Creative Original or Derivative Fiction: Derivative
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Prompt: Word Prompt: Bow
That evening, Edward sat with Kate in his living room and his leg was bouncing with anxiety. She seemed to have gotten upset when he'd first blurted out those words at his desk, and they hadn't spoken much since. He texted her after work to ask her to come over to his place to talk, and she still appeared hesitant to begin the conversation, so he knew he'd need to.
"Kate, I've never broken my word with you in the twenty-odd years we've known each other. But you have to know that eventually, I would have needed to bow out of this, right? Even without Bella being a factor, it was flawed, and as much as would have wanted to go through with it for you, I can't be certain that I would have been able to. But with her?" Edward paused, shaking his head before glancing over to her. "She's all I've wanted for two years, Kate. You have other solutions to the situation you're in. Maybe not as you would like or imagined, but they are there, and with the same end result, except maybe the money. I can't sacrifice Bella, even if she doesn't want me anymore because I took too fucking long. I still need to take the chance. I love her. Can't you understand that?"
Kate looked down at her hands, where they were wringing in her lap and nodded. "I can't say that I didn't see this coming at all. Especially after watching the two of you today. You couldn't keep your eyes off her more than usual and she ran into her office the moment she saw me at your desk. Doesn't seem to me that she doesn't want you anymore if she can't stand the sight of another woman anywhere near you. And you've never been as distant with me as you were the whole time you were away, either. I knew something was going on."
"And now you can't even look at me?" Edward inquired, his jaw tensing as he leaned back into the couch. "You know I'd do just about anything for you, Kate. And I'm sorry, but this is just too much. For everyone. Not just for you and me, but Bella and Irina, too."
"I know that. I need to stop taking the easy way out of everything, right? You don't need to be so delicate with me, Edward," Kate replied, finally turning her head to look at him. "You stand to lose much more than I ever could. I knew that after one conversation with Bella. I couldn't see what you did before, what held your attention all this time. But she is everything you ever said she was, and then some. So why are you apologizing to me?"
"Because the last thing I ever wanted to do was hurt you. And I've never made a promise to you that I couldn't keep," Edward answered with a heavy sigh. "But Bella … she means so much to me, and I've hurt her in the worst way I possibly could. And for what? Neither of us should have agreed to this in the first place. Irina wasn't happy about it from the beginning, either."
"No, she wasn't. I just wanted to give her a baby so badly," Kate replied as she folded her arms around herself.
"And you still can. There are other ways. Find a doctor that does take payments for the treatments. Or tell your family and try getting pregnant yourself. You don't need me or the inheritance for that. No matter what, you still have someone who loves you unconditionally, with or without any of those things," Edward said, turning to face her more directly. "I want you to be happy, Kate. But this isn't the answer."
Kate's hands balled on either side of her and she shook her head. "Stop trying to justify yourself to me. Quit thinking about what would make me happy, or even Bella, for a moment. What do you want, Edward?"
Edward sighed and rested his arm on the back of the couch, propping his head on his hand and giving the only answer he had. "Her. I want Bella. She's everything I want."
"Then tell Bella that, and don't worry about me," Kate replied, sliding the diamond ring off her finger and setting it on the coffee table in front of them. "I know you think I'm spoiled and selfish, even if you'd never say it to me. Because you care about me and you've shown that in more ways than I can count in all the years we've known each other, above and beyond the normal call of duty for a friend. And I love you, Edward. I hope you still believe that. But so does Bella, and what I saw in her isn't something that would disappear in the matter of days, or even weeks. She needs to know she's that important to you. And you deserve to be happy, too. What are you waiting for? You have no more excuses now."
"I needed to do this first. I can't go to her, with her believing I'm engaged, and have her think that I'm only doing it because I still have a backup plan in place if she says no. I need to do something right by her," Edward said, rubbing his palm across his forehead. "I'll talk to her tomorrow."
"Good. And it's about time," Kate answered, leaning over to hug him gently. "And thank you, for everything you've ever done for me. But the situation with my family is mine to handle, not yours. So don't even think about feeling guilty about that, got it?"
"Got it," Edward replied with a weak smile. "And I love you, too, by the way."
Kate stood and pressed her lips to the top of his head before releasing his hand. "Now get some fucking sleep so you're not completely delirious when you do talk to her."