Second Choice

I'm getting married in three days. I'm finally going to make someone Mrs. Edward Cullen.

That's what my mother has to say about it, anyway. Finally. That, and It's about time. And Your bachelorhood was going to send me to an early grave. And And do so with me grandchildrenless.

As you can perhaps see, my mother is a little dramatic. I'm not her only child. Not her only chance at grandmotherhood. She has two other children. Granted, my sister Alice has more 'delicate' tastes in all things romantic, and forever, etc…

But she and Leah could adopt. Or go to a sperm bank or something. And my brother Emmett has been in a committed relationship with his girlfriend Angela for three years. He's going to marry her someday and probably give my parents more grandchildren than they could ever dream of. Really, God help Angela, because I once heard him say that he wanted to breed his own football team. Yes, he actually said breed. Granted, I think he was drunk at the time, but it's not that far out of the realm of normal What the fuck? commentary from him.

And, as for my bachelorhood, as my mother termed it, it wasn't anything that would have killed her, or shamed her or my father in any way. I wasn't out galavanting around with different women every night, or even every week or month. My life was quite the opposite, actually. And that opposite was what had been killing her.

I chose to live in solitude for a time. Six years, in fact, I believe it had been, at the time that I met Rosalie Hale. Rosalie Hale-about-to-be-Cullen.

I wasn't looking for anyone or anything, wasn't tired of or fed up with my solitary existence, though I admit it was sometimes frustrating...

And it wasn't love at first sight when we met–I've been struck by that lightning bolt before and barely lived to tell about it, or to anything at all–I think it was just two people that seemed to click. To fit together in some way that felt right, and too right, and too perfectly so to ignore.

I met Rosalie through her brother, and close friend of mine, Jasper. His girlfriend Carmen was throwing him a huge surprise birthday bash–which no detail of was a surprise at all to him, because you can't surprise or keep secrets from Jasper Hale, the man is psychic or something–and bringing his sister Rosalie home from abroad to attend it was her pride and joy gift to him.

Jasper had talked about his sister many times, more than I could ever count, I'm sure, during the course of our friendship, but I'd never met her because she'd taken off to Europe when she was nineteen and, other than coming home for Christmas once or twice, to keep their mother from her grave, never looked back.

Never, that is, until the day she didn't get on her plane after her for-him visit. Or didn't stay on it, I should say. Because she got off of it. And did look back. Because of me.

I had taken her to the airport, but not only because Jasper couldn't. I took her because I wanted to. We'd spent a great handful of days, and nights, though innocently, together since meeting and hitting it off at Jasper's party.

Rosalie was like no one I'd ever known or met before. She was free and vibrant and alive, a pure breath of fresh air in every sense, and she was positively infectious. Carmen had asked me if we could have Jasper's party at my house, and on my stretch of beach, and I'd told her no problem. And a spirited and fun–and sun–loving Rose had taken to the second instantly, and after I'd told her she was welcome to it any time, there wasn't a morning after that I didn't wake up and see her basking in it through my windows. I'd see her frolicking in the early morning surf, or dancing to a beat only she could hear on the wet sand, or constructing some wildly imaginative creation from it...

And I'd rush out to join her, unable to resist or stop myself.

She was happy for the company, and I was just plain happy for the first time in a long. Because I was in hers.

The days flew by and the nights flew in, carried on breezes of laughter. And those carefree days and nights were magical...

But, like everything else good in life, they far too soon came to an end. It was time for Rose to go back to the home she had chosen, and leave me again alone and laughless in mine.

I'd felt a strange pull on my heart when I hugged her goodbye, and a downright tug as I watched her walk away from me and through the gate, her long, dark-but-sun-kissed hair swaying, waving its own goodbye to me, and it immobilized me for a while. I didn't move from that spot I stood in, for how long I can't say, and was still in it when she came running back to it. And to me, with a breathless "You're still here."

"Something told me not to go," I'd told her.

"Me too," she'd said.

And then we stood there, just looking at each other. And smiling, until she broke the terminable but not silence. "Tell me it was the same something, Edward."

"It was the same something," I'd said easily, as sure as I'd ever been about anything.

And the most beautiful smile I'd ever seen in my life spread across her face, solidifying that sureness. "Now tell me that my brother won't be the only person happy that my plane just left without me."

I took a step closer to her and pulled her carry on bag from her shoulder. "A lot of people will be happy, Rose…" I said, and lifted it onto my own. "They just won't, like your brother won't, be the first to be."

"Tell me who the first will be," she'd said, though she at that moment surely knew the answer.

The answer that I wasn't afraid or too proud to give her. "The first is me."

And because I wasn't, and was, we shared our first kiss right there in the middle of the crowded airport, with people coming and going to and from their destinations all around us.

That was two years ago. The best two years of my life.

Rosalie Hale changed everything for me. I went from living a quiet and content existence to actually living. My tranquil seaside home that once merely felt peaceful to me became everything but, and in the best possible way.

I looked forward to every sunrise, and have seen most of them, with Rose delighting in their beauty right beside me. Many times because we were still up delighting in life and each other.

I don't have a 'traditional' job; my father's hope of my following in his footsteps and going to medical school was dashed right along with my hope for a life full of love and bliss when I was just nineteen.

I wasn't even a man yet, but I was sure I'd found the woman of my dreams at the young, know-it-all age of seventeen. I fell in love with Bella Swan the first moment I saw her in the school cafeteria one fateful day of my junior year in high school. It was her first day, having just moved to live with her dad because her flighty mother wanted to take flight…

Every guy in the school was tripping over himself to get near her as I sat at my table with my friends and watched. And watched her, the girl who had immobilized me with her beauty. We made eye contact at some point, and then, the next thing I knew, she was sitting next to me smiling at me. And there wasn't a day between that one and our last the following year that she wasn't. And after what I thought was a perfect post-graduation summer, we even went to the same university, sharing a small apartment just off campus.

Living with Bella was amazing. It's what I thought at the time, anyway. And it probably had at least had something to do with being able to have sex whenever we wanted to without having to sneak around behind our parents' backs…

Bella had her share of faults and quirks like anyone else, I certainly know that now, but in my young and blinded by love and sex then eyes she could do no wrong. I thought she was perfect. I thought I had it all. And I wanted the whole world to know it. And for Bella to proudly tell it.

I proposed to her on Christmas morning sitting in our pajamas in front of our little tree in our apartment. I'd wrapped the ring box and put it inside of a parade of bigger ones, the last, and the first she opened, being bigger than the tree itself. And she was enjoying the game until she got to my gift. She hadn't even opened it yet, merely held it still wrapped in her hands, and the enjoyment completely left her.

She shook her head back and forth, not even looking at me, and said "You didn't buy me a ring did you?"

I had, of course, just like I'd stupidly thought she'd be happy I had, and excitedly told her to open it.

She obliged me, and, thinking back, I still don't understand why she did so, but then, after ripping the paper off and opening the box and actually looking at the ring, she ripped my heart out by shoving it into my hand and saying, very coldly, "Well, you shouldn't have."

I watched her get up and kick at the wrapping paper and opened boxes decorating our floor, too stunned for a while to react. It was only after she calmly called out, with her back to me as she walked away, "You ruined everything. You and your stupid, suffocating, traditional love" that I moved, jumping up and rushing after her.

I followed her into our bedroom and pleaded for understanding as she grabbed clothes from the closet and drawers. She never answered me, never said a word, and stormed into our bathroom and slammed the door in my face as I tried to again follow her.

I couldn't for the life of me understand her behavior, and repeatedly told her so as she ignored me. We'd talked about forever, and she'd said a thousand times that she wanted to spend hers with me, so in my young and naive defense, her reaction really was a shocking one.

But the only further answer or explanation, that day or any, that she ever gave me was "I wanted to be with you because you let me choose to be."

We spent the rest of that Christmas day apart, not in any way by my choice, she at her father's–or so I thought–house and me at my parents'. We had planned to split our day between the two celebrations together, and trying to explain why she wasn't with me when I arrived at my childhood home was excruciating.

My family–except for Emmett, who said "Screw her!"–tried to console me by reassuring me that she probably just got a little freaked out by my big Christmas surprise and that everything would be alright once she had a chance to absorb it, and we'd soon all be laughing about it and planning a wedding…

But when I went back to our apartment that night, after trying to call her a hundred times throughout the day and evening, getting only her voicemail, I knew that they were all, again, except Emmett, though I wouldn't have admitted that then and didn't, horribly wrong in their assessment of the situation.

While I thought Bella had spent that Christmas day with her father, she'd actually spent it removing herself from my forever plans for us. And every single one of her belongings from our apartment. There wasn't a trace of her left in our place, except for the opened boxes and torn wrapping paper from her gift still on the floor in front of our tree, that she'd left in her disappearing wake, and that matched what she'd done to my heart with her cruel, ring-adorned except for mine, hands.

I never saw Bella again after that day. Because she didn't just leave me, she left it all. School, her father, her entire what I thought was happy life.

Her father Charlie could offer me no explanations, he didn't know anything, either, and, with true sadness in his eyes as we stood face to face in his living room, simply and heavily said "She's her mother's daughter, Edward."

I knew what he meant, and how he had suffered the same shocking hurt and bewilderment I was suffering at the hands of her mother, but I was angry that he didn't give me something more than that weak and pathetic excuse.

I contacted Bella's mother, of course, but she only callously told me to move on. And to not waste my life, like Charlie had, mourning the loss of something that I'd never had in the first place, no matter what I'd foolishly believed.

I didn't listen to her, or couldn't, because a broken heart doesn't let you hear anything but the cruel sounds of its breaking. And four months later I was about to fail completely the second semester of my freshman year of college and decided to just quit. My parents weren't happy, but my unrelenting despair frightened and worried them so much that they didn't fight me. And welcomed me with open arms when I asked if I could come back home to live.

Not that I lived…

I moped around the house, never doing much of anything at all, for months. Because I didn't know what to do with myself. I had wrapped my entire being up in Bella for over two years and without her I was lost.

A couple of weeks before my mother's birthday, I asked her to tell me what she wanted, because I had no desire to try to surprise her, or anyone ever again, with a gift of my own choosing. And her simple and immediate answers changed my life. Well...

They were the first stepping stones on my path to change, anyway. She asked for two things: a song from my beautiful heart and a vision from my, the same to her, mind. Gifts she wanted me to be capable of giving.

I think she had started teaching me to play the piano before I could even climb on to the bench by myself. She had tried with Emmett before me, but that was over before it began. Even if he would have been willing to sit still for more than five minutes, which he wasn't, he wanted nothing to do with a piano unless it was something he could bang on with his toy hammer. And after he did just that, she never tried to sit him on the bench again.

I was a different story from the beginning. She said I often crawled over and sat at her feet when she played, and would delight in the sounds she made above my head. She would pull me up and into her lap and hold me there, letting me touch the keys with no fear, because never once did I bang on them, not even the very first time.

I played the piano all of my life, never having lost my draw to it until I'd lost Bella. And many a year I'd given my mother a song for her birthday, even when I had other gifts of the pretty and expensive bought variety to give her along with it or instead of.

Painting was another love inspired by my mother. And, just like playing the piano, one I seemed to have a natural talent for. And the one I ended up choosing to make my living off of, hence my non-traditional 'job'. College and medical school no longer a part of my life's plans, I decided I wanted to do something that I loved. And something that, thanks to my mother's birthday request, I'd found again.

I could find or imagine no happiness for myself, so I focused my energy on trying to make her happy. I love my mother with all of my heart, and there's nothing I wouldn't do simply to see her smile. And even then, broken as my heart was, and my mind distraught, that was no less the case. And so, with only a few weeks to deliver a smile, or in that case, two, to her face, I got to work.

I spent my days, while she spent hers out of the house, at the piano working on the requested song. My nights I spent in my room, much as I had been already, but with an easel in front of me and a brush in my hand and a purpose in my heart.

A purpose that, once solid and offered to her, wouldn't be shoved back into my hands, even if it was the ugliest, most hideous thing she'd ever seen.

Something it wasn't at all, if I may be so cocky to say. And the reason I chose to pursue that path of love to survive on–and because I thought it would be an easier path not to starve on–than the path of a classical pianist.

And more than seven years later, I can proudly say that I have never starved, not that my mother would ever have let me…

My house with its sandy shore and the Pacific ocean for a back yard is paid for, and where I hope to spend every one of my blessed by fortune days. Not a monetary kind of fortune, though I couldn't live here without a small bit of one, but the one that met me on my solitary and content to be in it path. Because she didn't take the one that would lead her back to her once-chosen home.

Yes, I'm talking about Rosalie. The second woman to put the love back in my heart. The greatest kind of love. A love for being in love, and knowing, without a shadow of a doubt, that I'm not in it alone. And that she'll never leave me to live, if it's in her power to stay with me. To light up my days with her beautiful and irresistible brightness, her limitless energy, and her genuine love and passion for life. She treasures every moment, greets each with effervescent fervor and exuberance, and hasn't so much as frowned at a single since the day of her thankfully temporary departure from me in that airport. Not even this morning, when I hugged and kissed her goodbye at the very same, because she, Alice, Leah, Carmen, and Angela were jetting off to some the-details-of-secret middle of the week 'bachelorette weekend'.

Jasper and Emmett both complained about their better halves' plans when they'd relayed them to them, because they relayed no details at all to them but that they were going, but I merely laughed when Rose told me just as I'd stepped out of the shower one night, and told her to have a great time. And to try to miss me just a little. Just enough to make her want to come back to me, and give up her bachelorette status for me.

After which she launched herself at me, and wrapped herself around, and told me that there was no chance of her not, but to give her a reason to anyway. Which I responded to by taking advantage of her very position around me, that I was more than pleasantly surprised to discover that she was in pantyless, up against the wall of our bedroom. And then on the floor of, and atop dresser or two, and finally, on our bed that we didn't leave, because I didn't stop giving her reasons, until the sun was rising in the early California morning sky.

It's long since set on another day, and I walk alone on the beach in the Rosalie-less darkness, wishing an impossible wish...

For the chance to do this lost day over.

It started normally. Perfectly, even, as I woke up with my vibrant beauty's warm, wet, and exuberant mouth wrapped around my hard and exuberantly happy cock. "So that you'll miss me," she told me with a deliciously devious smile after she'd swallowed my unquestioning thank you.

"Do you doubt that I will?" I asked her. "Or did you? Before you made it even more impossibly impossible?"

"No," she said, crawling up and kissing my lips sweetly. "I have no doubts about you at all. And never have, not even on that day at the airport, when I ran off of my plane and into the terminal and found you still there where I'd left you."

"Not even then, huh?" I'd asked her. "Are you sure about that? Because I remember what you said to me, and-"

"Yes, Edward, said. Not asked."

It was true, she had said the words, and there had been no question in them. Or in any of the ones she said after those first.

Because Rose, even when she wants something, or me to do, tells me she does. She doesn't ask me anything, unless it's to ask me what I want for dinner, or the occasional–or often–"Have you seen my keys?"

Because, whether she ever knows where her keys are or not, she knows who she is, and who I am, and what we are and have together. Because we talk. We communicate with each other. We don't keep secrets or play games or toy with each other. The knowing was learned, of course, the kind that isn't just what you feel…

But that learning was something we embraced, and the importance of, from the very beginning. I needed her to know, to understand if she could, why I lived my life before her the way I did. What had made me choose to be alone, and why trusting and opening up to her might, if it proved to be, be hard for me. And she listened to me. And told me that she was going to earn both from me, and that I would love every minute of her doing so. And then told me why she'd run off to Europe, and stayed there, and thought she would always until she met me. And I told her that I would try to make sure that she never regretted getting off of that plane for me. And never regretted giving her wanted-to-put-it-behind-her first home a second chance to be one she'd never again want to leave or forget. Or, on days like today when she did leave it, not be able to not miss.

Our entire relationship, above all else, was built on honesty. And not being afraid to give it to each other completely. Not being afraid at all…

Until today. Because after she left this morning, after I took her away, my old and complete lie of a life came back to crack the foundation of my new and completely perfect. Or to try to, anyway.

Bella Swan, the girl who broke my heart, and took the very life right out of me, was waiting on our doorstep when I returned home from the airport.

She'd gone to my parents' house first, and after an only minutes girlfriendless, and therefore instantly a mama's boy, Emmett answered their door and told her to get lost, my mother shockingly apologized to her for his rudeness and gave her my address. My brother had tried to call and warn me, but when I'd seen his call while I was already on another with Jasper, and driving, I hadn't answered, planning to just call him when I got home.

But that didn't happen, because when I got home it was too late. Bella was already there.

My first thought when I saw her was that something had happened to Charlie, but unless it had happened in the last twenty four hours, I knew that he was fine because I had just spoken to him two days before. We had kept in touch over the years, despite the cruel and abrupt ending to my relationship with his daughter.

"You look really great, Edward," were the first words out of her mouth after eight years.

And though she did, too, and looked just like an older version of the girl I'd once loved, I didn't return the compliment. Because I didn't feel the same familiarity for her that she'd spoken to me with. She was a stranger to me. Someone I didn't know anymore, and perhaps never had.

"I called my dad one day not long ago," she said when I said nothing, "Two weeks or so ago, I think? And he said he didn't have time to talk to me. It had been a really long time since I'd called him, and I thought maybe he was just mad about that, and trying to punish me or something…"

"Your dad's not the punishing type," I said without thinking, because he wasn't at all.

And then she continued her thought as if I hadn't spoken at all. "But then he said that he was on his way out the door with Sue, to go find a suit for a wedding. And that he was already in trouble with her for putting it off for so long. I asked him who was getting married, not because I really cared, but because it seemed like the thing to say at the time… and because I was really curious who he would buy and wear a suit for… and he said it was you."

"I am," I said, and could feel the happiness I felt about that spread itself across my face. "Getting married. In just a couple of days."

And once again she spoke as if I hadn't. "And he said he really did have to go, but before he hung up he told me that it should have been a tux he was going out to buy instead of a suit. And that I should have been, along with you, who he was willing to wear one for."

Charlies words, though maybe a surprise to her ears, weren't one to mine. I know how he feels about me. And how he felt eight years ago, and before, even.

No father wants any boy anywhere near his daughter, let alone closer than near, but if he'd had to choose one to be, he'd have chosen me.

He never stood in the way of our relationship, despite our young age. Yes, there were rules at first… "Your bedroom door stays open." "Keep your hands to yourselves." "Two feet on the floor at all times. Both of you." But as time progressed and he figured out for himself that I wasn't a total slimeball, he didn't really give us any, besides "I'm too young to be a grandfather. Keep that in mind at all times."

He didn't throw a fit when we wanted to get that small apartment together off campus, and even gave us a housewarming gift when we moved into it. And when I decided that I wanted to ask Bella to marry me a few months later, I asked him first, and was given his full blessing. And a less exuberant than it had been "Good luck with that." That when I remembered later, had spoken painful volumes to me instead of making me laugh like when he'd said it.

None of any of that mattered now, though. And, since Bella was clearly waiting for me to say something… "Why did you come here, Isabella?"

She didn't even try to conceal her shock at my unfamiliar address. "Isabella? Why would you call me that? Instead of Bella?"

"Only your friends call you Bella," I said simply.

"You're not my friend?" she asked, and took a step closer to me.

And something about the way she did, the way she moved, bothered me. I didn't know in what way it did, but I knew my answer. And gave it to her as I took a step back. "Not anymore, no."

"You're not really still mad at me?" she asked me, as if it would be ridiculous if I were. Or was ever, perhaps.

"I'm not really anything, Isabella, but over you," I told her simply.

She cocked a brow at me in challenge and took another step towards me. "Is that so?"

And that time I stayed firmly in place. "Yes, it is. I wouldn't be getting married in a couple of days if it wasn't."

"You mean to your second choice?" she asked, reaching out and touching my arm as if one simple touch from her was all it would take to make me forget any choice but her.

Something she was as wrong as a person could be to think. "No. I mean to the right one."

"Why right, Edward? Is it because she said yes?" she asked, before her lips contorted into a mocking smirk and her hand moved further up my arm.

I pulled it down, finally, and threw it away from me, and shook my head. "No, not because she did. But because I knew without a doubt that she would before I asked her. Because I knew her."

"Are you blaming me for not knowing me?" she asked next. "Don't you think you should blame yourself for that? For not knowing that you shouldn't have done what you did? Shouldn't have expected me to give you what you wanted? When I was already giving you everything that should have been everything to you? And should have been enough?"

I didn't know who the girl was that I had once loved, and wanted anything from, but I knew that she wasn't standing in front of me. And that I could never want or love a girl like the one who was. One who only asked things and for, and gave, and wanted to, nothing more than.

Something I immediately discovered I was wrong about… the nothing part, because, before I could answer her, or even realize that she wasn't waiting for me to, she threw herself into me and crushed her mouth against mine, her fingers instantly grabbing for familiar purchase in my hair. Grabbing for and not getting. Because my hair is too short, shorter than it ever was when it was hers to grab at, or pull or twist in her fingers.

And because I pushed her away from me. Practically shoved. With an angry "How dare you?"

"How dare I?" she asked. And then "How dare you pretend you don't still want me? Or that you've forgotten, or could ever, how much you did when I was ever in your sight?"

"I wanted you because I didn't know you," I told her. And then, with a coldness I know she never heard or felt from my lips, "And because I was a teenage boy, with a pretty and letting me want her, and have her, girl who was pretending I was special enough to her to let."

"Is that what your fiance does, Edward? Tells you you're special? And then lets you have her?"

Her questions were making me sick. And made me ask some of myself. How could I ever have thought that she was beautiful? That her eyes were anything but cold and shallow? Or her heart? Even her skin showed no human warmth. And when I thought about it, thought back, I realized it never had. It wasn't ever kissed by the sun, like Rose's always was, and never pinked from my kisses, or touches, or mere playful promises of. Her blonde hair didn't shimmer in the sunlight, because its tone wasn't her true. It was fake and had no depth, like the rest of her.

She may have been my first choice, but she was the wrong one in every way. A choice made by a young, naive, and stupidly blind boy…

Or one, at least, who just hadn't learned to really see yet. Or hear. Or feel anything real.

Something I, as a man, had long since done. And had been doing all of with absolute clarity and pure, joyful bliss.

Something I was feeling only the first of when I spoke again, for what I wanted to be the last time to her. "I asked you why you came here, Isabella… but I don't want or need for you to tell me anymore. Because it doesn't matter why you did. Nothing you ever did matters to me now. And you don't get a choice or a say in that. And you don't get to question it. You get to accept it. And take that, and nothing else from me, with you when you leave, which you'll do now. For the last time. Because a first choice made by a boy... is nothing to the man he grows into. The man I grew into. Who is the most blessed on this earth, for getting the chance to make a second choice."

"You know you're making a mistake, right?" she asked then. "Another one? And ruining everything for yourself again?"

And there were a hundred different things I wanted to say to that, but, more than there were, there was nothing more I wanted to say to her. And so I walked past her and to my door, that, even though I heard her footsteps behind me, following me instead of running away from like she had years before, I, once I went through it, slammed in her face without a look back.

"I lied! You don't look great! Your hair is too short!" I heard her yell, and I laughed at that. That those shallow ones would be her final words to me.

And though she couldn't hear me, I responded. To them and to her. With an unmeasurable depth in mine. "Thank you, Isabella."

Emmett showed up not long after. And after his "Thank God you didn't cave!" greeting to me, explained to me how my past had come to find me. I wasn't mad at my mother, and loved her for her faith in me, having told my "What the hell, Mom?" questioning older brother that I knew what I had, and would never risk it for or be tempted by something I'd long ago wanted and lost. And that I deserved to see it for myself in solid form. And choose for myself, with the heart and mind of the man I'd become.

I can't unmake the choices I made as a boy. No matter what I saw today, I can't go back and make that blind boy see any of it. He saw what he saw, and felt what he felt. And, even though he suffered–I suffered–I wouldn't even if I could. Because I can't know how different my life might be now if I did. What I might not have. Or might not have ever had the chance to stand in place and wait for.

People say everything happens for a reason. And they usually say it after something bad has happened, trying to give that bad thing purpose. And though I once hated those words, that I had a reason to be someone who heard them, I knew that they were true for me. And that their purpose was great in my life.

If Isabella had come back before I met Rose, I can't say that today would have gone the same way. I can't say that I would have seen her clearly. I think I would have, but I'm not certain. And if she'd have thrown herself at me, and kissed me the way she did, I can't say that I wouldn't have let her. That I wouldn't have pulled her closer, instead of pushing her away. That I wouldn't have kissed her back, instead of the way I didn't.

Her kisses once made me dizzy, and if I didn't know the pure magic of Rosalie's mouth, the pure grounding magic of all of her, I may have longed for that vertiginous plight. I may have plunged right into it without a care or concern for where it would lead me.

But I do know it. Rosalie's magic. Even now when I can't feel it, or see or hold on to it or her, I know it. Its stunning and beautiful familiarity. And that my life without it would be dark and cold and empty. A million times more of all of those things that I feel now as I walk on our beach alone. And more than I ever felt them before. Immeasurably more, like how much I love her. The woman who I feel like I betrayed today.

Rose called me when they reached their destination, to let me know that they had safely. And that she missed me already, and, though she would have a blast without me, that she already couldn't wait to come back to me. To my arms and my lips and the forever that she'd get to have them for.

And I know that I didn't do anything monumentally wrong today, or anything that would monumentally hurt her, but not telling her about my in her absence visitor feels now no less monumentally wrong than if I had.

It's not that I was intentionally trying to keep it from her, but to tell her when I couldn't see her, couldn't look into her eyes while she looked into mine and found nothing and no one there but herself…

Well, it just wasn't what I wanted. And wasn't what I thought was right at the time. And so, I didn't tell her anything.

A choice I now regret making. Another wrong first.

Because it feels dishonest, and that I have never been with her. Not about anything. Even when a dinner she spent two hours cooking tasted like something had died a horrid, experiment-gone-wrong death on my plate, I didn't lie to her. I didn't tell her it was delicious and force it down my throat with a smile. I told her I loved her and that I knew that she loved me, and far too much to want me to actually eat something so vile. And to call for a pizza while I went out and buried it in the sand.

And she appreciated that, though she did call me a heartless and ungrateful bastard before she busted out laughing with that appreciation and ran for the phone…

I want Rose to laugh. With me and for me and at me. And, more than anything, for herself. Because it's what she does. Laughter is what she is. And what I never want her to stop being.

And certainly never because of me.

I'd never take anything away from her. I only want to give her everything, and see and hear and feel how happy she is to take it from me.

And that's what I'm struggling with now, as the tide rolls over my feet and then back over them.

My eyes fix on it. Its coming and going, its arrival and departure, its surge and retreat. And I know that this night can't end with my first choice.

"Hello, my gorgeous, desolate without me almost-husband."

"I am, the last two, anyway."

"And you redefine the first."

"Thank you, I'm glad you think so. And that my hair, the way I like to wear it, is perfect for me. And to you."

"I'm perfect for you," she says, "And to, too, and we should be talking about that, not your hair, which, just so you know, I'm going to be feeling the perfect tickle of against the insides of my thighs the second I get home."

"Yes you are. And it will be my pleasure and honor for you to feel anything and everything your heart, or thighs, desire, I assure you… but there's a reason I brought up my hair. I need to tell you something. And I didn't want to do it this way, when I can't see you and you can't see me, but not doing it when you called me earlier has been tearing me up all night."

"Okay. Tell me."

I don't know if there's a right way to say it, but even if there is, I don't waste any time trying to figure it out or find it. "Isabella was here today. Waiting out in front of our house when I got home from the airport."

"Okay."

"Okay?" I repeat, because hers was spoken with so much ease.

"Yes, okay. So, she was waiting there for you and didn't like your hair."

"You knew that?"

"I made a logical assumption."

"I didn't mean to make it sound like I cared what she thought. I–"

"And you didn't. You made it sound like you cared what I thought, because you do, and make everything sound."

"I do. More than you know, I think."

"I think you're wrong about that, but okay."

There's that word again... "You're making this too easy for me, Rose."

"No, Edward, you're making it too hard. Just tell me."

Again, without knowing if there's a right way... "She found out about the wedding from her father. And she… well, I honestly don't even know why exactly she came…"

"I'm making another logical assumption on this end."

"Please don't do that."

"About her intentions, Edward, not your choiceless receipt of them."

"I'd have never chosen to receive anything from her. Not now. Today, or on any since the day you got off of that plane."

"I know that. Hence my use of choiceless."

"I love you, Rose. So much…"

"I know that, too."

"I need you to."

"And I need you to relax and stop worrying about what you think you need to tell me right now and just do it."

Okay. "She said things. Stupid things, and selfish things, and taunting things… and when I didn't respond to them the way she wanted, or expected, she kissed me. And I should have seen it coming… and not let it… and stopped it before it became a solid thing…"

"Don't give it too much credit, Edward. Or too much weight. Her doing it doesn't make it solid. It just makes it an action instead of a mere intention. The solid only exists in your reaction to it."

"My reaction was shocked. And caught off guard. And angry… and I swear to God she knew it, Rose. Or would have if she had any human characteristics. Which she doesn't…"

"I knew that a long time ago. It was my first logical assumption."

"I didn't kiss her back, Rose. I need you to know that. That I didn't, not for a second, or a half of, or any mark of time."

"I don't need logic to know that, Edward. Because I know how much you love me. And how much greater and deeper that love is than any a boy, even the beautiful and special one that I have no doubt that you were, could ever have been capable of feeling for a girl."

"You don't know. You can't possibly... But you will."

"Yes, and it will tickle."

My god, I love her. "Yes it will, and more than the insides of your thighs."

"I have no doubts, and look quite forward to it. So, now that meaningless, weightless intentions are out of the way, and the wonderfully tickling and heavy solid ones are back in your sight in their unmovable place in ours... Tell me how much you miss me."

"That's really what you want?"

"Yes."

"There's nothing else you want to know?"

"No, just that."

"You can ask me anything, Rose."

"I know."

"And I'll tell you, with the purest kind of truth there is."

"I know, Edward. Because I know you. Now, tell me what I want to hear."

How could I possibly put into words the kind of longing I feel for her in this moment? Longing built of real and pure and solid...

Of choices made and choices wholeheartedly believed in...

How could I…

Oh.

I know how.

I know how exactly. "I miss you like you'd miss the sun if it suddenly stopped existing. And more than that, even... because I miss you like you miss me."

.

.

I started this for a reason... But never got very far with it for my own reasons. I was trying to force myself to please people with the path it would take instead of taking it on the one I wanted to. So, I ended up getting nowhere with it. And certainly not anywhere with it in time for what it was for. (The Rob pic in the banner might give you a hint if you want to know what that was.)

Until, just recently, when I couldn't get it out of my head. The it that it became, which is what I, and most of all Edward, wanted it to be. And which was actually nothing at all like what I first planned or tried to force.

Did I please any of you with it? I could make a logical assumption... but I won't.

And though it's hard to leave it here, and not please myself or this Edward any further (I'm totally and completely in love with him), I think leaving it here is the right choice.

And if you're still here now reading these choice words after reading ours above... thank you. And I'd kind of really love to hear about what made you stay before you leave. You know, if you so choose to tell me.

~Chloe