sorry about some of it, but don't be sorry about me loving you. I had never loved anybody before, not like that. Every person should experience that kind of love at least once in their life."
A tear slides down my cheek.
He walks closer to me and reaches up to brush it away, but I stop him. "Please don't do that. You don't have to feel sorry for me. I'm fine," I say, wiping the tear off my cheek. "I'm sure that Emmett or Rose put you up to this. They are so adamant about us making up or whatever, but don't feel like you have to."
"Don't be so stubborn, Bella! I'm not doing any of this because Rose or Emmett told me to or asked me to. I'm saying I'm sorry, because I truly am. I don't know what to say or do for you to believe me!" He pauses, and takes another step closer. I can feel his body heat. "I have so many regrets, Bella, but I don't regret having you in my life. I only regret letting you go."
Leaning his head in, he places a soft kiss on my cheek where more tears have fallen.
"Please don't cry," he whispers in my ear, "I don't want you to be sad anymore." He wraps his arms around my shoulders and pulls me into his chest. I can't remember the last time I felt this safe, this comforted. The floodgates open and before I know it, I'm sobbing. The past comes crashing down on me, and I remember how good it feels to be in Edward's embrace.
"Do you want to get out of here?"
Being in this close of confinement with Edward is different and surreal. My head is spinning from the conversation that we had in the hallway and my body is tingling from his touch.
We pull out of the school and Edward heads back to the main road. He sits at the stop sign longer than normal and finally asks, "Where do you want to go?"
I don't know what to say. I know I should go back to the motel. All of my things are there and I need to leave Forks by 10:00 am tomorrow. I want to tell him that I want to go wherever he's going. I'm not ready for this reunion to be over. Who knows what will happen after tonight.
"I guess I should go back to the motel." My voice sounds shaky and unsure.
"What do you want, Bella? I didn't ask where you should go, I asked where you want to go."
I swallow hard, feeling my body respond to the words coming off his lips. I'm not sure what I want, but I know that for tonight, it involves Edward.
"I'm leaving tomorrow."
"You didn't answer my question."
"I'm not ready for this to be over. I'm afraid that after tonight, things will just go back to how they've been. I'm not ready to say 'goodbye'."
He turns left and heads toward the motel. We pull into the parking lot and I direct him to my room. He pulls the car into a parking space and turns off the ignition. We both just sit there, in the darkness.
"I have no idea what you're thinking, so you're going to have to tell me. All I know is that I don't want to have anymore regrets when it comes to you. I don't want to wake up in the morning wishing I had done something different," he says, turning in his seat to face me. "We don't have to do anything you don't want to, Bella. We can just talk, get to know each other again.
I don't know what to say. I want to say 'yes' to everything and anything. I want him. I've always wanted him. But saying 'yes' to tonight, could be saying 'yes' to a lifetime worth of heartache. If we do more than talk and it is only a onetime event, I may never recover.
"I need to know if you...would you..."
"Just say it, Bella. Anything, whatever you want."
"If we go up to my room...is this...I don't do this, Edward. I don't just take guys to a motel room. I don't do anything. I don't kiss them or date them. I haven't been with anybody since Jake left." There is panic in my voice and I feel like I'm on the verge of tears again. Edward leans forward and puts his hand up to my cheek, lightly stroking my skin.
"Calm down, OK? It's alright. I know you, Bella. I know that you don't do stuff like this. I don't either and I don't have any expectations. I know you probably think I've lived the last 10 years of my life as a player or a womanizer, but I'm not like that. This can be whatever you want it to be. We can play it by ear. I just want to be with you."
I lean forward, close enough that our lips are just about touching. I would ask him to kiss me, but I'm afraid to say anything. He brushes his nose against mine, and gently kisses the side of my mouth. I feel that one small kiss all the way down in the pit of my stomach. He places another soft kiss on the other side of my mouth, and then my chin, and my neck. I can't take it, I need more. My mouth finds his and the kiss instantly intensifies. I remember kissing Edward. I know how many times and what each one of them were like, and none of them were like this. I feel like I'm going to crawl out of my own skin. I want to be as close to him as humanly possible.
"I want to go upstairs!" My declaration sounds loud in the quiet car, but I don't care. I finally know what I want.
Edward backs away, panting. He takes the keys out of the ignition and we quickly get out of the car. I fumble with the ridiculous key when we get to the door until he finally takes it from me and opens it on the first try.
When we are finally inside, and the door is securely closed behind us, I freeze and panic.
What the hell am I doing? This isn't me. What if I've forgotten how to do any of this stuff?
"Don't over think this, Bella."
He places both hands against the door, on either side of me. "Just tell me what you want."
I whimper at his words. "I just want you, Edward. I've always wanted you."
With that, his lips are on mine and his hands cup my ass, lifting me up. I instinctively wrap my legs around him, as he pushes me up against the door, putting pressure in all the right places.
I feel my body heat up from what little friction he's giving. It's been too long.
I want more. I want to feel more.
I kiss him back, like I'm not scared at all and with just as much fervor, along his jaw, to his neck.
He pulls his head back, so that we are looking eye-to-eye. "Is this OK? Do we need..."
"I'm good," I say, breathlessly. Tugging on his hair, I pull him back to me, silently thanking God for irregular periods.
Edward pulls me away from the door and walks toward the bed. Slowly, he lets go of me and I stand in front of him, but I don't let go. I feel like if I take my hands off of him, he'll be gone, just a figment of my imagination.
"You're so beautiful, Bella. I always thought you were, but seeing you now, you're more beautiful that I ever remember." He places light, feathery kisses on my shoulder, and down my arm, leaving my skin blazing wherever his lips touch. I close my eyes and just soak in the moment.
His hands move up my back and find the zipper at the top of my dress. I open my eyes when I feel him begin to slowly unzip. He's looking at me intently, like he's gauging my reaction. I want this. I want him. I may regret it tomorrow, but for tonight, I want to be with him. So, I hold his gaze, without faltering.
When my dress is completely unzipped, he pulls the fabric off my shoulders, allowing it to fall to the floor. His hands roam my body, feeling me, touching me. I just stand there as he strokes and kisses every inch of my exposed skin.
A sense of urgency hits me. So, I move my hands up to his tie and begin to unknot it, loosening it from around his neck. I need him undressed. I want to see him, touch him. My hands are shaky, as I unbutton his shirt, a bit from nervousness, but mostly from anticipation.
"I need you, Edward. Please."
My requests don't go unanswered. He quickly removes his suit jacket and unbuttoned shirt. His hands go to his belt buckle, loosening the leather strap, and then unbuttoning his slacks. They fall to the floor, where my dress is lying in a pile, and there before me is the most beautiful man I've ever seen. I mean, I haven't seen a lot, but I can't imagine anything more stunning than Edward in the flesh. He's perfection.
He grasps my chin and brings my head back up, looking deeply into my eyes. He walks me closer to the bed, until my knees bump up against it. With his hand on my back, he guides me, until I'm lying down and he's hovering over me.
I feel my way up his arms, from his strong forearms to his biceps, and he feels amazing. He begins to kiss my neck and down my chest. Supporting himself on one arm, he uses his free hand to slide my bra straps down my arm and unfasten the hooks, freeing my breasts. Cupping one in his palm, he bends down and kisses the skin around my nipple, making it pucker. I feel the warmth as he takes it into his mouth, sucking and swirling his tongue. My hips come up off the bed on their own accord, searching for contact. I run my hands up the nape of his neck, grasping his hair. Even though I'm lying on the bed, I feel like I could fall at any moment.
His hand glides across my stomach and he stops when he reaches my edge of my panties, pausing, waiting for me to object, but I don't. I don't object to anything, but him stopping. I need to feel him, all of him. He slides one finger under the fabric of my silk panties, running it from hip to hip. Finally, he moves lower, where I need him the most. He dips his middle finger down and runs it across my clit. I move my hips, encouraging him to keep going.
"Are you ready for me? Do you want me inside you, Bella?"
I nod my response. I don't want anything else at this moment.
Edward stands up and removes his boxer briefs. His cock is hard and beautiful and perfect, just like him. I lick my lips and bite down, letting a moan escape my mouth. He hooks two fingers around my panties and pulls them off, tossing them over his shoulder. Kneeling back on the bed, he settles himself between my legs, spreading them open.
He runs two of his fingers between my folds and slowly inserts them. After sliding them in and back out, he rubs my wetness on his cock. When he leans forward, he is so close to where I need him to be. He kisses my lips gently and I open my mouth, giving him access. My hips buck and I feel him, teasing, until he finally pushes in. There is tightness and a slight burning sensation, as my body makes room for him, but it feels incredible.
"Oh, God, Bella. You feel so good," he pants into my mouth.
Our rhythm is slow at first. He thrusts deeply, filling me, and then he gradually pulls back out. I wrap my arms around his broad shoulders and my legs around his waist, feeling like I can't get close enough.
"So...good...Edward." My words come out in short bursts.
He buries his head into my neck, and I feel the sweat on his forehead. His back muscles feel tight against my arms. His thrusts are faster, and I feel every inch of him, hitting me in places I didn't know existed.
He raises up, holding himself above me, angling his hips in a different direction. I'm so close and I feel the coiling in my stomach, as my muscles begin to quiver.
He drops his head down and whispers into my ear. "Can you come for me, baby?" His hand slides in between us and puts pressure on my clit. A few seconds later, I'm coming undone. He pushes into me a few more times and I feel his motions become tense. Filling me, he begins to reverently chant my name over and over. His pace slows and he places soft, sweet kisses on my cheeks and neck.
Scooping me up into his arms, he rolls over onto his back. I feel the rise and fall of his chest, as his breathing goes back to normal.
There is complete silence. It's like we both are searching for the right words to say, but neither of us say anything at all. We just lay there wrapped around each other.
Edward begins to stroke my hair and I feel myself drifting off.
As I wake up from one of the hardest sleeps I've had in a long time, I feel weighted down and hot. I realize when I have to pull my arm from the cocoon I'm in, that it's Edward. His arms are holding me tightly and his naked body is molded around mine.
I move my body a little, trying to get out of bed without waking him. He moves behind me, and loosens his grip. I slide the rest of the way out and run to the bathroom. I don't know why, but this morning, I feel exposed and vulnerable.
"Bella," Edwards says softly, just as I make it to the bathroom door.
I turn around and see that he's still sleeping, or at least it appears so. His face is exquisite in the early morning sun that is barely lighting the room. I see him move and I don't want to get caught, so I go ahead and slip into the bathroom.
As I shower, I realize my body is sore in all the right places. I get a lump in my throat thinking that last night was probably a onetime event. I don't know if I can go back to feeling nothing and being alone. I don't know if I can go back to how it was before I knew what it felt like to make love to Edward. I don't regret what happened last night, though. If nothing else, it is something I'll carry with me the rest of my life.
I quickly get out and dry off, wrapping the towel around me, I crack open the bathroom door. Edward is standing with his back to me. He's only wearing his slacks and they are sitting low on his hips. I bite my lip and breathe deeply, willing myself to not think about last night and the way he made me feel.
"Good morning," his voice is smooth and low.
"Good morning. I, uh, didn't mean to wake you."
"You didn't. I can't sleep past 8:00am, even if I try. It's like my body is set to an internal alarm clock."
"Me, too. I probably could have slept a little longer this morning, but I don't want to be late to the airport."
"Oh, that's right. What time is your flight?"
"I need to be there by 2:00pm. So, I figured that I need to leave Forks no later than 10:00."
"Were you planning on Rose taking you?"
"Uh, I guess. I didn't have a chance to talk to her last night before we left."
"Would you mind if I drive you?"
My heart is beating fast. I don't know what I think could happen between here and Seattle, but I can't control my body's reaction. I should just insist for Rose to drive me. That would be the easy way. I wouldn't have to say 'goodbye'. I've always thought that airport goodbyes are the saddest goodbyes.
His face goes blank, as he hides his emotions. "OK, I'm sorry. I'm sure you'd rather have..."
"No, I mean, I don't mind. I'd like you to drive me, if you want to."
A smile creeps up on his lips. "I want to."
Before we left town, Edward drove me out to the Cullen's, so I could say goodbye to everyone. Esme had made some muffins and coffee, for which I was grateful, because I was starving. Rose and Alice both gave me suspicious looks the entire time we were there, but thankfully neither of them said a word.
When I was hugging them, right before we left, they both whispered that I was to call them the minute I was checked into the airport and could talk. I'm not necessarily looking forward to those conversations. Maybe I can get them on the phone together, so I will only have to replay the evening once.
It still feels really weird to be in the car with Edward, even after last night. If he wasn't sitting next to me right now, I'd be questioning whether last night was a dream. It all seems so surreal.
"I'm sure Owen and Lily will be happy to have you home," he says, as we make our way down the 101.
"Yeah, this is the longest I've been away from them, but they seem to be doing great. Owen hardly has time to talk to me when I call," I laugh.
"They seem like really great kids."
"Thanks. They're wonderful...and ornery, and mischievous, and stubborn..."
He chuckles, "See, great kids."
I want to ask him so many questions, but I'm afraid to. Does he want kids? Has he thought about being married? Maybe he's been engaged? There are so many things that I don't know about him, because I've chose not to know. No one ever offers up information about Edward. After so many years, they've become accustomed to leaving him out of our conversations.
"Do you like living in New York?"
"I like living in the city. I'm not sure that I could ever live in a small town like Forks again. I'm so used to the conveniences of city life, but I'm not crazy about New York, though. Granted it's close to my job, but I could technically work from anywhere. I would rather be closer to everyone else. For the city that never sleeps, it feels lonely sometimes."
He looks over at me quickly, and then focuses back on the road. After a minute or so, I feel a hand rest on my leg. I place my hand over his, interlacing our fingers.
"Do you like Seattle?"
"Yeah, it's a great city."
We just hold hands for a while and watch the trees go by. I look out my window and try imagining what it would be like if Edward and I lived in the same city.
When we pass signs letting us know we're close to Seattle, I start to feel anxious. I'm not ready for this to end. I'm not sure what I want to happen, I just know that this feels right.
Edward maneuvers his way to the airport with ease. I can tell that this is familiar territory for him. Instead of taking the exit to drop me off, he chooses the short-term parking lot. I'm relieved, even if it is for just a few more extra minutes of time with him.
"Can I carry your bag for you? I just want to make sure that you get your boarding pass and don't have any delays."
As we make our way through the parking garage, it feels weird to have someone do something as simple as carry my bag. I haven't had anyone help me with anything in so long, except for Irina. Other than that, I'm the responsible one. I carry the load.
I get my boarding pass and make sure that my flight is on time. Edward and I walk over toward the security check line, and we both just stand there, knowing that we have to say goodbye.
We both start to speak at the same time.
"You first," I tell him, wanting to hear what he has to say.
"I hate goodbyes."
"Me, too, and airport goodbyes are the worst," I tell him.
"Can we just say that we'll talk soon?"
"Yeah, that's good." I want to say so much more. I wish I was the kind person that can go out on a limb and risk all their emotions, but I can't force the words to come out of my mouth.
"I can get your number from Rose or Emmett."
"OK. I can do the same, if I need to, or I'll just wait for your call."
"I will call, Bella."
I feel my throat tighten. Is that it? He'll call me?
He slips a hand around my waist, pulling me into him. He breathes into my neck. I wrap my arms tighter around him, not ready to let him go. The kiss that he gives me takes my breath away. It's full of passion and desperation, full of all the words we can't manage to say.
We both pull away, knowing that we can't stay like that forever. I'll miss my flight.
"This isn't goodbye," he says, leaning his forehead into mine.
I finally pull myself away from him and take my bag. I can't stay any longer, or I'll never leave. So, I walk quickly to the security gate, only turning around when I am standing in line. He's still in the same spot, with his hands in his pockets, just standing there staring at me.
After I put all of my things into the bin to go through the scanner, I take another glance back and wave, turning back around quickly so that he won't see the tears that are running down my cheeks. I brush them away, and walk through the checkpoint.
When I finally get to the terminal, I think about calling Rose and Alice, but I know they'll want to talk about last night and I can't, not right now. So, I just sit and think about Edward and how he looked standing there with his hands in his pockets.
I make a quick call to the kids before I get on the plane. Lily tells me that I sound sad. I just tell her that I'm missing her and I can't wait to get home, which is the truth.
The trip home is longer than normal, because I have a couple of layovers. I feel like I'm in a haze, as I go from one plane to another. I just want to get home.
I look at my watch as I get off the plane at JFK. It's after midnight and I'm even sadder than I was nine hours ago. I realize that the kids will be asleep, so I'll have to wait to see them in the morning. I check my phone and there are no missed calls, no missed text messages.
As I walk through the exit, something ahead catches my eye. I see a man in a blue t-shirt, with a gold Spartan on the front. I would recognize that t-shirt anywhere.
There's no way. This sort of thing just doesn't happen to me.
I stop in the middle of the walkway, as people push to get around me, but my feet just won't move.
Edward starts walking towards me, making up the distance quickly. I let my bag drop off my shoulder onto the floor and I wrap myself around him, breathing him in.
"How do you feel about airport hellos?"
"I think they're the best."
"I was hoping you'd say that."
"How did you...why..."
He puts me back on my feet, kissing me good and hard. "I remembered you talking about your layovers, so I pulled some strings and got on the direct flight."
"But why? I don't understand."
"I told you, Bella, I don't want to have any more regrets with you. I couldn't just let you go, without knowing when I was going to see you again. I should have said more, I should have let you know how I feel about you. I shouldn't have just let you get on that plane wondering if you would ever see me again. I love you, Bella. I've loved you since our second date and I've never stopped. I don't ever want you to feel lonely again. I don't know what that means for us, or how we're going to work this out, but we will make it work. As long as that's what you want."
I wrap my arms around his neck and kiss the hell out of him.
"That's what I want. I want all of you, Edward. I want whatever you'll give me."
"How about we start with forever."