A/N: Thank you all SO much for sticking with me and leaving me such thoughtful reviews! You all are amazing.
While I agree with those who've said it takes two to tango, and Bella should have told him all the ways he was fucking up before the shit hit the fan, I don't know anyone who was an expert at relationships at their age. I would also say it's hard to communicate effectively with someone like Edward as he is at the beginning. And I know women who have been married for years who still expect their husbands to just read their minds, so… With that said, yes, you're right, but Bella's not perfect either. And who says she didn't try, and he just didn't listen? :)
Huge thanks to my girls: Twilly, Twilightladies, LyricalKris, and Lellabeth!
SM owns all things Twilight. All mistakes are mine.
Chapter 7 - Lines
The spring semester is just coming to an end, but a lot of us are staying to take summer classes. Last he told me, Edward was planning to stay at the frat house because they only have to pay one month's rent for the entire summer. Must be nice.
Rose, Alice, and I will be staying here in our apartment. I was afraid one or both of them would go home for the summer, and I'm so grateful they'll be here with me. I don't want to be a burden on them, but I know I'll need to lean on them for support while I sort through this mess that is now my life.
I do my best to study for my finals, but it seems like all I do lately is cry. And crying just makes me want to sleep. I'm barely hanging on to my job at the bookstore, which I sorely need to make ends meet. Telling my boss I'm pregnant is a scary prospect, but I can only hope she'll be understanding.
I skate by on my exams and pass, but I know it wasn't my best effort.
I resolve to do better. To be better. For myself and for this baby. Even though I won't parent him or her, I want it to be proud of me. I want it to know that the sacrifice I made was worth something.
Being from a miserable little town in the Northwest, I saw several girls from my high school get pregnant and get stuck there, but not me. I never dated in high school. I didn't want to be that girl. I'm the first in my family to go to college, and quitting school to go back home to work at the Thriftway and raise this baby alone... I just can't.
More importantly, this baby deserves better from me. It deserves two parents who can provide everything it wants and needs, who are mature and stable enough to handle it. Two parents who will love and support it, always.
Summer passes in a blur.
In early June, I finally find the guts to tell my dad about the baby. I know he'll start getting bills for my doctor visits, so I have to tell him sooner than I really want to.
He's disappointed in me, but he also offers words of support and comfort in his own quiet way. He's proud of my decision, and he pretty much wants to kill Edward. It's a good thing we don't live close to him.
I meet with Diane several times and attend counseling at the adoption center. It helps me so much, talking to other expectant birth mothers and some who've already placed their children.
I know I'm doing the right thing for this precious baby.
Alice and Rose have been wonderful, taking me to doctor's appointments and sometimes going with me to the adoption agency.
Things have remained somewhat tense between Edward and me. We've talked a few more times since I told him what I want to do, but I've shut down any further attempts he's made to 'win me back'. My mind can't even go there right now.
I let him know there's counseling for birth parents at the adoption agency and that Diane strongly recommends it for both of us. I've also told him how much it's helped me to go, but I don't think he's gone yet.
He did ask to go to one of my doctor's appointments, but I said no because I think it would make things too difficult. I know I would lie there and imagine we could be together and parent this baby, and I just don't think I could handle that.
Edward says he doesn't want to make things harder for me, but he's still torn about the adoption. And I get it. It's a huge decision, but I have no doubt he'll soon realize it's the right one.
For all of us.
At the beginning of August, I have my second ultrasound. The first one was when I was barely pregnant, so it just kind of looked like a gummy bear, but I'm a little terrified of seeing it this time. It's going to look like an actual baby, and I hope I'm strong enough to deal with all of this.
Diane prepared me as best she could. She said it's perfectly normal to feel a strong attachment, but I just need to keep in mind all the reasons I'm going forward with adoption.
But when that image appears on the screen, living and squirming, all I can see is me holding this sweet baby and playing peek-a-boo and tickling its feet.
Alice squeezes my hand, and I have to clench my eyes shut for a minute and remember my reasons: I'm not ready. Edward isn't ready. We're not together. We both have several more years of school left. This baby deserves more. It deserves better than what I can give it.
It deserves everything.
"Would you like to know the sex?" the ultrasound tech asks.
"Um." I glance up at Alice, and she just gives me a sympathetic smile. "Sure. I guess."
"This little one is cooperating, so I should be able to get a good shot."
She maneuvers the wand over my now very noticeable bump, pressing hard and making my full bladder want to burst. And then she stops down by the baby's legs, which are moving around and kicking a little.
"See those three lines there?"
I squint a bit and nod when I make out what she's showing me.
"That means it's a little girl. Congratulations!"
Swallowing thickly, I thank her, fighting the tears that are gathering in my eyes.
A baby girl.
With copper curls and big brown eyes. Or dark hair and green eyes. Edward's nose and my lips. Or…
She's not yours.
The tears are sliding into my hair now, and I need out of this suddenly-too-small room. The tech has already checked everything else, so I ask if she's finished.
If I can go.
She mentions the pictures she's printed off, and I beg Alice to take them as I right my clothes and slip into the adjacent bathroom to pee. When I'm finished, I take a deep breath and walk out, keeping my head down and assuming Alice will follow me.
I just barely keep it together during the visit with the OB afterward, but thankfully, everything looks good. I don't ask any questions, so we're out of there pretty quickly.
The drive home is quiet, and when we walk into the apartment, I stop short, making Alice bump into me. Edward's there, sitting on the couch with an untouched glass of water in front of him.
He stands and rubs his palms on his thighs. "Hey. Sorry. Rose let me in."
"She did?" I ask incredulously. She's been wanting to beat his ass ever since she found out I was pregnant, and when Emmett relayed what Edward told him about our fight, she was threatening full-on murder.
"Yeah." Edward clears his throat. "But she left. She said she couldn't stay and guarantee she wouldn't kick me in the balls."
The corners of my mouth lift for a second at that, and so do Edward's. But then I school my features again.
I almost hate seeing him now. My resolve weakens every time I'm in the same room with him. I know he wants another chance, but I just don't see how it could work. He's hot-headed and immature, and if we're together, I'm going to want to try to raise this baby with him when I know that's not the right thing for her.
It's all about her.
"How did your appointment go?" he asks.
"Um, fine." I clear my throat.
"I'm just going to head over and see Jas," Alice says, and I turn toward her, feeling guilty about her discomfort—and the fact that I almost completely forgot she was even there.
Grabbing her hand, I give it a little squeeze. "Thank you for today."
"No problem," she replies with a small smile. She gives me a quick hug and then walks back out the door.
My hand automatically rubs my little bump as I walk over to the recliner, and Edward's eyes are glued to the motion. Dropping my hand, I get comfortable in the chair and sigh.
"Can I… get you anything?" he asks.
"Oh. Um, no. I'm fine. Thanks."
"Okay. So, how did it go?"
"Fine. Everything's fine. All the organs are normal. Ten fingers and ten toes and all that." I look down at my bump and smile.
"Oh, okay. Good." He gulps down some of the water and then sits back, staring at the coffee table.
"I found out the sex."
His eyes fly to mine. "You did?"
"Yeah." I clear the emotion out of my throat. "It's a… little girl." Looking down at my wringing hands, I once again fight off tears.
"Wow," Edward says on an exhale. "That makes it feel a lot more real or something. Y'know?"
I nod, because I do know. It's definitely real.
"What if…" he starts, and I look up to see him running a hand through his unruly hair. His left knee is bouncing. "What if one of our parents could take her?"
I shake my head because I've already thought of that. "I wouldn't even begin to know where to find my mom, and I wouldn't trust her with our baby anyway. And my dad couldn't raise a baby by himself." Sighing, I run a hand through my hair, pulling out the loose strands that seem to have increased in quantity lately. "And with your mom's fibromyalgia, it would be too difficult for her, especially without your dad around to help. I wish it were an option, but…"
"Shit. You're right. I just…" He scrubs his hands up and down his face a few times. "I just hate this."
"I know. I do too, but it helps me a lot to keep remembering what's best for her." Looking down, I rub my belly a little. "Diane said we can find adoptive parents who are okay with open adoption. That way we'll know how she's doing and maybe even see her here and there. I think that would be a good option for us. I'd hate to just never hear anything about her ever again."
"Yeah," he says, blowing out a heavy breath. "I guess that's the best option. I'll uh…" He clears his throat. "I'll go with you… to the place, and um…" He heaves another sigh, and his eyes flit to my stomach and then back to my face. "I'll do whatever you need me to do."
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