Disclaimer: Not mine.

Chapter Eleven

I tossed my keys, and the stack of folders I'd picked up from my office on the counter. My eyes burned from exhaustion, and my temples throbbed from the thoughts slamming around inside my head. The only positive thing about the day was that I had no appointments. I could work from home instead of forcing myself to pretend everything was okay. My stomach rumbled, and I gave a fleeting glance around the kitchen before shaking my head and walking to my bedroom. I was in no mood for eating.

Late morning sunlight flooded the room when I woke hours later. I sat up, groaning when a stinging pain shot down my neck. Sore and lethargic, I stumbled out of bed. After a shower and a quick lunch, I fell onto the couch with my stack of folders. I shifted through them, filling out forms and losing myself in the menial tasks of data entry. A check mark here, a comment there; it was all routine and allowed me to escape from reality a little longer. When I finally looked at the clock, it was after four.

Leaning against the back of the couch, I closed my eyes. The moment I did, every thought I'd managed to shut off came rushing back. There was no point in trying to block them. After reading the notes I'd made in files, it was clearer than ever how badly I'd handled everything. I wasn't following any of the advice I gave to others. And if I were being honest, it was time to stop lying to myself.

I hadn't moved on. I wasn't over Bella. And as hurt and angry as I was, I still loved her. The moment I allowed the truth to enter my mind, a feeling of relief swaddled in resentment and guilt washed over me. Reaching for my phone, I only hesitated for a moment before pulling up her name. I stared at the letters on the screen until they blurred before sending a text asking when she was leaving. I dropped my phone on the table and went into the kitchen for a beer. By the time I made it back, there was a message waiting for me.

On my way to the airport now. Is everything okay?

A humorless chuckle bubbled from my chest, and I shook my head. No, everything was not okay. It hadn't been for a really long time. I was more confused than ever. Yes, I still loved her. I just didn't know if love was enough to fix all that was broken. I couldn't even truthfully say I believed Bella would stay if the cancer came back. Was I willing to end my relationship with Chelsea to try again with Bella? I took a pull from my beer. There was no way I was discussing my insecurities over text messages.

Yeah. Will you text me when you land? Let me know you made it okay.

Of course.

Exhaling, I thumbed through my contacts until I found the number for a delivery place nearby and ordered dinner. Chelsea was due soon, and I assumed she'd be hungry. I tried to not dwell on the conversation we were going to have. I was tense and anxious enough already.

I wondered if inviting her to my house was a mistake. If this would have been a conversation better had somewhere other than the home I once shared with Bella. I let out a low laugh and walked back into the kitchen for another beer. Of course it wasn't the right decision. I hadn't been capable of making good decisions in a long time.

After changing clothes and a quick sweep of the house to pick up after myself, the food arrived. I'd just put all of the food on the counter when the doorbell rang again. I smiled and opened the door for Chelsea to step inside.


"Hey yourself." She leaned in and gave me a soft kiss on the cheek.

"Please tell me you ordered food. I'm starving." She kicked off her shoes and fell onto the couch. Every muscle in my body tightened.

"Yeah. Just relax. I'll get it." I moved into the kitchen as quickly as possible without drawing her attention and took a long pull from my beer. I needed to get my shit together. I needed to get out of my head and be here with Chelsea. I braced my hands on the counter and let my chin fall to my chest, my eyes drifting shut while I pulled in a deep breath. Doing it once more, I lifted my gaze to the doorway only to find Chelsea staring at me, a frown marring her face.

"Are you okay?"

"Yeah," I lied. "It's been a long day."

She tsked and walked toward the fridge. "You're such a liar."

I grinned and pushed away from the counter. "That wasn't very nice."

"Neither is lying," she quipped, grabbed a beer.

My smile slipped, and the weight I'd been fighting all day was suddenly back. "No," I agreed. "It's not. I'm sorry."

"Don't be sorry. Come on. Let's eat and then we can talk."

After loading our plates, we moved into the living room and settled on the couch. We ate mostly in silence. I felt the tension building around us. Everything was wrong. This wasn't how things were with Chelsea; we talked. Pulling the plate from her hand, I set it on the table next to mine and shifted until we faced each other. No more stalling.

"I talked to Bella."

Her eyes widened a bit before she composed her features and nodded. "When?"

"Earlier this week. I didn't tell you because I wanted to talk to you in person."

"Did she explain why she left?"

I dropped my eyes toward the floor and nodded. I told her about our conversation at the bar. About Bella's cancer and her reasons for leaving. It felt different explaining it to someone who knew her personally. Chelsea didn't interrupt, only squeezing my hand in reassurance when I had a hard time putting the words together. When I finished speaking and finally lifted my gaze, I was met with sad blue eyes shimmering with tears and a soft, melancholy smile.

"I can't imagine going through something like that alone."

I shook my head and pushed down my anger. "She didn't have to. That was her choice."

"It was, but that doesn't make it any easier."

"Are you saying you agree with what she did?" I snapped, instantly regretting my tone when Chelsea's mouth dropped open and she leaned away from me. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to―"

"Of course I don't agree with what she did," she interrupted. " I was here, remember? I saw the damage she left behind. But from the sound of things, you weren't the only one suffering. That's all I meant."

"I know. I know. C'mere." I tugged her arm and pulled her against my side. Leaning into the back of the couch, I wrapped my arm around her side and closed my eyes. She gripped the front of my shirt and draped her arm over my stomach and around my waist. Her hold was firm as she hugged me against her. The way she clung to me caused a feeling of dread to rise in my throat. When she released me a moment later, the feeling was nearly suffocating.

She pulled in a deep breath and tried to push away, but I held tight. She tried once more, but I didn't release my grip. I only dropped my forehead to the crown of her hair. Defeated, she relaxed against me. "You're not going to make this easy are you?"

"Make what easy?" I mumbled, my words muffled by her hair.

She let out a broken laugh, and my chest ached. "Edward, this changes everything."

I shook my head, denying the truth of her words. But even as I did so, I knew. With every passing second, I knew.

"She came back for you. She's sitting across town right now―"

"She's in California." I wasn't prepared when Chelsea shoved away this time, easily breaking my hold. She twisted around and gaped at me wide-eyed.

"She left?" Her expression was filled with disbelief, but it was the tinge of hope coloring her words that made my stomach drop. Because I knew.

"Only for a week or so. She had some things she needed to take care of." Chelsea's shoulders slumped, and I felt like an asshole. It was a feeling I had become familiar with. "Listen to me. I'm coming to terms with why Bella did the things she did, but that doesn't mean we're going to get back together. She hurt me. She lied to me. I don't know if that's something I'll ever forget, even if I do manage to forgive her. How could I ever trust her to not do something like this again?"

The look on Chelsea's face was incredulous. "You're not seriously asking for relationship advice about your ex-girlfriend."

"No. Fuck. Of course not. I'm trying to explain why even though I know the truth, it doesn't really change anything. I care about you, Chelsea. The last thing I want to do is hurt you." I didn't want to hurt her, but my reasons for wanting to be with her weren't the right ones. She was safe. And I was an asshole for wanting that security from her.

"You're not over Bella."

I dropped my eyes to our hands. I wanted to deny it, but it was becoming clearer and clearer what I had to do. Chelsea deserved better than lip service from me. She deserved better than me. "No."

"You never were." Her voice broke at the end and it killed something inside me. No matter what I did, I was going to hurt her. Just like she said I would.

"I believed I was. I swear to you that when I started things with you, I really believed I was."

"And now?"

"I don't know." I looked at her face. Her skin was blotchy, and her blue eyes shimmered with unshed tears. "I didn't ask you to come over here so I could break up with you, Chelsea."

"But that's what's happening, isn't it?"

For a second indecision crawled up my spine. It whispered in my ear that I was making a mistake. Bella deserved everything she was feeling. She did this. Not me. Not Chelsea. She made decisions about our life, my life, without giving any consideration to my feelings. She took away my choice because she thought she was doing what was best, but she was wrong. So fucking wrong.

That didn't change the fact that a part of me still loved her. More than a part of me. The problem was I didn't know if love was enough, if I would ever be able to see past all the hurt and pain she'd caused. Was finding out the answer to that question important enough to let go of Chelsea, who had stood by me when all I wanted to do was let everything crumble down around me?

My stomach twisted when the answer hit me full force and without falter. Memories of wide smiles, soft touches, and easy laughs assaulted me. It was the final piece to the hardest puzzle I'd ever put together. I was going to hurt someone I cared about today.

I swallowed around the lump in my throat and sucked in a deep breath. There was no backing out now. "Chelsea―"

"Fuck." She gasped, squeezing her eyes shut. "Fuck," repeated, quieter, deflated.

I gripped my hair and dropped my elbows to my knees. "I keep fucking things up. I'm trying―I never wanted to hurt you. You know that right?"

She pulled in a shaky breath and I twisted my head to look at her over my arm. The sight of her crying made me want to vomit. But it didn't change my mind. I knew then, no matter how much it hurt or how scared I was, for the first time in a long time, I was doing the right thing.

"I know. I just―I wish I would have waited. I wish I hadn't rushed into things the way I did."

I dropped my hands and sighed. "I wish a lot of things had happened differently." I blew out a frustrated breath. "You know that I'll always―"

"Don't," she interrupted. "Just―whatever you are about to say―don't. I can't deal with hearing what you will or won't feel in the future. I can barely handle what's right now."

"Even though I doubt you'll believe me, I hate that I hurt you. But it's not fair to be with you when I'm such a fucking mess. You deserve better."

"I do." She stood from the couch and grabbed her bag. I immediately followed, my stomach twisted with dread and relief.

"I'm sorry."

She shrugged and gave me a small smile. "Doesn't make it hurt any less."

I reached out and pushed her hair over her shoulder, my palm resting against her jaw. "Chelsea, if circumstances were different. Another time―"

She leaned into my hand before stepping away and wiping the tears from her face. "I could have so easily fallen in love with you. But some part of me always held back, like I knew it was possible for something like this to happen. I ignored it when I shouldn't have. God, I wish I wouldn't have."

"Please don't hate me." No matter where we were now, her hatred wasn't something I would ever be able to live with.

"I don't hate you," she whispered. "I'm just really fucking sad."

I stood with slumped shoulders and a heavy heart as the front door opened and closed with a soft click. I didn't feel relief or regret. I felt nothing but the dull throb of numbness. And even though Bella was back, I felt completely alone all over again.


As much as I hated the idea, I had to tell Alex about everything before the shit hit the fan. Which was how I found myself sitting across from him in a bar downtown as he scowled at me over his beer.

"So that's it? Bella's back and fuck everyone else?"

I clenched my jaw and tried to not let my anger get the best of me. But the problem was he hadn't listened to a word I'd said. "If you're not going to listen to what I'm saying, then this entire conversation is pointless."

He blew out a frustrated breath and slammed back his beer. After a tense moment of silence, his shoulders slumped, and when he spoke again, his voice was softer, non confrontational. "I don't understand. You and Chelsea, you guys seemed so great together. Bella, she fucking broke you. How can you go back to her?"

"It's not like that. Look, Alex. Chelsea and I were great together. She's funny, smart, beautiful and everything a guy could want in a girl. But she's not the girl. She's not my girl. I think she could have been. Had I never met Bella, I believe Chelsea and I could have shared a life together. But Bella―" I swallowed around the lump in my throat, the sudden swell of emotions making it hard to speak. She'd messed me up so much that just the thought of her ruined me. That was how I knew. That was how I knew if nothing else, I had to at least try. I had no idea if things would work out, if I could ever trust her again, but not trying wasn't an option. "Bella's that girl for me. She's your Heidi. I can't give up on her any more than you could give up on Heidi, no matter how much she messed up. Even if it didn't work, you'd give it a shot. Just like I have to."

Alex dropped his gaze to his empty glass and nodded. "I don't like it. You're my brother and she hurt you. Chelsea is my family and you've hurt her. This is such a fucking mess. I don't even want to think about what will happen when Heidi finds out." He sighed and lifted his head until he locked eyes with me. "I have no idea how this is all going to play out, and I can't promise I'll offer Bella the same forgiveness you might, but you have to do what's right for you. Every one of you thought I was insane when Heidi and I got together. Then the marriage and Maggie...everyone said I was making a mistake, but all of you stood by me. I'm not selfish enough that I can't return the favor. Just be smart, okay?"

I let out a humorless chuckle and tipped my bottle toward him before downing the rest. "I fully expect this to blow up in my face. But fuck me, I'm going to do it anyway."

"Is she―" He shook his head and cleared his throat. I could tell he was struggling to keep his composure. It made me feel better knowing I wasn't the only one conflicted, even if it wasn't in the same way. "―Is she going to be okay, Edward? I mean, this is Bella. She can't...not her." He looked away quickly, but not before I saw the shimmer of tears in his eyes. No matter how angry he was at Bella, she was the closest thing to a sister he ever had. The thought of her having something that could kill her tore at him.

I knew that feeling all too well. Losing Bella wasn't something I would ever be prepared for.

"She's doing okay right now. Remission. But there are never any guarantees. And for the record, `I'm not trying to work things out because she has or had cancer. I love her. I've always loved her, even when I didn't want to. She's that girl. She's my girl. I have to give us a chance. I can't live with what ifs."

"I get it. I don't want to, but I do. Be careful, okay? I don't know if I can handle you turning into a pussy like you did before."

"Fuck you," I laughed, relieved he wasn't going to press the issue.

"I'm serious. It was fucking depressing. I was waiting for you to show up in all black, covered in tattoos and piercings."

"You're a dick."

"Heidi prefers mother fucker, but I guess dick works too." He laughed and signaled to the waitress to bring another round of beers. He didn't dwell on my situation with Bella anymore, and I was thankful for the reprieve. Instead, he talked about Maggie and her new friend at daycare, Lena. He swore she was the reason Maggie had become so mean. I personally thought she'd taken after her mother, but I wasn't going to tell him that.

When we went our separate ways later that evening, it felt like any other night. For a moment, it seemed like everything would to be okay, but after the last eight months, I'd become too jaded to actually believe it.

In the week that followed, I did my best to keep from getting lost in my head. During the day it was easy, especially with the new cases Mike had given me. It was the hours after I left the office that proved to be the most difficult. I missed the days of coming home, drinking a beer, and watching SportsCenter without a care in the fucking world. When everything was comfortable and routine. When I didn't have moments of gut twisting guilt about hurting Chelsea, or heart accelerating panic attacks about losing Bella in the most permanent way possible. Those were the worst and always came in the dead of night. That was when I was the most thankful for having a way to reach her, even if it was just a text message about nothing at all.

I hadn't told her about ending things with Chelsea. I was having too much trouble dealing with what that meant. It was the right thing to do, I knew that, but accepting I'd ended things with Chelsea to try with Bella scared the shit out of me.

Even though I'd come to terms with some things, there were others I had no idea how to deal with. It would have been so easy to let my fears take over, let them push me into a corner where I was hidden in the safety of denial and anger. But circumstance, fate, or whatever else people called it wasn't in the mood to wait for me to deal with my issues. It had its own timetable.

I learned the reality of that timetable the day Bella was due back. That was when the proverbial bucket of ice water hit me squarely in the face. My desk was covered in papers and my leg bounced with anxiety, or maybe it was agitation, I wasn't exactly sure. I read Bella's text again and tried to not jump to conclusions. It was pointless. Each time I read it, the tightness in my chest got more intense.

Sorry this is so last minute, but I'm going to be here another week. Some things came up. I hope we can get together when I get back. Just to talk. I miss you.

Some things. What kinds of things? What would make her change her flight at the last minute? I fought to keep my mind from spinning out of control, but like the tightness in my chest, there was nothing I could do. With my leg still bouncing, I tried to not sound as unsettled as I felt.

Is everything okay?

I stacked folders and cleared my desk while glancing at my phone every few minutes. I wondered if maybe this was her way of punishing me for not calling her the past week. We'd texted almost everyday, but whenever she hinted at talking, I deflected. I wasn't trying to be a dick, but there were things we needed to talk about before we went any further, and those things needed to be said face to face. I didn't have it in me to make small talk about the weather while staring at the pink elephant sitting in the middle of the room.

When my phone finally alerted me of a new message, I took a deep breath before reading her text.

Yes. I promise. I had a meeting with my landlord, but he rescheduled at the last minute. I'd also like to see Rose. She's been out of town but comes back tomorrow.

Any hope I'd had of her explanation calming me was out the window. I fell into my chair and shook my head. A defeated chuckle left my lungs in a silent exhale. I felt like I was being played and getting exactly what I deserved at the same time. Was she fucking with me? Or was this her way of telling me she was giving up? That she'd decided to sign a new lease and put her past behind her. Could she really do that to me again?

I hated that my first thought was yes. We'd fallen so far from what we once were. I had no idea if we could ever get there again, but I did know one thing for sure. If I really wanted to give us a real shot, I had to show her. I just didn't know how to see past my own insecurities to get to hers.

As much as I wanted to ask her for details, demand that she explain herself, I didn't. Instead I told her to be safe and to let me know when she made new flight arrangements. When she replied with a simple okay, I felt sick.

That night I paced from room to room. Restlessness caused my jaw to ache and my muscles to burn. I was wound tight, plagued by indecision. Hoping a shower might help loosen the tension in my body, I walked into the bedroom and pulled a pair of boxers out of the dresser. I stopped cold when a black velvet box, tucked away in the back corner, caught my attention.

A brittle smile pulled at one side of my mouth as I pulled it from the drawer. Sitting heavily on the bed, I twisted the box up and over, around and around, like a rubix cube. Only there was no riddle to solve, no puzzle to piece together. I knew the secrets that lay hidden inside this box.

Lifting the top, I stared at the ring inside. It had been a long time since I thought about it and even longer since I'd seen it. Except unlike last time, I didn't feel hollow or angry. I only felt resolve.

At one time, I'd planned to ask Bella to marry me. I'd wanted to spend the rest of my life with her by my side. Marriage had never been something I was willing to rush in to. It was one of the reasons I waited so long before buying the ring. I wanted forever to really mean forever.

Bella might have fucked everything up between us, but that didn't change the fact I chose her. Even after she hurt me more than anyone ever had, I wanted her. I would have chased her to the ends of the earth if I'd known which direction to go. And no matter how many months I spent trying to convince myself otherwise, I still chose her.

Pushing off the bed, I grabbed my phone and dialed Charlie's number. As I waited for him to answer, I dug my duffel bag out of the closet and began tossing clothes inside. I had no idea what Bella's intentions were when she met with her landlord, but I wasn't going to let her make that kind of decision without knowing where we stood. The last time she left, I had no way to find her, no way to follow. But I knew where she was now, and I was going to do what I was denied the opportunity of doing last time. I was going to follow her.

The sound of Charlie's voice startled me when he spoke into the phone. Pulling in a deep breath, I steeled myself for what I was about to do. There was no turning back now.

"Charlie. It's Edward. I need a favor."


I fastened my seatbelt and let my eyes fall shut as I listened to the flight crew drone on about oxygen masks and emergency exits. All I cared about was getting in the air so I could try to sleep. It had taken two days to make arrangements with work to take a few days off. I'd worked nonstop, and it had finally caught up with me.

I knew it was a little over the top to fly to California five days before Bella was due back. I tried to tell myself that it was because there was no guarantee she wouldn't postpone her return again. But the truth was it felt a little like rewriting history, as naive as the idea might have been.

When we were finally in the air, I leaned back and closed my eyes, not opening them again until we began our descent into San Francisco. As soon as we were given the all clear, I powered up my phone and texted Charlie.

I'm here. Do you have an address?

It only took a couple of minutes before he responded with the address of Bella's location. I shook my head, unable to stop from laughing when I thought back to our conversation a few days ago. When I told him I planned to fly out to California to see Bella, I could hear the relief in his voice when he spoke. I didn't want to give him false hope. I had no idea how things would pan out with Bella, if we'd be able to fix things, but I needed his help so I kept my mouth shut.

I'd hoped he'd be able to call her once I landed, find out where she was without giving himself away. But it seemed I didn't have to worry about that. Charlie had installed a tracking app on her phone the moment she came back. I guessed I wasn't the only one skeptical of her promises to never vanish again.

The cab ride across town seemed to pass in the blink of an eye. With a final text to Charlie confirming she was still at the cafe across the street, I slung my duffle bag over my shoulder and jogged over. Pulling in a final calming breath, I stepped inside.

I didn't have to look to make sure she was there. I could feel her. I walked to the counter and ordered a coffee, my body thrumming with anxiety. I knew the moment she saw me. The back of my neck warmed, and my skin tingled. Coffee in hand, I turned toward her and crossed the room. Her eyes followed me the entire time, surprised and scared.

"Hi," I whispered, falling into the chair across from her like this wasn't the biggest fucking thing I'd ever done.

"Oh, my god," she choked, her hand flying to cover her mouth. She stared silently for several moments before clearing her throat and lowering her hand to her chest. "What are you doing here?"

"I came here for you."

"But why? I don't understand." She shook her head in disbelief. "I can't believe you're really here."

I looked at the papers in front of her. Most of them seemed to be for work. All except one that had lease contract written across the top. I dipped my chin and eyed the paper. "Have you already met with your landlord?"

She followed my gaze, her body tensing when she realized what I was staring at. "No. Not yet. He left this for me to look over."

"Is it a new lease?"

"Yes. My current one ends in two months."

I kept my voice even and calm when I spoke. I didn't want her to see how nervous I was. "Are you going to sign it?"

Her shoulders slumped and the corners of her mouth turned down. "Edward―"

"Wait," I interrupted. "Before you answer, I have something to say." I threaded my fingers on the tabletop and dropped my eyes, studying the creases in the tablecloth. I couldn't bring myself to look at her. "Since the day you left, I have experienced feelings I didn't even know existed. I was so angry some days that I wouldn't be around others because I was afraid I'd snap. Other days I was so fucking sad that I didn't give a fuck about anything or anyone. I had good days, too. When I was okay and my life didn't seem so bad anymore. But any progress I had made was obliterated the day you came back. Knowing why you left doesn't make it hurt any less, Bella."

I ran my hands through my hair and lifted my eyes to hers. I hated having to talk about this, but it had to be done if we were going to move forward.

She pulled in a deep breath and nodded. "I know. I shouldn't have expected you to still be waiting for me. It wasn't fair. I should be sorry for barging back into your life. I know I should be, but I'm not. That makes me look like a bad person, because what right do I have, ya know? But it doesn't change the fact that over anything in this world, you are the one person I will covet without shame. I will always want you. I will always believe we are meant to be, even though I've done my best to ruin it. Even though you've moved on with Chelsea."

I reached across the table and covered her shaking hands. "Bella, stop. I need you to listen to me, okay? I've spent nearly every day thinking about you and me. About what I can and can't live without. I considered what would be easiest, what would be the safest thing for me. I've thought about things I've loved, things I've lost, and things I want forever. And what I came to realize was I don't want easy or safe. I want love that makes me crazy. Love that frustrates, angers, and makes me feel like I'm losing my mind some days. When I picture that, it's you I see." I squeezed her hands and leaned forward so we were eye to eye.

"I ended things with Chelsea. It wasn't fair to keep seeing her knowing I'd never be able to give her what she deserves. Not when I haven't let you go. The truth is I don't want to let you go. That's something I've never wanted.

"You fucked me over. You broke my heart. But what I finally figured out, what I have finally accepted, is that no matter what's happened, it's yours to break. Which also means you're the only one who can put it back together. You make me whole. You make me, me." I squeezed her hands a little harder than necessary.

"I can't promise you that everything is going to be okay. I can't promise you anything except that I want to try. I want to see if we can be us again. But I need you to understand one thing. If you ever fucking leave again, I will never forgive you. If you ever make decisions about my life without talking to me, I will hate you until I draw my last breath. Because any decision that leaves me without you is the wrong one. Any life that plays out without us together is a fucking nightmare, and I won't ever go through that again. Do you understand me?"

Tears rolled down her cheeks, and her chin quivered as she nodded. A small smile turned up the corners of her mouth, and she let out a choppy breath. "I understand." She wiped under her eyes and sat up straighter. "So we're going to try."

I nodded. "We're going to try."

"For the record, I had no intention of signing the lease. This isn't my home."

I smiled, my shoulders relaxing for the first time since I sat. "Good."

"What do we do now? I have no idea what I'm doing," she laughed, her smile matching mine.

"What about a date?"



"And when will this date take place?"

I lifted my cup of coffee and took a sip before eyeing hers. "How about now? Would you like to have a cup of coffee with me, then show me around the city?"

She matched my position and grinned. "I'd love to have a coffee date with you, but I'm afraid I don't know much about the city. I didn't spend a lot of time sightseeing."

I ignored the way her words made my stomach tighten and twisted our fingers together. "How about we finish our drinks and experience it together? Let's make new memories."

"That's sounds kinda perfect. But I do have one small request?"

I eyed her suspiciously and gave her a hesitant nod.

"Can we mix it up a little? I know the kiss is supposed to come at the end of the date, but I want to feel your lips so badly that my entire body aches."

My lips parted, and I moved closer, my heart pounding in my chest. "Yes," I whispered before pressing my lips to hers. It was everything I remembered and everything I tried to forget. No matter what happened, there was no way I couldn't try to fix all that had been broken. Not when it was everything I'd ever wanted.

"I've missed you so much," she sighed.

I leaned forward, my lips ghosting against hers when I spoke. "Me too." And then I kissed her again because I could. Because she was here and she was mine. With a grin, I tugged her hand and pulled her from her seat. "C'mon, let's start making those new memories."

The End


When I wrote this oneshot for the angst contest, I had no intention of continuing it. But after a little ~persuasion (aka threats and bullying) from some friends on twitter to fix it or else, I agreed. I rather enjoy breathing. This story was never meant to be wrapped in a nice pretty bow. It was messy and it hurt, but I gave them hope. This might be the end for us, but their story is just beginning.

To everyone this story has touched or has experienced a similar situation, I wish I could hug you. But since I can't, I'll hug the husband I almost lost because I pushed him away and the child I was told I'd never have. I'll go to my yearly exams and never gamble with my life or the lives of those I love again. None of us are immune. Please make an appointment. Be healthy and treat your life like the gift it is.

Thank you Jill. I couldn't ask for a better beta or friend.

Huge thanks to Kelly, Packy, Sara, Joo, & Deb. Your honest feedback and constant support are more than I could have ever hoped for. Y'all are my rock.

To everyone who read, reviewed, rec'd, and pimped...you guys are amazing and I love you.

What's next? Books. As some of you know, I'm reworking Glycerine to publish. It will be called Hollywood & Vine. I am not pulling the fic unless I'm offered a bazillion dollars to do so, and even then just PM me and I'll send you the PDF ;)I also have a few other projects that I'm working on, if you want to follow my OF account on twitter it's "at" OliviaDEvans. Stupid ffn won't allow me to make the nifty "at" symbol.

Am I done writing twi fanfic? BAWHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHA Don't be silly. Of course not. I love this fandom and I love these characters. I'm not going anywhere. I actually have a few fic ideas outlined (because I heart outlines) but I need to make good on those promises I made to myself first.

Until next time...