Thank you for reading. Your kind words and the way you fell in love with these two made me smile. Many thanks to my prereaders and especially my friend and beta Mid-Night Cougar. Enjoy!
I walked into the clinic, my nerves taut. Looking around, I was glad to see the waiting room only had a few people in it and they weren't paying any attention to me. I knew I couldn't risk calling—Bella would probably refuse to see me. I had to simply show up and make an appointment to see her. I would sit in the waiting room all day if I had to. Maybe she would listen to me if I could see her when she was done working for the day. My entire body was tense. I had been waiting for this since that awful day in Victoria's office. Waiting to see her.
I smiled at the receptionist. "I need to make an appointment to see Bella Swan, please. As soon as possible."
"I'm sorry, Bella isn't in today."
"When is her earliest open time? Tomorrow?"
She shook her head. "Bella isn't back until Monday. I can get you in with another masseuse today."
My head fell forward in defeat. I couldn't wait until Monday to see her. That was four days away.
"Does she have a pager?"
She gave me a strange look. "She isn't available. She is out of town."
Mumbling something about having to check my schedule, I left, my feet dragging as I walked away from the only connection I had to Bella. My mind was racing. How could I find her? Where would she go?
There was only place I could think to look.
I needed a car.
The sun was high in the afternoon sky, but in the shade of the forest it was still cool. I stood quietly, watching for a moment, before I stepped into Bella's line of vision. I had been worried when there was no car in the spot she had parked in last time we were here; the spot she said she always pulled into it. Worried I was wrong, and I wouldn't find her here. But there she was; thirty feet away from me. My heart clenched as I took her in. She was sitting on a blanket, her knees drawn up to her chest, her arms wrapped around them tightly, and her head resting on top of her knees. Her hair was hanging over one shoulder in dark waves that reflected the dappled sun. She was completely still, the only movement the gentle rise and fall of her chest as she sat, staring into the forest. Even from a distance I could see the difference in her. Always tiny, she was now painfully thin. I could see the ridges of her spine through her thin T-shirt and how slender her arms and legs were. Tears stung my eyes, knowing she had been suffering as well. I had to talk to her; to make her listen to me. I had no intentions of leaving until she heard me out.
I wasn't leaving this meadow without her.
Drawing in a deep breath, I stepped through the surrounding trees and into Bella's special place. The one she held so sacred and close to her heart. My foot pressed down and the dry branch under my foot snapped, announcing my arrival. Bella started and looked up, her eyes widening as she realized it was me who had suddenly appeared. She scrambled to her feet as I stood frozen, looking at her, drinking in the very sight of her. Even thin and sad looking, she was beautiful. She stared back at me, sadness and fear pouring out of her too-big eyes as she waited for me to speak.
I wanted to erase both the sadness and the fear. I wanted to see those eyes shine at me again.
I moved forward slowly, worried if I went too quickly she would run, my heart thundering in my chest as I looked at her. But she stayed rooted to the spot, her eyes never leaving my face as I closed the distance between us.
Every speech, every word I had rehearsed and memorized to say, left me now that I was close to her. My hands twitched at my side, longing to reach out and drag her into my arms and hold her against me. The minutes passed as we stood in silence. My throat ached with emotion.
Finally my voice broke the stillness. "You believed her."
Bella said nothing.
"After the things we shared, you allowed her to break your faith in me with her lies."
Bella's voice was filled with pain. "She knew things … she knew everything."
"She knew nothing."
"She called me by your name, Edward. She repeated things I thought you had only said to me."
"I did only say them to you, Bella." I held up my phone. "But I also texted them to you. She read my texts. Went through my emails. She spied on me. Followed us. She stole my privacy and made you think I was something other than what I was. She took my most personal thoughts and twisted them. She lied about everything. And you believed her—so easily."
Her eyes widened, a look of pain crossing her features. Still she protested. "It never made sense."
"That you would feel about me the way I felt about you."
"Why?" I demanded.
"Because—" Bella's hand waved between us. "You're you and I'm … just me. Plain, boring Bella. My life is so different from yours—I had nothing to offer you."
I shook my head, a small, sad smile lifting my mouth. "There is nothing plain or boring about you, Bella. And your life and what you have to offer? It's real, honest. It's what I need more of. The one I live in so often is simply a façade."
"Why are you here?" she asked abruptly.
I titled my head as I looked at her. We had so much to say and talk about. So many lies to sift through and so much hurt to get over. But I had hesitated once before and lost her. I wasn't going to make that mistake again. My voice was soft when I spoke.
"You have something of mine, Bella. I came to get it back."
Her face crumbled. Her hand lifted and I watched, as with trembling fingers, she withdrew the long gold chain from around her neck, pulling out her pendant I had left in her mailbox. My heart soared as I realized she was still wearing my gift. She had put it back on after I was gone. She hadn't thrown it away. That had to mean something.
"You came back for this?" she whispered, her voice breaking.
I stepped closer, shaking my head. "No. That's not what I came back for."
"I don't have anything else of yours," she insisted.
"I sent your cellphone to the hotel."
Cautiously, I reached out and placed my hand over hers that was still grasping the chain. Gently, I unfurled her shaking fingers and pulled her hand toward me. I placed it over my chest, holding it there with my hand covering it.
"You have my heart, Bella. I came back for it. I came back for you."
She drew in a sharp intake of air.
"Victoria lied. The pictures she showed you were fakes. There never was anyone else—ever. She took the words I had said to you and twisted them to make them ugly. She lied about everything."
"Because she found out I was planning on leaving L.A. Moving here to be with you. She thought she was losing me as a client and she decided to put a stop to it. She didn't want her cash cow walking away from her. She didn't care that she devastated you, or destroyed me in the process. All that mattered was she got what she wanted."
"You were … moving here? For me?"
"I don't understand."
I could feel Bella's entire frame shaking. The tremors were coursing through her as she blinked up at me. My own body was quaking as I restrained myself from closing the small distance between us and wrapping her against me.
"I fell in love with you, Bella. I wanted to build a life with you."
Silent tears began falling down her face. I cupped her cheek, my thumb drawing small circles on her soft skin. "I've been dead these past months without you."
"Do you…" She shivered and closed her eyes. "Do you still love me now?" she whispered.
"Little Bell," I breathed. "I've never stopped."
With a sob, she launched herself at me and I caught her. Her arms wrapped around my neck as I held her shaking body against me. Her face was buried in my chest, deep sobs ripping from her throat. I lowered us down to the blanket, keeping her held against me as she cried. I rested my face against her soft hair, inhaling the fragrance of it as I whispered and crooned nonsensical words to her, reveling in the fact I had her back in my arms and my life. My own tears trickled down my cheeks, dripping into her hair as I let my emotions out. We sat wrapped around each other, sharing our pain.
I was holding her again—and this time I wasn't letting go.
"You must be so angry with me."
I looked down into Bella's tear-filled eyes. "No." I kissed her gently. "I didn't see what was right in front of me, Bella. I trusted her. I never suspected she could do anything so … appalling."
"She … she said so many awful things, Edward. She seemed to know so many personal details about you … about us. And you had never said anything bad about her. The one time you talked about her you said she was your friend."
I pulled her back against my chest. "She was, at one time, my best friend. But she changed. Our relationship changed." I sighed, my breath stirring the hair on the top of her head. "I should have told you more about what was going on with me and how I was feeling. I should have said something about Vic. It just seemed so … disloyal after all she had done for me and I didn't want to drag you into the whole mess." I snorted. "So much for loyalty on her side."
"Why didn't you tell me about your plans—about moving here?"
"I was afraid to scare you away. I was worried you would tell me not to do it. I thought you would be worried about my career or that I was doing it too fast." I chuckled darkly. "Just like your tip jar I thought if I didn't tell you until it was all done you couldn't say no."
Her head tilted back up to me. "I wouldn't have told you no."
My breath caught. "And now? Would you tell me no now?"
She shook her head.
"Bella …" I whispered, ducking my head down to press my lips to hers. Their softness molded to mine so easily, as if that was where they were meant to be. Slowly, tentatively, our mouths moved, welcoming the feeling of being joined together. My hand wound into her hair, pulling her closer, tilting her head as I deepened the kiss. My tongue dipped and slid along hers, her taste filling my mouth and overwhelming me with its sweetness. Groaning, I wrapped my arm around her pressing her against me as we discovered each other again.
It was a kiss of want and need.
Of forgiveness and regret.
It was filled with the pain of the past and the promise of the future.
It was a kiss of welcome.
I was home.
The sun was dipping behind the trees as I lowered my face to Bella's neck, my lips tracing a soft pattern up the column of her throat. "We should go soon, Little Bell. It's going to be dark shortly. We need to walk back to the car." I had been shocked when she told me she had walked all the way here from town and planned on doing the same to get back to the little hotel where she was staying. I shuddered simply thinking of her alone out here in the woods, even though she assured me she had done it many times.
She snuggled even closer and I held her securely. We had been wrapped around each other for hours, talking, exorcising demons and opening all the wounds, finally allowing them to start healing. I made her tell me everything Victoria had said to her, wincing at the pain in her voice as she relived the conversation and how devastated it had left her. How the manipulated pictures of me with other women made her feel so ill. Her whispered confession of feeling stupid, used and worthless had brought tears to my eyes. She was none of those things, and I hated that she had been made to feel like that. That she felt my actions had made her feel that way. It also explained the anger I had witnessed that awful night.
I told her how I found out about Victoria's visit, what had transpired afterward, and how I had found her today. I shared with her how empty the past few months without her had been and how nothing had really mattered. I confessed to sinking into the character I was playing so deeply that I ignored my family and friends because it was easier to be him and deal with his pain than my own.
"You're so thin," she whispered, her hand cupping my rough cheek.
My own fingers traced the soft curve of her face. "So are you."
"I haven't been … hungry."
"Well, I need to fix that."
"Then I get to help you, too."
I smiled softly at her. "Maybe I could get you to make me some pie? I'd share."
A shadow crossed her face. "I haven't baked one since … since you left."
She shrugged. "I couldn't do anything that made me think of you."
I slipped my fingers around the chain on her neck and held up her pendant. "You kept this."
"I found it when I came back to clean out my apartment. I had it in a box for a while but one day about a month ago I put it on. I suddenly wanted to." She touched the small disc almost reverently. "I wanted to believe that some part of what we were was true."
"It was all true. Every smile, every word … everything I was feeling was true." I lifted her face. "Tell me you know that's true now. Please."
"So you'll make me a pie again?"
"I'll make you as many as you want."
"Forever, Little Bell?"
I kissed her gently. "Perfect."
I tightened my arms around her. "Let me take you back to the hotel. We can get something to eat and then I'll find a place to stay."
Her eyes widened. "You're leaving again?"
"NO! Not without you." I assured her firmly. "Never again." I hesitated. "I didn't want you to think I expected to stay with you in your room."
Her voice was shy. "You can. If you want."
I lowered my mouth to hers. "I want."
Bella curled around me, our skin still damp from our love making. I nuzzled the top of her head. "I'm never letting you go," I whispered into her hair. "I never want to be without you again."
She tilted her head up, smiling her sweet smile at me. Her hair was messy from my hands, her lips swollen, cheeks pink, but it was her eyes that captivated me. Content and happy—the pain I had seen in them earlier, gone. I knew if I could see my own eyes right now, they would look the same. I was where I belonged.
With my Little Bell.
When we were once again joined, our bodies melded together as closely as possible, I knew, without a doubt, I would never again leave her. I would never again let her push me away. Her mouth moving with mine was heaven. Her hands clutching my shoulders, holding me close, were grounding. Her muffled moans and whimpers were for me and me alone. Buried deep inside her was perfection. Together, we were perfection.
I was home.
The only home I ever wanted.
I smiled back at her. "Promise me, Bella. Promise me you will never not talk to me again."
Her smile faded. "Edward, I'm—"
I laid my finger on her lips. "No more apologies. I should have been more open and you should have told me about Victoria. We both made mistakes. But from now on, we talk. Honestly. Always. I can't lose you again."
She kissed my finger. "You won't. Ever. I promise."
I gathered her back up in my arms.
That was all I needed.
The applause rang in my ears as I stood up. Leaning over, I shook Carlisle's hand, his face beaming with pride. I kissed Esme's cheek, then my mother's, before ducking down and meeting the wide, excited eyes of my beautiful wife. "I'm so proud," she whispered against my lips while I kissed her as deeply as I could with millions of people watching. Giving her small hand one last squeeze, I stepped up on stage to accept my Oscar.
Smiling widely, I accepted the heavy statue and accepted a quick kiss on the cheek from the actress who handed it to me, then faced the audience. Many faces I knew. Many I had worked with or admired. It was a welcoming sight.
Victoria's face was nowhere to be found, though. She was nowhere to be found. Last I heard she was running a talent agency in some small town in bum-fuck-nowhere. Her fourth or fifth attempt since fleeing L.A. and the barrage of negative press that chased her out of town. She lost everything, the way she deserved to, and I felt nothing for her loss.
I cleared my throat as I looked over the sea of smiling faces.
"What a great night." I grinned into the microphone. "This seems like it's becoming a habit." I paused, arching an eyebrow. "One I really don't want to break."
Amidst the laughter, I caught Bella's eye. It had been just over three years since that day in the meadow. Three years of learning and laughter, arguments and tears, new houses, moves, compromises, movies and above all ... love. Three years of love. Bella's unwavering love for me, and mine for her. Just as I had told her, she was my nucleus and all things in my life revolved around her.
Last year I had won Best Actor for my role in The Soldier, and this year I was taking home Best Supporting Actor for my role in Carlisle's latest film we had shot in Toronto this past year. He was still, undoubtedly, my favorite director to work with, and I knew he always would be. Add in the closeness we had outside the studio we were becoming a force to be reckoned with in the industry. Our plans for our own production company were well underway and the topic of much speculation.
I had been in L.A. the past few months making another movie, and Bella had been with me the whole time. It was the only way I agreed to do this movie. I couldn't leave her behind this time, and although we had enjoyed our time here, we were both ready to get back to our far quieter, more private life in Canada. Filming had run longer than planned, so we couldn't leave quite yet, but we looked forward to the day we were able to do so.
I smiled tenderly at Bella, a silent question passing between us, and she nodded, telling me she was okay. I noticed her cheeks were slightly flushed and she was breathing deeply, but I hoped that was from excitement and not because she was feeling ill. She should be at home resting; I knew her back was aching terribly and her feet hurt. But she knew I wouldn't come without her and she had insisted on attending. So now my due-in-a-few-weeks wife sat beaming, ignoring the pain and discomfort in order to share this moment with me. She had been shifting a lot beside me and I knew as soon as I could, I needed to get her home with her feet up. I had no desire to attend any after parties or socialize.
I turned my attention back to the microphone and said my speech, thanking the right people, making a few jokes and before I wrapped up, expressing my love for my family. As I stepped back from the microphone I saw both my mother and Esme lean toward Bella who was sitting, now, hunched over in her seat. My mother's head lifted and her eyes flew to mine.
Instantly I knew.
My son was about to make his debut. Early. Thank God we had a great doctor here as well as back home. I had wanted to be ready for anything, just in case.
Without another thought I thrust my statue into the presenter's hand and strode forward, ignoring the stage escort's pleas to follow her off stage. Around me the music swelled, indicating they were going to a commercial break, and I jumped off the stage and rushed to Bella.
She smiled up at me, tears in her eyes. "My water broke, Edward. I'm sorry—we have to leave."
"Damn." I grinned. "And the party was just getting started." Leaning down, I swooped her up in my arms, chuckling at her embarrassment of the wet gown clinging to my skin. I kissed her forehead. "I guess we'll have our own after party." Looking around at all the stares, I chuckled. "Gotta go folks, I've got an audition that can't wait!"
Applause followed us as we made our way up the aisle, Bella's head buried in my neck, hating the attention she had brought herself. Carlisle, Esme and my mother followed, all smiling and accepting the many congratulatory remarks being thrown our way. There was no point in telling them to stay; Mom was too excited and as my son's godparents, I wouldn't be able to keep Carlisle and Esme away. Carlisle was on the phone already alerting our doctor what was happening. I had to chuckle. At our appointment last week, he had told me he'd be watching the show as he wished me well, so he might already know without the call.
As I strode out into the lobby, I nuzzled Bella's head. "I've got you, Bella."
She smiled up at me, her eyes wide with nerves and love as she looked into my eyes.
"You always do, Edward."
I beamed down at her in excitement. I tightened my hold on her, so she knew I had her and I would keep her safe. With her in my arms I had all I needed. Everything good in my life was with her; because of her.
She smiled back at me, her love shining in her eyes and I brushed a kiss onto her forehead. We were about to become parents; the ultimate expression of the love we shared.
Soon I would be holding my son. I'd have them both now.
What a great night.
So that is it my friends. Short and sweet. Thank you for reading. I have a one shot called Ask me Anything that will post on the weekend. I have a short three chapter Christmas fic that will post soon called Belong to Me. The banner is up in my group, Edwards Eternal Love of Words. You HAVE to be 18+ to join.
Thank you again. I have the most amazing readers in the fandom. YOU.