Sorry this took so long. Between finals, having bronchitis/pneumonia for the past five and a half weeks, and just wrapping up the school year, updating just got shoved to the back burner. I spent about nine hours on this chapter today though, just so that I could get it up before May officially ended. I hope you enjoy.
"I don't think you understand. I don't care if you are scarred – physically or emotionally – it doesn't make you any less valuable. You are beautiful inside and out and nothing that any person can do to you will change that. I love you, Bella; I do and I always have, and sex is not going to change that. Some people need a physical relationship to make them feel like their emotional relationship is stronger, but I loved you before I even knew what sex was. I would rather not have sex and you feel safe and happy than to push the issue and make you feel that fear and pain again. You say I deserve more, Bella, but all I want is you."
Words had left me and I just stared up into his gorgeous eyes. "Give me a chance, Bells. If it gets to be too much, we can call it, but I don't think that you really want to walk away, I think you're just doing it for me."
"I…" Every bit of me was scared of hurting him and my instincts told me to run, to let his wounds heal before I cut them deeper. "Okay." But running away wouldn't get me anywhere in life.
Edward smiled his heart stopping smile and kissed me with a gentle passion that I couldn't explain if I tried. A question pounded in my chest and I reluctantly pulled away from the blissful kiss, tears still finding their way out of my eyes.
"What do we tell everyone? How? I…"
"Shh," He brushed one of the stray tears off of my cheek with his thumb. "I'll take care of them. They've been expecting this since we were four; it's not going to be a big shocker."
"Am I the only one who didn't see this coming?" I kept running into these situations where everyone is just sitting back waiting for me to make moves that I don't even know are moves yet.
"You had other more important things to think about, we all did." Taking my hand, he opened the door. "Let's go and see Rose, that's why we're here, right?"
The rest of the day passed quickly. Eventually it came time for the nursing staff to kick us out and send us home. I went back to Esme and Carlisle's, and, even though I told her she didn't have to, Esme made a lovely dinner for me. After I ate and Esme and Carlisle had gone to bed, I sat on the couch in the living room and browsed through the movies on Netflix, watching anything that I hadn't seen and that looked even remotely good. About half way through 'The Breakfast Club,' the front door opened and Edward came in.
"Bella?" He came into the living room, obviously surprised that I was here. "Why are you here? Did something happen?" As he realized that my presence here was most likely due to something with Dmitri, he moved closer and sat next to me.
"Not really. I just kind of freaked out last night. Kate called me and said that someone thought they saw him in Port Angeles, and since I know that he has been in my house, it didn't feel like the safest place to be. I didn't know where to go, so I came here."
"You know you can always call me or stay with me. Any time, no matter what." Edward hugged me and we spent the next forty five minutes watching the rest of the movie, with the occasional baby disturbance.
Somewhere towards the end, I must've fallen asleep, because the next time I opened my eyes, I was up in the room in Edward's old bed. I immediately shot up and looked in the crib, just to find that my son wasn't there. My freak-out came to a quick stop when I saw Edward out on the balcony feeding Ollie from one of the pre-prepared bottles that I had brought.
"You don't have to do that." I shook my head as I stepped into the warm summer air.
"You were sound asleep and he started fussing, so I grabbed a bottle and fed him. I figured you could use a little extra rest. Plus, it's good for him to have some male-bonding time."
I laughed and looked out over the peaceful landscape. "Between Dad, Jacob, Emmett, Carlisle, Jasper, and you, that boy has male-bonding time coming out of his ears." I watched the river below twist through the trees and listened to the soothing-distant sound. "Thank you."
"Any time, Bella. You know that."
"Wait, why are you still here? Why didn't you go back home?" It just dawned on me that his presence here was unusual.
"Well, we both fell asleep on the couch last night after the movie and by the time I woke up, it was already five in the morning, so I brought you and Ollie up here. By that time, Mom had already woken up, so I talked to her and helped her make breakfast. I came back up here to grab what I came here for in the first place and heard Ollie fussing, so I grabbed a bottle and fed him."
I shook my head. Everything he did made him seem more and more perfect. A month passed; Rose and the babies came home, Edward and I got closer, and I went back home. One day, Edward and I were sitting outside on the table when I made a decision. Before I could think it over, I looked up at him.
"If I go to the park, will you come with me?"
He blinked. "The park?"
As the fall breeze blew through my loose hair, I nodded. "I'm never going to be ready, but I can't stay away forever. Who knows, I may not even remember anything. If I am going to move on in my life," I rested my head on his shoulder. "I have to keep taking steps forward. If you don't want to go, I understand."
"Bella, of course I will go with you. Whenever you are ready, I will be there." He wrapped his arm around my shoulder and the feeling of warmth and safety that flooded through me was the last push I needed.
"Can we go now? I don't want to change my mind on this." I sat up and looked at him. There was worry in his eyes, but he smiled anyway.
"Of course, let me call Kate first."
"Can..." I sighed. "Can you not call her? I just…I don't want to make this a big event. I just want to do it and get it done with, without a lot of attention or an audience."
Putting his phone back in his pocket, he nodded, holding out his hand. I placed mine in it and – after making sure that Mom and Dad could watch Ollie for another few hours – Edward led me out to his car.
The drive to the park was way too short. As the car came to a stop, my heart started pounding in anticipation. "We don't have to do this if you're not ready. Coming this far is progress in itself."
"No." I opened my eyes and looked out at the park before us. "It has to be now." Getting out of the car was one of the hardest things I had ever done, but once it was behind me, I felt a little bit better. The park looked vaguely familiar, but not so much that I would recognize it in a caption-less picture. My feet and sub-conscious memory led me down a concrete pathway past a pavilion. Edward hesitated in front of it and then shivered a little before continuing, eyes watery.
"What's wrong? What happened there?" I questioned gently as I grasped hold of his hand.
"We waited there for you for hours. All of the adults took part in the search while Jasper watched us. The terror that was in all of us almost unbearable. I mean, I'm sure it was nothing in comparison to what you must've been going through, but…"
"Edward, stop. You don't have to downplay what you are going through; then or now. Just because I was probably paralyzed with fear doesn't mean you weren't too." I said, hugging him. "This is a journey we are both on."
We continued walking down the path until we came around a wide turn and I stopped moving. My gaze locked on a massive oak tree directly in front of me, all of my senses disappeared, and I fell to my knees, my palms on the clammy stone were the only things that kept me from going all the way down. Nothing else mattered as I watched the scene play out before me, unable to do anything about it.
"I'm counting to fifty!" A little boy shouted. I spun around, pig-tails bouncing in the fall breeze, to see Ben standing at an empty picnic table with his hands over his eyes. "1…2…3…4…" I sprinted forward, excited to play my favorite game. As I was searching for the perfect place, something told me this was a bad idea. "14…15…16…17…" I saw Emmett dart behind a massive oak tree and I sprinted over to him.
"What are you doing, Bella? I'm already here, go hide somewhere else!" Emmett pushed me away and my stomach twisted.
"Em, please can I hide by you? I'm scared; I don't want to hide by myself." Kids rushed past us as the counting continued.
"No! Don't be a baby, Bella!"
"Go hide behind that bush." He rolled his eyes and gestured towards a huge bush that bordered the woods.
Unwillingly, I ran over to the bush and ducked behind it. "27…28…29…30…" Almost completely tucked inside of the branches, I heard a rustle to my right. Peeking over, I saw a man squatting down about three feet away. He put a finger to his lips and motioned for me to go with him.
"I have a better hiding spot, come on." He whispered, brushing his reddish blond hair away, to reveal piercing blue eyes.
"No thanks. I like this one here just fine." I whispered back. Something just didn't feel right about this man.
"Aw, come on, you'll be a legend. They'll never find you. I promise." He reached out a hand to me and his voice got more demanding. "Let's go."
Scooting further back into the bush, I shook my head. "I don't want to go with you." He sighed and dropped his shoulders in defeat.
"I don't think you understand; you don't have to want to come, you're coming." Before I knew what was happening, he reached through the branches and grabbed me, one hand around my mouth, the other around my arm. Every bone and muscle in my body went in to squirming and fighting, but it wasn't enough; his grasp was too tight.
In the distance I could hear the counting fading away. "48…49…50! Ready or not, here I come!" My tiny fingers scratching at his tough skin did nothing. I tried to remember what Dad had said to do if this ever happened. 'If someone ever tries to take you or hurt you, you bite, kick, scream, scratch, and hit with every ounce of energy you have. Do anything to draw public attention to yourself and make sure you tell them that your father is a police officer. But most of all just do everything you can do to get away and to the safest place.' He didn't tell me that the person would be this strong, and there wasn't anyone around to see what was happening.
The smell of cigarette smoke, gasoline, and bleach on his hand made me nauseous. Once he had been running for what felt like a lifetime, the man slowed down. Through my tear-clouded vision, I saw a green car waiting on the side of the road. He threw me in the back seat and got in with me.
"Step on it, Felix." He snapped, and then turned back to me. "I've been waiting an awful long time for you, Miss Bella. My name is Dmitri, we're going to have a lot of fun together, I promise." His sinister smile made me want to throw up even more than before. "You know, those clothes look awfully uncomfortable…"
Without a flash, I was back in the park, collapsed in the middle of the pathway with Edward. My whole body was shaking and my elbows gave out. Edward sat down on the ground next to me and pulled me into a hug. His arms around me felt like the only things that were keeping me from falling into a million pieces.
The images continued in my head, making me more and more nauseous. Pushing off of Edward, I leaned off the concrete and threw up.
"Shh, it's okay now, Bella. It's all in the past, it's all gone." Edward supported my body weight with one arm holding me up from my waist to my opposite shoulder while he used the other hand to keep my hair out of my face. "You're okay now. You're safe."
I couldn't move off of the ground for about an hour, and Edward, being the amazing man that he is, didn't push me to budge an inch.
"I'm sorry you had to be here for this. That wasn't very pretty." Sitting in his lap with his arms wrapped around my chest was the only way that I felt even just a little bit safe.
"I'm not. I'm sorry that you had to go through this, but I'm not sorry that I was here for it. I'm not just here for all of the good things, Bells. I'm here for all of it, the good, the bad, and the ugly – which you never are; the ugly applies only to the situations. Like you said, this is a journey that we are both on, together."
"I knew this was going to be hard, I just didn't think…..there was so much more…..he….." Words struggled to form, so I stopped trying. My fingers laced the thin line on my wrist, the scar from the last overwhelming flashback. Edward put his hand on top of both my hand and wrist.
"There are more reasons to live." He whispered so quiet that if I wasn't expecting him to say something, I probably wouldn't have heard it. "No matter how many reasons there are to die, there are always more reasons to live."
After a few more minutes of sitting in silence we stood up to leave. The entire way out, every muscle in my body was telling me to run and to run as fast as I could, but I suppressed it. From the park to my house was only about ten minutes, but all ten were spent glancing out the rearview mirror looking and waiting for the green car to appear behind us. Eventually, the beautiful house I call my home came in to view and all focus changed from watching for the car to thinking about how to explain to my family and Kate what had just happened. When we had left, I told Mom we were 'going out and we'd be back in a little bit' but I didn't say where to.
I don't know if it was my face that was streaked with dried tears, the fact that my knees were still quivering, or Edward's extra-protective stance next to me, but Mom knew something was wrong the second I opened the door.
"Charlie." She called nervously from the couch. Picking Ollie up off of his play mat, she walked over to us. "What's wrong?"
"I just…we went…" Trying to explain anything that just happened was next to impossible, so I looked to Edward for help.
"Bella decided that she was ready to go to the park; so we did. The flashback was quite intense." As he was explaining for me, I took Ollie from Mom and held him tight to my chest. Having other people watch him so often made me feel like a terrible mother, but if I was ever going to be able to function properly in this world, I needed to get a little bit of culture and experience. Mom assured me that me leaving for a few hours a couple of days a week was doing no harm to my son.
"Oh, baby!" Mom hugged me. "Why didn't you tell us, we could've gone with you?"
"Having an audience while you have a complete mental breakdown is not always the most favorable option. It was bad enough having one person have to watch, I didn't need three or four or five." In my efforts to keep from crying, everything I said sounded a lot more agitated. Without another word, I walked up the stairs and went to my room.
After Ollie was fed, I tried to figure out how to text Kate without worrying her too much. In the middle of my third draft, there was a soft knock on my door. The second it opened and I saw my dad standing in the doorway; I couldn't contain the emotion any longer.
Throwing my phone on the bed, getting up and hugging him, I cried. "I tried Daddy, I promise; just like you said. I kicked and squirmed and bit and scratched, but he was too strong. I'm sorry."
Dad was pretty good about containing his emotion, but every once in a while, his shell cracked. This was one of those few times. He could barely speak, but he managed to get a sentence or two out before breaking down even more. "It's not your fault, baby. I love you." We hugged for the longest that we ever had standing in that doorway. He had stopped sobbing, but was still emotional, when he pulled back and looked me in the eyes. "You know that no one thinks it is your fault that any of this happened, right? You have always been an amazing girl, never once were you blamed for this because you couldn't get away."
"I love you, Daddy." I smiled a little and a tear rolled down his cheek as he kissed me on the forehead.
"I will always love you, Bella. No matter what."
Hugging him once more, I looked back at my phone. "I really need to call Kate." Scrapping the text I was working on, I just dialed he number. As always, she picked up before the first ring finished its cycle.
"Just what I like to see, keeping in touch." Kate laughed. "What's up, Bella?"
I let out an unsteady sigh. "I have some…information, about the case."
"Uh oh. What happened?" Her whole tone and persona went from happy friend to concerned therapist.
"I went to the park today." Taking a deep breath and skipping over all of the details, I went straight to the important part. "There was another man involved in the kidnapping. Felix, I didn't catch his last name. Brown medium length hair, wider face – I could probably give a description to a sketch artist again if I need to. He drove the car the day I was taken, and was...fully involved otherwise." As I riddled off the pieces of information, I tried not to think too much about the images that went along with them.
"Oh my, gosh, Bella; that's, that's huge. Someone was with you, right? Are you okay?"
"Edward took me. I'm…I'm not going to try to kill myself again, if that helps." It scared me saying that, because Edwards words from before were the only things holding me down, and I wasn't sure how much longer that tether would last.
"Oh, honey, I'm sorry. Do you want to talk about the rest of the flashback, or would you rather wait a while?"
"I can't. Not now; I can't even think without almost losing it again, talking about it is out of the question. The only reason I called you was because I needed to let you know about Felix while it was still fresh in my mind." We talked for about another half hour, until I just didn't have the energy to put up a front anymore.
Since it was only two in the afternoon and not socially acceptable to go to bed for the day, I put my sleeping son in his crib and took a shower. The boiling water felt good against my skin, reminding me constantly that I was alive and awake. I ran my thumb across the scar once more and sighed, such a large part of me didn't want to keep going anymore. Those images in my head; the things they did to me, I didn't want to have to live with that any more. Every day knowing that I would never be able to do so many things because of what they did.
After I finished up my shower, I went down stairs to get something to eat. The second I crossed in to the kitchen, the phone started to ring. Even in my exhaustion from crying so much, I picked it up and answered it.
"Bella, this is Charlotte. Charlotte Myles." Her voice was quiet and rushed. "I wanted to call you before I called the police and warn you."
My heart stopped and my blood ran cold. "A…about what?"
"He's back in town. He came walking through the front door an hour ago like nothing had ever happened. I don't know what he's going to do when he finds out I called you, but I just wanted to warn you. Please stay safe, Bella." The call disconnected and I let the phone slip out of my hands and crash to the floor before letting out a blood curdling scream.
Dun, dun, dunnnnnn. I hope you enjoyed this. Suggestions and/or feedback are ALWAYS appreciated. Thanks for coming back for another chapter.