"Well, you certainly look quite dapper," Mom said, smiling as I looked away from the mirror and up at her. She walked down the last few steps and reached out, straightening my tie for me. "Sawyer will be down shortly. And she's beautiful, might I add."
"Is she excited?"
She threw her head back as she laughed. "That's an understatement, sweetheart. This was a great idea."
I nodded, looking in the mirror once more and running my hand through my hair. Since Sawyer and I really hadn't gotten out much since her surgery three weeks ago, I decided she'd been cooped up for too long and deserved a fun night out. So, I'd made a reservation at a nice restaurant and bought tickets for a movie.
She was the one that decided we needed to get dressed up, and I wasn't about to say no to such a small request. Besides, I looked damn good in a suit and tie — her words . . . kind of.
"Thanks for coming by and helping her get ready," I said, leaning down to kiss her cheek. "I've somewhat mastered braids, but a curling iron and bobby pins are little too advanced for me."
"You'd probably burn the entire condominium down," she teased. "Really, though, it was my pleasure. I hope you two have a good night out."
Suddenly, Sawyer called out from the top of the stairs that she was coming down. We took a few steps to the bottom of the landing, watching as my Bean walked slowly with a grin across her lips.
She looked beautiful in a little cream dress with ruffles. Not even her bright pink cast and sling could take away her beauty. And she looked happy — happier than I'd seen her in months.
She stopped at the landing, doing a little spin as she giggled. "Do I look pretty?" she asked, biting her lip.
"You look gorgeous, Sawyer Bean." I smiled, reaching out and helping her off the landing. "Are you ready?"
I held my arm out as she nodded, looping hers through mine. "Yep! You look handsome, Daddy."
"Why, thank you," I chuckled.
After saying goodbye to Mom, Sawyer and I got in my car with little issue. Her grin faded as I buckled her in, but I tried to distract her with talk of our evening. It worked, it seemed, and we drove the few blocks to the restaurant without any problems. Her answers were a little short and her eyes wide, taking in the other cars, but it was probably one of the easiest car rides we'd had.
"We have reservations under Cullen," I told the hostess, holding Sawyer's hand as we stood in front of the podium.
The woman smiled, checking our name off of the list in front of her. "You'll be seated right away," she announced as another woman took two menus and motioned for us to follow her.
We were led back to a small table and I quickly pulled the chair out for Sawyer, wanting to give her the proper daddy-daughter date experience.
"It's so pretty in here," Sawyer whispered as the hostess left our table.
She reached for the flower center piece, touching the leaves carefully. A smile spread across her lips and I just watched her, trying to engrave this happy memory in my mind. Our dinner was incredible, and even Sawyer's picky tastes were satisfied with spaghetti — though it was made quite a bit simpler than the menu read.
"Can I have cake?" she asked with bright eyes, reading the dessert menu. "Please? I won't get candy at the movies."
I nodded. "You can have anything you want, baby. Maybe we'll forgo the popcorn, though, hmm?"
"Maybe we just won't get candy," she offered again. "I like popcorn too much."
I laughed with a sigh, shrugging. "You'll have a handful and then be done, but okay."
I had a feeling a tummy ache would be on our agenda tonight, so I mentally catalogued our medicine cabinet before ordering a piece of the chocolate cake for us to share. And by chocolate, I meant chocolate. It made my stomach hurt by just looking at the picture she so happily showed me — and the real thing certainly lived up to expectations.
"Shhh, go back to sleep," I whispered, holding Sawyer in my arms as I closed the door behind me with my foot.
She yawned, snuggling her head deeper in my chest as I walked through our dimly lit home and up the stairs. She'd fallen asleep in the middle of the movie, but quickly woke back up to finish it. She was still groggy when I carried her out to the car, and then dozed back off on our way home. She slept during a car ride, which seemed utterly impossible.
Our evening was wonderful — and exhausting to her, apparently. After dinner, we took a walk near the water before our movie. She found a small jewelry shop open, so we went in and left with five beaded bracelets — one for her, Mom, Alice, Kate and, of course, Bella. Clearly, I wasn't very good at saying no to her yet, and the shopkeeper loved me for it. A little flutter of her eyes and "please" was all it took.
I tried to justify the purchases by saying we'd write thank you cards for helping these past two months and give the bracelets with them.
After laying Sawyer down on the bed, I pulled her shoes off and left her in the dress, covering her up with blankets. It was still too early for me, so I quickly changed and headed into my office to go over some charts I'd brought home with me. The little boy who had died in our office two weeks ago still weighed heavily on me and had pretty much prompted me to pull all of my patients' charts from the last two months, going over their records once more.
I'd been . . . distracted, to put it mildly, and I refused to let any of the patients slip through my fingers again. Logically I knew they would — I'd always lose patients — but I didn't want the cause to be on me. I couldn't have helped that boy — the autopsy had already told us that — but I just . . . wanted to be more thorough. With the accident and only back part-time, I hadn't been providing the best care possible. In a couple of weeks, though, being part-time would change.
I couldn't believe that the summer was almost over and Sawyer was starting school in a week and a half. I'd already enrolled her and we had a tour planned for next week, so she could meet her teacher, counselor, and the principal. Honestly, the thought of sending her to school scared me more this time than it did on her very first day of kindergarten. Thankfully, the counselor and I had spoken and she said they'd try to accommodate Sawyer's needs. And with her back in school, I would be extending my work hours.
Things were . . . going back to normal, it seemed.
"Daddy," Sawyer sniffled, suddenly standing in the doorway.
I quickly closed my laptop, standing from my seat and hurrying over to her. Her eyes were red and tears streaked down her cheeks as I picked her up, brushing her fallen hair from her eyes.
"What's wrong, baby?" I asked, furrowing my brow in concern.
"You-you weren't . . . and I . . ." She cried, burying her head against my neck as I held her tightly.
I headed to the bedroom, rubbing her back softly to try and ease her sobs. "Shhh, it's okay. I was just down the hall, Bean. You're okay."
"No," she sniffled. "You and Mommy and, and, and no."
Sitting down on the bed with her, I moved her head from my shoulder, caressing her cheek. "You had a nightmare."
She nodded, though I really didn't need the confirmation.
"And something happened to Mommy and me?"
Another nod with a sniffle.
"Tell me about this one, Sawyer."
I held her close as she recounted what she remembered of the terrifying dream. She'd remembered quite a lot of the accident now, which only seemed to make her nightmares worse. Of course I knew four therapy sessions wouldn't stop them, but I'd hoped to see some progress by now. She talked about the memories a little more openly now, but that was about it.
She still screamed from sirens, still hated being in a car, still had anxiety attacks, flashbacks and, of course, the nightmares. I was ready for a sign that therapy was helping, but there hadn't really been any obvious ones.
"You are safe," I promised, resting against the headboard with her in my arms. "These nightmares aren't real — not anymore."
"I don't like them," she sniffled, looking up at me. "I just want them to stop."
I nodded, smiling sadly. "I do too, Sawyer Bean, and they will someday."
"Will you stay with me?"
"Of course. Let's get more comfortable, though, okay?"
I helped her out of the bed and changed her into her pajamas before climbing back in and turning the TV on low. She didn't want to sleep yet and, honestly, I couldn't blame her.
So, we stayed up half the night until her eyes won the battle and closed.
"Hey, sweetheart," Bella said with a smile, holding her hand out for Sawyer's as she stood in the doorway.
Sawyer shuffled her feet slowly, taking Bella's hand before we walked back to her office. Last week showed a change in Sawyer's attitude toward therapy. She wasn't as excited for the sessions anymore, now realizing the kind of effort they took from her. She hadn't asked not to come, but I had a feeling that a few more tough sessions would bring that request.
And I'd have to deny her.
"How are you doing today?" Bella asked, settling into the chair before us. She adjusted her reading glasses and picked up the pad of paper from the table beside her.
Sawyer shrugged, kicking her feet a little as she sat beside me. "I dunno."
"Yes, you do," I pointed out, nudging her softly.
Sighing, she answered, "Not good."
Bella's lips turned downward as her brow creased. "Rough night?"
"Tell me about it," Bella offered, passing me the box of tissues that would surely be needed.
"It was another nightmare," Sawyer began.
With a few tears, she told Bella everything she'd told me of the nightmare. They'd differ slightly every once in a while, but the gist was the same — the car, the crash, the blood, and Tanya or me in the front seat. After reliving the nightmare once more, Bella asked Sawyer other questions — focusing more on Tanya.
"I miss her so much," Sawyer sniffled as I rubbed her back. "Daddy lets me listen to her voicemail sometimes, and I just . . . it hurts."
Bella nodded. "Losing someone you love . . . it always hurts. As time goes by, the pain lessens, but you'll always miss her."
"Sometimes . . . I wish I couldn't remember her because when I do, I just . . . I wanna hug her again and have her kiss my cheek. I miss her reading to me and doing my hair. I miss hearing her say she loves me."
My heart ached, knowing these were things I could never make up for. I could do her hair, yes, but . . . not like Tanya. I could read to her and hug her, but it'd never be the same.
"Those memories are treasures, though, Sawyer," Bella said, smiling sadly. "As time goes by, you may forget exactly what she smelled like or how she sounded, but you'll always remember how you felt."
Wiping at her cheeks, Sawyer slumped forward. "I want her back."
"I know, Bean," I sighed. "I wish I could bring her back."
"Why is she gone?" she cried, wrapping her good arm around herself. "Why did this happen?"
It killed me not to have an answer for her — a good answer. Telling her that Tanya was gone because some asshole got behind the wheel wasn't right, but that was why she was gone.
It enraged me.
"I don't know," Bella admitted honestly as Sawyer's gasps became more frequent.
"I hate this!" she yelled, catching me off guard. Bella wasn't rattled, though, and nodded in agreement. "I h-hate it so much!"
"It's okay," Bella commented, glancing toward me as I stared at my Bean with wide-eyes. "Anger is normal, too."
"It's not f-fair! I hate my nightmares! M-make them st-stop!"
"I wish I could," I said, reaching out and touching her back. She shrugged me off, pulling her knees to her chest and burying her face in them. "Baby."
"No!" she snapped, whipping her head up. "You can't m-make them stop! You're supposed to!"
Her words hit me like a damn wall, knocking the air from my lungs. I was supposed to help her, but I couldn't.
And she knew this.
"Sawyer, no one can make them stop," Bella said, moving from her chair to kneel before my daughter.
"You s-said talking would h-help! It doesn't!"
"I know it doesn't feel like it yet."
"It n-never w-will! It m-makes it w-worse!" She gasped quickly, putting her hand against her chest — her face etched in pain that I couldn't imagine.
She — my little, baby girl — hurt. She hurt in ways I was clueless to. The fear and anger and pain consumed her. She was too little for this.
Bella placed her hands over Sawyer's cheeks, drawing Sawyer's eyes to hers. "Do you remember what we did last week? Our balloons?"
Sawyer shook and I was frozen. I wanted nothing more than to pull her into my arms, wrap up her safely so nothing could hurt her . . . but I couldn't.
"Let's get our balloons out," Bella said, pretending to reach into her pocket.
She took Sawyer's good hand, bringing it up to my daughter's mouth. She continued to hyperventilate, but let Bella take her hand.
"Now, take a deep breath," Bella instructed, putting her free hand up to her mouth and making a fist. "Breathe in, Sawyer."
Sawyer tried her hardest, breathing in like Bella asked.
"Blow up your balloon," Bella instructed, letting her a large breath out and expanding her hand.
I sat there on the couch, watching helplessly as Bella tried to calm her down. Sawyer mimicked her motions over and over until her gasps finally eased and she could breathe normally. When Bella had taught her the technique last week, I'd thought it was . . . silly, to be honest, but I was so wrong. It was actually quite ingenious. Sawyer's mind was on blowing up the "balloon" and not what had caused the panic attack.
"There we go," Bella said, smiling proudly as she rubbed Sawyer's shoulder. "Good job, sweetheart."
"Are you okay, Bean?" I asked worriedly.
Her eyes fell to her lap, refusing to look at me as her shoulders shrugged lightly.
Bella reached up, caressing her cheek softly. "It's okay, Sawyer. Let's call it a day, okay? Will you do me a favor, though?"
Sawyer glanced at her, cocking her head slightly.
"I want you to write a little for me," she said, standing up from her knees and walking over to her desk. She pulled out a notebook from one of the drawers before coming back and kneeling again, placing it in Sawyer's lap. "It doesn't have to be much, but I'd like you to write down when you're feeling upset, scared, angry, or even happy and what's made you feel that way. It can be as simple as seeing an ambulance or hearing a word."
"Why?" Sawyer whispered, looking so damn exhausted — defeated, even.
"Emotions are difficult to understand sometimes. You may not even know why you're feeling a certain way, and that's okay, too. During our sessions, we can revisit those times and that'll give us a goal. Just talking about the nightmares isn't helping, is it?"
Sawyer shook her head. "No."
"So, this will give us something to actually work on. The first step is understanding emotions and once you do, we can start the process of healing. Will you do this for me?"
Running her hand over the notebook in her lap, Sawyer glanced between it and Bella before nodding.
"Thank you." Bella smiled, standing back up and holding her hand out. "Now, I'd like to speak to your dad alone for a few minutes, okay? Do you mind going to the playroom?"
Wordlessly, Sawyer took her hand. The fact that she'd barely said a word left me concerned, and the pain of what she'd yelled at me hurt. I watched as Bella led her from the room and sunk into the couch, scrubbing my hands over my face.
"How are you doing?" Bella asked, pulling the door closed before sitting down next to me.
I leaned forward, cupping my hands over my face as I sighed. "It just . . . went so badly so fast."
"That'll happen," she said, laying her hand on my back. "These sessions will start to change some next week. We're just not getting very far right now, which isn't surprising. She gets too upset by talking of the nightmares, so we haven't made progress."
"Yeah, we haven't." I nodded, grimacing. "It just feels like it's getting worse."
"I know it does, but I did need these sessions to evaluate her and form a treatment plan."
"And what's your plan?" I asked dejectedly. "How . . . how do you get her from here to being my Sawyer again?"
"With a lot of work," she sighed. "I know it seems hopeless, but it's not. It just takes time. With post-traumatic stress disorder there's no one way to make it better — and it's certainly not instant."
"Yeah, I know." I ran my hand through my hair as she patted my back. "So, the journaling? Do I need to do anything?"
"Don't pressure her to write, but ask her daily if she has. If you see something that she should write about, let her know. She'll need support through this, which I know you'll offer."
"Support," I mumbled. "I guess that's about all I can do, isn't it?"
She smiled sadly. "It's plenty. If there's one thing Sawyer has going for her, it's you. You're devoted and I never have to worry if she's getting the emotional care she needs. I can't say that about all my patients."
"Thanks," I said, laying my hand over hers and squeezing it gently. "Can, uh . . . do you think we can have lunch tomorrow? I'll buy and bring."
She nodded as a soft blush spread over her cheeks. "You know the time."
Actually, I had her lunch hour etched in my mind — unable to forget. And I'd used that knowledge a few times over the past few weeks. It was just . . . nice to be able to talk to her, and it hadn't always revolved around Sawyer, either. This friendship we'd developed seemed to keep me sane, in fact.
"I'll see you tomorrow, then," I vowed, standing up with her.
"Sounds good." She smiled.
"Come on, baby, you've barely eaten," I said, picking Sawyer's fork up from the counter and holding it out for her.
She took it silently, laying it in the bowl of her favorite macaroni and cheese. She took the tiniest bite before letting it fall again, and I sighed, trying to figure out what the hell I was supposed to do.
She'd barely spoken a word to me since we'd gotten home from Bella's office. She looked miserable, staring into space. Tears filled her eyes every once in a while, but that was the most emotion she'd shown.
I was clueless.
And angry at myself.
She knew I couldn't make things better for her, and more than that, she thought I was supposed to — just like I did. The hope she'd had to get better after our first appointment with Bella was a distant memory now, and though I tried to keep Bella's words in my mind, believing them was a different story.
"I'm not hungry," Sawyer mumbled, reaching for her glass of water.
Though she needed to eat, I didn't feel right by pushing her. So, I gave in — which had become something of a habit of mine.
"It's okay," I said, laying her bowl in mine. "What do you want to do?"
She shrugged. "I'm tired."
I nodded. "I'll help you get into your pajamas, then. Go on up and I'll be there soon."
She slid off of her barstool, refusing to look at me as she headed for the stairs. If wrapping her in my arms and telling her that I loved her would make her even the tiniest bit happier, I'd never let her go.
But I'd tried that, and she'd shrugged me off.
So, I decided I'd just let her be for now. Maybe she was more like me than I'd realized, and a little space to clear her head was needed. After all, that session was easily one of the hardest she'd endured and I guess it was expected that she needed to process it.
Still, nothing hurt worse than barely hearing her voice and having her push me away.
After cleaning the dishes, I eventually made myself go upstairs. Being around her right now . . . it was painful — and that killed me to think. When I walked into my room, she was already on the bed, wrapped up in a blanket with her eyes closed. Instead of bothering her to help her change, I just leaned down and kissed her forehead, moving her Bella bear closer to her.
I didn't miss the twitch of her eyelids that told me she wasn't actually sleep, but I chose to pretend I had and left her alone.
"N-no . . . Mom-my."
My eyes blinked open, feeling the bed shake and jolt me awake. I barely registered what the clock read — two in the morning — before another whimper and shuffle of the blankets made my mind piece things together.
"Sawyer," I whispered huskily, rolling over to find her body twist in the blankets. "Bean."
I turned the light on and found her face etched in pain with tears rolling down her cheeks. I quickly reached over, shaking her shoulder.
"Sawyer," I repeated firmly. "Wake up."
"Ow!" she cried out as her eyes flew open, darting around the room. Her breaths came in quick pants as she jolted up.
"Hey, it's okay," I soothed, lifting my hand to wipe the tears from her cheeks. "You're okay."
"Daddy," she whimpered, sliding to my side of the large bed and falling into my arms.
I held her tightly, rocking softly as she cried and held onto me with as much strength as she could. Pressing a kiss to her temple, I rubbed her back, trying to calm her down.
"It was just a nightmare, Bean." I recited the line I'd uttered more times than I could count, wondering if it really did a damn bit of good. "You're safe now."
"Cars," she sniffled, burying her face again my chest. "Hitting a-and hit-ting."
"Shhh, I know," I whispered.
"Th-they wouldn't st-stop."
"They have now, baby."
I held her head against my chest, leaning back against the headboard as she continued to cry and mumbled incoherently.
"Mom-my . . . hear her."
I pulled my head back, looking down at her as my brow creased. "The voicemail?"
She nodded. "I wa-want Mommy."
"Okay," I sighed, grabbing my phone from the bedside table. "You can hear Mommy."
Honestly, I didn't know if this was healthy, but denying her request to just hear her mother's voice wasn't something I could do. So, as I'd done countless times before, I replayed the message I'd made into a recording on my phone.
She just listened to it over and over, laying her head against my chest. Her sobs eased and she fell silent again, and for a moment — just a moment — she closed her eyes and seemed at peace.
Maybe she could heal from the trauma of the accident somehow, someday, but how could a child heal after losing her mother? Every day I missed Tanya. I missed having someone to do this with — to talk to and make decisions with. But that loss for me . . . it wasn't near as devastating as it was for Sawyer. I'd never be enough, and that wasn't just a guilt-ridden thought.
It was the truth.
Tanya was irreplaceable, so how could Sawyer heal from that loss? How could she put the grief and sadness behind her?
"I love you, Sawyer Bean," I said, replaying the message once more.
She didn't respond as more tears slipped from her eyes.
"I got her to eat breakfast," Mom informed me as I grabbed the bag of food from the counter, nodding in thanks to the cashier.
"All of it?" I asked, adjusting the phone against my ear. "Has she said anything?"
"No, not really," she sighed. "She cleared her plate, though, so I'd say that's good. I'm going to make her lunch in a little while."
I left the small deli, walking down the street and away from the children's hospital as I asked Mom more questions about Sawyer's behavior. I'd booked my entire day with heart catheterizations in order to get back on schedule, but now I wished I hadn't. I hated being away from Sawyer for so long after what had happened yesterday. It was too late to reschedule, though, so I was doing my best to concentrate on my patients.
"She's been opening her notebook on and off today," Mom said. "She hasn't written anything, but she seems to be toying with the idea."
"I guess that's . . . good. I mean, if she writes."
"She's just having a bad day, Edward. They'll come and go, and you can't prevent them — not always, at least. I'm sure she'll be better soon. I'll try to encourage her to write. Maybe she needs a little push."
"Not too much," I cautioned. "Maybe I should come home for lunch. I've got over an hour."
"We'll be fine," she stressed. "Enjoy your lunch and don't worry too much. I'll let you know if she eats, okay?"
I sighed as I came to Bella's building, wavering on whether or not to go in. "I'm going to worry, Mom. Maybe spending some time with her will help."
"What did I just say?"
"Ah, no. Enjoy your lunch and have a good day. You have patients to worry about, so I'll take care of Sawyer."
"Okay," I said, relenting. It wasn't like fighting her was going to help, after all. "I'll call you when I get a break, all right?"
"Sounds good. Bye, sweetheart."
"Tell her I love her."
"I will," she sighed with a laugh. "Love you. Now goodbye."
"Love you, too," I added, hanging up the phone and opening the building's door.
Clipping my phone back to the waistband of my scrubs, I made my way through the lobby and to the elevator. When I got upstairs to Bella's office, the door was already unlocked, so I let myself in.
"Back here," Bella called out.
I walked through the empty office, idly wondering why Bella never seemed to go to lunch with everyone else. Every time I'd shown up uninvited, she was always here alone.
"Hey," Bella said, smiling as she put a file into a drawer and stood up. I held the bag up as she closed her eyes, inhaling the scent. "Oh, you know the way to a girl's heart, don't you?"
"I thought food was the way to a man's heart?" I chuckled as she took the bag, heading over to the couch.
I sat down beside her, pulling the coffee table closer for her.
"Well, I like food — especially cheesesteaks — so it's the way to mine, too. Did you get—"
I nodded with a smirk. "Pickles galore."
"You're good," she giggled, pulling out her sandwich. "So, how's your day? And, uh, what's up with the scrubs?"
"I was too lazy to change. My day's been all right — it's procedure day, which is kind of my favorite day."
Her brow peaked in interest. "Oh, really?"
I nodded. "You know, my plan was to become a surgeon, like my father, and heart caths are the closest I get."
"Why didn't you become a surgeon then?"
"Sawyer." I shrugged. "I was actually all set to take a surgical residency before Tanya became pregnant, but I knew what my father's life was like. And don't get me wrong, he was a great dad, but I wanted to be more available for Sawyer. I switched to internal medicine and went from there. I was still interested in the heart — pediatrics, to be exact — so cardiology was the obvious choice."
"Do you regret it?" she asked, lifting her sandwich.
I shook my head. "No, not even a little. I love my job — every part of it, just the interventional part a little more."
As we ate, she asked more questions about my profession, which I happily answered. Even if I could go back and change my specialty, I wouldn't. Because of Sawyer, I found my calling.
"Sawyer calls my scrubs pajamas," I chuckled. "When she was four, she decided she wanted to be a doctor too, so I got her a pair of scrubs. They were a bitch to find, but she loved them. She wore them that entire summer."
She smiled. "I bet she was adorable."
"She'd play doctor with her stuffed animals and dolls. Hell, she even asked me to tear one and stitch it up for her."
"Yeah, I tore off a teddy bear's arm and sewed it back on as she watched intently, dabbing my forehead of pretend sweat. I even made her put on a mask and gloves so it seemed authentic."
She laughed. "That's so sweet. You know, except for the whole, maiming a teddy bear part."
"She asked me too!" I laughed. "Besides, the thing was good as new once I was done."
"How's she doing after yesterday?"
Her question wiped the smile from my face, changing my mood in an instant — and she noticed, too. She wiped her lips and rolled her empty paper up before inching a little closer to me.
"She's not talking," I sighed. "I mean, not really. She was so distant last night, Bella. It's . . . heartbreaking."
She smiled sadly, laying her hand on my knee. "She'll have bad days."
"Yeah, I know." I nodded. "She didn't even want me to hug her when we got home yesterday, though. She wanted to be alone, so I just . . . let her. Was that bad?"
"No, Edward. She needs time and space to think about what's going on. Sometimes she'll want to be alone — even need to be alone. But as long as she knows you're there when she's ready, letting her make that choice is what's best. Forcing her to talk isn't always right."
"I just want to help her. God, I miss the bad dreams that I could make better by checking in her closet and under her bed. I miss being able to scare off the monsters."
"Of course you do," she said, wrapping her arm through mine and laying her head against my shoulder. "Just because you can't scare off these monsters doesn't mean you're being a bad dad, though. You're a great dad."
I scoffed, letting my cheek fall against her head. "You think so?"
"I know so. Everything you do is to make her happy, safe, feel loved, and supported. And I'll remind you of that every time you second guess yourself."
She tilted her head up, smiling. "Of course. You're only human, so give yourself a break sometimes."
My eyes fell to her deep brown ones, seeing such compassion and support. But there was more, too. Her head was still against my shoulder — her hand now clasped in mine as if I'd found it without a second thought. In that moment, I didn't see my daughter's therapist or someone I'd called a friend. I saw her lips close to mine and breathed in her beautiful scent, filling the air around me.
In that moment, I remembered the feeling I'd had each time I was around her — the one I'd constantly pushed down so far because it wasn't right to think about. I thought about it — about how much I wanted her close to me, about how she calmed me, how I wondered what she'd taste like, and about what would happen if I just gave in, if only for a moment.
And that was how my lips wound up pressed against hers with my hand on her cheek, pulling her closer and closer to me.
I wasn't truly aware of what I'd done until she moaned against me, moving her lips with mine.
And in that moment, the only thought on my mind was, oh, shit.
Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight, not me.
A/N: Yeah, hi! Sorry about the late update. I hope to get back on my two week schedule now, but well, life happens sometimes. Thank you all so much for reading and reviewing! It truly does mean so much to me.
I owe a massive thank you to Bookwormbaby25 and MelissaMargaret for taking their time to beta.
Also, thank you to Kelley, Marita, Dee, Marie, and Lynsey for prereading.