Chapter 36

Edward snapped shut his laptop and stared at the wall. It had been two days since he'd walked out on Bella at the studio and he'd been able to think of nothing else. Maybe he'd overreacted? She'd made an honest mistake. She'd heard two people making out in his bedroom – what else was she supposed to think? "She could at least have given me the benefit of the doubt," he said to himself aloud. Yet he knew he probably would have done the same if the tables were turned. He thought back to the time he walked in on Bella and Riley in the studio. Bella had insisted the model had just been giving her a back massage, but his immediate thought when he'd seen them semi-clothed on the bed was they'd been getting it on.

The truth was, he was finding it very hard to stay mad at her. But his feelings were so conflicted. When they'd kissed on the porch he'd felt like he'd won the lotto. He'd finally summoned up the courage to make a move and Bella had reciprocated. He didn't think it was possible to be so happy. Her tiny body had felt so right in his arms, he never wanted to let her go. But he couldn't help thinking how she'd hurt him twice already and they weren't even dating. Was he prepared to give her his heart if she couldn't be gentle with it? Tanya had hurt him badly and he wasn't sure he could put himself through that again. But what was the famous saying: "It's better to have loved and lost, than to not have loved at all."

Edward's thoughts were interrupted by somebody at the door. Putting his laptop to one side, he heaved himself up from the couch where he'd been wallowing in self-pity for the past forty-eight hours and went to see who it was. He opened the door to see his friend Carlisle, clutching a book of some sort in his hands. "Oh, hey Carlisle. This is a surprise. We didn't have a tennis match on today, did we? My mind's not really functioning very well at the moment…"

"No man, don't worry. That's not why I'm here. Can I come in?"

"Sure, of course. Where are my manners?" He gestured for Carlisle to enter the house. "Can I get you a coffee? Beer?"

"No thanks, Edward. I can't stay long. I just promised I'd do something for Bella. How was the beach house by the way?" Edward shot Carlisle a puzzled look: how did he know about the beach house?

"Oh, it was… eventful. You said you were doing something for Bella. Did she send you round here?" Edward felt a glimmer of hope in his chest – maybe this was his chance to patch things up with her.

"Not exactly. She asked me to give you something, but when you cancelled our tennis match I didn't get a chance to give it to you until now. Here…" He handed the book to Edward, which on closer inspection turned out to be a photo album. Edward gingerly opened the first page and recognised one of his favourite shots from Bella's photo blog – but with one small difference. A large piece of card sat in the middle of the picture with the words "Edward, I'm sorry…" scrawled on it in black marker pen.

He quickly leafed through the rest of the album and saw more and more of the photos he loved so much, each with its own message. "I've been as blind as Daredevil…. I think you're super, man…. Can I be your Lois Lane?" Edward looked up open-mouthed at Carlisle. Since when did Bella know anything about comic books? "Bella made this for me? When?"

"Last week," replied Carlisle. "She said you two had fallen out over something." Her date with Jacob, thought Edward. "I hope I'm not too late."

"No," smiled Edward. "You're not too late."

"She's totally crazy about you, man," said Carlisle, returning the smile.

"Yeah… I'm totally crazy about her, too."

oOoOo

"Rose, he has every right to be mad at me. I jumped to the worst possible conclusion. And I'm regretting it every second of every day." Bella sighed as she curled up on the couch, cradling her phone to her ear. She'd finally told her friends everything and they were both trying their best to make her feel better. It wasn't working. She was taking full credit for screwing everything up with Edward once again.

"That is such bullshit, Bella," said Rosalie at the other end of the line. "What the hell were you supposed to think? He needs to get a grip and stop being such a pansy. You know, when I found a thong in the glove compartment of Emmett's car, I immediately accused him of screwing around. It turns out it was my underwear and he just kept in in his car so he could jerk off with it when he got stuck in traffic. Did he get mad at me for thinking the worst of him? No. I just gave him the matching bra and then we fucked in his car."

"Erm, Rosalie, that's not quite the same thing," said Bella. She never would get used to hearing her friend's little stories.

"Whatevs. You know what I mean. Just call him. I know I thought he was a cock-blocking little dweeb… Well, let's face it, you thought he was a cock-blocking little dweeb. But I think you guys would be kind of perfect together. You just need to get your shit together and start communicating. Emmett and I always- "

"Wait, Rose, I've got to go. There's someone at the door. I'll call you later, okay?" Barely waiting for her friend to reply, Bella hung up the phone and walked over to pick up the intercom. Her heart flipped when she heard the voice over the crackling line.

"Hey Bella, it's Edward."

She buzzed him up and opened the apartment door to him seconds later. He seemed a little out of breath. They stared at each other for what seemed like forever, until Edward broke the silence. "Can I come in?"

"Oh. Yeah. Sure." He walked past her into the apartment and sat down on the couch, pulling the coffee table closer to his knees.

"Okay Bella, so I'm starting to think we have serious communication issues." Bella laughed, recalling Rose's last words to her. Edward pulled his old Scrabble game out of his backpack and set the board out on the table. "So, I'm just going to spell it out." After rummaging around in the bag of tiles, Edward laid out the words 'IM SORRY' on the board. Bella smiled tentatively and opened her mouth to speak. Edward stopped her by placing a finger on her lips and passed her the drawstring bag.

Maybe he had the right idea. There'd been too much unsaid between them, too many misunderstandings, too many missed opportunities. Maybe the only way to get this right was in the cold, hard black and off-white of the Scrabble tiles. She pulled out four tiles and placed them next to Edward's 'M' to spell out 'ME TOO.' She looked up to see his reaction and felt a renewed warmth emanating from his gorgeous eyes.

Crossing the 'O' of 'SORRY', Edward set down his next message: 'I LIKE YOU.' He grinned and laid out another three tiles to add 'A LOT.'

Wordlessly, her heart bursting with happiness, Bella took the tiles from Edward, and used his 'I' to write two words: 'KISS ME.'

He didn't need to be told twice.