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capitolo dodici

Messaggio  simona80 il Dom 06 Mar 2011, 00:39

Chapter Twelve
―Beatrice,” Edward whispered.
Bella shuddered convulsively.
―Beatrice,” he whispered again, gazing into her eyes with unblinking recognition.
―Edward?” She stifled a sob.
His eyes closed, but only for a second, and then a slow, sweet smile spread across his face and his eyes grew soft and very warm. ―You found me.‖
Bella chewed at the inside of her cheek, silently willing herself not to burst into tears at the sound of his gentle voice. This was the voice she remembered. And she‘d waited to hear it for so long.
She had waited for him to return to her for so, so long.
―Beatrice.‖ He reached his hand out to clasp her wrist. She found herself being pulled towards him. He shifted slightly on the bed to accommodate her and then enveloped her in his arms as she rested her head on his naked chest. ―I thought you‘d forgotten me.‖
―Never,‖ Bella choked out as the tears began to flow uncontrollably. ―I thought of you every day, Edward.‖
―You‘re here now, Beatrice. You found me.‖
Edward closed his eyes and turned his head, his breathing beginning to regulate again.
Bella lay very still, not wanting her sobs to disturb him, trying desperately not to shake the bed as she let her grief and relief wash over her. Tears traveled in small rivers down her pale cheeks and onto the expanse of tanned and tattooed skin that lay beneath her head.
Her Edward had remembered her. Her Edward had finally, finally returned.
―Beatrice,‖ Edward‘s arm tightened around her waist as he moved to whisper against her hair, still damp from the shower. ―Don‘t cry.‖
His brilliant eyes still closed, Edward pressed his lips to Bella‘s forehead, once, twice, thrice.
―I missed you. So much,‖ she whispered, her lips moving against his tattoo.
―You found me,‖ he murmured. "I should have waited. I love you.‖
Now Bella wept harder, clinging to him as if she were drowning and he was her saviour. She kissed the skin of his chest lightly, and ran her fingers up and down his abdomen.
In response, Edward‘s fingertips traced the goose-pimpled flesh of her arms before slipping under the loose fabric of the t-shirt. He feathered his fingertips across her skin until his hand finally stilled against her lower back.
He sighed deeply and seemed to pass into his dreamland once again.
―I love you, Edward. So much it hurts,‖ she said, her hand coming to rest over his gently beating heart. And then she whispered Dante‘s own words back to him, low against his perfect chest,
―So long has Love held power over me
and accustomed me to his lordship,
that as he seemed harsh to me at first,
so now he seems sweet in my heart.
And so when he takes away my courage,
and my spirits seem to fly away,
then I feel throughout my soul
such sweetness that my face pales,
and then Love holds such power over me,
that he makes my spirits go speaking,
and always calling on
my Edward to grant me greater welcome.
That happens to me whenever I see him,
and is so humbling, no one can understand.”
When all her tears were dry, Bella placed a few tentative kisses against Edward‘s stilled, soft lips and fell into a deep and dreamless sleep in the arms of her beloved.
-
When Bella awoke, it was shortly past seven in the morning. Edward was still sound asleep. In fact, he was snoring, and from the looks of it neither of them had moved all night. It was probably the most peaceful sleep she‘d ever had, but one.
She didn‘t want to move. She didn‘t want to be separated from him, not by one inch. She wanted to lie in his beautiful arms forever and pretend as if they had never been apart.
He recognized me. He loves me. Finally.
Bella had never felt loved before. Not really. Oh he had said it, and Renee (her mother) had said it but only when drunk, so the words had never entered Bella‘s consciousness. Or heart. She never believed them because their actions had showed their words to be false.
But she believed her Edward.
So on this morning, the first morning ever, Bella felt loved. She smiled so widely she thought her face would stretch and break. She pressed her lips to Edward‘s neck and nuzzled against his stubbled skin.
He moaned softly and his arm tightened against her, but his regular and deep breathing told Bella that he was still very much asleep.
Bella had enough experience with alcoholics to know that Edward would be hung-over and probably cranky when he woke up. So she wasn‘t in a hurry to wake him just yet. Although she was silently grateful that last night, at least, Edward had been a harmless, flirtatious drunk. That kind of drunk she could handle. It was the other kind that troubled her.
She spent about an hour drinking in his scent and his warmth, revelling in their closeness, skimming her hands tentatively over his perfect upper body. Apart from the evening she spent with him in the meadow, these moments were the happiest of her life.
But eventually, she had to get up.
She crawled out stealthily from under his arm and padded quietly to the master bathroom, closing the door behind her.
As she borrowed his toothbrush to clean her teeth, she noticed a bottle of Aramis cologne sitting on his vanity. She picked it up, opened it and sniffed.
It wasn‘t the scent that she remembered from the meadow. His scent then had been more natural, wilder even.
This is the new scent of Edward. And just like him - it‟s breathtaking. And now he‟s mine . . .
She finished with her teeth, splashed some water on her face, twisted her now curly hair up into a messy knot and walked into the kitchen to find an elastic or a pencil to hold it.
Her hair thus affixed, she floated into the laundry room and transferred the clean but damp clothes from the washer to the dryer, quickly starting it. She couldn‘t go home until her clothes were dry. But she had no intention of leaving now that he had remembered her.
What about Tanya? Or M.A.I.A.?
Bella pushed those questions aside, simply because they were irrelevant. Edward loved her. Of course, he would let Tanya go. And then she and he could pick up where they left off six years ago.
What about the fact that he‟s my professor? And what if Edward is an alcoholic?
She had promised herself long ago that she would never get involved with an alcoholic. But rather than face that possibility head on, she actively suppressed all the little, niggling doubts that were bubbling to the surface, for truly, she wanted to believe that their love would conquer all.
―Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments,‖ she thought, citing Shakespeare as a talisman against her fears. She believed Edward‘s vices were borne out of loneliness and despair. But now that they had found each other once again, their love and hope would be enough to rescue both of them from their singular darknesses.
Together they would be far stronger and far healthier than they had been separately.
As Bella pondered these things in her heart, she found herself going through the cupboards and cabinets of Edward‘s excellently stocked kitchen. She wasn‘t sure if he would want breakfast, given his hangover. Renee had always eschewed food in favour of a breakfast libation such as a Seabreeze, which Bella had (sadly) learnt to make with aplomb at age eight.
Nevertheless, after she finished her own breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon and coffee, she prepared the same for Edward.
Not knowing if he would want the hair of the dog that bit him the night before, but wanting to give him that option, she made him a Walters cocktail. She found the recipe in his bartender‘s guide, having chosen (she hoped correctly) the decanter on top of the piano that held his least favourite Scotch; not wanting to sully his finest single malt with juice.
In sum, Bella was ecstatic at having the opportunity to spoil Edward a little and so she took extra care as she prepared his breakfast tray. She clipped a few small sprigs of parsley from his countertop herb garden for a garnish, which she placed alongside the orange sections that she had cut up and fanned next to the bacon. She even wrapped his silverware in a linen napkin, which she folded somewhat clumsily into the shape of a pocket. She wished she was clever enough to make something more substantial than a pocket, a swan perhaps or a fan, and she decided to investigate those options the next time she used her computer. Martha Stewart would know. Martha Stewart always knew.
Then Bella bravely walked into Edward‘s study and found a pad of paper and a fountain pen on top of his large, wooden desk. On the paper she wrote the following:
October 2009
My Darling Edward,
Truly this is a morning to cherish.
I‟d given up hope,
until you looked into my eyes last night and finally saw me.
Apparuit iam beatitudo vestra,
Your Beatrice.
Bella propped the note up against the wine glass she had used for his orange juice, and then, not willing to wake him just yet, she placed the entire tray, cocktail and all, in his large and half-empty fridge. And then she leaned up against the fridge door and sighed with satisfaction.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
Bella‘s domestic goddess routine was suddenly interrupted by someone banging on Edward‘s front door.
Holy shit, she thought. Could that be - ?
At first she didn‘t know what to do. Should she wait and see if Tanya let herself in with a key? Or should she run back to Edward‘s arms and hide?
After waiting a minute or so, her curiosity got the best of her and she found herself tiptoeing quietly to the front door.
O gods of all just-been-reunited-with-my-soulmate-after-a-really-painful-six-friggin‟-years-graduate-students, please don‟t let my soulmate‟s (soon to be) ex-mistress mess things up. Please.
Bella took a deep breath and then gazed through Edward‘s peephole.
And what she saw surprised her.
The hallway was empty. But out of the corner of her eye, she saw something on the ground in front of Edward‘s door.
Hesitantly, she opened the door just a crack, and darted a nervous hand out towards the something.
And then exhaled deeply in relief when her hand closed on the Saturday morning Globe and Mail.
A neighbour must have gotten Edward‟s newspaper yesterday by mistake and decided to return it.
Smiling again, and relieved that her blissful reunion with Edward had not been ruined by his erstwhile mistress, Bella picked up the paper and hastily locked the door.
Still smiling, she poured herself a glass of orange juice and then curled up in the red velvet wing backed chair that was angled next to the fireplace, with her little feet resting on the matching ottoman. She sighed in contentment.
If you had asked her over two weeks ago when she was visiting Edward‘s apartment with Alice if she ever thought she‘d be sitting in his precious chair on a Sunday morning, she would have said no. She hadn‘t thought it possible, even with Esme‘s saintly intercession.
But now that she was here, she was very, very happy.
She settled in for a leisurely morning of orange juice and the Saturday paper and decided that her felicity deserved Cuban music; more specifically, a little bit of Buena Vista Social Club. As she listened to ―Pueblo Nuevo‖ on her I pod, she perused the Arts section of Edward‘s newspaper. An exhibition of Florentine art was coming to the Royal Ontario Museum on loan from the Uffizi Gallery. Maybe Edward wouldn‘t mind taking her to see it. A date. Now that she and Edward were together, finally, they would go on dates!
Yes, they had missed out on her prom and all the fancy dress balls at Seattle University. But Bella was sure that all the wasted time and lost opportunity would now be returned to her ten-fold to fill as she wished with Edward.
At the mere idea of a date with her beloved Edward she leapt to her feet, as the trumpet player in her ears began playing a few bars of Stormy Weather as a counterpoint to the Cuban melody.
―Don‟t know why there‟s no sun up in the sky
Stormy weather, since my man and I. . .”
Bella sang loudly, too loudly, dancing with her orange juice in Edward‘s pretentious underwear, blissfully unaware of the half-naked man who was striding somewhat uncertainly up behind her.
―What the hell are you doing here, Miss Swan?‖
Aaaaggggghhhhhh!!!!
Bella yelped and jumped about a foot in reaction to the harsh and angry voice. She quickly took her earphones out of her ears and turned around.
And what she saw crushed her.
―I asked you a question!‖ Edward snapped, his eyes transformed to blackish-green pools. ―What the fuck are you doing in my underwear, jumping around my living room?!‖
Crack.
Was that the sound of Bella‘s heart snapping in two? Or just the final nail in the coffin in which her dead love rested, but not in peace?
Perhaps it was his tone of voice, angry and commanding. Perhaps it was the fact that in that one question she realized that he no longer viewed her as Beatrice and all her realized hopes and dreams just fucking died in their infancy.
But whatever the true explanation, Bella‘s I pod and orange juice slipped through her fingers. The glass promptly shattered, sending her old I pod skating through an ever expanding pool of liquid sunshine at her feet.
Bella stared down at the disaster beneath her for a few seconds, trying to wrap her mind around it. It was as if she didn‘t understand how glass could shatter and make such a pretty imbroglio; something in the shape of a glittering sunburst.
Eventually, she dropped to her knees to pick up the glass and began repeating two questions over and over in her head.
Why is he so angry with me? Why doesn‟t he remember?
A tall and shirtless Edward looked down at her. He was clad only in his underwear, which made him look slightly sexy and slightly ridiculous. His fists were clenched, and Bella saw the tendons standing out in his magnificent arms.
―Don‘t you remember what happened last night, Edward?‖
―No, thankfully I don‘t. And get up! You‘re on your knees more than the average whore.‖ Edward spoke through clenched teeth, glaring at her servile form.
Bella‘s head popped up.
She searched his eyes. She saw his complete and utter lack of memory and his irritation.
He might as well have run her through with a sword. She felt the blade enter her, and then she felt it pierce her heart, and then she felt her heart begin to haemorrhage inwardly.
Bella was bleeding.
Just like his tattoo, she thought. He‟s the dragon; I‟m the bleeding heart.
In that instant of silent realization, the most remarkable thing happened. Something inside of her six years in the making finally, finally snapped.
―I‘ll have to take you at your word about the behaviour of whores, Masen. Only you would know,‖ she growled up at him.
And then, when that snide remark didn‘t quite heal the ache in the now expanding fissure that was present in her heart, she boldly forgot about cleaning up her mess and leapt to her feet. And promptly lost her temper.
―Don‘t you dare speak to me like that, you lousy drunk!‖ She snarled. ―Who the fuck do you think you are? After everything I did for you last night? I should have let Gollum have you! I should have let you fuck her brains out in front of everyone on top of the bar at Lobby!‖
―What are you talking about?‖
She leaned towards him, eyes flashing, cheeks flushed and lips trembling. She shook with anger as the adrenaline coursed through her veins. She wanted to hit him. She wanted to wipe that expression off his face with her fists. She wanted to pull his perfect hair out in handfuls and leave him bald. Forever.
Edward inhaled her scent, erotic and inviting, and licked his lips involuntarily.
But that was the wrong thing to do in front of a woman as angry as Miss Swan.
She tossed her head in fury and stomped down the hall, muttering various and sundry exotic expletives in both English and Italian. And when she came to the end of them, she switched to German, a sure sign that she was in a towering rage.
―Hau ab! Verpiss dich!!‖ She spat from the laundry room.
Edward slowly began rubbing his eyes, for in addition to suffering from one of the worst hangover headaches of his life, he was slightly enjoying the sight of Miss Swan in his t-shirt and boxer shorts, passionately and blazingly angry and shouting at him in a multiplicity of western European languages. It was the second most erotic thing he had ever witnessed.
And it was entirely beside the point.
―How did you learn to swear in German?‖
He followed the sound of her cursing auf Deutsch to the laundry room where she was removing her now semi-dry clothes from the dryer.
―Bite me, Edward!‖
He was distracted at that moment by a black lace bra that was reclining provocatively but somewhat casually on top of the dryer. He gazed at it. And soon realized that the number and cup size that had popped into his head the night he had taken her to Antonio‘s for dinner were absolutely correct.
Edward silently congratulated himself.
And then he dragged his eyes to meet hers. There were sparks in them, luminescent butterscotch in dark chocolate, like a glittering sundae.
―What are you doing?‖
―What does it look like I‘m doing? I‘m getting the hell out of here before I find your stupid looking bow tie and strangle you with it!‖
Edward frowned, for he had always thought that that tie was smart.
―Who is Gollum?‖
―Angela-fucking-Webber.‖
Edward‘s eyebrows shot up. Angela? I guess she is Gollum-like. If you squint.
―Forget about Angela. I don‘t care about her. Did you have sex with me?‖ He crossed his arms and his voice grew deadly serious.
―In your dreams, Edward!‖
―That is not a denial, Miss Swan.‖ He put his hand on her arm and forced her to stop what she was doing. ―And don‘t tell me it wouldn‘t have formed part of your dreams, too.‖
He glared at her.
―Get your hands off me, you arrogant bastard!‖ She pulled away so forcefully, she almost fell backwards. ―Of course, you would have to be drunk to want to fuck me!‖
Edward reddened. ―Stop it. Who said anything about fucking?‖
―What else would you do to me? I‘m the crazy little whore who‘s down on my knees every five seconds. Whatever happened, consider yourself lucky you don‘t remember it! I‘m sure it was more than forgettable!!!‖
Edward‘s hand grabbed her chin and held it firmly, lifting it so her face was inches from his. ―I said stop it.‖
His eyes flashed back at hers, and in them Bella read a serious warning. ―You are not a whore. And don‘t ever speak about yourself like that again.‖
His tone slid across her skin like an ice cube, freezing and frightening her.
He let her go and took a very large step back, his chest heaving and his eyes burning. He pinched his nose hard and began to breathe deeply, very deeply.
Even in his shadowy, soused thinking, he knew that things had escalated far beyond what was warranted. He needed to calm the fuck down fast, and then he needed to calm her down before she did something rash.
The look in her eyes said it all; he‘d cornered her like an animal. She was angry and hurt and frightened and sad – a furious, wounded kitten with claws drawn and back arched. And tears glistening at the corners of her eyes, he could see. He had done this. He had done this to her, a brown-eyed angel, when he compared her to a whore and failed to remember whatever happened between them last night.
Look what you‟ve done to her. You must have seduced her if she's acting like this . . . Masen, you are a grade „A‟ asshole. And you just kissed your career good-bye.
While Edward was thinking, and thinking slowly, Bella saw an opportunity and took it. Cursing him loudly, she grabbed her clothes from the dryer and ran into the guest room, slamming and locking the door behind her.
She pulled off his boxer shorts, dropping them disdainfully on the floor, and quickly pulled on her damp socks and jeans. When she realized that she had left her bra on top of the washer she decided she‘d just leave without it.
He can add that to his collection. Bastard.
She decided not to change out of his t-shirt since it was less revealing than her own. She‘d carry her own t-shirt in her hand. And if he demanded his t-shirt back, she‘d scratch his eyes out.
Bella stood with her ear against the door, listening to see if she could hear him in the hallway.
Her lack of clarity on this point gave her a few precious moments to think.
She had lost her temper and been stupid. She knew what Edward could be like; she‘d seen the shattered coffee table and the blood spattered on Esme‘s carpet. And although she was positive that her Edward would never, ever strike her, she had no idea what Professor Masen would do when provoked.
But he had made her so angry. And she‘d never had the chance to rage against him before. It was as if all of her rage was screaming to get out. She had to push back; she had to get him out of her system once and for all. She‘d wasted her life pining for someone who wasn‘t real, some temporary alcoholic apparition, and today it was going to stop.
You‟ve yelled at him and cursed at him. Just get the hell out before he decides to get physical.
When she was satisfied that the hallway was silent, she quietly unlocked the door and peered around. Edward was nowhere to be found.
She tiptoed towards the kitchen, shoved her feet into her sneakers, grabbed her messenger bag and coat and ran to the front door.
But Edward was leaning against it.
Scheisse.
At least he was no longer clad only in his underwear. Somehow, he had managed to find a pair of jeans and was now wearing them along with his eyeglasses, but he was still barefoot and shirtless.
―You can‘t leave until I get some answers.‖
Bella swallowed thickly.
―Please let me go. Or I‘ll have to call the cops.‖
―You call the cops, I‘ll tell them you broke in here.‖
―You tell them that, I‘ll tell them that you kept me here against my will and that you. . .‖ She was speaking without thinking again, which wasn‘t smart. And now she was threatening him, with a falsehood.
Anything they did together had been consensual and chaste and sweet – and absolutely, absolutely ruined.
But Edward didn‘t know that.
―Please, Isabella. Tell me I didn‘t - ‖ His eyes grew large and round and his face contorted in pain. ―Please tell me I wasn‘t . . . rough with you.‖
Edward turned almost green in his revulsion and raised a shaking hand to his glasses.
―How badly did I hurt you?‖ He mumbled.
Oh God, what have I done? It gets worse and worse . . .
Bella debated how long she should leave him on the proverbial hook, and then decided hastily to unbait him.
She closed her eyes and groaned. ―You didn‘t hurt me. Not physically, at least. You just wanted someone to put you to bed and keep you company. You begged me to stay, actually, but just as a friend. You were more of a gentleman to me last night than you have been this morning, which is saying something. I think I like you better when you‘re drunk.‖
―Never think that, Isabella.‖ He shook his head at her. ―And I‘m still drunk.‖
She sighed and rubbed her eyes. What a mess. What a beautiful, horrible, painful and pleasurable mess as everything with Edward always had been.
―But your clothes . . .‖ He stared down at her chest, which was poking prettily from underneath his black t-shirt. He averted his eyes quickly so as not to ogle her in his lingering drunken haze.
―Is this some kind of joke, Edward? Do you honestly not remember what happened last night?‖
―I have gaps in my memory – sometimes I can‘t tell . . .‖ He began mumbling incoherently and Bella ran out of patience trying to interpret his incoherences.
―You threw up on me. That‘s why I was in your clothes. And for no other reason, believe me.‖
A look of horror and pained acknowledgement passed across his fine features.
―I‘m sorry,‖ he said quietly. ―And I apologize for insulting you. I didn‘t mean what I said earlier, truly I didn‘t. I was shocked to find you here and the way you were dressed, I thought that we . . .‖
―Bullshit.‖
Edward wanted to react to that remark, but through a great exertion of effort, ignored it.
―If anyone found out about you staying here – you‘re my student. I could be in a lot of trouble. We both could.‖
Bella sighed. We‟re back to that now, are we? Stop the carousel; I want to get off.
―I won‘t tell anyone, Edward. I‘m not stupid.‖
He sighed. ―I know that, Isabella. But if Peter or Angela found out, then I . . .‖
―Is that all you can think about? Covering your own ass? Well, don‘t worry about it, Edward, I already saved your ass. I pried Angela off your dick last night before you had a chance to consummate your professor-student relationship. You should be thanking me!‖
Edward‘s face hardened and he pressed his lips together into a tight, red line.
―Thank you, Miss Swan. But if someone sees you leaving here . . .‖
Bella threw her hands up in frustration. He really was incredibly dense.
―If one of your neighbours catches me, I‘ll just tell him I was on my knees for the executive next door, making money to buy couscous. I‘m sure he‘ll believe me.‖
In a flash Edward‘s hand was on her chin again, a little more roughly this time. ―I warned you about saying things like that.‖
Bella froze, but only for a second, before jerking out of his grasp.
―Don‘t touch me,‖ she gritted through her teeth.
She tried to move past him so that she could exit the apartment, praying he wasn‘t going to retaliate by hitting her, but he put his hand on the doorknob and braced himself against the door.
―Damn it, Isabella! Just stop.‖ He raised his hand, hoping it would still her.
She flinched at the sudden movement and recoiled.
Edward saw her movement for what it was and instantly felt ill.
―Bella, please.‖ He lowered his voice to the softest whisper, and pleaded with his eyes. ―I‘m not going to hit you. I just want to talk to you.‖
He never called me Bella before. Why is he choosing this fucked-up moment to be his first?
―Please.‖ He placed a hand to his head and grimaced. ―I have done terrible things when I wasn‘t in my right mind. I was afraid I‘d hurt you last night. I lashed out, but I was only angry with myself.
Please, Bella.
I think very highly of you. Very highly. How could I not? You are – beautiful and innocent and sweet. I don‘t like seeing you crawling on floors as if you were an animal or a fucking slave. Leave the bloody glass where it is; I don‘t care. And I don‘t like hearing you put yourself down. Do you remember what you said to me when I took you home after we went to The Vestibule? Those words have haunted me ever since. So have mercy on me and stop denigrating yourself. My heart can‘t take it.‖
He cleared his throat, twice. ―I don‘t remember everything that happened with Miss Webber but whatever it was, I apologize. Profusely. I was a fool and you came to my rescue. Thank you.‖
―You‘re welcome.‖
He moved a shaking hand across his forehead and slowly adjusted his glasses.
―I seem to remember kissing you. I‘m sure that was a disgusting experience; some slobbering drunk putting his mouth and hands all over you. I‘m in your debt now; you could have me fired for that. Forgive me.‖
The air left Bella‘s body in a loud gasp.
Edward‘s apology hurt. For from the sound of it, he didn‘t remember the kiss the way she did. And that upset her. Greatly.
―Oh, that,‖ she said coolly. ―I‘d forgotten all about it. It was nothing. Really.‖
Edward raised his eyebrows at her. And then for some reason, his expression darkened and he frowned.
―Nothing?‖ He muttered, so low Bella couldn‘t hear. ―It was a good deal more than nothing.‖
At least to me. Didn‟t she feel it? Even now, I can still feel the spark between us. Can‟t she feel that?
He stared at her for a moment or two, wondering if he should probe that remark of hers any further. And then decided against it.
―You‘re upset. I‘m still drunk. Let‘s talk later before this escalates any further.‖ His voice was suddenly clipped and cold. ―I‘ll speak with you tomorrow, Miss Swan.‖
He unlocked the door and held it open for her, effectively dismissing her.
―Edward?" She paused once she entered the hallway, turning to stare up at him.
―Yes?‖
―I need to tell you something before I go.‖
―Proceed.‖ He sounded grim, and he felt something like fear begin to creep across his heart.
―Tanya called last night, while you were - unavailable. And I answered the phone.‖
Edward removed his glasses immediately and began rubbing his eyes with both hands. He groaned loudly and muttered a few curses.
―What did she say?‖
―She called me a slut and told me to roll you over and hand you the phone. I said you were indisposed.‖
―Did she say anything else? Why she was calling?‖
―No, she just demanded to speak with you.‖
―Did you tell her who you are?‖
Bella shook her head and frowned at him slightly. She had thought he would have apologized for what Tanya called her.
But he didn‘t.
So he really did think that badly of her. Good. That would make the next revelation so much easier on her conscience.
Bella fixed him with a stony gaze, as her little body began to shake with anger.
―Do you remember the night when you pushed Emmett through a coffee table? Back in Forks?‖
He stepped back, crossing his hands in front of his chest, his eyes narrowing into slits.
―Yes. How do you know . . .‖
―So do I,‖ she interrupted him, turning on her heel and walking very quickly to the elevator.
After a moment, Edward jogged after her. (Now, keep in mind he is shirtless and wearing a pair of jeans and his glasses. And nothing else, not even a smile)
He grabbed her elbow and spun her around. ―What are you talking about?‖
Bella looked up at him, at his confusion and the intoxication that still swam in his eyes. Everything hinged on this. She could tell him or she could keep secret what happened between them just as she always had.
Just as she had for six fucking years.
―I know because I was there.‖
―No, you weren‘t. It was just my family.‖
She looked up at him and laughed. ―Your family left you, Edward. When I arrived, Alice and Jasper were on their way out. Everyone was gone. Except you.‖
He tightened his grip on her elbow. ―How do you know that?‖
―Let go of me.‖ Her eyes flashed at him.
He wordlessly released her and she put more distance between them.
―I walked outside and found you drinking yourself into oblivion on the back porch. You were drinking beer. You were drinking domestic beer, Edward. What did you call it the other night? Appalling bath water?‖
Nothing changed in Edward‘s eyes for the longest time. And then slowly, a wave of realization mixed with confusion washed over him.
―That‘s right, me, little Miss Swan. I was there when they left you. I stayed with you all night when your entire family abandoned you, Edward. You held my hand and you kissed me and we fell asleep in each other's arms on a blanket in your precious meadow.‖
Edward staggered backwards as if she‘d struck him.
―I‘m Beatrice, Edward.‖
His jaw dropped open and he gazed at her in shock.
―I‘m Beatrice and I‘m real and you just lost me forever.‖
And with that last parting shot to the gut, Bella burst into tears and fled to the stairwell, sobbing her way down thirty flights to the first floor, knowing he would never have the energy or the nerve to follow her.
Edward‘s jaw slackened further and he sank to his knees, dropping his face into his hands.
Beatrice.
Chapter Note: Note: Bella's closing line in her note to Edward is a quotation from Dante's La Vita Nuova, in which he describes his first meeting with Beatrice: Apparuit iam beatitudo vestra (Trans. "Now your blessedness appears.")
The poem she recites while Edward is asleep is also from La Vita Nuova, sec. XXVII. Of course, since it was written by Dante about Beatrice, Bella changes the words slightly.

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