Stephenie Meyer owns all things Twilight. I'm just grateful for being able to play with Bella and Edward and wish I could really play with Edward - maybe my husband will want to role play? JK…sort of. *grins*
For the first time in a long time, I felt whole, so I let myself be weak in that moment. I didn't know if I could forgive him. I didn't know if I wanted to forgive him, but in that moment, I needed the comfort those arms could provide so I let him pick me up and hold me. I would deal with the consequences of that later.
Chapter 18: New Beginnings
Being in Edward's arms felt right. After our guilt riddled beginnings and forced separation, feeling his arms around me while he whispered that it would be ok made me feel whole for the first time in two years.
I let Edward hold me until I calmed enough to have a conversation. When I did attempt to remove myself from his arms, I had to struggle a little to get him to let me go. Eventually, he complied with my wishes, and I'm not sure who hated it more. I felt lost without his arms around me, and I hated that I felt that way.
I moved to sit a little further from him. I needed distance from him – someone needed to keep a level head because just acting caused both of us a lot of heart aches.
Part of me felt like I had to accept Edward's reasoning because he was torn-torn between two women he claimed he loved. I wasn't sure how I would ever believe he loved me more because from where I was sitting, he hurt me a lot more often than he ever did Tanya, but then again, he was married to her and I can't imagine what losing my husband to another woman would feel like. I'm sure that she wished I would burn in hell because without me, I don't think Edward would have ever strayed.
Edward truly wasn't the arrogant asshole type that cheated because he could, and I definitely was not the other-woman type. There was just something that brought us together that we couldn't, or maybe didn't want to control. I'd been attracted to men many times in my life, and I'm sure some of them were married, but I didn't act on that attraction. It wasn't just attraction between Edward and I. It was a connection I'd never felt before and probably never would again. We couldn't NOT be together then, but by not denying ourselves in the beginning, we probably destroyed what could have been a wonderful life together.
We both sat silently just looking at each other, neither of us sure exactly what to say at this point. This was the make or break moment, and the tension in the air proved we both knew it.
Edward was first to break the silence.
"So, um, Bella,' he stuttered. "Do you think there is a chance for us? If you need to me to walk out that door and never come back, Bella, I'll do it. I don't want to do, and it will probably kill me, but if it's what you need, I'll do it for you." He took a deep breath. "Bella, I didn't do right by you 2 years ago when I took you home that night. I didn't do right by you during the whole of the most amazing 6 months of my existence, and I didn't do right by you when I let you walk out of my life. But I'll be damned if I'll ever do anything that isn't with your best interest in mind ever again. I'll spend my life making things right, Bella, if you'll let me."
I took a deep breath before I said anything. I honestly did not know what to do here. I loved this man with everything I was, but was love enough? I had a whole new life. I had someone who cared for me, well as much as he could at this point. I knew that Marc had his own Edward in his past, and I knew if she came back, he'd say goodbye. It would hurt because I enjoyed being with Marc, but it wouldn't kill me. Marc was a wonderful man, but I think we stayed together because we were safe with each other. Sure we cared about each other, but what we had wasn't all-consuming. If I was honest with myself, I was merely settling for safe—and so was Marc.
"Edward, I wish I could say that we had a chance, but the truth is, I don't know." I took a deep breath, trying to fight the tears forming in my eyes. I looked into Edwards's eyes, which were full of fear and regret, but I needed to be honest, and he needed to see that in my eyes before I continued. "I'm not going to deny that I love you with everything I am, but I'm not sure we can ever get past this hurt we've caused each other. Edward, we did our best to destroy each other, not intentionally I know, but we both fucked it up bad, and I don't know how to, or even if we can, get past it."
Edward interrupted me. "Bella, honestly you did nothing I need to get past. I understand why you did everything you did, from what happened with Riley, to your leaving town. I get it, and all of it, every last second of that time, is all on ME and my behavior, not you. I get you may not ever get past what I did, and didn't do, but don't you think it's worth a shot? Bella, we were so good together, and I know we can be again. Let's start slow, really get to know each other again."
He paused for my reaction; I know he was holding his breath.
"So, you want to start as friends, and see if grows from there?" I hedged. I'm not sure how that would work, honestly. We were never just friends, and I was quite sure that would never work.
"I'm not volunteering to be your friend Bella, not even close. I won't pretend like thatm and you and I both know that's all it will be, pretending. I want you, not as a friend, but as my everything. If we need to start back at square one, take it slowly and date so you can build trust in me and my feelings for you, I can do that, but I can't pretend to just be your friend."
"I don't know how I feel about that Edward; I have a life away from here. I have a man in my life that's good to me."
"Bella you know you..." Edward started to interrupt, but I cut him quickly with a glare.
I quickly snarked at him. "If you'd let me finish my sentence, Edward, you'd know that while, he's good to me, I know that we are settling for each other because we can't have who we want, and he's well aware that if you ever came back, I might be gone just as I'm aware that if Irina came back, he'd be gone before I could blink. Marc is not my forever. He's just Mr. Right Now, and he keeps me sane," I explained.
Edward looked somewhat relieved and pained at the same time. I must admit I was a little more than thrilled that he had to picture me playing house the way I had spent so much time picturing him with Tanya. It shouldn't have made me happy, but it did, and maybe that was a sign I wasn't willing to forgive and forget, but I also know that I'd never be able to move on from Edward if I didn't try. I knew right then what I had to do.
With a sigh, I looked him in the eyes and continued. "Edward, I'm not making any promises, but I can't at least try. I promised myself I'd never settle again, and if I don't try with you, I'd spend the rest of my life wondering what might have been, and I can't do that to myself."
Edward looked truly relieved and let out a breath that I'm sure he didn't know he was holding at that moment. "Bella, you won't regret this. I won't let you."
"Edward, I know that even though there aren't guarantees, I won't regret giving us a shot. I would regret not doing it, but I need to take care of things with Marc first. If we are going to try; we are doing it right this time around."
Edward smiled and agreed that we should get all of our ducks in a row before we tried to start anything. If we were going to have a chance at a real relationship, we had to do everything different. When he left, he didn't try to kiss me goodnight. We didn't make plans to meet up; we exchanged phone numbers with a promise to call and make plans soon.
I was a little nervous. Rose and Emmett were getting married in 3 days, and I was returning to Seattle for the first time since Edward and I spoke face to face, almost 6 weeks ago. True to his word, he didn't push and let me lead. I went home and ended things with Marc. He was actually glad. He'd met a girl, DeDe, and thought he might want to pursue her. We left it with promises to keep in touch and remain friends, but we both knew that was the lie that everyone ending a relationship told themselves. Edward and I spoke on the phone a few times, and I felt like a giddy school girl when he asked me to be his date to the wedding.
I smiled when I walked into Rose and Emmett's and saw Edward sitting there, arguing with Emmett and Jasper over something. Alice and Rose were going over last minute details and both grinned up at me as I waved at the boys and made my way to the table to help. Our friendships would overcome the hurdles. We weren't totally there, yet, but we were on our way to rebuilding them.
Edward smiled at me but didn't make a huge production of me walking in. He winked at me and went back to arguing over whatever it was they were discussing. It all felt so normal, and in that moment, I was happier than I'd ever been. I wasn't sure what the future held for us but I was more optimistic than I'd been in a long time.
Okay – maybe not the definitive happily ever after you wanted / or didn't want, but it's where I felt best ending it. Neither Edward nor Bella are particularly redeemable in this story, but they aren't necessarily bad people either. As one of my reviewers stated, once a cheater doesn't mean always a cheater. Yes, there are 'dogs' in the world who are serial cheaters, but I don't believe that for these characters. Do they end up with an HEA? Who knows what kind of curve balls they will have lobbed at them? But, they are going to see if they can salvage something.
Yes, I could go on and on for another 20 chapters about them getting back together, but it seems wrong for this story. Sometimes it's better to give hope for what might be.
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