Challenge Number/Title: #9 – Finish It With…
Date Posted: April 15, 2013
Genre: AH, AU
Content Descriptors: Angst, Drama, Mystery, Romance, Violence
Character Pairing: Edward/Bella
Prompt: You must include and finish this sentence somewhere in your entry: "You only live once, but _"
The past is what you remember, imagine you remember, convince yourself you remember, or pretend you remember. -Unknown
It's a common mistake people make when they say that their lives flash before their eyes moments before death. For one, how could anyone possibly know what happens before death and be able to pass the information along? Near-death experiences are just that, near death but not dead. People who died for a few minutes and came back to life - did that still count? Because to be dead is to never wake up. Ever again.
Bella had only a few seconds to wonder before reality set in, and instead of seeing her life, she saw only her daughter, Katie. But not as she was in the present. Instead, Bella found her mind reeling backward to the first time the two Swan women met face-to-face.
Sweaty and exhausted beyond belief, Bella would never forget how alive she felt the moment Katie's sobbing, wiggly body was placed against her heaving chest. She could remember feeling rejuvenated the instant they touched. She could remember the feel of Katie's trembling body as she screamed loudly under the bright lights in the delivery room. The image of Katie's red face was burned into Bella's mind forever, because when the little baby girl opened her eyes, Isabella Swan found her ultimate purpose. She remembered the words her father used to say to her when being a mother was most difficult. "You only live once, but it's up to you what you do with it."
So right then, as she stood in the smoke-filled bar, staring down the barrel of a newly-polished silver handgun, the only thing Bella saw was the moment she gave life instead of a kaleidoscope of her own vengeful past. When she heard the safety give way with a resounding click, she swore she could see her own heart's rapid beating from the outside of her chest.
"You know," a rough grunt pushed past her aggressor's full lips. "I asked myself so many times what I would do the next time I saw your face."
She gulped, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath.
"What? No witty comment?" he snickered just before thrusting the gun under her chin and pressing hard enough to make her grit her teeth in pain. "Come on, little girl." His nose slipped up the side of her face so that his lips settled at her ear. "Make me laugh."
But there was nothing funny about their situation.
Two hours earlier…
Edward would never admit it out loud, but Bella's driving scared the ever-loving shit out of him. Her wild driving had escalated tremendously since high school. She cut corners, weaved through traffic, sped up when she should have slowed down, and had some sort of unnatural fascination with engaging in races with fast cars.
He thanked God they were in a rental and not his own precious Audi back in New York, as he groaned into his window after taking a deep breath. "How much farther until we're at this bar Alice supposedly worked at?"
"Not much. I've been there once before."
His interest peaked, and he twisted to see her face. "Have you?"
She shrugged without looking away from the road.
"A case?" His brow lifted with his question.
Bella could only nod and an obvious tension formed in her posture.
"Would you like to elaborate?" He pushed.
"No, I would not. It was a long time ago and has no relevance to our purpose today." She flicked her hair over a shoulder. "When we get there, don't say anything. Let me do all the talking."
He fought to pull in his anger, hands fisted down at his sides, while he counted to ten on the inside. Three times.
"Could you maybe slow it down some? I'd like to keep my lunch inside, thank you very much." Edward found himself growling through gritted teeth.
"Don't be such a baby!" Bella rolled her eyes and purposely hit the gas to weave through traffic in order to make a yellow light. "I bet you still can't handle the little carnival rollercoasters, can you?" she snickered.
"That has nothing to do with it, Isabella. Your reckless driving concerns me in regard to our daughter," he hissed through gritted teeth and held onto his stomach.
"She is not our daughter," he thought he heard her mumble to herself as they sped down the highway.
"What are you mumbling over there?" he growled and rubbed his hands over his haggard face. Sleep had escaped him for yet another night, but being under the same roof as Bella had at least given him the most hours of uninterrupted sleep he'd had in weeks.
"I don't like to hear you refer to my daughter as ours." Her eyes remained forward, hands still gripping the wheel. "I've been the one who was both mother and father for almost seven years now, Edward." She paused and hit her blinker for the next exit. "So when you say things like that and act like you've been there all along…" She took a deep calming breath. "Your sudden reappearance is not easy for me, Edward. I spent a really long time under the impression that you didn't want her."
"Listen, Bella, I need you to understand one thing. I'm not going anywhere now that I know about Kate. I'm going to be a part of her life for the rest of mine, and you're just going to have to accept that," he said in the calmest tone he could muster considering the untamed hellion beside him. "I'll take care to consider your feelings and hope you'll to do the same for mine." His eyes bore into the side of her face.
"Your feelings!" she snorted, mumbling sarcastically to herself while running a hand through her hair to break his gaze.
"I'm trying here, Bella," he begged. "This isn't going to work if you don't try, too."
"Hold on." She rolled her eyes and pulled into the back of the parking lot at a nearby McDonalds. "You want me to try, huh?" she scoffed as she turned off the car and turned in her seat, her whole body facing him.
At his nodded response, she continued. "Well, I don't feel like you're trying at all! I feel like you're doing what you always do, Edward. You swoop in and try to take control of everything."
His fingernails dug deeper into his palms, anticipating the moment they sliced his flesh so that he could focus on anything but her. Yet it was pointless, because he watched her skin flush with a sickening fascination. Even though the blush was from anger and not lust, the very fact that he was the one to have caused that sweet ambrosia tint to snake up her collar to her cheeks… He closed his eyes and took a cavernous breath to calm himself.
"That's not what I'm doing," he said as calmly as his rising temper would allow.
Her head tilted, hair sliding down her shoulder and framing her face delicately. "Really, Edward?" she challenged him.
His eyes narrowed skeptically.
She shook her head. "So you haven't been following me around like a bodyguard?"
"No," he lied.
"Or judging my every move?" she shot back.
"Or questioning my parenting since the very moment you found out about Kate?"
He sighed. "Bella, I—"
"Just shut up, Edward," she stopped him. "Just… Shut. Up." Her eyes closed as her head bowed in disappointment.
He really fucking hated the thin line between hot and cold he teetered on whenever he was with her. One second, he wanted to curl his hands around her throat and squeeze until that luscious mouth of hers fell open with her last breath. But at the same time, he also wanted to suck on those ruby lips while hammering in and out of her until she screamed and clawed at his back as he emptied himself inside her.
What the fuck was wrong with him?
He'd had six - nearly seven - years to get over this girl! This woman. This… mother of his fucking bastard child.
"Fuck!" he shouted out into the car, causing Bella to jump in her seat and stare at him with wide eyes.
"What is your problem?" she snapped.
"Why is it so fucking hard to be around you?" he asked as if she would answer him. He gave her no chance to before her began to speak again. "My sister could be dead, and all I can think about is either killing you or fucking you! Seriously, what is wrong with me?" His fingers dove into his hair and yanked at the roots violently. "What kind of man does that make me? What kind of… father? Shit, I'm a father! I still can't even process that! You have no idea how all of this makes me feel!"
She pushed back from the wheel, hugging her arms around herself tightly as she stared outside her window. "I'm sorry, but right now, I can't find enough shits to give about how you feel, Edward."
"Excuse me?" he replied stunned.
"We can't work together under these conditions. There's too much history between us, too much we have to deal with." She shook her head while rubbing her face in frustration.
Edward pulled her hands down and away from her face. "Then let's deal with it and move on," he demanded impatiently.
"Oh," she rolled her eyes dramatically. "Because it's that simple!"
He took a moment to find patience and then took her hands again. "I know you resent the fact that I didn't believe what you said about Royce," he started to say, fingers tightening around hers when she began to pull away. "I'm still trying to understand everything. It just all keeps coming one after another, Isabella," he explained in a pleading tone. "You have to give me some time to take all this shit in and filter out what I know versus what you're now telling me."
"You believed him over me. End of story." She yanked her hands from his.
"What else was I supposed to think?" He shrugged and forced her by her chin to turn toward him again. "I saw you two with my own eyes! I don't care what you say, Bella. That moment is forever burned in my mind." He pressed two fingers to his temple with a deep frown. "Seeing you two on my bed? It fucked me up so bad."
Her head shook violently back and forth. "I just can't understand how you could ever think I would do that to you. After everything, Edward. Really?"
"You and Royce were acting so fucking weird, and then you started pushing me away." He paused to stare into her eyes. "I know about that night of the senior bonfire. I never said anything, because it didn't matter. It all made sense."
"You..." Her eyes watered. "You know about…" She felt sick.
"Yes." He nodded with eyes closed. "I know."
"How?" she croaked.
He set his gaze just over her shoulder toward the highway. "I went looking for you that night and Alice rushed up to me drunk and crying, telling me she wanted to go home. I said okay and went to look for you, but she wouldn't let me near the beach hut. She kept insisting we leave. She even said to leave without you, and I laughed because that was crazy. But then I saw you rush out of the hut looking like you were going to be sick; your hair was a mess, your face so red." He shook his head. "Your top wasn't even tied correctly. I didn't think anything of it, because Alice was clinging to me like she was going to die or something. So I started for the car. You were already headed that way, so I thought what the hell. I waved at the guys and took a step forward, and then…"
Bella gulped the bile that burned up her throat. "And then?"
"And then I saw Royce come out while zipping up his pants. He had no shirt on, and he looked like he'd just fucked Rosalie. He looked at me and nodded with his chin, a huge grin on his face. I kept trying to see if Rose was in there, but Alice yanked me forward." He continued to stare absently over her shoulder.
Bella remained silent.
"It wasn't until later that night after we dropped you off and were back home that Alice came into my room and said she saw you two together. I asked in what way, and she started to cry again. She said she hated you, because one was never good enough. She babbled about you being in the way, and when I asked what the fuck was wrong with her, she puked all over my fucking bed. I just told myself she was drunk. No way would you two do that. No fucking way."
"It wasn't… like that." She cringed and turned away from him.
"Then tell me," Edward begged. "I'm here, and I'm listening, Bella. I may be over six years too late, but… I'm here. Right now. I'm here."
She nodded. "I know you are, but I can't…" She wiped at her eyes that stung with tears. "I can't talk about it with you. It makes me feel dirty, and I hate myself for not being brave enough to just tell you when it mattered. I hate how much power I gave him over me — and for what? He couldn't even hold onto his end of the deal."
"What deal?" Edward prodded.
"I can't." She shook her head. "Not right now. Let's do this later, okay? Please, Edward. Don't make me tell you right now," she cried.
Edward inhaled through his nose and leaned back in his seat defeated. "If you don't tell me, then all I have is what I remember and what Alice said that night." He rolled his head to see her stunned face.
"That's just great," she snorted and slumped into her seat further. "I can only imagine what she said. Apparently she wasn't my biggest fan, which is sad because I thought we were friends."
He placed his hand over hers and sighed without looking at her. "There's a lot we didn't know about her."
Bella couldn't agree more. She thought about the diary entry she'd read about the exact night in question. She had been so angry and so wrong.
She was also completely clueless.
May 7, 2006.
He looked amazing last night behind that lit fire at the beach. The flames made his skin gold and his smile was so bright — the brightest I've ever seen it. He came with Rosalie a little after we got to the La Push and wore white and blue board shorts with no shirt. NO SHIRT! I thought I was going to die. When we made our way over to him, he winked at me and it took everything inside of me not to jump up and down like an idiot. He's so amazing. I just wish I could find a moment when he isn't with my brother. He's always with my brother. They're best friends. I get it. I do. But come ON! Cut the cord already!
I waited almost the entire night for him and Edward to split up. It didn't help that dear old Bella was up both their asses the entire time. My brother isn't funny, but she laughs like a hyena every time he attempts a joke. Her laughs were especially loud when he told jokes. At least those ones were actually funny. I laughed, but it was completely overshadowed by Bella.
I'm always overshadowed by Bella.
So they all break apart. Bella said she had to use the restroom and begged me to go with her. On the way over, she kept asking me if I was having a good time. I wanted to say no. I wanted to say that maybe I would if she'd go home. What I can't stand most about Bella is that she has no fucking idea how pretty she is, and she's so fucking clueless when it comes to the attention guys give her. She acts like "one of the guys," and they love that about her. It makes girls like me look like high maintenance assholes. Thanks for that, Bella. Seriously.
I ditched her at the bathrooms and went looking for the only reason I was even at that party. But it was like he disappeared. He wasn't by Edward. He wasn't with Rosalie. He wasn't anywhere. So I backtracked, thinking that maybe he had to use the bathroom, too. That's when I heard them.
I saw his white and blue shorts under the cover of the moon and his upper body hidden by the shadows of the tent they stood in. I knew those abs, just like I knew that voice because it gave me shivers whenever I heard it. She was laughing, but you could tell she didn't find whatever he'd said very funny. He told her she was being paranoid. She told him he needed to be more careful, that people would see them. He whispered something, and she kept playfully batting him away and telling him to stop. He laughed, and I couldn't take it anymore. I had to get out of there. Why would she do this to me? To EDWARD? She knew how I felt about him. I may not have ever said his name, but she knew. I know she knew. And Edward. Poor Edward. My poor idiot brother and his stupid slut of a girlfriend.
Shit. I'm crying again. I'll write more later. I still can't believe Edward didn't dump her skeezy ass last night. He's so whipped, it's disgustingly sad. Maybe he can forgive her, but I'm done. I hate Bella Swan, and it will be a cold day in hell before I allow her to make my naïve brother look stupid again. I thought I was above using my charm to get what I want, because I was so sure he liked me for me. But apparently, he likes sluts.
I'll make them both pay.
Edward hated waiting. It made him feel useless, and as a man, he couldn't bear the idea of not being needed, especially when the person who insisted she did not require his assistance was Bella. Parked in a shitty part of town beside an even shittier hole-in-the-wall bar, Edward forced himself to remain calm.
She could handle things on her own. She was fully capable. She had to be. Look how far she'd come in her career. She was ranked among the top three PI agencies in the city.
Regardless, there was an instinct inside of his brain that gnawed away at him to the point of psychosis. It was powerful enough to have him shoot outside to the trunk where he grabbed what he needed and tucked it all away unseen. Whatever the hell it was that was ringing bells inside of his head was also telling him to be prepared. For what? He had no idea. But it was enough to push his feet forward toward the side of the bar and not the front.
Enough to have eager fingers curl around cold steel.
"Come on, little girl." His nose slipped up the side of her face so that his lips settled at her ear. "Make me laugh."
She coughed and pulled away from his rancid breath. "You're such a piece of shit, Black."
His grip tightened around her arm painfully. "And you're still a cold manipulative bitch, Swan." She grit her teeth when he emphasized her name as his hand went from her arm to her throat, the gun from her chin to her forehead. "After everything you did, I can't believe you thought you could waltz up in here and try to boss my boys around!" he snorted.
"Old habits," she choked through his grasp.
He chuckled. "You know my family still won't talk to me? It's like I'm dead to them. Do you know what it's like to be dead to your family, Swan?"
She closed her eyes and struggled to breathe through her nose as the barrel of the gun dug deeper into her skin.
"You will. Maybe not in the same sense as me, but you get where I'm going with this." His laugh was nauseating.
"You won't kill me," she bluffed. "You're stupid but not that stupid. My dad's a fucking cop, you idiot. You think this won't be one of the first places he looks when I go missing? I have a list of every single potential enemy stapled to my ID records." She paused when she saw a flash out of the corner of her eye.
"I can handle the cage, Swan. Been there, done that. But I swore the only way I was going back was if I had the divine pleasure of taking your smug ass out first." He pulled the gun away from her head and released her throat. "We could have been something special, Swan. Your brains, my brawn." He shrugged. "But you threw that all away when you fucked me over and threw me to the Feds."
Bella stood as tall as she could and feigned as much bravado as possible given the fact that her knees were shaking so hard that they threatened to collapse. "What did you expect, Jake?" she scoffed, rubbing at her sore neck and inhaling deep breaths of air. "Your wife came to me in tears. She actually loved you despite all your faults. Your lying, your drug trafficking… She even looked the other way when you cheated on her the first time, but you just couldn't keep it in your pants."
"And you just couldn't help but stick your nose up in my business. Do you get off on that shit? Breaking up marriages, digging deep for shit that has no place in the light? You ruined my life!" he yelled in her face, surging forward to press the gun under her chin once again. "But even that wasn't good enough for you or her was it? She tipped the Feds, and they ransacked my whole bar to the point where it looked like a fucking tornado hit!"
She cringed, gritting her teeth as his face neared hers.
"Because of you…" He trailed the firearm up and down the side of her face. "I had to smother her with a pillow. No one screws me over. Especially pussy."
The image of Emily Black's face crossed Bella's mind and caused a pain in her chest at the loss. They'd become friends of some sort after the events of the case died down. Every few weeks, they met up for lunch or sent an email here and there. The lack of contact now made so much since to her. She'd been happy to set her free from the likes of Jacob Black.
Now she realized it had all been for nothing.
"I hope you rot in hell." Her disgust was clearly heard in her tone.
"I'll meet you there," he sneered.
A slight movement from the side of the bar drained the blood from her face. No! Run! She wanted to scream at Edward's stealth approach. She willed her eyes to say what her mouth could not before her gaze locked on the other three threats in the room. Two of Jake's thugs flanked his stance, one on each side, arms crossed over broad chests and eyes piercing her like wolves in a sheep's den.
"Any last words, Swan?" Jake's hateful gaze bore into her like hot coals. "Nothing? That's fine. Open your mouth wide for me, baby." He pressed the barrel at her lips.
"Fuck you," she hissed and spat in his face, taking the moment of surprise to stab the point of her heel into his instep. Her actions timed perfectly with the exact moment Edward brought down the heaviest end of his gun on top of the head of one of the thugs, bringing him down like a ton of bricks.
"Fuck!" Jake cursed loudly from the pain in his foot. "You fucking—" She gave him no time to respond. Aiming at his nose with the heel of her palm, she jabbed upward for a blow that bent him over while he clutched his bleeding face.
"Don't even think about it." Edward whirled around to point his gun at the last man standing. "I'll blow your fucking head off." The guy threw his empty hands up in the air.
Bella kicked Jake's fallen gun across the room and swung her foot out to connect with his gut. "You killed Emily!" She kicked him for a second time. "You tried to kill me!" she shouted emotionally. "How dare you?!" she cried tearfully. "How dare you?!" She reeled her foot back for another blow to his stomach.
"Bella!" Edward shouted. "Bella, stop!" He reached out to wrap his arm around her waist, his other hand still pointed at his target. "Stop, baby It's over," he said into her ear, taking her weight when she slumped into his chest.
"I'm okay," she replied after taking a few seconds to compose herself. When he released her, she slowly walked across the room and picked up Jake's gun. Wiping away any remaining tears from her face, she straightened her shoulders and aimed directly at Jake's bruised face. "Get up," she snapped. "On your knees."
Jake had no choice but to obey.
"Bella…" Edward took a step toward her but refused to lose sight of the man before him.
She ignored his warning and glared at Jake. "Open your mouth wide, baby." She raised the gun toward his mouth.
"Bella!" Edward shouted in a panic, fearful of the dead look in her eyes.
Instead of firing, she pulled back and whipped the gun across his face as hard as she possibly could. She felt only minimal satisfaction when he hit the floor unconscious. She turned to the man in front of Edward, stalked forward and shoved him into a chair.
"You will sit here, and you will answer any and all questions I have about Alice Cullen," she informed him mercilessly. "My patience is worn thin, so don't even try to fuck with me."
He nodded his head vigorously.
Edward felt sick to his stomach as he watched her interrogate the man ruthlessly. She wasn't his Bella anymore. That was for sure. She would never have run into a bar filled with criminals or have guns pointed in her face. She would never have resorted to violence at all. In fact, she'd avoided it at all costs.
He had no fucking clue as to who this woman was. It terrified him to see her that way and wondered if any part of it was because of him. The man sputtered and answered all of her questions but didn't know anything useful to them.
Before Bella's temper could reach the point of no return, Edward stepped forward and took her by the wrist. "Enough," he whispered into the shell of her ear. "He doesn't know anything. We'll come back next time with a warrant. We have reasonable evidence to question them all legally."
She turned her head to answer him, and when she did, their noses brushed against each other, yet neither one of them dared to step away. "And what evidence would that be?" Her breath was short against his lips.
"Look over my left shoulder," he breathed and swept the hair from her face so she could get a better look. "Above the bar, beside the wall of top shelf tequilas. You see that collage of photos?" He waited until she nodded, then added, "I saw it when I came in. Alice is in at least three of them, and she's hugged up on some guy I've never seen before."
Bella's breath caught.
A/N: Thank you to my bestie—you give me the best feedback! BIG thank you to mariahajile and mauigirl60 for being amazing beta's—they catch all my mistakes. Thank you sweet ladies—lots of hugs and kisses!
Everyone go read my bestie Londonstew's entry to the PTB challenge, she writes under the name: heatherarielle.
SIDE NOTE: I know a lot of you are wondering why I started a new story when TSB is not finished. Well, this fic is more of a learning experience more so than a fanfic. Every prompt is a challenge in itself so it is helping me to better my writing. I am horrible at writing in third person, this is helping me a lot.
Also, I recently joined a fic review site and would love if you guys would come visit us: swansbookstore. blogspot. com