and Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended.
It's around two in the morning when I decide I should head back to the city. That I should go back to the apartment I share with a man I'll always love but never understand.
The weight of that decision keeps me in my parents' guest bed for the next three hours. Because I'm terrified to be the first to make a move. Because maybe I should wait for Edward to contact me. To apologize. To beg for me to come back.
Thoughts like that haunt my mind in this dark and quiet room, creating bone-deep anxiety.
But when the world outside the window comes alive and the horizon glows with pink and orange, I call a cab, take the ferry, and make it back to the city all before eight.
Stale coffee keeps me fueled until I'm walking into my apartment. I open the door with more haste than necessary, and listen for Edward with more concentration than I should. There's no sign he's here, though. And maybe some things never change―he's not the type to wait around, and I'm not the type to stay away.
Edward not being here wasn't a scenario I'd played out in my head. I pathetically assumed he'd be waiting for me. The thought of him finding me now, eyes red-rimmed and puffy, is what drives me to packing my belongings.
I pull out a suitcase, the one that's his, and throw a few things in. I empty one drawer before I'm searching for alcohol. There's vodka in the freezer, I know it's there, and I don't even try to stop myself from taking a swig. I know I shouldn't do this, indulge in something to keep my mind hazy and numb, but it's the only thing I can rely on right now.
I don't know what time it is when the front door opens and Edward finds me sitting on the living room floor, going through photos.
He doesn't say a word, just regards me for a moment. So I stare back. He's wearing the same clothes I last saw him in. His hair is dirty, oily, pieces sticking to his forehead and others straight up. He looks exhausted and scared and nothing like the man I love.
He squats in front of me, never pulling his eyes away from mine. "What are you doing?" he asks, nodding toward the photo in my hand. It's one of us, a few years ago. We were at a New Year's Eve party and I'm sitting in his lap, drunk and happy. I didn't know he had an entire box dedicated to us, filled with photos and ticket stubs and plane tickets to places we've been together. All of these years and he said nothing. So I thought nothing. But this is everything.
"I don't know what I'm doing," I say, voice hoarse. "I was gonna leave. I was supposed to be gone, and then…" My eyes bounce around the room. There's a half-packed suitcase on the kitchen floor. From here I can see it's filled with clothes and some pots and pans.
I look back at him, following his gaze to the bottle of Belvedere sitting beside me.
"Bella." He sighs, reaching for the bottle. I try to stop him, but he gently grabs my wrist. "Jesus Christ. Stop. Just… stop."
I yank away from him. "What the fuck do you care?"
He releases his grip, pressing the heels of his hands into his eyes. "I care. You don't understand how much I do care."
I snort. It's ugly, and I let all the hate I feel toward him speak for me. "Of course I don't understand because you don't talk to me. You don't tell me shit. Just expect me to know things. But I don't know you. I never did. And this," I hold up the box of photos, "what the fuck is this?"
"What do you think it is?"
"Bullshit. I think it's bullshit."
"I know you're pissed. I've been under a lot of stress, and… that's a shitty excuse. And I'm sorry I snapped at you the other night. That wasn't fair. I'm sorry."
"That's not enough," I say, voice wavering. "I want it to be, but it's not."
"Okay." His nod is stiff, jaw locked. From past experiences, I expect that to be the last of it. But then he adds, "I don't want you to leave. That should be enough."
"Why? Because you want to be the first to leave? Like always?"
"I'm not going anywhere."
"I find that hard to believe. You're always running off, not telling me where you are or what you're doing. A few months ago you said you were in Brooklyn. But you weren't. I fucking saw you on the street with some blonde woman."
The words are out of my mouth before I realize what I've said. And I know exactly why I said them. I wanted a reaction from him. That's all any of this is—the packing, the fighting, the leaving. I just want him to react, show some emotion other than apathy.
His face hardens. He knows. I can see the moment in his eyes when he realizes exactly which day I'm talking about.
"Is that who you ran off to the other night?" I accuse.
He releases a long sigh, and it sounds a lot like defeat. "Yes. That is who I went to see, but… Bella. It's not like that."
Hearing those words should bring comfort, but they don't. My head spins, creating scenarios that make my blood boil.
"Who is she?" I press.
He doesn't answer right away, just stares at me.
"Why were you going to see her in the middle of the fucking night?" I ask again, louder.
"If I tell you, you'll leave." He says it so quietly and so sure. And I want to tell him he's wrong. That he can tell me anything and we can work through it. But maybe I'd be lying. Maybe the look on his face and the sound of his voice convince me otherwise.
"I'm gonna leave either way," I tell him. I don't even know if that's true. And whether or not he believes me, he drops his head and begins to speak.
"She was in the hospital. I went to see her in the hospital."
"Okay. But who the fuck is she?"
"Her name is Rosalie."
Rosalie. I hate her. But more than that, I hate him for reducing me to this.
"I… fuck." He tugs at his hair, moves to his knees. "I don't want to do this right now. You're drunk, and—"
"This is the only chance you're gonna get."
He swallows. Scrubs a hand over his mouth. And then he speaks.
"I have a kid. As of yesterday."
My chest aches as I repeat the words in my head. Like maybe I misheard him. Like maybe he's trying to tell me something different. Because that can't be true. It can't.
But then he starts apologizing, repeating the words until the meaning is completely lost.
"I can't fucking believe you. You lied to me. You—"
"I didn't lie, Bella. I didn't," he says adamantly, placing both hands on my face, forcing me to look at him. "This happened before you."
I jerk away. "Before me? It happened before me?"
"Before you moved in. Before we got back together."
"Nothing before you even exists to me," I mumble, hot tears blurring his face. "And now you have a kid. I just…" I press my hand to my forehead, inhaling a breath as my mind runs wild with everything that's happened over the past nine months.
"I didn't find out until January," he explains, but it doesn't matter. It doesn't fucking matter.
I'm on my feet before I realize it. I don't know where I'm going, just moving, trying to get away from him. But then he pulls on my arm, trying to get me to stay, begging me not to go. And it's just like I wanted. But I didn't want this. I didn't want it to be like this.
I want to push him away, but I don't. I can't. So I let him hold me. His arms cage me in as I listen to his frantic apologies, his wavering promise that he loves me and didn't mean to hurt me.
And with my face buried in his chest, he lets me cry.
Thanks for reading, and for y'alls constant patience.
Can't even begin to tell y'all how supportive and great and helpful Kim and Vic are, omg omg.