Never Said I Didn't by Purelyamuse
Summary: Edward is finally ready to play ball, but is Bella? Is it too late? The bases are loaded. He's just waiting for Bella to give him the signal to run. EPOV, Human, HS.
Prereaders: _ss77_, modernsafari1, cejsmom, ameliabedelia
Betas: Dinx, Perry Maxwell (chapters 1 and 2 only)
Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight.
A/N: This story was written using June 2012 witfit prompts. I am pathetic, I know.
Playlist: Someday by Rob Thomas
Word Prompt: Hunt
Dialogue Flex: "She needs time to heal," he said.
"The thing is, your father and I . . . we need to be apart for a while."
This is not happening.
Dad's even-keeled when he speaks up, like he's giving a presentation. He did that today as evidenced by the suit he's wearing. He's a family doctor and has his own practice, but he's fairly popular in his field, having published a few books. "Right, and that doesn't mean we won't both be a big part of your life."
Like you ever were. I look to my mother, who's rolling her eyes.
"We will do our best to make sure this has no effect on you," she says, giving me sympathetic eyes.
"Of course, though, you'll need to pick up some slack at home. Keep things tidy."
I fully expect Dad to produce a chore chart at this point. I wouldn't put it past him.
"Carlisle," my mother says, rubbing her temples, "he doesn't have to do anything. I'll still help out."
"How? With the office and a new place? You won't have time."
"I've been meaning to talk to you about that, too. I'm looking into some other options. For work." Mom sounds confident.
"That's ridiculous. You've been working for me for years. There's no need to leave," Dad says decisively. "You'll be busy at the office, so Edward can do his share around the house."
"Why don't you do his share?" Mom grits out.
"You know how busy I am at work; my patients depend on me."
"Your family depends on you, and we never see you."
"You see me every day. We work together, for crying out loud."
"That doesn't mean you see me. You never see me. You've never seen us. None of us. Not even when Katie and Garrett were home. We've always been on our own."
And now I'll really be alone. My mind wanders a street away to a sweet girl with long dark hair, big brown eyes, and a kind heart with love enough to spare. Bella Swan. I need to get to her before I blow.
"I have always provided for this family. You have always had a roof over your head. Clothes on your back. Food on your table."
"That you never sat at. You're not listening to me, Carlisle. I just mean—"
"What we mean to say," my dad begins, his voice irritatingly calm as he cuts off my mother, "is that we need some time. She needs time to heal."
"I don't—this isn't just about me." My mother narrows her eyes at Dad, and I wish she had a super power to make him shrink. He's such an idiot at times. "It's about all of us, which is why we wanted to talk to you tonight, why we needed to—"
"I can't listen to this," I say and push my kitchen chair out. It scrapes nosily as it goes. I head to my room, my mother following, saying who knows what. I feel bad, but I have to get out of here.
I ignore her as I rifle through my things, searching for my keys. Where did Bella put them? We rented a bad superhero movie last night—my choice, not hers—and when we returned home she playfully had hidden my keys, announcing I would never choose the movie again. In her defense, this was the fourth one in a row I'd made her watch. She doesn't seem to mind too much, so I pick what I want. Explosions are fun, and who doesn't love to laugh at a famous dude who wears spandex?
I scan the small shelf above my bed and spot them next to the only picture there. It's of the two of us celebrating last year when both the men's and women's ball teams took State. I snag them and my favorite E cap, march out of my room, down the hallway, and out the front door.
I wish my mother wasn't so close so I could slam it. I want to slam something. I manage to put my hat on in a rough manner, not even bothering to smooth my hair back. I saunter to my car as she screams from behind me. "Where are you going, Edward? We need to talk about this."
"I don't," I mumble to myself as I fit the key into the door of my old Toyota Camry.
"We've thought a lot about this. This isn't a quick decision." Her words are quieter, resigned.
"Good for you. Bye, Mom," I say as I duck inside and start the engine. As I pull out of the driveway my mother's image, all slumped shoulders and slack jaw, burns itself in my memory. I maneuver the steering wheel and get the hell out of there as quickly as I can.
I pull around Fourth Street, heading to Bella's.
Please, please, please be home.
The car idles in her driveway as I run the few steps to her entryway and bang on her door—my door, only blue instead of white. It should be jarring as her home looks just like mine—same floor plan and all; we even have the same room—but it's not because I've been coming here since I was in diapers. Before then, even.
Our homes are on two different streets, but the backyards butt up against each other. She's on Fourth Street, and I'm on Third, which she loves since we're both baseball junkies. She's always saying she hit a home run when I've only scored a triple. Truth is, we're both damn good at ball. And I don't care that she razzes me. It's all in good fun.
I knock again, but no one answers. Her dad, Charlie, works odd hours as a plumber, so I never know if he'll be home or not. I don't really care, though. He's nice and all, taught me a ton about ball when I was a kid, but it's his daughter I come to see.
But, dammit all to hell, she's not home, either.
I slam my fist into her door again, this time screaming her name. That should help.
But it doesn't, and I get the same outcome. I'm still alone. Only now I look crazy.
I slip back into my car, keeping my legs outside and send her a text.
Where are you?—E
I wait a minute.
She doesn't respond. She's probably at that party Tanya begged me to take her to. My parents fought all week, and I just haven't been in the party mood. But now I may have to make an appearance.
I head to Marcus's, checking my phone constantly—even when I shouldn't, according to Bella. When I pull up to his house I search for her stupid Geo Metro, but it's not there. She probably carpooled.
She still hasn't texted me back. I pocket my phone and head inside.
There's a pool of my friends slouching in the dark, making out on the couch, laughing too loudly in the kitchen for it to be genuine. Do I like this? Do I really find these things fun? Did I ever? Yeah, I guess I did. But why?
Why did I find this fun when my parents' marriage dissolved around me and I did nothing to stop it? Why didn't I—
"Edward! You came! I knew you would!" Tanya runs toward me, her light blonde curls and large gold, dangly earrings swaying as she goes.
It's good to see a familiar face, a friendly face, so I wrap her in my arms and hug her, breathing in her girly smell. It's so nice, I want to stay in it. Stay in it, get drunk, and never leave. Never have to go back home to my lying parents again.
She pulls away from me and presses her hands to my cheeks. She leans in for a kiss, but I stop her with my words. "Have you seen Bella?"
"Bella? Oh, um, she was here, but then she took off with Jake. She was bored or something. Whatever. I don't know how you can get bored here. I couldn't. Especially now that you're here." She wraps her hand around mine and swings it back and forth.
I smile at the simple gesture and feel lucky to have her in my life. I'm glad I asked her to Homecoming at the beginning of the school year. We've been together ever since. She's a sweetheart. A little girly, but I don't mind. She takes care of herself and looks nice. What's to complain about?
"So . . . I was gonna play pool. You want to?"
"Game on," I say, forgetting my problems and following Tanya downstairs to Marcus's basement.
The game was fun. A good distraction. But now it's over, and Tanya's chatting with her girlfriends about make-up and eyebrow waxing; I'm out of distractions. All my boys have their girlfriends here and are macking on them, or trying to mack on them, so they're no help.
Just as I think the words, my butt moos. I laugh as Tanya scowls. She doesn't think it's very funny. I do; so does Bella. She's the one who put the ringtone there.
I'm home. Where're you? Not driving, I hope! Call me. –B
I dial her immediately.
"I'm at Marcus's."
"I was just there. Bailed when the hair connection showed up."
"Of course you did." I peer around at Tanya and her friends, and they are all way too put together. Hair in place, matching purses and shoes and belts and earrings. Everything's perfect. Too perfect. Like they're pretending.
"You want me to come back?" Bella's just being nice. I know she left for a reason.
"No, it's cool. Tanya's here."
"Oh, well if Tanya's there . . ."
"She is my girlfriend, you know."
"Oh, I know. Everyone knows. No one can miss it, believe me, with the way she flaunts you about the school like a prize."
"Are you saying I'm not a prize? I'm frowning right now, by the way. A big ol' puppy dog frown." This is the most fun I've had all day. Except when I mowed the back lawn and Bella played aim for Edward Cullen's head with some wiffle balls.
"Uh huh. Well, you're not as good as a Cracker Jack's prize. Those last forever."
"Forever? Please," I scoff.
"Don't tell me you forgot the Easter tattoo fiasco?"
I laugh out loud. "Gran Swan was ready to murder you. That thing was right on your bicep—bold and beautiful, like you."
"I didn't know she'd get me a sleeveless dress. How could I have known?"
"I know. I'm surprised she didn't just buy you combat boots. Or better, some boxers. You wanted some of those."
"I did not!" She's such a bad liar. Has a terrible guilty conscience, too.
"You've stolen four pair!"
"I still have them, too. Wearing the penguin ones now. Which ones are you wearing? Hmm?"
"Like I'd tell you." I would, actually. It doesn't really matter. Bella's my guy. Or something.
"S'all good. Tanya will tell her gals tomorrow, and by Monday the whole locker room will know."
"She would not."
"Mmm hmm," she says, all innocence.
"Would she? Has she?" Now I'm curious. Does Tanya kiss and tell?
"Uh uh. My lips are sealed. You know I don't do girl talk."
Tanya tugs on my arm, and I make a face, slipping away. She giggles at my silly game, swatting at the air. Really, I don't want her to bug me or hear what I'm saying. Bella's a good distraction right now. But seeing as that's rude, and I try to be a good boyfriend, I say, "We can talk later. I'm being summoned."
"I'm sure you are."
"You miss me, I know," I say, grinning ear to ear, waiting for her line.
"Never said I didn't."
The next thing I know, Tanya's in my car, and we're heading to Green Point. How did that happen? I'm not really in the mood for that right now, but I keep driving. I pull up and park near the stinky bathrooms. The stalls have no doors. Like anyone goes in there. I don't want to see that.
Tanya slips her hand in mine, and I force a smile as she looks up at me. She leads us to the picnic benches and sits atop the table, patting the spot beside her. I choose to stay standing.
"I missed you today," she says quietly. It's code for 'come kiss me.' Every girl uses it, but I choose to ignore it right now.
"We went out last night," I say, scuffing my foot on the large, oval-shaped slab of concrete beneath me.
"It's still true." She leans her hands back on the table, forcing her chest out. She looks to the sky, elongating her neck. She does that a lot, and I usually swoop in and deliver a kiss, sometimes a hickey, but not today.
"I think my parents are getting divorced," I say quickly, wanting to just get it out and fast. I play with the brim of my cap, shaping it in my nervousness. It's stiff from overuse.
Tanya's head snaps up, and she makes direct eye contact. "Might be the right time. My parents waited too long. Wish they would've done it sooner. They're a lot happier now."
"I don't think they'll be happier. They love each other. They're just . . ." I don't know what they're just, really. But they're something. This isn't right. My parents can't get divorced.
"They seem pretty miserable to me. Last time I saw your mom, she was so fake with that plastered smile."
"She was having a bad day."
"Every day," Tanya mumbles.
"I was up early mowing the lawn. I'm ready for bed. Let's go." Besides, I can't listen to your BS right now. Because you have no idea what you're talking about. You don't even know my parents. I want to say all of this, but I don't.
As I drive Tanya home, she's all over me. Or trying to be. Putting my hand on her thigh, playing with my ear—which is annoying as hell—and running her fake nails across my belly. She's missing her ring finger acrylic, and the sensation of a four-fingered stomach scratch is not sexy.
I can't wait to drop her off and see if Bella's still up. Probably, as it is past ten-thirty, so Nick-at-Nite is on. It's been her thing since we were kids. She won't admit it, but it reminds her of Gran Swan, whom we all miss.
Finally alone, I swing into my driveway. Once inside, I ignore the light from my parents' room. I can't talk to them yet. I head to my room, pull off my polo, lose my belt, and toe off my shoes.
I wander through our home and into the kitchen, losing my cap at the last second, placing it atop our granite counter. The glass door slides open quietly, and I make my escape.
The grass is soft and cold on my feet as I pad through it. I step up on the block that's meant for Bella and use it to propel myself over the fence and into her back yard. My undershirt snags on the fence and tears a tiny bit. Could this day get any worse?
Sandy perks her ears up but doesn't make a peep. I pat her head then make my way to Bella's window. I tap three times, leaning over the scratchy bush Charlie planted under Bella's window to keep me out the year I turned thirteen. Like that did any good. Whatever.
The blinds spread, revealing Bella's eyes, and I nod for her to come outside.
Suddenly she's there, and I can breathe again.
I sit, cross-legged, petting Sandy. Bella sits beside me. She's just showered, her hair damp. She's in her PJs, and her knee socks are missing for some reason. It's weird seeing her without them. They've become such a part of her over the past few years, like her bat and glove.
She says nothing, just tucks her knees into her chest and rubs her legs. Up and down. Up and down, the sound soothing in the warm night air.
Sandy leaves us alone in favor of her dog house and comfy bed.
Bella hums the theme song to the Dick Van Dyke show absently, and I face her, smirking. She smiles back and continues the motions with her fingers up and down. She looks so tiny next to me, swallowed up in my old boxers. I pinch her thigh, saying, "Missed a spot."
"I did not," she says defensively. "No one shaves their thighs anyway. That hair's soft."
"Yeah, but this isn't," I say, rubbing my hand over her knee, right in the front. That one spot she always misses. She slaps my hand away and sighs, like she's so over my obnoxious behavior.
"I think they're getting a divorce," I blurt.
Bella leans in, laying her head against my shoulder, fitting in beside me. She wraps her arm around my bicep and runs her other hand up and down my forearm, that up and down sound of skin on skin just as soothing as it was before.
How does she do that? How does she know just what to do? Just what I need when I need it? She's the only one that can do it.
"I don't know what they're thinking. They're so—"
"Perfect together," Bella finishes.
"When they're together, when he's off work . . . they just—it's like—"
"It's meant to be," she finishes for me with a sigh.
"I know, so how can they even . . ." The words peter off, and I don't know what else to say. There's nothing else to say. Bella knows this, too. She says nothing, just keeps up the rhythm of her hand on my arm.
But even that—that contact, that connection—becomes too much. And emotion floods me, so much so, I think I won't be able to contain it.
I slap my hand over Bella's, halting her movement. I squeeze her fingers beneath my own and crush her knuckles together. If it hurts her, I wouldn't know; she doesn't complain. She's strong. I know she is. Stronger than me.
I stare at our hands, feeling my eyes burn as my throat is coated in a thick tightness I haven't felt in a long time. And I can't . . . I just . . . can't contain it.
I let out a shuddering breath, and as I inhale, Bella's hand cups my cheek. She gives me the courtesy of allowing me to keep my eyes cast downward. I don't want to be seen like this. She brushes away the first tear and lets me throw the weight of my head—and my broken heart—into her hand. And like the amazing ball player she is, she catches it and makes the play perfectly.
She draws me into her chest, cradling my head and lets me cry. I'm quiet, but my body convulses, which seems so much louder than any cry I've ever heard. My tears drop onto her thighs, sliding down to the backsides of her calves. Each tear takes a different path, winding its way around Bella's bare legs, like it was meant to be there, meant to slip around her smooth skin. And it is smooth. I know because I'm clutching her thighs in both of my hands, my thumbs stroking anywhere they can.
Bella sits quietly, her hands in my hair, humming a familiar tune we used to sing when we were tiny and Gran Swan would visit for the holidays. It was some sort of hymn, and the harmonies were always so pretty when Gran made Bella sing with her.
She sings, and I cry. And that's the way it goes until I'm out of tears and have nothing else to do but go home and face reality. But I don't want to do that. Not at all.
Completely drained, I squeeze Bella's legs and push against the ground to sit upright. Bella fixes my hair and keeps her eyes off mine, though I can't say I'm doing the same. The moon is bright tonight, highlighting her soft features. It reminds me of the time I noticed she had real curves when we went swimming fully clothed in Old Man Joe's pool the summer before we were freshmen. Freshmen. That seems like so long ago, as we are just months away from graduation.
I place my hand on hers once more to halt her movements and bring it down into my lap, covering it with my other hand. Her hand is tiny and callused from years of holding her bat just so. I rub my fingertips over it, feeling every groove, every bony knuckle, trying to find a way to say thank you. Thank you for being my friend. Thank you for being here tonight. Thank you for knowing me so well. For doing what I need, when I need. Always. Just thank you.
"Bella . . ." I say, my voice quiet and thick in that I-haven't-talked-in-so-long way.
Her eyes snap to mine. She holds me in her gaze like she held me in her lap, and I can't move, mesmerized by the way she looks at me.
Her hand's still in my lap, and I stroke experimentally, my thumb moving over her open palm and over her delicate wrist. Her eyes twitch, and I dart mine to her mouth, realizing she's holding her breath.
Good. She'll need it.
I grip the back of her neck and jerk her toward me, covering her mouth with mine. Her lips are soft and taste like mint, but she smells like vanilla. She opens her mouth wider and sneaks the tip of her tongue into my mouth. And, man, it feels good. It's the best thing I've felt all night. The best thing I've done all night. Hell, all day. Maybe even all freaking year.
That is . . . until Bella climbs into my lap, which is so much better. There's no pretense, no hesitation. She's rising up higher, her hands gripping my hair, her chest pressing into mine. My hands wrap around her lower back, keeping her where I want her, tight and close and safe. It makes me feel safe, too. Being with Bella like this.
Why haven't we been like this before? Why haven't we—
Bella cuts off my thoughts with a moan. A full-on feminine moan, and I can't help but laugh. I haven't seen her be girly in a long time. Even then it was in private, and I was spying. She's usually all cleats and knee socks and hair in a tight ponytail. But not tonight. Tonight, her hair drapes around us, like satin caressing my cheeks.
She jerks away from me, a scowl on her face. "What's so funny?" she asks, irritated by my chuckle.
"Nothing. You. This. Us."
"It's not funny," she says, dead serious.
"You're right." I clear my throat. "Sorry." I lean in again and kiss her, my tongue winding with hers, my hands slipping up her back. She's not wearing a bra. Not even a sports one. Images of Bella draped over my bed in her sports bra and loose basketball shorts reading her chemistry text pop into my brain. I slap that book away and jump on top of her, making her squeal as I suck on her neck.
The idea is absurd. This is Bella. Bella. I can't—we can't—but we are, and it feels right.
I chuckle at the ridiculousness of the situation, and she pulls away again, looking absolutely scandalized.
"I'm—," I start but get cut off.
"Shut up, Edward."
"Yes, ma'am," I say, chuckling.
"I'm gonna like this," she says, grinning.
"Oh. Hmm." I tilt my head back and appraise the girl in my arms: tiny but muscular, strong but feminine, tomboy but beautiful, stunningly so. "Huh." I say, realizing what an idiot I've been all day. All these years.
"What?" she asks.
"I've been so miserable today. Just depressed and antsy and ignoring people I shouldn't have been. But all I needed was right here."
Bella smiles and runs her hands up my arms, over my biceps, and laces her fingers behind my neck. I gaze at her body, actually looking for once. When I reach her eyes, I smile and squeeze her hips. It's involuntary. It's like I have to squeeze something or I may float away in my shocked state of happiness.
"I've been on the hunt for this all day. Damn, I needed this. This release. Wish I woulda known just to come straight here. Woulda saved me some agony, some —"
Bella stiffens in my arms and stands unceremoniously. She doesn't look at me. She doesn't speak. She straightens out her boxers and walks on the balls of her feet to her back door. She slides it open and slips inside.
"What the hell did I just do?" I whisper, dropping my head in my hands.
A/N: Well, hi! I'll be updating Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Pics, music, and teasers on my blog. Check out the beautiful banner by Twisted Lea there, too. No clue how many review replies I'll get to as it's summer (the kids are home *cries), and I'm writing a million other stories. But please know I appreciate each and every review. Thanks! Enjoy the ride!