Chapter 4: Where You At?
On Sunday, to say that my nerves were on edge would be an understatement. Everything about me was hyper sensitive. I sat coyly on a barstool at The Shore Shack. If Edward was coming, he was already twenty minutes late. I tried my best to keep myself together, but I was beginning to feel like an idiot. I couldn't fall apart: not here, in public. I sipped more of my Mudslide, and it soothed my burning throat.
It was a hot and humid evening. It never rained like it was supposed to yesterday. Instead, the meteorologists were calling for a storm tonight. At least my house was within walking distance of the Shack. My eyes looked out across the restaurant for the hundredth time tonight. They searched hard for copper hair. My heart skipped a beat any time I thought I had found him.
Jacob called to tell me happy birthday this morning. I know he only remembered to do so from the call that Wanda gave him every year. I felt much older than my twenty-seven years. He told me he loved me, but somehow, it only made me feel worse about myself. I hunched over the bar and wanted to cry my birthday away. I looked down to my appearance and groaned inwardly. I wasn't exactly sure why I dressed so nicely tonight. Maybe it was because of it being my birthday, or maybe because I wanted Edward to see me as pretty. I felt ugly in comparison to him. My short black dress, and red heels were annoying me. My hair was, too. I was uncomfortable, and felt like a fraud. I swept it off of my shoulders and began to tie it back when the sound of velvet froze me.
"Is this seat taken?" My head snapped around to see Edward. He wore a loose fitted, white button up that was untucked from his denim jeans, and was sporting old Vans. I nearly melted to the ground right in front of him.
My hands dropped from my hair quickly.
"No," I stammered. I spun back around and reached for my drink. I prayed that it would somehow save me by giving me something to do, something to look at besides him. Edward took a seat on the stool and ordered a 7 and 7. He sounded and appeared so collected, but I wondered if he was as nervous on the inside as I was. The bartender nodded to him and scurried off. Edward turned to me. I was in the middle of taking a drink, but my cheeks heated, and I swallowed hard.
"You're late," I said nervously.
"My gallery opening didn't end until seven," he explained easily.
"You own a gallery?" I asked. He smiled and took out a Camel. He struck a match, and the smell of sulfur floated over to me. I inhaled deeply, in love with the scent.
"Mhmm," he said around the filter between his lips. His lips... I shivered and forced my eyes back up to his. "Bought it a few months ago."
"That's nice," I said lamely, obviously not paying attention. I forced my eyes away and cleared my throat. "So, you thought more about..." He exhaled smoke.
"I did," he replied. "And you might be right." My face brightened.
He raised a finger. "Might," he clarified. My shoulders dropped, and I didn't reply. Edward took a few more drags of his cigarette. "I found some receipts, too."
"Of?" I furthered.
"Victoria's Secret. Dated a month ago." I couldn't help my cringe.
Was that what Jacob wanted? Someone to prance around in lingerie? I could've done that.
"Oh," I whispered.
"They were expensive purchases for lingerie that I have never seen her wear before," he said quietly, his face falling. Suddenly, I could feel his sadness and it felt much more painful than my own.
"I'm sorry," I whispered. Edward shrugged and drank his fresh 7 and 7. His collected face returned.
"What do we do now?" I finally asked.
"I mean, uh..."
Edward chuckled. "Look, we still don't have anything concrete. I thought maybe once they return home, you and I could keep in contact...you know? Secretly." I considered his proposition for a few moments.
"To catch them red handed," I said.
"Exactly. I don't know about you, but I didn't sign a prenup. I can't go to my lawyer with this petty shit."
Shit, were we talking about divorce now? I couldn't do that. I wouldn't do that. Living without Jacob wouldn't be any life at all. My nerves were beginning to crash, but I couldn't give in to them until I wasn't around Edward. I didn't want him to know how weak I was.
I forced a laugh. "Yeah, good thinking," I said flatly. "But what do you think, Edward? Honestly." He raised an eyebrow and turned to me. His eyes glistened.
"Honestly? I'd rather not think about it." He looked away. "We've only been married for a couple years. I thought we were happy."
"I know what you mean," I replied softly, turning back to my drink. Edward exhaled smoke through his nose.
"You been married long?"
"Jesus. That's a lot longer than I pictured."
I shrugged. "We were high school sweethearts and married right after graduation. He's all I know."
"Must be nice," he said quietly.
"Not when something like this happens," I replied sadly. Edward looked at me again.
"I'm sorry. I never told you that, but I am." His sincerity was disarming.
I smiled. "I appreciate that."
Not long after finishing our drinks, Edward walked me the few short blocks home. He insisted upon it, and I didn't fight it hard. We strode along the beach in silence for a while. Once, our arms brushed against one another and I pulled away quickly, embarrassed. Edward chuckled nervously and ran a hand through his crazy hair. There was something between us, wanting to surface, but I couldn't allow it.
Why had this suddenly begun to feel like a first date?
I looked up to the sky. Storm clouds were moving into Charleston.
"It's my birthday, today," I noted quietly.
"Happy birthday," he said softly from beside me. We were walking so close I could feel the heat from his body. It angered me that I liked it. I would never stoop to Jacob's level. I may be weak, but I sure as hell wasn't unfaithful. I couldn't help but feel something though: a spark of some kind. My mind was starting to reel with all of the emotions I was feeling, and I felt like I was reaching my boiling point. Just before we got to my house, I stopped walking.
I laughed. "Sorry. I really didn't tell you about this in order to get pity. Mostly I'm just mad that he isn't here." Edward watched me carefully. I threw my hands into the air and gave in to my emotions, releasing them. "I mean, what the fuck did I do wrong? What does she have that I don't?!" I was yelling now, but not at Edward. I looked up to the heavens. Where was God and why was he allowing this to happen? Had I done something wrong to bring it all upon myself?
"I can't answer that, Bella. But I will say this; I don't know you well, or even at all really, but you deserve better. " I lowered my head and locked eyes with him. Tears swelled up behind my eyes until they overflowed and started to trickle down my throat.
"I'm sorry," I cracked. "I didn't mean to say all that to you. But thank you for the compliment." Edward smiled slightly and shoved his hands in his pockets, as if he needed them restrained. I looked to my house across the street.
"This is me," I said.
"Wow," he replied astonished. "Nice."
"Too nice," I scoffed.
"I guess I should have become a lawyer," he teased.
"His father is in congress. This house was our wedding present," I replied quietly. Then, I looked back to his calm face. "Why aren't you upset?" I suddenly blurted. Edward's head shot back to me and he frowned.
"I am, it's just...I've dealt with this before."
"Betrayal?" I asked in disbelief.
"Divorce," he nearly whispered.
Then, his eyes quickly flickered up and down my body. I normally wouldn't have thought much about it, except I definitely felt like it meant something. I was shocked. Could he be feeling the same spark that I was?
"Oh." I groaned and threw my hands into my hair. I pulled hard. "I'm sorry. I'm just not right with all of this."
"I understand. And a big part of me hopes that we're wrong about it all."
"Me too," I sighed. An awkward silence passed. Edward ran a hand through his unruly hair.
"It's getting late," he said.
"Yeah. They get home tomorrow."
Another pause ensued. Then, Edward pulled out his iPhone, which reminded me to do the same. We exchanged numbers and promised to alert one another if we found anything else out. Slowly, Edward took a step towards me and placed a hand on my shoulder. He offered me a smile, and then his hand was gone. My exposed skin burned almost painfully where his touch had been, and I never wanted it to stop.
I sat down on the beach and watched him walk away. Part of me was glad to see him leave, because he only reminded me of our tragedy. Although, there was this tiny whisper of a part inside of me that wished to see him again, I shoved that away and locked the door.
My husband would return home, and my circle of a routine would begin its turning once more. For the first time in years, I longed for it. Fear is a dreadful thing when it keeps you from living, but I allowed its take over, because fear was better than a broken heart. But where was Jacob now, when I needed him most? He left me in the dark on this stormy night, while he enjoyed time with another woman. Maybe she was a better woman than me. Not only did my husband want her, but Edward did, too. That left just me, but maybe the ocean would keep me company, and as soon as the rain came, we would cry together.
The smell of salt water breezed over my face. There was a couple just down the beach sitting on a blanket. Four tiki torches surrounded them as they kissed. My heart swelled for their simple happiness. They had a small radio playing. The well known song slowly wafted in my direction, and I screamed the lyrics in my head. It was everything I wanted to tell my husband, but could not.
You said when the storm came
That you would be there with your umbrella to block the rain
And you said you'd protect me
From heartache, pain, lies, loneliness, and misery
Where you at?
Where you at?
Boy, you said you would be here for me
Where you at?
So, Edward showed up! Yay! I can't wait for you all to see where it all goes next.
Song: Where You At by Jennifer Hudson
If any of you are wanting a visual of Edward's tattoo's, or of where our characters live, Beffers87 has created a FB group for such things! There will be discussion, teasers, music inspiration and pictures! Also for my other stories as well! Ride to You and Imperfectly Matched among them. So, come request an add! Search:
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Thank you Beffers, and Jules! And all who have rec'd this story!