I didn't know what day it was and I didn't care. At some point the sun had come up and disrupted my sleep. I didn't think I would be able to get back to dreaming as long as that vile sun stayed up shining brightly into the room. Finally I ripped the covers off of me, I stormed over to the curtains; drawing them shut.
Much better. Back to sleep.
Edward woke me at some point and I could see that there was no light coming from beneath the curtains. Must be night. What small light there was came from the lamp on Edward's side of the bed end table. He placed a tray down on the bed and then it seemed like he was coaxing me to eat. He sounded like Charlie Brown's teacher.
I looked at the tray and then turned back over to get back to sleep. That must have upset him because this time his voice boomed so loud that I could make out some of what he was saying.
"Bella… not… back to sleep… you eat. Not going… allow… waste away."
Reality check, Edward. I already was wasting away.
He stood in front of me holding a thermos of soup. He leaned over and brought his face close to mine.
"If you don't eat at least the soup then I will call Dr. Smith and have her stick a needle in you and feed you intravenously. Is that what you want?"
I looked up at him; slowly blinking. I pushed myself up and took the thermos from him and continued to down the contents keeping an eye on Edward.
Fine. Keep me alive, bastard.
I finished and didn't even bother with wiping the sides of my mouth. I simply placed the empty container on my side table and turned back over and slept some more.
I had more dreams of my dad but it wasn't every time I would go to sleep that he would come to me; still it was a lot better than having to face reality or pain.
Edward would try to stay around in our bedroom either working at his laptop at the corner desk or watching television, sitting on our bed. I think he was worried I would try to kill myself but he didn't know I would never have it in me to do that.
Being brought up in a somewhat religious setting; I was told over and over in Sunday school of how committing suicide would never allow me to enter the pearly white gates. It's what kept me from it during all those years I was bullied. Over my life I have contemplated it but damn that upbringing of mine which always stayed in the back of my mind. I hated it here but there's that old age question; what if? What if there was a place worse than here and you were sentenced to an eternity of it. Well that thought is what always kept me from it. Edward didn't know this of course so he would do his best to stand guard or at least have another person around if I should get such a notion.
I had visitors. Don't get me wrong. Edward didn't just lock himself upstairs with me all alone. My mother would come by and pet my head kissing me and telling me how much she loved me before she would leave. If I wasn't asleep I would fake it. I didn't want to deal with anyone however sometimes it wouldn't matter.
"I know you're faking. I'm not stupid, Bella." Jacob sighed. He jumped onto the bed with a bag of chips and started to eat from them like we were merely sitting around and watching a movie of the week.
"You know how many times I have watched you sleep. I can tell."
I opened my eyes and looked up at him from where my head rested on the mattress.
"There you are." Jacob smirked.
I turned over hoping that he would get the hint and leave but this Jacob we're talking about. You would have to hit him in the head with a sledge-hammer and it still wouldn't be enough.
"I know you're suffering. I get it. Hell I've been there. I have lost both of my parents. It's the worst thing in the world. The people who love you and dedicate every part of themselves to you and then one day they're just taken from you. You get angry and you start to feel the whole world is against you but it's not Bella. We're still here and we're not against you. I love you. Edward loves you. Your mom loves you and those incredible girls out there love you. They miss you."
Great add to my guilt.
"Your father wouldn't have wanted this of you. He loved you. I have to believe that he is in a better place. He's not in pain anymore."
I pulled the covers over my head and tried to drown out his voice, immaturely covering my ears with my hands.
After a couple of minutes I felt the bed move and him leave.
It was a little while after that when Edward came back into the room. He went straight into the bathroom and I could hear him start the water in our bathtub. When he walked back out to me he was naked but I just continued to stare out the window not really sure if I was dreaming or if I was back in reality. I had slept so much that it was causing my mind to question what was real and what was fake.
Edward pulled the covers from me and the breeze from the movement caused little goose bumps to take up residency all over my body. Edward started to undress me; pulling my nighty off of me he let off a loud sigh. Probably didn't care for what he saw at the moment.
He picked me up; securing me tightly in his arms and carried me into the bathroom, stepping into the bathtub. Kneeling down, I could slowly feel the warm water come over me the lower we got. Edward sat down and placed me between his legs. I will admit the bath water did feel nice. The warmth made me sleepy and content. We stayed there for probably twenty minutes. Edward made no attempt to talk to me nor did he try to get me to talk with him.
He started to scrub my body clean. One of the things I loved most about Edward was the times he would share a bath with me. I love feeling his hands all over me. The way he would shampoo my hair and scratch my scalp always caused complete and utter relaxation. It was never about sex. Just a man who loved his woman and wanted to give her the best attention.
He finished off washing my hair by pouring water over my head and making sure all the soap was clear. Gently he leaned down and placed a long soft kiss upon my neck. He whispered how he knew I was in pain and wished there was something he could do. He told me that he loved me.
I shivered slightly and Edward took cue that the water was much too cold so he reached down and retrieved the plug allowing the water to drain from our bath. I was freezing by the time Edward managed to hoist me out of the bathtub but he rubbed me down in a fluffy towel and then placed me back onto our bed. He left briefly to return with some warmer pajamas and began to dress me. With all the exertion from the bath I slowly nodded off.
This was my life. I was going to spend the rest of it in a bed where a bath would be considered the taxing part of my day. Eventually my fiancé would get tired of me and he would kick me out, I was sure of it. My friends and family wouldn't want anything to do with me and I wouldn't blame them. I deserved every bad thing that came my way.
Nightmares came this time. I dreamed of my dad lying on the floor where he collapsed in the living room. There was nothing I could and for some reason I couldn't physically reach him. I just stood back screaming and crying with an imaginary boundary holding me back.
I woke suddenly and laid trying to forget the vicious dream.
The door opened slowly. I was still facing the window. It was probably Edward with more food to force down my throat.
"Hey B." Embry whispered before coming around the bed and setting himself up on it.
I looked up at him; making lingering eye contact. Embry laid down beside me and pulled me into his arms and suddenly I couldn't stop myself. I cried. I broke down. I sobbed. I wailed. Embry just held me. He didn't tell me lies. He didn't tell me that everything was going to be okay or my father was in a better place. He just held me while I grieved.
Why Embry? What about him made the difference. Like I said before; we had completely different upbringings, Embry lived below the poverty line the majority of his life. He was beaten by his father, uncared for by his mother. I on the other hand grew up in a nice middle-income upbringing where both of my parents strived to make my life better in every way. Yet, I always identified with Embry, mainly because I could feel his pain through his music. He lost a lot of people over his life and he understood how horrible the polite lies could be when you were in pain.
He spared me. All he did was hold me and let me cry. Feeling that release was freeing. I cried so hard that I exhausted myself and even though my nose was stuffed so I couldn't breathe through my nostrils any longer, I eventually passed out harder than I had the past couple of days.
I don't know when Embry finally left but his arms were replaced with another's.
Edward held me all night and the next morning when I woke, he was there holding me still; like he was afraid I was physically coming apart and it was his job to keep me held together.
I managed to get out of his arms and steal away to the bathroom. For the first time in days I managed to brush my teeth and wash my face. Gross, I know but you wanted the nitty-gritty.
I then decided to try out a shower. When the water was warm I stepped in and could feel the tension in my shoulders release a bit but like turning the faucet on and off I eventually couldn't handle it any longer and I dropped to the floor breaking down all over again.
Edward found me curled up in a ball in the corner of our shower. He didn't even hesitate; with his boxers still on he sprang into action and enter the shower.
"Baby?" he crouched down to hold me. "Oh, honey." He whispered pulling me tight.
"He's gone, Edward." I muttered through my gasps for breath trying to look up towards him; the water from the shower head spraying down upon us.
"I know, honey. I am so sorry. God, Bella I am so sorry." I could tell his voice was breaking.
"Sorry. You have nothing to be sorry for. Geez, Edward I'm sorry. I'm sorry for how I treated you. I'm sorry; this is all my fault. If I hadn't fought with my dad he would still be here. I caused this…"
"No, Bella. You didn't. You can't believe that." Edward stated strongly. "I know you blame yourself but baby, you dad had poor health. You didn't cause that."
"I was so horrible to you. I don't know why you stay with me. Can't you see everything I touch, every person who comes into my life…I ruin lives."
"That's not true. Sometimes in life there are people who are given harsh trials but you weren't the cause. You're not to blame for the decisions made by others. It's okay to cry. Your feelings are valid but please don't shut me out. I love you so much. I will be here no matter what ever happens to you or to us."
We stayed in that shower for a little while longer until I could feel my tears start to slow. Edward helped me up and dried me off. I think he was waiting for my cue as to what I was planning to do now. Was I getting better? No. I didn't feel better. I just felt…drained.
I climbed back into bed and snuggled deep down under the covers.
February 13, 2009.
The date of our wedding. I laid in bed unaware of what today was supposed to be. Edward lay next to me, holding me and probably completely aware of the date.
It wasn't until later when it finally dawned on me and then I felt even worse. All that money. I can't even imagine how much it cost to call off a wedding of that size.
"Could you please try to eat something, baby. It's killing me to see you like this. This isn't healthy." Edward pleaded.
"Maybe later. I don't feel too well." I whispered and shut my eyes.
Edward sighed and rolled off the bed to leave. I'm sorry Edward but food just didn't even seem appetizing anymore.
"GET UP!" Embry walked into my bedroom and yelled so loudly that it immediately startled me.
I turned over to face him and he came forward and pulled the covers off me, tossing them to the ground.
"You didn't allow me to just waste away and now I'm not going to allow you to waste away."
I sat there staring up at him not moving.
"I mean it Bella. You're going to come downstairs. You're going to eat a full meal and then if you want to come back up here and cry yourself to sleep then that's up to you. But as of right now, your meals are no longer going to room serviced to you and you are going to get the proper amount of nutrition."
I still sat there staring up at him like a misbehaved child who was getting reprimanded.
"Do I need to carry you? I will carry you." Embry continued to threaten.
I balled up my fists. Embry raised an eyebrow challenging me.
"Fine." I huffed. Using all my energy I stomped out of bed and Embry gave me the gesture telling me to lead the way. I hadn't walked this much in days and even in that short time my muscles must have begun to atrophy because it was taking everything in me to go the short distance of out my bedroom, down the stairs to the kitchen.
I thought I was going to be met with a house full of people but there was only three. Edward, Jacob and Embry.
"Where is everybody?" I asked quietly.
"Thought you wouldn't want too much attention so Becky helped your mom take the girls out to the Apple Pan for dinner." Edward informed.
"What is this? Some kind of intervention." I snidely remarked.
"Call it what you want but you're eating here in this chair. One full meal before you can get up." Embry pulled out my chair and I sat down awkwardly awaiting for the rest of dinner companions to join.
A chicken Caesar salad. Edward always did make the best salad but it didn't do anything for me but make my stomach turn. However, I ate it. In silence. Hardly looking up from my plate.
"Bella, tomorrow I asked the boys to come by and maybe spend some time with you. Scott, uh…Liberty Project." Edward broke the silence.
"Why?" I asked.
"You know why." He replied.
I can just imagine how that conversation must have gone. Hey, Scott can you wrestle up the rest of the band and come help save my fiancé. She's one string short of a full guitar, if you get my drift. Yes, Edward was desperate. He knew that in the past the time I spent with those guys always left me feeling better. Embry was here and was able to get me to do things that I wouldn't listen to Edward for but it still wasn't enough.
After dinner I was allowed to go back to my room as promised and Embry made sure I was able to get there just fine.
"All right, warden; you've done your duty." I said climbing back into bed.
"Warden? Uh Bella…you can leave this room at any time. In fact, please leave this room." He huffed.
"Just go." I sighed.
"What the hell is the matter with you? Yes, B you lost your father and he's gone and that's shitty but I think I remember someone once telling me that I was handed the worse hand but I still had a few cards to play. You said that you knew that your sister wouldn't have wanted you wallowing around in her death. That she loved you and would have wanted you to be happy. You told me that! You knew that my wife and my best friend wouldn't have been happy with the choices I was making. Do you really think that your dad would have wanted this for you?" he gestured to me.
"Bella your dad loved you. I know from being a father I would never want this for my daughters. So go ahead and cry, hell I still cry but then I get the fuck over it and I figure out a way to fight. So fight, god dammit!"
His chest was rising and falling from the strain he had put on his words. I hated how right he was. Using my own words to bite me in the ass but…
"I can't." I whimpered. "It just hurts all the time."
I started to break once again. "I feel like I can't breathe. I…wish I could just…take his place. I would trade places if it were possible. I don't want to be stuck here in this…purgatory. I just want to go to sleep and never wake up."
"Like you'll never find a reason to laugh again." He replied softly, knowingly.
"Like the world would be a better place without you in it." Embry sat down on the bed. "I know. I feel that too but it will get easier. Not better just easier. But you gotta try. You can't just sit up here extracting yourself from the world because then it will get worse. Worse for Edward. The man is literally pulling his hair out. Worse for Savannah and Gracie. They finally found some stability and if you don't fight you'll take that from them. You have so many family and friends and you staying up here…it will be worse for everybody. The world will not be a better place."
"I just miss him so much. I will always know that my last moments with him will be me, yelling at him. I can't get his face out of my mind. His broken face. I have images of him lying on the floor all alone thinking that I didn't love him." I sniffled.
"B. Come on. Your father was an intelligent man. He wouldn't think that. He knew that you loved him just like you know that he loved you. What do you think he would say if he was right here, right now looking at you like this?"
And for the first time I couldn't stop the involuntary smile I gave. "He'd probably call me silly for making such a fuss." Embry smiled a little as well. "Then he would have wanted to know if his team won the Super Bowl." I shook my head.
"That sounds about right." Embry acknowledged.
"This all still really sucks." I whispered.
"Yeah, unfortunately that's what life is…one giant suckfest and then you die."
I cringed and looked at him dubiously. "So uplifting. Don't become a motivational speaker anytime soon."
"Damn. Guess I'll have to let that dream go." He shook his head sadly.
"Well, it's a good thing you have that semi-successful rap career to fall back on." I noted.
"Semi? As in less than?" he replied offended.
"Above average?" I contended.
"You may be in mourning but don't think I won't kick your ass." He mocked.
And for the first time since I can't remember, I outright laughed seeing the expression on Embry's face.
"Wow…you see. That didn't hurt so much. Let me make sure your face didn't crack from that joyful moment." Embry reached out to inspect my face and I swatted his arm away. "Told you. Easier not better, right?"
"And tomorrow when you have breakfast with the girls it will get a little easier."
I sighed, "They must…they think I abandoned them." I guessed.
"No. Edward told them at the beginning that when a person passes away sometimes the people closest need some alone time to grieve. He explained it better than I would have. Edward's good like that but they just know that right now you're sad and hopefully you will get better."
"He thinks of everything." I replied quietly.
"Yeah, well…so I will see you down for breakfast at ten? Don't need to come up here and drag you out, right?" Embry got up from the bed and started to leave.
"Yeah…ten." I gave a small smile.
Embry closed the door behind him and I picked myself up. I walked over to our balcony doors and walked out onto it. The moon was getting fuller and it lit up the backyard nicely. Not as nice as when the moon shined bright over Lake Bracciano but still. God how I missed Italy.
It suddenly dawned on me that if things hadn't become so fucked up; we would have been married by now. Somehow that brought a trembling to my chest as I tried to fight back more tears.
"Darling, is everything okay?" Edward called from behind me. I couldn't face him. Instead I just hung my head in shame.
Edward walked up and placed his hands on my shoulders, "Bella."
"I…I…I'm just so sorry. I just keep finding ways to fuck up everything." I murmured.
"Baby, there's nothing to apologize for. You didn't fuck up anything." He tried to console.
"Wedding…all that money…my fault." I stuttered.
"Oh…well, sweetie it will happen. Don't worry about that."
I started to shake my head while the tears traced down my checks.
"Bella." Edward called after me but I couldn't answer him.
"Bella." He forced me to turn around to him. "Someday we will get married and it will be one of the happiest moments of my life when I can officially call you my wife but right now, let's not worry about that. I would much rather have you come back to me first. This past few weeks were hard but I just need you. I miss talking to you and holding you, seeing the light in your eyes. I miss you."
He crushed me to his chest, "God, I miss you."
Edward this beautiful, patient man. I knew then that Embry's words were true. I needed to move one and even though it felt like my heart would never be healed, for Edward's sake for the sake of my children and the sake of my family and friends I needed to fight and move on.
The next morning as much as I still fought with the overwhelming pain I managed to meet everyone downstairs for breakfast and give small smiles to everyone. The only smiles that I managed to be genuine were given to Gracie and Savannah. They were so happy to have me downstairs eating with them again and made sure to seat me between them at the breakfast table; them I could smile for.
I had to fight.
Seeing my mother was harder because she was the constant reminder. However I was thankful that she had stuck around to help out with the children. In some ways I think it was best for her as well because she didn't have to face an empty home. She put her focus into the girls.
After breakfast as promised the boys stopped by for some therapy.
"Bell, we're really sorry." Matt started but I quickly ended it.
"No. Please. I'm sorry but I need to figure out how to move on and I can't do that if I'm always reminded."
We all sat around on the big comfy couches in the pool house that I had turned into my office.
"All right." Scott agreed. He walked over to the corner and picked up the guitar they had given me and held it out to me.
"I don't know how to play." I stated.
"Well sometimes just strumming around on it can help you with ideas." Scott insisted.
I started to try to do what he said but after a couple of seconds I stopped. "This is nuts. We don't have time to focus on writing. The Academy Awards are one week away and we gotta start practicing." I set the guitar down.
"Uh…are you sure that's a good idea?" Aaron cringed slightly.
"I know. I fucked up at the Grammy's but I can't sit here knowing that we have such a short time before the Academy Awards. I'm sure you don't want to perform with me after what I did at Staples; I was out of my mind but if you just give me a chance I think I could come up with something really great for the Oscars."
"Bella, you didn't fuck up at the Grammy's. Your performance was raw and in some ways kind of beautiful. You can't see it because you're too close but in ten, twenty years I think you can maybe understand why it wasn't fucked up at all." Matthew replied.
"So…?" I waited for their reply on the Oscar performance.
"Do you really think you are ready? We're not gonna be upset with you if you're not." Scott responded.
I sat for a moment and really thought about it. Was I ready? Well, I guess a little more time would have been beneficial but it's not like I could go to A.M.P.A.S. and ask them to push back their award show to give me more time to heal. I may not be ready all the way but when I think about what I must have done at the Grammy's well I needed to redeem myself and I knew that this song would be perfect.
The song about a man who was a superhero and the sacrifice that he made to ensure that the woman he loved would be safe. Somehow that seemed quite on par with what Edward and I were going through. Edward sacrificed the wedding of his dreams for my well-being. I needed to fight to get back to normal and what's more normal than performing on Hollywood's biggest night.
AN: Sorry to do this to you but I might not be able to update until Tuesday. My work has been swamped due to the beginning of award season and I have been unable to work on the story since I have been working late every night. So sorry :-( Thank you for continuing to be dedicated to this story and for reviewing!