Chapter 33

"Dude! You totally fucking sucked ass."

Emmett's voice seemed to fill the whole apartment as soon as Edward opened the door and they walked in. I glanced up from the book I was reading to see them walking down the hallway towards me.

"Jesus Em, keep your fucking voice down," Edward snapped as they stepped into the living room. He grimaced at me apologetically while he threw his gym bag into his room.

"Hey dancer," Emmett greeted, throwing himself into the chair opposite me. "Sorry about the language. I didn't realise I was being so loud."

I stifled a giggle. Loud and louder were the only two volumes Emmett was capable of. Quiet just didn't compute in his brain.

"Where were you two?" I asked, setting my book down on the table.

"Kick boxing," Emmett replied, glancing at Edward accusingly. "We used to do it a couple of times a week. Anyways, I always kick his ass, but never like today." His grin widened. "He was like a little fucking puppy dog – sorry for swearing – it was embarrassingly easy."

Edward sat down beside me on the sofa, draping his arm across my shoulder. I caught an enticing whiff of his freshly showered body. "Shut up Emmett. You won. Get over it already."

"I guess you guys will be hungry." I stood up and headed for the kitchen.

Edward caught my hand. "You don't have to go to cook, we can order in."

"It's no trouble," I insisted.

Emmett was already settling himself back in the chair and flicking through the TV channels. Perhaps if it was anyone else who did this on their first time here it would have annoyed me, but Emmett was not the type of guy you could be annoyed with.

Edward peered into the fridge. "We only have two beers left," he muttered. "I'll nip out and buy some more." He glanced at me over his shoulder. "D'you want some wine?"

I nodded and he kissed my cheek, telling me he wouldn't be long.

I gathered what I needed from the fridge and started chopping vegetables.

"Wow, you're really gonna cook from scratch?" Emmett was looming over the fridge watching as I worked. "Christ , we've lived on take outs and stuff that comes in a tin for the last four years."

I smiled. "I like to cook, though I have to warn you there will be no meat in it."

He grimaced and I burst out laughing. "You're not going to change him into a vegetarian too are you?"

I frowned. "Too?"

"You've changed him," he responded taking the beer I offered him and twisting the cap off. "For the better," he elaborated quickly.

Pride got the better of me."How so?"

"Well for a start, he actually smiles these days." He chuckled. "Of course, regular sex does that for a guy."

I blanched. "Well I think we can agree Edward has always had regular sex."

"Hey," he admonished, stepping closer. "Don't you do that. I don't wanna hear any of that self doubt bullshit from you. I'm telling you that he's different now because of you. You're making him happy. He's in fucking love and that's something I never thought I'd say about Edward Cullen."

Embarrassment heated my cheeks and I turned to make a start on the onions.

"Look, I guess what I'm trying to do is warn you and put your mind at ease at the same time."

I looked up. "Warn me?"

He sighed. "Well, you know, just because he's with you, doesn't mean girls will stop throwing themselves at him. You just need to know that he's totally into you, like he's never been with anyone before." he took a swig of beer and I went back to chopping and the onions started to sting my eyes. "You can't let any of the bullshit he did in the past affect what you two have." He grimaced. "Jesus, I sound like a fucking agony aunt... I really care about him; he's had a tough time. I just don't want to see you two fuck it up, that's all I'm saying."

I thought about Leah's reaction to us and I knew what Emmett was trying to do. He was trying to make sure I understood that some of this might not be easy. I hadn't doubted Edwards love but maybe without Emmett's advice I would have one day.

"He used to be a selfish prick, but with you I get the feeling he'd do anything for you and he won't ever let anyone hurt you."

I smiled up at him my eyes still stinging from the onions and fat tears rolled down my cheeks.

"Are you fucking crying?" he gasped, recoiling as if he thought it might be contagious.

"It's the onions," I explained, laughing at him.

I dabbed at my eyes with a kitchen towel and blew my nose noisily.

"What the fuck, Em?" Edward glared dropping a bag on the counter and immediately rushing to my side. "What have you been saying to her?"

I hadn't even heard him come in.

Emmett grinned and raised his eyebrows at me knowingly as if some kind of point had just been proven.

During our meal, Emmett talked about Rosalie a lot and I wondered how the funny sassy woman he described could sound so different from the sullen moody one I'd met. I said nothing of this and politely smiled and nodded in all the right places. Every now and then Edward would gently caress my knee beneath the table and Emmett noticed every time, winking slyly at me whenever Edward wasn't looking.

After dinner my thoughts drifted back to Alice and Jasper, and needing some time to myself I insisted on washing up alone. Staring out of the window at the early evening sun I thought about the night of the barbecue. They had been so happy that night and it was heartbreaking to think of Jasper moving all his things out of the house. I wondered if he was still there collecting his things and if they were talking things over. I hoped they weren't fighting.

A little while later, Emmett ducked into the kitchen. "Thanks for dinner. That vegetable shit was better than I thought it'd be."

I was sure there was a compliment in there somewhere.

He walked towards me, "I have to go Rosie just text me." He looked at me conspiratorially. "Remember what I said, and no matter what anybody says to the contrary, take it from me, he won't let you down."

We turned to find Edward watching us from the living room. Emmett kissed my cheek, slapped Edward on the back as he passed, and left.

"What was all that about?" Edward asked, wrapping his arms around me and backing me up against the wall.

"What?" I said, feigning innocence.

"You're little tete-a-tete with Emmett in the kitchen."

"Oh that. He was just telling me about how badly you kick box." I smiled.

He pressed himself into me and I felt the comforting warmth of his body. "I was distracted," he murmured, flicking his tongue over my earlobe.

"He kicked your ass."

"Only because I was too busy thinking about yours."

I moaned when I felt him harden.

The phone rang and my shoulders sagged as I reached for it. Edward pressed soft wet kisses to my throat.

"Hello?" I tried to move out of his way, but he pulled me closer, sucking gently on my neck and grinding his hips into me.


"Hello?" I said again.

Edward stiffened and stepped back quirking an eyebrow. I shook my head indicating that I had no idea who it was.

Then I heard sniffling. "Alice?"

"I-I-Is Edward home?"

My heart ached for her. I knew she wouldn't want to speak to me. Jasper was gone from her life and she probably wished I was too. I wanted to say something but couldn't find the words to convey how sorry I was. Edward took the phone from me, his eyes full of sad regret.

"Are you okay?" He spoke, turning away from me slightly. He didn't completely turn his back on me, but the distance was evident. He glanced at me pleadingly, and I knew what he was asking even though he didn't speak. I nodded and his head dipped slightly. "I'll be right there," he said to Alice.

Pulling me into his arms he held me tight and dropped a firm kiss onto my lips. "Are you sure you don't mind?"

"Of course not, she needs you."

I wanted to ask if Alice had mentioned where Jasper had gone, but I knew that was the least of their worries. I simply kissed him back and let him go.


Alice must have been watching for me because the door was already opened when I arrived. I stepped inside and closed it slowly, the house was eerily quiet but I knew where to find her, it's where she always went when she was hurting.

The top step.

She liked to be at the top looking down, as if nothing could rain down on her, her troubles were beneath her. He was beneath her.

When I found my instincts were right it told me more than she ever could convey in words, he meant something. As much as that sickened me, he did. Still.

She stiffened when I sat down and wrapped my arms around her, but then succumbed and sobbed into my chest.

"I can't believe it's over."

Her words were thick with grief, her face anguished. What the fuck could I say? Everything I wanted to say about him would only hurt her more. Her heart wrenching sobs stopped me from saying anything at all. I just held her and hoped it would go some small way to letting her know that she would never be alone.

As I held her shaking body and listened to her heart breaking, it dawned on me that what she felt for Jasper was every bit as strong as my feelings for Bella. She had clearly put all her faith in Jasper and had been so utterly shocked and devastated by his actions.

It made me think about the bond he and Bella shared. What if it was more than just friendship? They had a life time of memories and it made me feel sick to my stomach that one day Bella might come to the same realization that Jasper had, and decided that it was him she wanted to be with.

What if Alice and I were the dress rehearsal and the real show belonged to them, waiting to be played out.

"I can hardly breathe," Alice whispered, alerting me to the fact that my arms had tightened like a vice around her.

She pulled away wiping at her eyes when I let go. She fixed me with her usual penetrating glare, and I knew she could tell what I'd been thinking. Her unnerving ability to do that had ceased to surprise me years ago.

"She loves you," she said a little harshly, and I dipped my head feeling ashamed that I had been thinking of myself in her hour of need. "She rejected him, so at least you have that."

I felt like the world's biggest asshole.

"What did he say?"

"He apologized a million times." A solitary tear slid down her cheek. "He said he loves me and the stuff with Bella was a mistake. He said it's me he wants and he just lost sight of that–" When she crumbled into sobs again, I took her hand in mine and waited till she was ready to continue. There was a haunted look in her eyes when she did. "The worst part is I think I believe him but I can't trust him anymore. He's everything I've ever wanted and he was perfect. But now it's ruined. It will always be there... she will always be–"

She stopped when I stiffened.

"I don't mean it like that. I just mean that what happened will always be hanging over us. I don't know if I could stand to see them being friendly again."

God knows I couldn't stand that thought either, but I kept my mouth shut.

"Tell me the truth," she begged looking up into my eyes. "Has Bella talked to him?"

"No," I answered. "She wants to, but she kept her distance to give you two a..." Could I say it? It seemed so obscene that Alice would even consider it, but I did. "She wanted you to have a chance at working it out."

Her eyes pierced mine. "He said he knows now that he can't live without me." Her voice was hollow and I knew what was on her mind before she voiced it. "But he didn't say if he could live without Bella."

We sat at the top of the stairs for a while until she got tired. Eventually, I scooped her into my arms and carried her to her room where she cried herself to sleep. I sat beside her bed until I was certain she was sleeping. Before leaving, I pulled the comforter over her fragile little shoulders that had been so strong for me so many times.

I missed my dad a lot when I was growing up, my mom too, though it took me years to admit it. Alice was the only one who ever saw my pain. I'd become so adept at hiding it behind a facade of apathy. I still don't know why Esme and Carlisle put up with me in the early years when I came to live with them. I was disruptive and completely unresponsive to everything they tried to do for me.

I went out of my way to make life as difficult as possible for them. As I got older I accepted that it was all a cry for attention, but it doesn't wipe out the fact that I embarrassed them and brought trouble to their door.

Even though she was younger than me, Alice would watch me with those big brown eyes – like she could see right into my head. She never seemed to get exasperated the way everyone else did and she never said one cross word to me. She had a way of getting me to open up to her.

It was only when I was alone in bed at night that I would let some of my emotions out. Sometimes letting my tears fall before furiously wiping them away again. That's how Alice found me that first time; trying hard to stifle my sobs in my pillow. She simply walked up to the bed, pressed her favorite teddy bear into my chest and then climbed in beside me, wrapping her arms around both of us. It was the first time I cried in front of anyone. It wasn't the last, but she was the only one who ever saw me cry.

There were many nights like that, where I would talk to her about my feelings. The crying eventually subsided, but she always knew when I needed her. When I got older it didn't feel right letting her come into my room so I stopped her. But I went back to feeling lonely and my behavior once again deteriorated.

Pulling my thoughts back to the present I walked quietly to the door, but then spotted her old teddy bear sitting on the vanity unit. I picked it up and placed it in her arms before lying down beside her. I wrapped my arms around her just like she had done for me so many times when we were kids. I couldn't leave her yet.

She woke in the middle of the night and ordered me home to Bella. I tried to insist on staying but we both knew my heart wasn't in it and for that I felt guilty. I walked through the bracing Seattle night back to where I wanted to be more than anywhere else, hoping that Alice would get through this.

Bella was sleeping and not wanting to disturb her I went to my own room where I stripped off and got into my cold bed, curling into a ball. I tried, I really did but it was like a magnetic force pulling at me relentlessly, until I couldn't do anything but get up and follow its trajectory straight to her room.

I slid between the sheets and curved my body around hers. I could tell I had woken her when she sighed in pleasure and snuggled closer.

"Go back to sleep," I whispered. "I didn't mean to wake you. I just couldn't sleep without you."

Her head dipped and she raised our entwined hands and kissed my fingers. When her ass wiggled against my pelvis, all my good intentions were lost.

I slipped her panties down easily and with her back to me she threw her leg over my thigh and guided my dick inside her. I moved languidly, sliding in and out of her wet depths as she gripped my fingers and brought them to her breasts. I was more than happy to oblige, kneading them softly as I slid my tongue along the curve of her neck. We took our time, reveling in each other's bodies. With each stroke the fear that had been brewing in me all night began to slip away.

I'd never enjoyed anything so much and I'd never fucking feared losing anything so much. She quivered in my arms when I bit her shoulder as I came, and feeling her pulse around my cock almost brought tears to my eyes. I never wanted to lose her, and it scared the crap out of me.

I awoke to an empty bed, but the smell of bacon appeased me and I lay on my back and listened to her humming in the kitchen. Contentment washed over me and I drifted back to sleep again.

She woke me by kicking the bed. "Hey, sleepy head."

I opened my eyes and grinned at her, pulling the sheet down slightly. "I've got a morning boner. Wanna help me out with it?"

A bright glint sparked in her eyes, but she shook her head. "I've made you some bacon and eggs and they're getting cold." Then her eyes dimmed. "And I want to hear about Alice, before I go to work."

I got out of bed and then realized I had come to her in the night naked and had nothing to put on. I stepped out of her room, my boner bobbing obscenely and smiled ruefully at her. "I just need to go put something on."

Her eyes were fixed on me as she watched me walk to my room. I had the urge to pull her back into her room, but she wanted to talk about Alice so that's what we'd do.


I watched him do a strangely awkward jog to his room while cupping his hand over his erection. Normally I couldn't have resisted the sight of him naked, but today I was too anxious to hear about Alice. I had fought with my conscience all night after Edward had left. I wanted to call Jasper just to make sure he was doing okay but I had to know what he'd said to Alice first. Of course, I had spent most of the night staring at my phone willing it to ring, but it never did.

Edward emerged from his room wearing sweat pants and pulling a t shirt over his head. He sat down opposite me and winked, before digging in to the bacon and eggs I'd set in front of him.

"You know," he said, with his mouth full and a glint in his eye. "These are hot enough that we could have had a little quickie."

He was insatiable and I loved it. But...

"How was Alice?" I asked, instantly dampening the mood.

He frowned.

"Seeing him made her feel worse." He sighed and rubbed his hands down his face. He pushed his plate away even though he'd hardly eaten anything and finally looked at me. "He apparently apologized a million times."

There was a heavy note of sarcasm in his voice which I chose to ignore. I knew this wasn't easy for him.

I sagged back in my chair. "I wish I could go see her."

"I don't think that's a good idea," he said.

A long silence stretched between us. It felt like neither one of us was really ready to discuss Alice and Jasper fully.

"Oh, I forgot to tell you Esme called last night and invited us all for dinner tonight," Edward said, suddenly enthusiastic because he'd found something to say. "Do you want to go?"

"I take it Alice said no?" He nodded at my question. "Because of me?" I asked, and he nodded again, his eyes not meeting mine.

"She just needs time, Bella, she'll come round." He fidgeted with the rim of his plate. "So will you come tonight?"

I wondered if it was a good idea to go tonight when it was glaringly obvious that their daughter was abstaining because of me, but Edward seemed keen for me to go, so I agreed.

It was almost time for me to leave and I really wanted to talk about how things had gone between Alice and Jasper. "Do you think she'll be able to forgive him?"

When he snorted derisively, I had to force down the bubble of anger that swelled in my chest.

"Maybe I should drive down to Forks and see him this week before Charlie gets home." I mused aloud.

"Why the fuck would you want to do that?" He was practically gritting his teeth and his sudden outburst surprised me. "He's the one in the wrong and he hasn't even attempted to contact you to apologize. Why should you go running after him?"

"I'm not running after him. I was waiting till he spoke to Alice and since I can't ask her how he's doing I–"

"Fucking hell Bella, what was all that bullshit about waiting till he came to you?"

"He text me last week," I shouted. "I didn't reply so the ball is in my court."

I stood up and dumped my uneaten breakfast in the trash, wondering how a perfectly good morning had suddenly descended into a shouting match.

He stalked into the kitchen and slammed his plate of uneaten food on the counter. I winced at the noise expecting the plate to break, but it didn't. He stood glaring at me but his voice was quiet. "Look, Bella, I just don't think you should go running down there it might send the wrong signals."

"I just want to make sure he's alright, Alice has had you to lean on Jasper doesn't have anyone." I insisted "And I'm sure he got all the signals he needed the last time – when I rejected him." I added pointedly.

Suddenly his eyes were like flint. "He doesn't deserve anyone, he caused all this! Why can't you see that?"

"He deserves a chance to put it right!" I yelled.

He jammed his fingers into his hair and raked it back. "How can he ever put this right? He tried to split us up, he almost cheated on Alice and he practically attacked you at your dad's wedding! Explain to me how he can ever put any of that right."

"Oh for crying out loud Edward, he didn't attack me. I was angry about it too, but we can't fix it by ignoring it."

"So you think things will just magically go back to the way they were?" He snorted.

"No," I said quietly. "I know things will never be the same, but he's still my friend and I'm not going to turn my back on him just because he got confused."

Edward snorted. "Yeah, confused about which one of you he wants to put his dick in to."

Tears pricked my eyes as I stalked to the living room. We weren't getting anywhere and I really didn't want us to fight over this. "I'm going to work," I said picking up my purse and the truck keys.

All day at work I alternated between stewing over Edwards apparent u-turn on not standing in my way if I wanted to make it up with Jasper, and feeling down about the fact that things would never be the same again. I had spent the most important years of my life relying on Jasper, and he had given me so much during that time. I had to at least find out if we could salvage something from the ashes of the bond we'd once shared.

At this point in time there was no question of who I would choose if I had to, but there was also no ignoring the fact that Jasper had been a major part of my life and had never let me down before. That level of trust and strength of bond had been cultivated over years and couldn't be wiped out by one stupid mistake. Even though I knew it was entirely Jasper's fault, I couldn't help how I felt. I missed him, and I couldn't stand the fact that he was hurting.

By the time I got home I had resolved not to mention Alice or Jasper this evening. Edward was taking a big step taking me home to meet the people he'd come to love as parents, and it wouldn't do to turn up with a big ugly cloud hanging over us.

He came to greet me as I was taking my jacket off in the hallway. "I'm sorry about this morning," He said enveloping me in his arms and squeezing me tightly as I apologized too. "The bath's ready for you."

I thanked him and smiled when he offered to join me. "I don't think we'd make it to dinner if you did that." I said heading to my room to get a change of clothes.

"You know, I miss the days when you couldn't get enough of my hands in your hair," he teased lightly, easing the strained mood a little.

"You're right I couldn't, but that was before I knew where it could lead." I looked at my watch pointedly. "And how long it can take."

He left me to get ready and I went through my routine as quickly as possible, all the while feeling more and more apprehensive about the visit. It wasn't as if Carlisle and Esme were a couple of ogres, they were very nice people, but it was nerve-wracking because Alice had refused to come because of me.

Their house was lovely, even from the street. It looked large enough to accommodate a family of twenty, very modern in design, and nothing at all like I'd imagined. Edward turned into the driveway and I admired the beauty of it as I got out of the car. There was so much glass, I couldn't imagine ever living in a house as open and luxurious as this.

He led me inside and his nervous disposition did not go unnoticed by me. Carlisle and Esme were standing in the vestibule arm and arm waiting for us. Esme, in particular, was grinning at us like we were a couple of kids and she'd just caught us holding hands in the corner. Everything about her just screamed that she was thinking; 'Too cute.'

I blushed, but when I looked at Edward I stifled a giggle because there was a definite tinge of rose pink just above his cheekbones.

"I won't introduce you, since you've already met." He sighed, stopping just short of rolling his eyes.

Carlisle grinned and stepped forward. "It's lovely to see you again Bella, welcome to our home."

I thanked him and accepted the enthusiastic kiss Esme planted on my cheek. Edward did roll his eyes when they turned away and we followed them down the hallway. I swatted his arm playfully.

I almost fell over my feet when we reached the living room and saw Alice sitting rigidly in an easy chair with her hands twisting in her lap. She looked up and her eyes met mine. She forced a smile which I nervously returned.

It would have taken a lot for her to come and I felt relieved and guilty at the same time.

Esme retreated to the kitchen while Carlisle poured us some drinks and Edward glanced nervously between Alice and me. Thankfully Carlisle struck up a conversation with Edward about his upcoming year as an intern, leaving me with the golden opportunity to approach Alice.

"How are you?" I asked awkwardly, groaning inside at my lame opener. How the hell did I think she was? She looked worse than I'd ever seen her, thinner, with dark circles under her eyes and a grim set to her mouth.

"I've been better," she said quietly. "But I'm getting there."

"Edward said you weren't coming," I blurted. "But I'm glad you did." It seemed my inability to hold a normal conversation had temporarily deserted me.

She finally looked up at me. "Bella, I came tonight, because I need to move on. I'm not angry with you, but I will admit I've been dreading seeing you again. But you're with Edward now, so I have to get used to it sometime."

"I'm so sorry for everything that happened," I said, moving towards her.

"It wasn't your fault," she insisted, recoiling slightly.

Even though I knew this was Jasper's fault, I couldn't help but feel responsible in some way. For years Jasper had had to contend with jealous girlfriends who couldn't accept our friendship. He'd often argued that there was no reason for them to feel jealous at all, but I had never tried to lessen the intensity of our friendship for their sake.

When he met Alice, she was different from the others. She fully accepted our friendship and was the first of Jasper's girlfriends to be nice to me. It was devastating that Jasper had broken her trust, and I couldn't help the bubble of anger that swelled in my chest when I thought of him.

The silence stretched between us and I struggled to think of anything to say. Everything I wanted to say to her would probably rub salt in her wounds. She smiled wanly and turned towards the television which had been muted.

When Edward came into the room he frowned slightly when he saw us sitting on opposite ends of the sofa not talking. Striding over he kissed my forehead before addressing Alice.

"I'm glad you came," he said, stooping to kiss her cheek.

I was sure I heard him whisper thank you as he did so.

Esme was an excellent cook and I was pleased that Edward had remembered to warn her that I'm vegetarian. Embarrassingly, the conversation seemed to centre around me. Edward kept his gaze trained on me listening intently while I answered Esme's barrage of questions. Every now and then he would wink at me and flash me an affectionate grin.

Inevitably the subject of my mother came up. I tried to stay upbeat while I answered Esme's questions but it became increasingly difficult and I was grateful when Edward stepped in to rescue me. Though I did wish he had been a little less blunt about it.

"One of the things Bella and I have in common is that we don't like to talk about our mother's," he said with brutal honesty.

Carlisle scowled at him but let the remark slide, I suspected out of politeness to me.

"I'm sorry, Bella," Esme said. "I didn't mean to make you feel uncomfortable." She shot a disapproving look at Edward.

I placed my hand over Edward's and squeezed. "It's really alright. It's not our fault we have mothers who haven't been there for us."

He turned towards me and looked at me with dark unfathomable eyes. I held his gaze until it finally softened. "You're right," he said, turning to Esme. "I'm sorry."

After that the atmosphere became more relaxed and Carslisle and Esme shared cute stories about Edward and Alice's childhood. It was nice to see Alice laugh again, and during the remainder of the evening I found myself wishing that I had experienced that kind of family bond growing up.

After dinner I offered to help with the washing up, which of course Esme refused, but then to my surprise Alice offered to do it with me.

I washed while she stood behind me armed with a dish towel. We worked efficiently and in silence, I hoped she would eventually speak.

"Have you talked to Jasper?" she asked, her voice was so quiet and her words so slow I almost didn't want to respond.

"No, not yet."

"Yet," she echoed wistfully.

I didn't turn because I couldn't face her pain, but the least she deserved was honesty. "I'll probably see him during the week when I go home to see Charlie."

"He said it was a mistake brought on by all the changes that happened in his life." Her voice was almost childlike.

I spun round. "That's what I believe," I said, finally happy that there was a breakthrough. "I know he loves you, Alice. It's only ever been friendship between me and Jasper. He lost his mom just when his relationship with you got more serious and his friendship with me changed. I honestly think he just–"

She held a hand up. "I don't know if I can ever trust him again. I believed everything he said about how he felt about you, but then he went behind my back and made a pass at you."

I opened my mouth to speak, but again she stopped me.

"Don't say it," she whispered. "Don't ask me to forgive him."

I shook my head. "I would never do that. He let us all down, but I know you have suffered the most. I'll be completely honest with you, I miss him so much and I want to build bridges with him if I can. But I still want to be friends with you too, you've been so good to me, Alice, and I don't want to lose that."

I noticed that she was staring at a point over my shoulder. I turned to find Edward glowering in the doorway.

"It's time to go," he said coldly.

We drove home in virtual silence and I tried to talk to him about what he'd heard, but he cut me off in a voice that brooked no argument.

Later, I slipped into bed alone and close to tears. When he joined me I could still feel the distance between us even though his arms were wrapped tightly around me.