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capitolo ventuno

Messaggio  simona80 il Lun 07 Mar 2011, 02:51

Chapter Twenty-One
When the house was shrouded in darkness and it seemed that everyone was fast asleep, Edward and Bella stood staring at one another in the kitchen.
―I‘m not sure you‘re dressed warmly enough. It‘s chilly out there.‖ He gestured to her coat.
―Not as cold as Toronto,‖ she laughed.
He smirked.
―I won‘t keep you outside for long. Look what I found.‖ Edward held up a long, wide scarf made of thick white and black stripes. He wrapped it around her neck, expertly looping it at the front.
―This is from my old college at Oxford.‖
Bella smiled. ―I like it.‖
―It suits you. I found something else, too.‖
Edward held up an old blanket that looked oddly familiar.
Bella reached out her hand to trace the edge of it.
―Is that the one?‖
―I think so. But it won‘t be warm enough so I brought two more.‖ He took her hand and led her out onto the porch.
It seemed like yesterday. It was colder now and dark, but somehow it seemed as if no time had passed since Bella took Edward‘s hand and followed him into the woods.
She inhaled sharply at the memory and as they crossed the backyard in the inky darkness, she felt her heart beginning to pound in her chest.
Edward squeezed her hand. ―What‘s wrong?‖
―Nothing.‖
―You‘re nervous. I can tell. Talk to me, Isabella.‖
He let go of her hand and wrapped his arm around her waist, pulling her close.
She hugged his waist in return.
―The last time I was in these woods I got lost. You have to promise that you won‘t leave me.‖
―Isabella, I‘m not going to leave you. You don‘t understand how important you are to me. I can‘t even imagine what it would be like to lose you.‖ The pitch of Edward‘s voice changed; it was low, tense.
His declaration took her by surprise.
―If for some reason we get separated, I want you to wait for me. I‘ll find you. I promise.‖
Edward pulled a flashlight out of his pocket and shone it on the worn path in front of them, which disappeared into the trees.
The woods were spooky at night; a mixture of naked trees waiting for spring and lush pines. Bella clutched at Edward‘s waist more tightly, worried that she might trip over a root or something and go sprawling.
When they arrived at the edge of the meadow, Edward stopped.
It seemed smaller than Bella remembered it. The grassy space looked the same and the rock and the apple tree were the same, but not as large and significant as they were in her memory. And sadder, as if everything had been abandoned and forgotten.
Edward led her to the spot that was theirs all those years ago and painstakingly spread the old blanket on the ground.
―Who bought Carlisle‘s house?‖
―What‘s that?‖
―I was just wondering who bought the house. Tell me it wasn‘t the Stanleys. Mrs. Stanley always wanted it.‖
Edward pulled her to sit next to him on the ground and draped them both in blankets. She snuggled into his side and he wrapped his arms about her.
―I bought it.‖
―Why?‖
―I wasn‘t going to let Jessica Stanley‘s mother live here. And I couldn‘t let the house go. But mostly, I couldn‘t let this place go.‖
―So you bought the house because of the meadow?‖
―I couldn‘t stand the idea of someone else owning it. Of never being able to come back here.‖
―So what will you do?‖
He shrugged. ―My real estate agent will rent it out. I‘d like to keep it as a summer house. I don‘t know. I just couldn‘t let Carlisle sell it to a stranger.‖
―It was very generous of you.‖
―Money means nothing. I can never repay him.‖
Bella pressed a kiss to his cheek.
He smiled at her. ―Are you comfortable?‖
―Yes.‖
―Are you warm enough?‖
She giggled. ―You‘re generating quite a bit of heat, so yes.‖
―You‘re too far away.‖
Even in the moonlight, Bella could see his eyes grow dark.
She scooted closer to him, and then trembled slightly as he placed her sideways on his lap.
―That‘s better,‖ he whispered, pulling her pea coat up slightly so that he could touch the naked skin of her lower back.
―Can I ask you something?‖ Bella looked at him pensively.
―Of course.‖
―Why isn‘t your last name Cullen?‖
He sighed. ―Masen was my mother‘s name. I thought if I changed it I would be disowning her. So I took Cullen as a middle name.‖
She nodded against his chest.
They were quiet for a few minutes, each coming to terms with memories and reality. Edward continued to caress her back and she nuzzled up against him.
He didn‘t seem to be in a hurry to start a conversation, so Bella decided to speak.
―I had a crush on you from the moment I saw your picture. I was so surprised that you noticed me the night I met you, that you wanted me to come with you.‖
He brushed his lips against hers, just for an instant, fanning the flames that flickered below the surface.
―You appeared to me in my darkness. You asked me once why I didn‘t sleep with you that night. It‘s so clear to me now; I drank in your goodness and it satisfied my longings.‖
Bella would have looked away, embarrassed, but Edward‘s vulnerable gaze kept her there, exploring the depths of two dark shadowy pools.
―I don‘t remember everything, but I remember thinking that you were very beautiful. Your hair, your face, your mouth. Sonnets could be written about your mouth, Isabella. I ached to kiss it from the moment I saw you.‖
Bella pressed their chests together and grasped his neck with both hands, urging his mouth forward.
She kissed him slowly, but with feeling, tugging on his lower lip with her teeth, tentatively exploring his mouth with her tongue.
In response, he placed his large hands flush against her back, almost lifting her.
She responded by shifting her legs and moving to straddle him.
He groaned in her mouth at their sudden and intense connection and held her even more tightly. His hands began to rub against her flesh, gliding up to the edge of her lacy bra strap and then back down again to the waistband of her jeans. Teasing and tracing the barriers to her skin. It was so smooth, so soft. He wished he could see it in the moonlight.
He wished he could see all of her.
Edward pulled away from her mouth when he felt her breathing become laboured.
―Are you alright, love?‖
She started at the unfamiliar term but then a slow, sweet smile crept across her face.
―More than alright. I …‖ She paused and shook her head.
―What is it?‖
―Is this too much?‖
Without thinking, Edward threw his head back and laughed. His chest vibrated with good humour and Bella almost found herself laughing, too.
If she hadn‘t thought he was laughing at her.
He reached his thumb up to pull her lower lip from between her teeth.
―I think that you would find it too much if I told you what I was thinking at this moment.‖
He shifted underneath her and if she hadn‘t noticed him before, she noticed him now. Where their two bodies pressed up against one another there was solidity and heat. The promise of something mysterious and satisfying.
She flushed at the way his body responded to her but didn‘t break eye contact. ―Tell me.‖
―I want to make love to you because I care about you. I want to worship your naked body with my own and learn all of your secrets. I want to please you, not for minutes, but for hours and even days. I want to see you arch your back in ecstasy and look into your eyes when I make you come.‖ He sighed and shook his head, his gaze heated but resolute. ―But not here. It‘s too cold and it‘s your first time and there are some things we need to discuss first.‖
He kissed her forehead tenderly, worried that she would interpret his declaration as a rejection.
―I want you to feel safe and comfortable. I want to adore every part of you. And that‘s going to take time. And – ah – it‘s going to require more amenities than this meadow can afford.‖
He smiled at her seductively and cocked an eyebrow at her.
―Of course, what I want is of very little consequence. What is at issue is what you want.‖
―I think my feelings are pretty clear.‖
―Are they?‖ His voice sounded unsure.
She leaned up to kiss him but caught his stubbled chin instead of his lips. ―I wouldn‘t be here with you in cold weather if I didn‘t want to be.‖
―It‘s still nice to hear.‖
―Edward Masen, I want you,‖ she breathed. ―In fact, I –― She bit down on her lip roughly to keep from saying the four letter word.
―You can say it,‖ he whispered. ―It will be alright. Say what you feel, Isabella.‖
―I – I want you to be my first. I‘m yours, Edward. If you want me.‖
―Isabella, I want nothing more.‖
This time he captured her mouth. And his kiss was filled with promise and resolve. The intensity set fire to Bella‘s insides, stirring and swirling her desires.
Edward wanted her. It had always been there in his kiss, but the line between hunger and affection was so easily misread. She was no longer sensible of the line. There was just Edward‘s body pressed up against hers and their two mouths connected while their hands gently explored one another.
In their meadow, which was paradise, there were only two almost lovers and no one and nothing else.
As their kisses grew more passionate, Edward slowly reclined backwards onto the blanket, pulling her until he was flat and prone and she was kneeling on either side of him. Her chest pressed against his, a pleasant friction between their hips. She moved atop him, shamelessly pressing her softness and curves against him. It was like nothing she had ever felt before.
He allowed her to continue, but only for a moment or two. He freed her lips and then traced her cheekbones with his thumbs, lightly back and forth, his gaze heated.
―I burn for you, Isabella, but it‘s more than just a physical hunger. I crave you, all of you.‖ He sighed and shook his head. ―I hate to do this, but there are a few things we need to discuss.‖
Bella‘s sigh matched his own. ―Such as?‖
―Such as my trip to Italy. I should have told you first.‖
She sat up slowly.
―Professors travel for work. I know that.‖
She dropped her gaze to the blanket beneath them.
Edward sat up, too.
―Isabella.‖ He lifted her chin with a single finger. ―Don‘t hide from me. Tell me what you are thinking.‖
She twisted her hands together. ―I know I don‘t have any right to be – demanding, but it hurt to find out that Carlisle knew about your trip before I did.‖
―You have every right to be demanding, Isabella. I am your boyfriend. I should have told you first.‖
―Are you my boyfriend?‖ she whispered.
―I am more than that. I am your lover, Isabella.‖
Edward‘s words and his voice, low and sensual, sent a shiver up her spine.
―Even though we aren‘t having sex?‖ Yet?
―Lovers are intimate with one another in many different ways. But you need to know that I desire all intimacy with you and only you. So the term boyfriend is inadequate, even now. And I‘m very sorry I hurt your feelings. My trip to Italy came up when Carlisle and I discussed the house because it affected our arrangements.
―I received the invitation from the Uffizi a long time ago, long before you came to Toronto. I wanted to bring it up, but I was putting it off until we were more – comfortable with one another.‖
She looked over at him with interest.
―I wanted your Christmas gift to be a trip to Florence. Of course I don‘t want to go alone. The thought of leaving you behind, of being separated from you – ― His voice grew rough. ―I was worried you‘d refuse, that you would think it was a tool of seduction.‖
She frowned at him. ―Do you really want me to go with you?‖
―I‘d rather not go if you won‘t accompany me.‖
She smiled widely and kissed him. ―Then thank you for the invitation. I accept.‖
Edward smiled in return and buried his face in her hair.
―After what happened with the clothes, I was convinced you‘d say no. I‘ll book separate accommodations, if you wish. There are no expectations. And I‘ll book you an open ticket so you can leave if you decide –‖
―Edward, I said yes. With all my heart. I can think of no one I‘d rather visit Florence with, and please let me stay with you in your room.‖ She blushed and looked at him shyly. ―The semester will be over. We wouldn‘t be breaking the rules if we were to … if you were to decide to take me to your bed and make me yours--‖
He cut her off with a searing kiss.
―Are you sure? Are you sure you want me to be your first?‖
She gazed at him earnestly. ―It was always you, Edward. I never wanted anyone else. You are the man I‘ve been waiting for.‖
She initiated a soft kiss that quickly escalated.
Within moments, she was lying on top of him, their bodies flush together. She was so close to him, to it, to everything.
And she‘d never wanted to be closer, not even during their tango in the museum.
He pulled back, panting, dragging his lips down her neck, carefully avoiding her love bite from earlier, and then brushing a kiss against her hair.
Bella moaned and wrapped his hair around her fingers, urging him forward.
―It‘s too dangerous, love. I can‘t kiss you the way I would like to and be able to stop.‖
Despite his protestation, his hands ran tantalizing courses up and down the curves of her bottom and over the flare of her hips, teasing and pressing into her.
Bella tried to kiss him again but he caught her face with his hand, stroking her gently.
―Too much of that and I‘ll have you right here,‖ he whispered. ―And you deserve better. You deserve everything and that‘s what I am going to give to you.‖
She nodded against his hand.
―If this is your decision, then there are a few other things we should discuss.‖ Edward‘s voice was no longer playful and sultry.
He cleared his throat. And then he inhaled and exhaled a couple of times.
―If you choose to go on the pill or if you are on it already, that‘s fine. But I need to tell you that contraception is unnecessary.‖
―I don‘t understand.‖
―I can‘t have children, Isabella.‖
She blinked at him.
―Are children something you always wanted? Maybe I should have brought this up sooner.‖
She paused as his revelation began to sink in.
―I didn‘t exactly come from a happy family, Edward. Although there have been times when I thought it might be nice to have a husband and a baby. But I never really thought something like that would work out for me.‖
―Why not?‖
She shrugged and averted her eyes.
―I never thought I‘d find someone who could love me. I‘m not exactly sexy. I‘m shy. And weak.‖
―Oh, Bella.‖ He embraced her and kissed her on both cheeks. ―You‘re wrong. You are incredibly sexy. And you are far from weak.‖
She fingered the lapel of his leather jacket for a moment.
―I‘m sorry to hear that you can‘t have children. Alice told me that Rose might not be able to have a baby, either.‖
Edward stiffened.
―Rose‘s situation is completely different.‖
―How so?‖
―It‘s not really my story to tell.‖ He shook his head slightly.
Bella noticed Edward‘s eyes narrow as he watched her with a very worried expression.
She raised a hand to his face and gently touched his cheek. ―Were you very disappointed when you found out?‖
He grasped her wrist and removed her hand from his face.
―I was relieved, Isabella. And I didn‘t find out.‖
―Then how …‖
His voice was cool. ―I made the decision to have myself sterilized when I came out of rehab.‖
She stared at him incredulously.
―Edward, why?‖
―Because someone like me shouldn‘t reproduce. I told you what my father was like. I told you what I was like when I was doing drugs. I thought it would be irresponsible to leave open any kind of paternity. So I had it taken care of. No children for Edward Masen. Ever.‖
He turned his piercing gaze on her. ―I didn‘t account for you, though. And now I almost regret my decision. But really, Isabella, it‘s better this way. Trust me.‖ His body suddenly stiffened, as if he were preparing himself for an onslaught.
―You might decide it would be best not to get involved with me now.‖
―Edward, please. I just – need a minute.‖
Bella moved to sit beside him as she tried to process the information he had just given her.
Edward followed suit, pulling one of the blankets so that it was wrapped around her entirely.
She realized that he had given her only a half-admission, that the true secret was the event or events that led up to his despair. And those events had to be more than just his upbringing and his drug use.
Does it matter? Is there a secret he could tell that would kill your love for him?
He was as still as a statue in the cascading moonlight awaiting her response. Her minutes seemed like hours to him.
I love him. Nothing he could say could kill that. Nothing.
―I‘m so sorry, Edward.‖ She flung her arms around his neck. ―But I don‘t care.‖
At first he was taken aback by her reaction. And then her gentle acceptance overwhelmed him. It made it difficult for him to find the right words.
―Bella, I need to tell you who I am. What I am.‖ He was suddenly insistent.
―I will listen to whatever you have to say, but I don‘t care. I would rather die than be without you.‖
Edward cupped her face in his hands and kissed her gently, as if his soul was begging to be joined to hers.
―No one is going to die.‖ His voice was momentarily hard.
He held her and breathed in her comfort.
All of a sudden, he could see the future. He had hope. He had faith that maybe, just maybe, when she knew everything she would look at him with those big, chocolate eyes and say that she still wanted him.
You love her.
Once again the voice came out of nowhere, only this time Edward recognized it. And he silently whispered his thanks.
―Are you alright? You seem so far away, love.‖ Bella smiled as she used his new term.
He kissed her softly. ―I‘m right where I want to be. Perhaps tonight isn‘t the best night to share all our secrets. But I can‘t take you to Italy without telling you everything. And I would like you to tell me everything, too.‖ He looked into her eyes with a very serious expression. ―I can‘t ask you to bare your body to me without asking you to bare your soul. I want to do the same with you. I hope you can understand.‖
With his eyes he tried to telegraph his feelings, how he was thinking only of her in adding this prerequisite.
She nodded slowly in agreement.
He pressed their lips together lightly and then Bella sighed and rested her head against his chest and listened to the steady, contented rhythm of his heart.
Time passed or stood still. Two almost lovers entwined beneath a dark November sky, the stars and moonlight their only illumination.
-
The next morning, Bella awoke early and padded down the hallway to take a shower.
She dressed and packed her suitcase and then knocked on Edward‘s door at eight o‘clock. But there was no answer.
She pressed the curve of her ear against the door and listened.
There was no movement. No sound.
She dragged her rolling bag down the hallway and then carried it down the stairs. As she turned the corner into the living room, she saw Carlisle and Alice sitting on one of the sofas. Alice was crying and Carlisle was trying to comfort her.
Their eyes flew to Bella‘s as she dropped her bag accidentally.
She apologized profusely.
―It‘s alright, Bella.‖ Carlisle smiled at her. ―How did you sleep?‖
―Well, thank you. Alice, are you okay?‖
Her friend wiped her eyes. ―I‘m fine.‖
―Why don‘t you two talk while I make some breakfast? Alice likes blueberry pancakes, Bella. How about you?‖ He stood up and gestured towards the kitchen.
―Charlie asked me to meet him at the diner for breakfast at nine.‖
―I‘ll drive you. Just let me whip up some pancakes first.‖
Carlisle disappeared and Bella sat next to Alice on the couch, putting her arm around her friend‘s shoulders.
―What happened?‖
―I had a fight with Jasper. He was moody this morning, so I asked him what was wrong. He starting talking about the wedding and wondering if I was ever going to set a date. When I said I wanted to wait, he wanted to know how long.‖ She threw up her hands in frustration. ―I told him what I said before – I don‟t know. And then he asked if I wanted him to let me out of the engagement!‖
Bella inhaled sharply in surprise.
―We never fight. But he was so upset, he couldn‘t even look at me. And then in the middle of our conversation, he just walks out the front door and drives away. I have no idea where he went or if he‘s even coming back.‖
Bella hugged her friend tightly.
―Of course he‘s coming back. I‘m sure he was upset with himself for fighting with you and went for a drive to cool off.‖
―Dad overhead us. So of course he wanted to know why I was delaying the wedding.‖ She wiped her eyes with her hands. ―He said Jasper was right, I couldn‘t put my life on hold. He said that Mom would be upset if she knew I was putting things off because of her.‖ Alice‘s face crumpled as her eyes filled with more tears.
―Your dad is right – you both deserve to be happy. Jasper loves you so much, he just wants to get married. He‘s worried you‘ve got cold feet.‖
―I don‘t have cold feet. I‘ve loved him forever.‖
―Then tell him that. He took you to an island to reconnect with you after the funeral. He‘s been patient about everything. I‘m sure he doesn‘t care when the wedding is, he just wants to set a date.‖
Alice shook her head. ―I had no idea how upset he was.‖
―Maybe you should eat some breakfast and then call him. He‘ll have calmed down by then and you two can go somewhere and talk. You can‘t work things out here with so many people around.‖
Alice shuddered. ―Thank God Emmett didn‘t walk in on us. Em would have sided with me and pissed Jasper off even more.‖
At that moment, the front door opened and closed and a tall, bronze haired man, sweaty from jogging, strolled into the living room.
His hair was messy and damp. He was wearing a black Nike jogging suit and very fancy running shoes. He took a pair of ear buds out of his ears and pressed a button on his iPhone.
He looked at Alice and Bella and frowned. Darkly.
―What happened?‖
―Jasper and I had a fight.‖ More tears fell down Alice‘s cheeks, leaving Edward stricken.
He walked over and pulled her into a hug, pressing a kiss to her spiky black hair.
―I‘m sorry, Ali-cat. Where is he?‖ Edward asked his sister, while looking at Bella.
―He left.‖
He subtly shook his head in frustration. It pained him to see his sister cry.
Before he could ask for more details, Carlisle emerged from the kitchen, announcing that breakfast was served. ―And Bella, if you can give me a few minutes, I‘ll take you to the diner.‖
Edward released Alice. ―What‘s happening?‖
―Bella needs to meet Charlie at nine.‖
Edward looked at his watch. ―It‘s not even eight-thirty.‖
―That‘s okay. I can just have a cup of coffee at the diner and wait for him.‖ Bella avoided Edward‘s gaze. She didn‘t want to be an inconvenience.
―Let me shower and get dressed and I‘ll drive you. I have to stop by my real estate agent‘s house anyway.‖
Bella nodded and the three of them went back to the kitchen while Edward went upstairs.
Over blueberry pancakes, Alice produced something from her purse and fastened it around Bella‘s neck.
She touched the pearl necklace with surprise. ―What‘s this?‖
―They were Esme‘s. We wanted you to have something of hers.‖
―I can‘t. Alice, you should have them.‖
―I have other things,‖ she said, smiling.
―What about Rose?‖
―Rose wanted you to have them. We all did.‖ Carlisle smiled at her kindly.
―Are you sure?‖
―Of course, Bella!‖ Alice hugged her friend, grateful for the opportunity to return her kindness in some tangible way.
Bella was overwhelmed, but she fought back tears for Carlisle‘s sake.
―Thank you. Thank you both.‖
He pressed a fatherly kiss to the top of her head. ―Esme would have been so happy to see you wearing something of hers.‖
―I should thank Emmett and Rose.‖
Alice rolled her eyes and stifled a snort. ―They won‘t be up ‗til noon. Jasper and I had to turn the stereo on last night to block out the sounds of –" She looked up into her father‘s slightly disapproving face. ―Sorry, Dad, but it‘s the truth. Anyway, just bring Charlie to dinner tomorrow night and you‘ll be able to thank them then.‖
Bella nodded, fingering the pearls thoughtfully, marvelling at their smooth cylindrical shape.
-
Edward and Bella didn‘t say much on the drive to the diner. Almost all the words they needed to speak had already been spoken.
Everything between them had shifted. They had an understanding, now. They were going to make love for the first time in Italy.
They held hands like teenagers in the car and Bella beamed when Edward gave her his Magdalen College scarf and said that he wanted her to have it.
When they arrived at the diner, Charlie‘s police cruiser was nowhere to be found.
―I guess we‘re lucky.‖ Bella sounded relieved.
―He‘s going to have to be told eventually. I‘m sure my family is close to figuring it out. I‘ll tell him, if you wish.‖
Bella turned her head to see if he was serious.
He was.
―He thinks you‘re a criminal. I don‘t want him arresting you just to prove a point.‖
―We should tell him together or you should let me tell him. You‘ve taken enough abuse to last a lifetime.‖
―Edward, my father never abused me. He is not a bad man. He‘s just – misguided.‖
He rubbed his mouth but said nothing.
―I‘m not going to say anything until we‘re back in Toronto and the semester is over. It will be easier to explain on the phone. But I should go. He‘ll be here any minute.‖
Edward kissed her lightly and then caressed her cheek with the back of his hand. ―Call me later.‖
―I will.‖
She kissed Edward again and then slipped out of the Jeep.
He pulled her luggage out of the back and placed it at her feet, leaning forward to whisper in her ear, ―I am already fantasizing about our first time.‖
Bella blushed and murmured, ―Me, too.‖
She waved goodbye and then walked into the diner.
-
To Charlie‘s credit, they spent an enjoyable day together. The regulars at the diner welcomed her gladly and he was able to brag to them about how well she was doing in school and how she was applying to Harvard for her Ph.D.
He took her for a drive around the town to see some of the new building projects, pointing out how Forks had grown even during her short absence. And then he brought her to the police station so that his colleagues could tell her how much her old man talked about her.
Afterwards, they went grocery shopping because for various reasons Charlie didn‘t keep a lot of food in the house.
Later that afternoon, he skipped the football game so that they could watch an old movie together. Yes, it was the director‘s cut of Blade Runner, but it was a film that they both wanted to see and truth be told, they quite enjoyed it.
When it was over, Bella handed him a beer, thus encouraging him to watch the football game while she made Esme's famous lasagne for dinner.
Finally alone, she sent a short text to Edward.
E,
Just making Esme‘s lasagne and a lemon meringue pie for Charlie.
He‘s watching football.
Hope you‘re having a great day.
I‘ll call you around 6:30.
Your Bella.
XO
A few minutes later, while Bella was in the middle of assembling two lasagnes, one for that evening and one for Charlie to freeze, her iPhone chirped with the following text,
My Bella,
I‘ve missed you.
We‘re watching football, too.
A and J have kissed and made up and set a date.
C is something of a miracle worker, I think,
or perhaps it was you?
You don‘t know what it means to me to hear you say that you are mine.
Looking forward to your call.
I am yours,
Edward.
XO
Bella fairly floated in the kitchen, buoyed as she was by Edward‘s words and the moments they had shared the previous night. Her dream was going to come true. Edward was going to be her first.
All the tears and trouble and the humiliation with Jacob were now forgotten. She‘d waited for the man she loved and now she was going to have the first time she had always desired. And in Florence, of all places.
She had many things to be thankful for, including the string of pearls around her neck. She was pretty sure that Esme had had a hand in everything and she silently whispered her gratitude.
When she was finished with her preparations, Bella placed one of the lasagnes on top of the oven and then walked the second one down to the basement. Upon opening the freezer, she was surprised to find a lot of pre-made meals, stored in Tupperware and wrapped in tin foil, many of which had little notes on them signed ―Love, Sue.‖
Bella resisted the urge to gag at the sight of them. Sue Clearwater was a nice lady and she seemed to take good care of Charlie. But Sue‘s daughter was another story and Bella couldn‘t even fathom how upset she would be if Sue and Charlie decided to move in together or God forbid, get married. That would be weird on more than one level.
Bella pushed all thoughts of Sue and Leah aside and devoted her full attention to preparing Charlie‘s favourite dessert, which was lemon meringue pie. He tended to prefer the pie that was served at the diner but that didn‘t stop Bella from making her own.
She was just putting the pie into the oven when the telephone rang.
Charlie answered it after the second ring and within seconds was cursing loudly. After a few brief sentences that sounded work-related, he slammed the phone into its cradle and disappeared upstairs.
When he returned, he had changed into his uniform and was wearing his badge and his gun.
―Bells, I‘ve got to go. I‘ll be late. Don‘t wait up.‖
―What happened?‖
―A murder. Over at the bowling alley.‖
―At Sunset Lanes? How?‖
―That‘s what I‘m going to find out. I don‘t know when I‘ll be back.‖ He was almost to the door when he stopped and hunched his shoulders. ―I‘m sorry I ruined your dinner. I was looking forward to it. See you tomorrow.‖
Bella watched her father back out of the driveway in his cruiser and drive away.
She locked the front door and leaned up against it. It was six o‘clock. The pie would be done soon and then she could put the lasagne in the oven.
No doubt Edward was already in the middle of dinner with his family and so Bella decided against texting or calling him. She would wait until six-thirty and then call him as planned.
When the timer went off, she removed the pie from the oven and inhaled the sweet, citrusy aroma. While she waited for it to cool, she wrapped the lasagne and put it in the fridge. It would keep until tomorrow. And she would make a sandwich for dinner. She saw no point in going to a lot of trouble just for herself.
About fifteen minutes later she heard a key scrape in the lock and the front door open and close. She hurriedly grabbed a plate so that she could serve Charlie a piece of pie.
―How did you get away so quickly? The pie is ready right now,‖ she called to the hallway.
―I‘m really glad to hear that, Bells. It‘s good to be home.‖
Charlie‘s plate slipped through Bella‘s fingers, smashing on the old linoleum floor beneath her.
He walked into the kitchen and paused, his arms folded across his massive chest, leaning against the doorway.
She stared in shock at a handsome face with black eyes, framed by a cascade of very long, very straight black hair.
Bella shrieked and sprang towards the doorway, trying to run around him. His large hand shot out to the doorjamb, effectively clothes lining her.
She grabbed onto his arm to prevent herself from falling backwards.
―Please,‖ she begged. ―Let me go.‖
―Is that any way to greet me? After all this time?‖ He grinned, withdrawing his arm and standing to his full height of six feet, six inches.
Bella cowered just inside the doorway, chewing her lip nervously.
Jacob backed her up into the kitchen, his two hundred and fifty pound frame more than dwarfing her. When he had successfully cornered her, he wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her into a tight bear hug.
―Jake, put me down. You‘re hurting me.‖ She gasped and squirmed.
He squeezed her more tightly, a wicked grin slicing from ear to ear. ―Kiss me, honey. Now that I‘m home in time for dinner.‖
Bella struggled in his arms, trying to reach one of his legs with her foot.
―Kiss me and I‘ll put you down.‖
―I have a boyfriend now. And you must be drunk.‖
―Just a couple of beers. Now kiss me and I‘ll put you down. I won‘t ask you again.‖
Bella stopped struggling. ―Promise?‖
―Of course, Bells! Now kiss me and make it good.‖
She shook her head in resignation and moved her face forward, her teeth locked and her lips closed.
But Jacob was having none of that. He reached a hand up to her face, prying her jaw open with his thumb and shoving his tongue in her mouth.
She gasped and began to choke, but he simply plunged his tongue in further.
Bella knew that the only way to get him to stop was to play dead. She relaxed completely and stopped struggling. She opened her mouth all the way and let him explore her roughly, waiting with open eyes for him to finish.
He took his time. He seemed to enjoy himself.
Eventually, he pulled back.
―Wow, still a cold fish. I would have thought your boyfriend would have fucked that right out of you. I guess I was wrong. Maybe his dick just isn‘t big enough.‖
―I‘m not fucking him, Jake.‖
He put her down immediately. ―What did you say?‖
―I said I‟m not fucking him. It‘s just the beginning, for crying out loud. And it‘s none of your business anyway!‖
Jacob squinted at her suspiciously.
―It‘s a good thing I can tell when you‘re lying. I‘m surprised. I thought he would have been tapping this immediately.‖ He reached a hand out to smack her ass. ―He must be gay. Some gay guy you met at school. What‘s his name?‖
Bella brushed past him and sped towards the front door, opening it and gesturing outside to his motorcycle.
―Just go, Jacob. I don‘t want to talk to you. And Charlie will be home any minute.‖
Jacob slowly followed her, like a wolf following a lamb. ―Don‘t lie to me, Bells. I know Charlie just left. Seems they had a bit of trouble over at Sunset Lanes. He‘ll be gone for hours.‖
Bella blinked nervously. She knew there was no way she could outrun him and she didn‘t want to run the risk of angering him by trying. At least if she stayed inside she had a chance of trying to get to her iPhone, which was in the kitchen.
She had very few options.
―Jake, you came for a visit. I appreciate that. But we both know it‘s over. You found someone else, you‘re happy with her. Let‘s leave the past behind, okay?‖
She tried to smile. She tried to hide her fear, and she did a pretty good job of it.
Until he came closer and started running both hands through her long hair, drawing the strands up to his face so that he could sniff them.
―I wasn‘t happy with Leah because she wasn‘t you. But what was I supposed to do, wait around forever? You wouldn‘t let me love you, Bella. Why were you like that? To me?‖
―Jake, I don‘t want to talk about this.‖
He pulled the door out of her grasp and slammed it shut. ―Well, I do.‖
Bella took a cautious step backwards.
―Of course I cared about you. You were really good to me once. But you changed, Jake, and I had to change, too.‖
―I changed?‖ He clamped a hand around her neck and then yanked her towards him by her necklace.
―You‘re the one who changed, Bells! You thought you were too good for me. Look at you, all stuck up and wearing pearls, for fuck‘s sake! I think you‘d look better without them.‖
He began to tug on the necklace, straining the string between each bead.
Bella brought her hands up to stop him.
―Please don‘t. They were Esme‘s.‖
―Oh, they were Esme‟s. Those Cullens are a bunch of rich snobs. And you fit right in with them, Bells. That Alice was probably the one who told you you were too good for me. Why didn‘t you love me back, Bella? You had me twisted in knots for years. It was ridiculous!‖
Bella swallowed hard and he could feel her throat flutter against his fingers.
―Please let me go. You know I won‘t be good like Leah. You‘re going to get back together with her, just like you always do. And you‘ll be happy. Why don‘t you sit down and let me make you dinner? I was just about to put a lasagne in the oven for Charlie.‖
Jacob laughed. ―I‘m not interested in food. And Leah is good, I‘ll admit it. She‘s a freak. But you‘re the one I want – I‘ve wanted you forever. Sure, you‘ll be a lousy lay for a while. But by the time I‘m finished, you‘ll be better than Leah. You just need to have that frigidity fucked right out of you. By me. Many times.‖
He crushed her to him and brought his lips to her ear. ―You want that, don‘t you? That‘s why you haven‘t fucked him. You know that I‘m the only one who will fuck you properly and you‘ve been waiting for me to do it. But you‘re too much of a little girl to tell me what you really want.
―Now‘s your chance. Tell me you want me to fuck you. We‘re all alone in an empty house and as I recall, your room upstairs has a pretty comfortable bed. Or would you rather lose it on the kitchen table? Like an animal?‖
Bella closed her eyes and willed herself not to faint.
She inhaled and exhaled a couple of times, trying to grasp at any courage she could summon.
She looked up into his eyes.
―I‘m not doing anything until you take your hands off my neck. How do you expect me to enjoy myself when you‘re being so crude? What can‘t you just be nice to me?‖
Jacob‘s eyes darkened momentarily, and then he released her.
―I want things to be the way they used to be. I want us to be good together. I promise I‘ll be nice to you.‖ He started petting her cheek. ―But you need to stop fighting me. And you need to do what I tell you.‖
Bella nodded nervously.
―We were meant to be together. It‘s what our dads always wanted. You are supposed to have your first time with me, do you understand? You‘re mine. And you always will be. Now I want you to get down on your knees and show some appreciation. I hope to God you‘ve lost that gag reflex, or it‘s going to be a long night.‖
He pressed a heavy hand to her shoulder, trying to force her to the floor.
―Kiss me, Jacob. Just shut up and kiss me and make me believe that you love me. Or I‘m not doing anything.‖
-
At six-thirty sharp, Edward excused himself from the dining room table and walked into the living room, readying himself to receive Bella‘s call.
The call never came.
He checked his voice mail.
No messages from Bella. No new texts from Bella. No emails from Bella.
At ten minutes to seven, he dialled her cell phone. After a few rings his call went to voicemail.
―Isabella? Are you there? Call me.‖
He ended the call and then used the White Pages application on his iPhone to find Charlie‘s home number. It rang and rang and rang and rang. And then the answering machine came on.
He hung up without leaving a message.
Why wasn‘t she answering the phone? Where was she? And where was Charlie?
A dreadful suspicion took hold in his mind, a suspicion that made him panic.
Without telling anyone, Edward walked out the front door. He started the Jeep and sped all the way over to Charlie‘s house, trying again and again to reach Bella or Charlie on the way.
And if Charlie stopped him for speeding, so much the better.
-
Jacob‘s victory was so close he could taste it.
Finally, she was going to give in. He knew better than to rush her. He didn‘t want her to change her mind. So for now, he was just going to kiss her. She wanted proof that he loved her before she gave in.
He was fine with that. He‘d always loved her.
Undeterred by the ringing of the telephone in the kitchen, which alternated with a few bars of The Police‘s Message in a Bottle, as played by Bella‘s iPhone, Jacob leaned down to kiss her.
She responded. Finally.
It was incredible. She‘d never liked his tongue in her mouth. Frankly, she‘d never liked anything of his in her mouth, but now she seemed to accept it and when he slid his tongue over and around hers, he felt his arousal grow and strain against the zipper of his jeans.
This was going to be great.
He kissed her for a long time. Until he could feel her crumpling in his arms and he knew it was time to move on to other activities. A smug smile expanded his swollen lips.
He dragged his mouth across her jaw line and down to the left side of her neck, sucking on a patch of skin near the middle of her throat, above the pearls.
Since his eyes were closed, he missed the obvious love bite she already wore on the right side.
It wouldn‘t have mattered. He‘d already planned on scarring her. A nice bite mark so that her boyfriend back in Canada would see what his little girlfriend had been up to. Then even if she wanted to go back to him, he wouldn‘t take her. He vacuumed her blood up to the surface of her skin and then for good measure, sank his teeth into her.
She cried out in pain.
He licked the skin softly, enjoying her taste, salty and sweet and bloody and Bella.
When he was finished, he moved back to admire his handiwork. She‘d have to wear a turtleneck to cover that sucker up, and he knew that Bella didn‘t like turtlenecks. Wait ‗til her boyfriend‘s eyes landed on that. It was monstrous, angry and red. It showcased his large ring of teeth.
In short, it was perfect.
Bella looked up at him through those impossibly long lashes and he watched something shift in her eyes.
He leaned forward in anticipation and licked his lips.
Suddenly her fist connected with his mouth and he reeled back in pain.
In a flash, Bella was around him, running up the stairs to her bedroom. She was behind a locked door before he even had a chance to turn around.
―You bitch! You fucking bitch!‖ He roared his anger to the ceiling before wiping the blood from his mouth. His eyes were watering and so it took him a minute to lumber like an injured bear towards the staircase.
Bella braced her door with a chair and then pulled all the drawers out of her dresser. Once the dresser was light enough to move, she placed her hands against it, crying out in pain as she did so. Her right hand was now useless; she‘d likely broken it against his face.
Slowly but surely, she was able to move the solid wood antique in front of her bedroom door and then she quickly replaced the drawers.
She only hoped she could buy herself some time to make a phone call.
She flew across the room to the telephone that sat on her nightstand, but in her haste she knocked it to the floor.
―Shit!‖
She picked up the phone and with the trembling fingers of her left hand, began dialling Edward‘s cell phone. It immediately went to voice mail.
As she waited for the beep, Jacob‘s body came hurling against the door. Bella watched in horror as the old door sagged and began to come away from its hinges.
―Edward, please come get me. I‘m at Charlie‘s. Jacob is here and I‘m all by myself. I‘m in my room upstairs, but he‘s trying to break down the door. Edward, I think he‟s going to kill me.‖
Jacob growled and cursed, pounding relentlessly against the door. Bella was worried that once he smashed through he‘d just tip the dresser over to get to her.
This is it. I‟m dead.
Realizing that she couldn‘t wait another second, she dropped the phone and opened the window, preparing to crawl out onto the roof and possibly to jump.
Just as she was trying to swing herself over the windowsill with one hand, she saw Edward‘s Jeep screech into the driveway. He left the car running and tore across the grass.
He shouted her name and Jacob screamed back at him. Light, quick footfalls reverberated from the staircase and then the sounds of flesh hitting flesh and a torrent of curses filled the air.
Something heavy fell to the floor. Someone tumbled down the stairs.
Bella crept over to her almost destroyed door, straining to hear. The noises seemed to have moved outside.
When she arrived back at the window, she saw Jacob lying on his back on the lawn. He was cursing and holding his nose.
He lurched to his feet, growling, as Edward pursued him.
Jacob took an unsteady step forward, blood pouring down his face.
In the blink of an eye, blood from his nose mingled with blood from his mouth as Edward‘s right hook split his lip, dislodging a few teeth.
―Asshole!‖ Jacob spat out the teeth and lunged at Edward. Despite his obvious impairment, he was able to land a punch on Edward‘s chest.
Edward reeled back, winded.
Jacob took another step forward, eager to capitalize on his opponent‘s weakness.
Edward recovered quickly, ploughing into Jacob‘s stomach with his right and his left. Jacob doubled over in pain and fell to his knees.
Edward straightened his shoulders and cracked his neck to one side.
He looked remarkably relaxed in his tweed jacket and Oxford shirt. He looked as if he was on his way to a faculty meeting at the University and not presently kicking the ass of some giant from La Push.
―Get up,‖ he said in a voice that made Bella‘s blood cool.
Jacob moaned.
―I said get up!‖ Edward stood over him like an avenging angel, beautiful and terrible and absolutely without mercy.
When Jacob didn‘t move, Edward grabbed a fistful of black hair, jerking his head up.
―You even think about going near her again and I‘ll kill you. The only reason you‘re still alive is because it would upset Isabella to see me go to prison. And I‘m not about to leave her alone after what you did to her, you sick motherfucker. But if you ever trouble her again, I‘ll come after you. I‘ve gone ten rounds with a few Southies in Boston and lived to brag about it. So don‘t think that I will hesitate to smash your skull in at the next opportunity.‖
Edward reared back and his left uppercut shattered Jacob‘s jaw. Jacob slumped onto the ground and remained perfectly still.
Edward pulled a handkerchief out of the pocket of his wool trousers and nonchalantly wiped the blood from his hands.
At that moment, Bella appeared at the front door and ran out to meet him.
―Bella!‖ He caught her in his arms as she leapt off the stairs. ―Sweetheart, are you okay?‖
He swung her to the ground carefully, clasping her to his chest.
―Bella?‖ He pushed her hair back so that he could see her. Her lips were red and swollen, there were scratches on her neck, her eyes were wild and was that - ? A huge bite on her neck?
That dog fucking bit her!
―Are you alright? Did he ...?‖ Edward dropped his eyes to her clothing, fearing what he might see. But no, her clothing wasn‘t ripped and she was still dressed, mercifully.
He closed his eyes and thanked God that he hadn‘t been any later. Who knows what he could have found.
―Come with me,‖ he said firmly, removing his tweed jacket and placing it around her shoulders. He led her to the passenger‘s seat of his car and then closed the door securely behind her.
―What happened to you?‖ He asked as he climbed into the Jeep. Bella was cradling her injured arm as if it were an infant.
―Bella?‖ When she didn‘t respond, he reached over to brush the hair out of her eyes.
She flinched towards the door.
He withdrew quickly. ―Bella, it‘s me. It‘s Edward. I‘m going to take you to the hospital. Alright?‖
She gave no indication that she had heard him. And she wasn‘t shaking or crying.
She‟s in shock.
Edward pulled out his phone and dialled a number.
―Carlisle? Something happened to Bella.‖ He paused and looked over at her. ―Her old boyfriend appeared and I think he broke her arm. Could you? Meet you at the emergency room. Thanks.‖
Edward looked over at her, hoping she would make eye contact. When she didn‘t, he dialled information to find the number of the Forks Police Station. He left an urgent message for Charlie, explaining what had happened, where Jacob was, and that he was taking Bella to the hospital.
It‟s her God damned father‟s fault all of this happened. Why the fuck did he leave her by herself?!
―I hit him.‖ Bella‘s voice, high and unnatural, broke into his thoughts.
―You what?‖
―He kissed me … I hit him. I‘m so sorry. I‘m so sorry, I‘ll never do it again. I didn‘t want to kiss him.‖
At that terrible moment, Edward was grateful that he needed to take her to the hospital. Without her to distract him, he would have turned around and finished Jacob off.
Permanently.
She was saying the most bizarre things. She was murmuring about him kissing her and she was kissing him back and something about Leah, and then something about him, Edward, not wanting her anymore because she‘d been bitten and she was going to be a lousy lay...
What the fuck did he do to her?
―Sssshhh, Beatrice. Beatrice, look at me. Beatrice?‖
It took a moment for the old nickname to sink in, but when it did she looked at him, her frantic eyes suddenly focusing on his.
―It‘s not your fault. Okay? It‘s not your fault that he kissed you.‖
―I asked him to kiss me. He was going to ... I didn‘t mean to cheat on you. I‘m so sorry,‖ she whispered.
The tone of her voice, the panic in her eyes – Edward swallowed back bile.
―Bella, you didn‘t cheat on me. Alright? And I‘m glad you hit him. He deserved it. Good for you!‖
Edward shook his head, wondering with horror what had actually happened before he arrived.
-
When Carlisle arrived at the hospital, he found Edward in the waiting room, cradling Bella on his lap. He was stroking her hair and talking softly to her.
It was a tender scene but the level of intimacy displayed between the two of them surprised him. Greatly.
He signed in and then ushered them into a treatment room, removing Edward‘s jacket from Bella‘s shoulders so that he could examine her arm. When he touched her hand, she yelped.
Carlisle glanced sideways at Edward, who was gnawing at his knuckles to control his reactions.
―I don‘t think your hand is broken, Bella, but I can‘t be sure without an x-ray. The cuts are superficial and shouldn‘t need stitches.‖ He shifted in his chair to catch his son‘s eye. ―Edward, I need you to wait outside.‖
Edward pulled his knuckles out of his mouth. ―Why? I want to stay with her.‖
―Just do as I ask, son, and let me work. In a few minutes, I‘ll have to take her upstairs to radiology.‖
Edward obediently disappeared into the hallway, closing the door behind him.
Carlisle continued looking for other injuries and when he was finished he focused on her neck. The bite mark was obvious, the love bite less so. Carlisle‘s eyes flickered to the doorway involuntarily. The love bite was old, obviously from a day or two before.
Clearly, things between Edward and Bella were more intimate than he thought.
―Bella, you have a bite on your neck. Were you bitten anywhere else?‖
She shook her head.
―I‘m sorry, but I‘m going to have to remove your necklace so I can clean the wound.‖
It took a moment for Carlisle‘s skilled hands to successfully open the clasp. He placed the pearls in the palm of her uninjured hand, squeezing her fingers slightly as he closed them.
―Did Esme ever tell you how I met her?‖
Bella shook her head.
―I met her when I was a medical student at Dartmouth. She was a junior, studying English literature. I was on an emergency room rotation, just assisting and observing, when she came in with a black eye.‖ He swabbed the bite‘s surface carefully. ―She told me she had opened a closet door too fast and misjudged the distance. But it was pretty obvious what had really happened. Especially when I located her chart.‖
He sighed. ―She came in a few more times while I was on duty. Then one day, I saw her at the university. A man was screaming at her outside the library and pulling her hair, trying to drag her away. I intervened.‖
Carlisle pointed to a small scar on his chin. ―That was the price of intervening, but the reward was Esme.‖
He looked into Bella‘s eyes. ―I will tell you what I told Esme. This is not your fault. It doesn‘t matter what you did or what you didn‘t do, you did not deserve this. You did not ask for this. And at this moment, I don‘t know when I‘ve been more proud of my son.‖
She looked down at her injured hand and remained silent.
His face took on a very serious expression.
―Bella, I need to know if you should be examined for injuries related to sexual trauma or a sexual assault. A female colleague of mine can do the examination, but I have to ask this question. Anything you tell me is strictly confidential and I won‘t repeat anything that I‘ve seen or heard.‖ He paused. ―If you‘d feel more comfortable speaking with a nurse, I will leave and send one in. Would you like me to do that?‖
She blinked at him. ―I got away before he could – do anything like that. He just kissed me.‖
Carlisle pursed his lips.
―You are a very brave young woman. But are you sure? Did you lose consciousness at all?‖
―No. I was awake the whole time.‖
He nodded. ―I‘ll take you upstairs to get an x-ray of your hand.‖
As Carlisle and Bella approached the door, they could hear Edward and Charlie arguing in the hallway.
―She‘s my daughter and I‘m a cop, for God‘s sake. I think I know the difference between a threat and just talk.‖ Charlie was in Edward‘s face, trying to physically intimidate him, but Edward met him toe to toe.
―Well, clearly you don‘t, Chief Swan, or I wouldn‘t have had to drive across town to drag that animal out of your house before he raped and killed your daughter in her own fucking bedroom.‖
―Gentlemen, this is a hospital. Take it outside.‖ Carlisle was stern as he swept past them, his arm around Bella protectively.
Charlie waited for his daughter to be out of earshot before he continued.
―I can still arrest you for breaking and entering - and assault. And what about drugs? We can give you a drug test at the station, which you‘re going to fail.‖
―Do it.‖ Edward taunted Charlie, his green eyes flashing.
―Go ahead - arrest me. And I‘ll sue you and the police force for wrongful arrest. Do you really want to arrest your daughter‘s current boyfriend for rescuing her from an abusive ex? How will that play out in the Forks Forum? Protecting Isabella was your job. Your job as a father and your job as a police officer. And you‘ve been doing a lousy fucking job of it her whole life. Christ, Charlie. How could you have sent her back to live with her mother when she was a little girl?‖
Charlie clenched his fists so hard, he nearly burst the blood vessels in his hands.
―You don‘t know what you‘re talking about so you need to shut the hell up. You‘ve got a hell of nerve lecturing me about my daughter. All you are is a cokehead with an arrest record for multiple assaults and public intoxication on both sides of the border. I don‘t want you anywhere near her. Or I will arrest you.‖
―I don‘t know what I‘m talking about? Come on, Charlie, get your head out of your ass! I‘m talking about all those men traipsing in and out of the apartment in Phoenix fucking your ex-wife in front of your little girl. And you did absolutely nothing. In fact, you finally rescue her before she becomes another statistic for child molestation, and then you send her back. Why? Was she a delinquent nine year old? Was she too needy? Too desperate for someone to love her?‖
Charlie looked at Edward with an expression of utter hatred. It took all of his self-control to keep from either punching Edward‘s lights out or drawing his gun in the middle of the hospital and shooting him in the head.
But he wasn‘t about to do either around the corner from a waiting room full of witnesses.
Instead, he swore at Edward a few more times and threatened to arrest him if he didn‘t stay away from his daughter. Then he stomped over to the reception desk to make arrangements to pay for Bella‘s hospital bill.
By the time Bella and Carlisle returned, Charlie had calmed himself. He stood by the door of the emergency room with his hands in his pockets, swimming in guilt.
Edward walked to Bella immediately, his eyebrows furrowing when he saw her bandaged hand. ―Are you alright?‖
―It‘s not broken. Thank you, Edward. I don‘t know what I would have …‖ Bella swallowed her words as tears fell down her face for the first time that evening.
Edward put his arm around her shoulder and tenderly kissed her forehead.
Charlie watched the exchange between his daughter and the violent but valiant cokehead and then he walked over to Carlisle. The two friends spoke briefly before they shook hands.
―Bells? I have to go back to work but Carlisle is going to take you to his place so he can keep an eye on you. Is that alright?‖
Bella pulled away from Edward and hugged her Dad with her good arm. He immediately teared up and whispered an apology in her ear. ―This was my fault. I‟m sorry.‖
Charlie and Carlisle bade the couple goodbye, leaving Bella to dry her tears.
―Do you need anything from the store? I‘m sure Rose and Alice have clothes that you can borrow. Or I can lend you something. I‘ll go to Charlie‘s tomorrow to pick up your suitcase.‖
―I don‘t want to go back there,‖ she whimpered, curling in on herself.
―You won‘t have to.‖
―What about him?‖
―You don‘t have to worry about him anymore. Charlie‘s men have already picked him up.‖
Bella looked into his eyes and almost lost herself in the warmth and concern that radiated from them.
―I love you, Edward.‖
He gaped at her, his heart almost stopping in shock.
Did she just …
He drew her into his side and kissed her cheek.
―You are my life now.‖
Edward‘s statement was a promise as much it was a description and a fulfillment of both of their soul‘s deepest longings.

simona80
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