Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chapter 15: Need

I'm not quite sure how to
breathe without you here..
I'm not quite sure if I'm ready to
say goodbye to all we were...
Be with me
Stay with me
Just for now
Let the time decide
When I won't need you
My hand searches for your hand
In a dark room
I can't find you
Help me
Are you looking for me?
Can I feel anymore?
Lie to me, I'm fading
I can't drop you
Tell me, I don't need you"

Need-Hana Pestle

It had been almost three months since the night I left Edward. I'd been completely miserable the whole time. I missed working at the club. I missed our friends and the Cullens. Not being able to see Jasper every day was killing me. I'd brought the misery to myself, though. I'd had to leave Seattle to get away from Edward. I knew he'd never let me go otherwise.

After Gigi tried to kill us, I had woken up in the clinic. I remember being more afraid that Edward would try to break up with me again than I was about my health. I couldn't bear to hear his hurtful words. I thought I was strong, but I wasn't.

I'd waited for him to come see me that day. My stomach had been in knots since I opened my eyes. When I saw him standing over me smiling, I knew what I had to do. As much as I loved him, I couldn't put myself through the rollercoaster again.

Edward didn't believe me. He had tried to talk me out of the breakup. I started ignoring him but that didn't work. I had thought he would get angry, and he did. He destroyed my hospital room. Dr. Moretti had to ban him again. After he left, I cried myself to sleep. I loved him so much, but he was constantly questioning our relationship. I couldn't marry him and build a family if he had so little faith in what we meant to each other.

In the clinic, I'd sat with Caius and talked to Alec. I didn't mean to go to Alec's room but I heard him calling out for his mother. The sad sound of his voice had broken my heart. He reminded me of Jasper when he first came to live with us. He had nightmares all the time. I was a sucker for a man in pain. I had gotten a book of poetry from Di and read it to Alec. I'd never met him before, but anyone that was willing to die for my Edward was golden as far as I was concerned.

Edward had burst through the door. I could sense the anger and jealously that was rolling off of him in waves. That was another problem with Edward. I had never even thought of cheating on him but he treated me like he didn't trust me. He said it was because he didn't trust other guys, but it felt like he didn't believe in me.

I should have learned my lesson the day he beat down Mike Newton in front of the club. It's true that I did love Caveward sometimes, but he started to grate on the nerves after awhile.

Once again, I'd ignored Edward. He'd actually managed to speak to me like a normal human being. I was shocked but I couldn't let that show of chivalry break my focus. Alec had flirted with me, which pissed Edward off more. I didn't feel anything for Alec. Hell, I didn't even know him.

Lying in the wine vineyard pouring my heart out to Edward had been rough. I had to leave him midway through our talk because I couldn't stand his touch. I felt myself caving and I wanted to be strong. Edward had helped me pack, stealing touches the entire time. I wanted to lay him down on the bed and have my way with him. I missed Di and Marcus. They were so different from what I had expected. I had always heard that the Mob was a family and it was. Edward's godfathers loved him.

When we got back to Seattle my mind had been made up; I had to leave. Alice cornered us when we got off the plane and took me to lunch. She tried to apologize for her brother, but I wasn't hearing it. I told her my plan to quit my job. She was devastated, so I told her that I didn't want to leave but had no choice. I felt like I was drowning in Edward, which wasn't good for either one of us. Jasper tried to talk me out of it, too, but no one could reach me.

Jaz's new apartment was in Edward's building, so I knew I couldn't stay there. We had planned to live together, but I had to tell him that I wouldn't be moving. All my stuff was still in boxes. Alice had painted my room. She cried the whole time as I got my belongings ready for storage.

Jasper, on the other hand, was angry. He wanted to kick Edward's ass for causing me to leave, but I begged him to let me be the one to break the news to my ex. After that, Alice, Jasper, and I held each other and cried for a long time. I'd planned to stay in Forks for a week until I made it to my new destination.

Eventually, I moved to Spokane, Washington. One of my professors from UW had started working for Gonzaga University. He'd emailed me the month before, asking me if I was looking for a job. He had a friend who ran a local magazine and needed an editor. He also told me he could pull a few strings and get me into the Graduate writing program at Gonzaga. I'd turned him down before because my life had been in Seattle, but now I had no reason to stay. He'd set everything up. I would move in a week. I felt bad about not giving Edward a two weeks notice but he would only have used it try to talk me out of leaving.

I was in Forks for a week. I visited my parent's graves almost every day and stayed with Jake and Leah. They had been gracious hosts, but they tried to talk me out of leaving, too. Of course, Edward found out where I was and came to confront me.

It had taken three officers to drag him away. I had to beg Jake not to throw him in jail. Edward yelled and threw everything in the yard. He declared his love to me and asked me why I was breaking his heart.

I'd been a coward that day and stayed in the house. I couldn't bear to see him again, but I sure as hell heard the commotion he caused. Leah had to give me sleeping pills, because I was so distraught. The week went by without another visit from Edward. Jacob banned him from his property. I didn't go out much after that, but every time I did, it felt like someone was watching me. I shrugged it off. Even though we'd had trouble in Italy, I felt pretty safe.

Before I left, Alice and Jasper came to tell me goodbye. Alice told me her mom and the rest of the Cullens were distraught over my departure. She didn't say anything about her brother, and I didn't ask. Jaz had insisted that he drive me to Spokane. It was around four hours from Seattle, so he and Ali wouldn't be able to visit much.

Our trip was somber. I'd wanted to ask about Edward, but I figured it was better for me to have a clean break from him. I hoped that he wasn't turning to drugs and alcohol again, but I didn't feel guilty for the decisions I made. Edward was a grown man; he had to start taking care of his own self. I couldn't live for him anymore.

I made it out of Forks without seeing Edward again. So many times I wanted to go back and proclaim my love to him. I spent everyday crying my eyes out and reminisced on the time we spent together.

Jasper and Alice made sure I was settled in Spokane before they left. I'd stayed in a hotel for a week before the studio apartment my professor had hooked me up with was ready. I had money saved from working at the club, and Jasper insisted on putting some of his own money in my savings account. Financially,  I would be fine, but mentally, I was a train wreck.

I missed sleeping in Edward's arms and waking up to him. I missed our joking and bantering. I'd given him my birthday present back. The day he showed up at Jacob's, he'd tried to get me to take it back. I refused. The necklace was gorgeous and no doubt expensive, but it wasn't me.

The last night in his lair when we'd made love on the piano, he'd been so beautifully. I asked him to play for me because I wanted to have that memory for the rest of my life. It had been a fantasy of mine to be taken on top of a piano, and only he made it happen.

We spent all night making love. I didn't give him a moment to rest because I wanted to get as much of him as I could. He'd whispered love words in my ear and I'd almost believed him, but all I could think about was having a family and watching from the front door as Edward left us. I wasn't strong enough to deal with something like that--I never would be. It was better to end it now before our lives got too complicated.

I had written him a note and left. I couldn't even walk that morning because we'd made love so many times. I hobbled to the bathroom and threw on my clothes. It had taken me three tries to get out of his lair because of the security system.

I didn't think I would ever be able to give myself to any man the way I gave myself to Edward. He would always own my body. Our lovemaking was electric, once in a lifetime. We had craved each other. I did and said things to him that I used to think were shameful.

I kept the vibrator that he bought me that day in Port Angeles. It had been the only thing he gave me that I didn't return. The first few weeks I was gone, I would turn it on and pleasure myself. My orgasms never came anywhere close to the ones Edward gave me, so I threw the Adonis away. When you'd had a real life Adonis, it was hard to go back to cheap imitations.

My first few weeks in Spokane were hard. My job was enjoyable but I still missed HADES. I sent emails to Chanel, Felix, and Demetri letting them know I was okay and missed them. We emailed each other every week. Thankfully none of them ever talked about Edward.

My new co-workers were more stilted, all older than me. One of the guys asked me out to a movie. I wasn't ready to date and even if I had been, I wouldn't have chosen him. We had nothing in common, except the fact that we liked to read books. I'd been nice and turned him down, but that hadn't stopped him from flirting with me every chance he got.

Jasper and Alice called me everyday. When I told Jaz about the guy asking me out, he wanted to come and get me. I assured him I was a grown woman and I could take care of myself. I still felt like someone was watching me, but I chalked that up to being paranoid.

My life was empty. I had no family here, no real friends, and I missed home. I trudged on day after day, though, and after awhile, it wasn't so bad. I thought about Edward constantly, but I didn't cry so much. I met people at the University and made plans to start school in January. I didn't hear from Edward that whole time. I never should have underestimated him.

In early October, I started receiving packages. They didn't have any forwarding address. At first, I thought that maybe some stalker had his sights set on me, but when I'd gotten the nerve to open up the first delivery. I soon realized that  it was from Edward. Inside was a large wooden box filled with fuzzy handcuffs. There was also an envelope. He'd written me an original love poem. I was shocked because I figured he would be angry. The poem was beautiful and it expressed all the love in his heart. The letter was signed simply 'your lover.' I cried for hours after reading it, and thought about sending the handcuffs back but decided to keep them as a souvenir of my time with Edward.

Every week, I received another gift from Edward. He also sent me emails telling me how he was doing. He had graduated from his anger management class and Dr. Uley had taken him as a regular therapy patient. He was working on himself. I was so proud of him. I never answered any of his letters and emails, though. I thought it would be better if I let him express himself without having to deal with my baggage.

As time went on, the gifts got more and more personal. One week, he had over two hundred sunflowers delivered to my apartment. I lived in a studio so I didn't have room. I'd taken one vase and asked that the rest be delivered to a local hospital. Another week, he had a fancy restaurant cater my dinner. All the foods were aphrodisiacs. I ended up taking most of it to work and giving it away. I didn't need help to feel horny. I touched myself all the time thinking of Edward. I wanted to feel his manhood inside of me. I had erotic dreams every night.

Edward never called me, and for that I was grateful. I would have just changed my number if he had. His emails made it seem like he was starving to death--he missed my cooking. I missed enjoying him in the kitchen.

The packages kept coming. There were first edition poetry books by Virgil, and small knick-knacks like a new Smurf's cookie jar. I had left mine with Jasper so that he would have something to remember me by.  I kept everything Edward sent me in a prominent place in my small space. I would smile when I looked at the things.

Halloween came and went. Edward sent me a huge gift basket filled with all of my favorite candies. There were Godiva chocolate covered strawberries, Milk Duds, Thin Mints, and many more. At the bottom of the basket were two jars of that chocolate syrup Edward had licked off my body in the lair. My panties had gotten so wet that I swore people could hear me sloshing.  Of course my cheeks sported a permanent blush that day. My co-workers thought I was coming down with a cold. Edward also sent me a holiday email with pictures. He had been Dracula with the fangs and crazy eyes to boot. I giggled when I saw his outfit. He still begged me to come home or at least write back to him, but I didn't.

In November, he started to lose hope that I would return. His emails were depressing. I wanted to write him so many times. He told me that he felt like he was in hell again and that he deserved to rot. He asked me if I was dating again. He expressed anger at me for my lack of response.

He kept sending packages, though. He sent me the Macbook Air that I'd used at HADES. He'd had my initials engraved under the Apple sign and bought me a new laptop bag. I sent it back, because I couldn't accept something so expensive from him. His email after that was angry, so I stopped reading.

The next thing I received was a piece of bark with Edward's and my initials engraved in a heart. It wasn't from Esme and Carlisle's tree because he said it would have been bad luck to tamper with that. The bark was made of petrified wood. It had a solid gold base. It was beautiful. I sent it back to the club address. I didn't need a reminder like that. I was sure that he sent me another angry email but I had changed my address by then.

The last package I got from him was the one that I loved the most. He had a French porcelain doll made to look just like me. She had on a white babydoll dress like I'd worn the day he told me the truth in the meadow. The doll even had sparkly clips in her hair and her cheeks were permanently flushed. It was gorgeous. He'd captured my every detail. There was a card announcing her as the Bella Swan doll with an authenticity seal. I'm sure it was expensive, but this was a gift I would be keeping.

Also in the package was an old fashioned scroll tied with a black ribbon. I unrolled it to see beautiful calligraphy on the page. Edward had handwritten it himself. The letter read:

My Dearest Babydoll,

I've missed you so much these past few months. I want you to know that I'm sorry for all the times I made you cry. You are the most important person in my life. I love you with all my heart. 

I'm beginning to think you won't ever forgive me, and I can't blame you for that. No matter what happens you will always have my heart. I remember the first time I saw your beautiful face, I was confused because I wanted to be soft and kind to you. I wasn't used to feeling that way about women. It made me angry that you, a little innocent, could make my heart beat again. Before you, I was dead. I spent every night drowning myself in drugs, booze, and women. I was in hell. 

Then you showed up and changed me. I found myself wanting to be a better man. I wanted a family and a life with you. I still do. You teased me, fed me, and fought with me. It may not have seemed like it, but I appreciated everything you did for me. The most precious gifts I ever received are from you, babydoll. You trusted me enough to let me make love to you. I claimed the territory that is your body. I hope no other man ever gets to know your secrets. 

At night is when I miss you the most. You fit so perfectly in my arms. I used to stay up after you'd fallen asleep so I could hear you mumble 'love Edward' in your sleep. I pray everyday that you still love me. Bella, you own my body, heart, and soul. Without you in my life, I might as well be dead. I'm so sorry for making you doubt us. I should have been a stronger man and fought for your love.

I imagine you and I getting married, your belly swollen with our children, raising a family, and counting our gray hairs together. Please don't make me miss out on all of that. I will never love another woman after you. I didn't even know what love was until I met you. You make every experience I have that much better. I know you've gotten the packages I sent you and hope you liked all of them. It made me sad when you sent the bark and computer back, but I understand. I'm begging you not to give up on us. 

I know I have a lot of work to do but I'll do it for you. I need you by my side. Without you, I'm nothing. Every minute of every day I picture your big brown eyes and I dream of you every night. I haven't washed the sleep shirt you wore the last night we spent together, because it smells like you. I love you. 

I love you. 

I love you. Please, I'm begging you to give me one more chance. You will never find anyone who loves and cares for you as much as I do. You are my life, Isabella Marie Swan. Come back to me. My heart won't beat until you do. The poem enclosed is by Keats. I read it and thought of you. I love you with everything within me. I love you.

Your Soulmate,

I cried so much after reading his words that I couldn't breathe. It took me several hours before I could open the other envelope. The poem was Bright Star, Would I Were Steadfast as Thou Art. I read the words out loud.

"Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night,
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature's patient sleepless eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors;
No yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever or else swoon to death."

I broke down and emailed him after that. I simply said 'thank you.' It wasn't much, but I knew that he would be happy that I'd written back. I fell asleep re-reading Edward's letter and the poem. They became covered in teardrops. I kept them close to my heart as I slept.

A week before Thanksgiving, I received an invitation from Jasper and Alice. They were formally announcing their engagement at the Cullens, and they wanted me to be there. I was torn. Yes, I wanted to show my support for Alice and Jasper, but I wasn't sure I was ready to see Edward.

I called Alice that night. She was on cloud nine and had already sent me pictures of her engagement ring. Of course she'd insisted on picking it out herself because she didn't trust Jaz's judgment. We talked well into the night and ended up calling Rosie and putting her on three-way. I missed my girls and they missed me.

Emmett kept trying to join in on our gossip, and I could hear Rosie threatening him. Their two boys wanted to talk to me, too. Before the night ended, I also talked to Esme and Carlisle. They insisted that I stay with them for the holidays. I agreed because I felt bad about making Esme cry.

After I hung up with them, I called Jasper at the club to congratulate him. I told him I would be there for the dinner and his announcement. He was so excited that he had an Alice moment; I couldn't make out half the gibberish he was babbling about. He was going to come to Spokane to pick me up. He told me that he hoped I would consider moving back. I changed the subject so I could avoid the argument we'd been having off and on since I left Seattle.

Tomorrow, Jasper would be coming to pick me up. Our office was closed, so I had Thanksgiving week off. Sadly, my co-worker tried to ask me out again, but I shot him down. I did, however, manage to set him up with a girl that worked at the coffee shop. She'd confided in me that she had a crush on him for a long time. I was just glad that some romances were working.

I spent most of the day after work visiting thrift stores and catching up on emails. I was super nervous about seeing Edward again. My wardrobe was fine because I hadn't worn half of the stuff that Alice bought for me. Most of it still had the tags attached.

Unfortunately, I dealt with the stress of moving by eating so I'd gained a little weight; nothing major, like five pounds. Luckily,  my clothes still fit. I had been sick, too. Some days I would pig out, and other days I would feel nauseous. That had also happened to me after each of my parent's deaths so I didn't worry. It was my body's way of dealing with stress.

When I got home that night, a man was sitting on the couch. I panicked. I hadn't turned on the light yet, so I couldn't tell who it was. My pepper spray was in my purse and so was my cell phone. I had no other weapons.

The man turned around. I bolted for the door. A strong hand caught my arm and flung me backwards. I was so scared. I tried to scream, but he covered my mouth. I kicked and fought to no avail. I was trying to knee him in the groin when he spoke.

"Good god, Bella. Please calm down. I'm not here to hurt you."

I knew that voice. "Alec? Why are you here? Did Edward send you? You scared me to death, you asshole." I continued fighting him.

He let me go so that he could turn on the light. He was rubbing his chest and wincing in pain. I felt bad for hurting him because he'd been shot, but he had frightened me.

"Edward's right. You are a tigress. You're small but you pack a mean punch." He said, smiling

I didn't return it. "Answer my questions now, or I will call the police. You have no right to be here."

He reached into his pocket. I stared in disbelief as he pulled out a badge. "I am the police, Bella. I'm Special Agent Alexander Smith."

I swayed on my feet. I felt sick.

 "Take it easy, darling. I didn't mean to freak you out."

Alec helped me to sit down on a chair. Then, e went into the kitchen and returned with a glass of water. I drank greedily. This couldn't be happening. Alec was undercover. He wasn't the man Edward thought he was at all.

"I'm not going to help you bring Edward down. We may be broken up, but I don't want to see anything bad happen to him."

Alec stood up and started pacing the room. In a studio the size of mine, he didn't have far to go. "Bella, I'm not trying to bring Edward down. I couldn't if I tried. The Volturi are very good at what they do. They also have some very prominent people in their pockets."

I frowned. I vaguely remembered Edward telling me something similar.

"Then why are you lying to him by pretending to be a bodyguard?"

He looked at me. "I'm so sorry to have to tell you, but there aren't many I can trust. I work for the Drug Enforcement Agency. I was originally put undercover to bring down the illegal drug trade in the club. Nothing can be traced to Edward specifically, so my job was to gather evidence on HADES and his second in command, Demetri. My boss figured that me being his bodyguard would keep us close to the action."

I held up my hand. "So let me get this straight. You can't arrest Edward." He nodded his head. "But you can close the club down and put D away." He nodded again. My head hurt.

"Bella, I never meant for you to get involved. I could tell you weren't like the rest of them, so I checked you out. I was shocked when I found out your dad had been a Police Chief. I thought Edward might be forcing you to be there or plying you with drugs, so I kept my eye on him."

I interrupted him. "You… you thought Edward hurt me? He loved me. Sure we fought, but he kept most of the Mafia business away. I don't know anything. I won't help you."

He pulled on his dark brown hair. Obviously, he had picked up on some of Edward's traits. His electric blue eyes were on fire. "It's not about that anymore. A few weeks ago, I saw my boss and some other DEA agents accepting payouts from that Russian mobster Stephan. My unit is crooked. Now that Stephen is dead, they are working with James. Their plan is to take the club down so that the Russians can take over Seattle. They don't care about the drugs. That doesn't bring in the most money. They need the guns. The Volturi already have San Francisco and several of the other waterfronts. The Russians need docks to bring their products in and a place to filter it. With Edward and his club out of the way, they become major players."

My heart was beating out of my chest. This situation was over my head. "Are they planning to hurt Edward?"

He nodded. "Yes, the DEA has nothing on the Volturi or Edward, but James has a personal vendetta. He plans to goad Edward into trying to kill him. When Edward takes the bait, James will end him. The death will be ruled as a self defense homicide. James and the Russians will own the West Coast and the Volturi will be weakened and eventually picked off."

Tears were streaming down my face. "How will James goad Edward into going for him?" I asked, but I already knew.

Alec confirmed it by staring at me. "After that day in the restaurantc he began gathering info about you. He knows how important you are to Edward. He plans on using you as his bait. Don't worry, though. Right now, he's still reeling from his father's death and the subsequent fallout. I have people watching him, people that can't be bought. We will keep you safe."

I wouldn't let anything happen to Edward. He had to live. "I… I have to go away. You can put me underground into some kind of program, right?"

Alec shook his head. "Bella, there are law enforcement involved in this. If I tried to take you away they would know. I couldn't protect you. Go about your business as usual. I would also advise you to move back to Seattle because you're less vulnerable there."

I nodded my head. I had a lot to think over, but right now I was too tired and hungry. "Alec, can you get my phone? I'd like to order Chinese."

He  handed it to me. I was starving. My stomach felt like it was turning in on itself even though I'd eaten a large lunch. I ordered the dinner for two and asked Alec if he wanted to stay. He said yes and gave me his order. He had cash and insisted on paying, so I let him.

"I'm so sorry that you got dragged into this. I promise to do all I can to keep you safe. Um, you look a little pale, Bella. Are you feeling okay?"

I put on the best smile I could muster. "I'm just scared. What you told me is a lot to take in."

He smiled back at me. "I know, but you're safe. Edward pays personal guards to follow you."

"He what?! He pays people to watch me?!" I shrieked. I knew it. I had always felt like I was being followed.

"Don't be angry. He just does it to keep you safe. They are there in case you need help."

I wasn't happy that strangers were watching me, but I guessed Edward meant well.

Our food came, and I began eating before everything was unloaded. \I was going to have to join a gym if I kept packing it in like that.

Alec laughed at me. "Wow, you can really put it away. Who knew someone so little could eat so much?"

I ate the whole dinner for two and all the appetizers, and yet I still had room for desert. I decided to go with chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. Alec watched in amazement as I cleared two bowls.

"What? I'm nervous about seeing everyone again and it's making me eat."

He just raised his eyebrows and went back to his chicken moo shoo. He was still on the main course. I ended up finishing his dinner before I declared myself full. After we ate, I began to get sleepy so I walked Alec out. Edward didn't know he was here, and he wanted to get back before someone came looking for him. I still had one more question.

"Why did you come clean to me, Alec? Why not just tell Edward?"

He bent down and kissed my forehead. "In the clinic, you comforted me when I was in pain. I knew then that I could trust you. I plan on telling Edward but I need your help. He'll want to have me killed when he finds out. You're the only person he listens to. I want you to talk him out of it. You have to give me the chance to explain myself to him. I hate to ask it of you, but there's no one else.
I looked up at him. "I don't know. We broke up. He probably doesn't value my opinion anymore."

Alec shook his head. "He has been a broken man. He still loves you, Bella. Please, I just need a chance to get him on my side. Think about it. Don't tell Edward anything about our conversation until I tell you it's okay."

I nodded my head.

We said our goodbyes and he left. I double bolted the door. My apartment was in a nice safe area of town, but crime happened everywhere. I went to my room and fell into a deep sleep. I dreamt of Edward lying bloody on the ground and woke up in a cold sweat.

I had drank a lot of green tea with dinner, so I was constantly waking up to pee, which was why I didn't hear my alarm go off. Loud banging woke me up, though. I was tired but I got up to answer it. In the doorway stood a chipper looking Jasper.

"Hey baby sis. Rise and shine. I'm here to take you home." He said, wrapping his arms around me.

I caught a whiff of Pine Sol from the hallway. The smell made me feel sick. I bolted to the bathroom and dry heaved over the toilet for a few minutes. Jasper came in to stand beside me. He looked worried.

"What's wrong? Are you sick?"

There was a tiny thought in the back of my head but it was so preposterous that I couldn't dwell on it. "I may be coming down with the flu," I replied.

He helped me to my feet. "Well I'm going to take you out to breakfast. Are you all packed?" I nodded.

Jasper carried my stuff down while I went to get dressed. I tried to put on a pair of dark skinny jeans but they wouldn't button. I was definitely joining a gym when I got back. I ended up wearing a pair of black leggings and an oversized red cashmere sweater. I was too tired to do much with my hair so I just clipped it all up, leaving some tendrils hanging down.

Jaz  locked up my apartment, and we got in the car. Later, we stopped at one of my favorite diners to get breakfast. I had the blueberry waffles plus sausage and eggs, because I was over my morning nausea and my appetite was back in full force. Jasper seemed surprised that I was eating so much; I polished off my meal and got a side of waffles to go.

The drive went smoothly. We told funny childhood stories and listened to the radio. We sang along to our favorite songs. We didn't talk about Edward. Alice was busy setting up for the engagement announcement party tonight so she hadn't been able to come to pick me up.

We arrived in Seattle around lunchtime. I was starving again even though I'd polished off my waffles miles ago. Jasper had orders to take me straight to the Cullens' house. I didn't argue because I had missed everyone.

The Cullen mansion was even more beautiful than I remembered. Workers were outside preparing the grounds for Christmas decorations. I saw Emmett and Rosie's car already in the garage. I didn't see Edward's and for that I was grateful. I wasn't ready to see him yet.

Jasper opened my door and grabbed my bags out of the trunk. Esme and Alice both tackled me the moment I stepped through the door. We hugged and cried all over each other until Jasper interrupted. He took Alice upstairs so Mrs. Cullen and I could have a moment alone. I thought she would be mad at me for leaving Edward, but she wasn't.

"I missed you, Bella. I'm so glad you agreed to stay with us over the holidays. You're always welcome at our home." She looked stunning wearing a purple silk button down shirt dress. Her hair was done in an intricate updo, and she had diamonds in her ears.

I smiled. "Thanks, Esme. I'm glad to be back. I missed you guys."

We talked about food and recipes for a few minutes before Dr. Cullen came to join our conversation. He hugged and cooed over me too. Edward, Emmett, and Ali were lucky to have such wonderful parents.

Eventually, Rosalie, Emmett, and their boys came to greet me. Em made jokes about my 'little girl tights' before Rosie slapped him on the back of the head. He pouted and headed outside with the boys. Carlisle went to join them because he wanted to make sure the Christmas decorations were being put up right.

All of us women went to the kitchen. Thankfully there was food set up. I didn't even ask permission before I dug in. I practically gulped down the baked chicken and potato salad. After my third plate I noticed that everyone was watching me.

I blushed. "Sorry. Lately I've been drowning my sorrows in food. I know I need to stop. Maybe we can go running in the mornings while I'm here to help me shed the pounds I put on."

Alice piped up. "Sure, Bella, that would be awesome. There were women in rehab with me that were overeaters. It's often caused by stress. You just need to learn to channel your need to eat into other things. I can help you set up a healthy diet plan."

I thanked Alice for her help. Rosie said she'd be my personal trainer. I was sure with her tenacity I'd lose weight quickly. Esme just stared at me; she had a funny look on her face.

"Bella dear, Edward will be here later today. He's staying over for the holidays, too. If that's going to be a problem you're welcome to take the guest house, or I can ask him to move out there," she said.

I almost groaned. I had to stay in the same house as Edward. Of course he would choose to stay here because he knew where I would be. I would just have to be strong. I told Esme that I didn't have a problem with it. She beamed and fixed me desert.

After my pig out session, I was sleepy again. I hadn't gotten too much sleep last night because of my bladder and my nightmares. I asked Carlisle if he thought I was coming down with the flu. He said as long as I wasn't coughing, sneezing, or feeling feverish he doubted it. I didn't have any of those symptoms so we chalked it up to stress.

Esme had already set up my room. I took my clothes off and put on one of Jaz's old t-shirts that I'd stolen a while back. Esme tucked me in and even kissed my forehead. I fell asleep immediately.

When I woke up it was almost time to get dressed for the night. I didn't know who was keeping Alice away, but I was going to kiss whoever it was. I sat up and stretched. That's when I saw him--sitting on the corner of my bed was Edward Cullen in the flesh.

He was smiling at me. "Hello, babydoll. Did you sleep well?" he asked.

I rubbed my eyes and made sure my legs were covered. I wasn't ready to see him. Damn Edward for infringing on my personal space yet again. And why did he have to look so damn sexy? I'd destroyed all the pictures I had of him so all I had to rely on was my memory. Obviously that had been a poor substitution. His hair made him look like he'd been freshly fucked, and for all I knew he had been. He was more muscular, like he'd been working out. Great, I was getting fat and he was getting toned. His emerald eyes looked clearer than usual. His lips were their same glorious pouty perfection. He was wearing a dark blue wool sweater that hugged his chest and black jeans. He still had the power to completely soak my panties.

"Edward. Get out! You can't just invade my personal space all the time. I have to get dressed, so I'd appreciate it if you just leave."

He moved closer to me. "Bella, I've been waiting to see you for months. Please don't be this way. I missed you."

He leaned over to kiss me but I pulled away. I had to stand up to get away from him. He looked hurt.

"Edward, please leave now. I'm going to take a shower and get dressed. I'm sure Alice will insist on helping me. I promise you that we will talk later."

His eyes flashed with anger. "Don't send me away! These past few months you've been treating me like a fucking leper. What the fuck do I have to do to make you see how much I love you?! Do I have to cut off my fucking arm, because I'll do it if it gets me a second chance."

My addled mind wasn't ready for this. I was still half asleep and I really had to pee. "We can talk later. I have to use the restroom."

I ran into the adjoined bathroom, did my business, and came back out. Edward was still sitting on the bed frowning.He looked up at me when I entered. His eyes went straight to my bare legs, then to my chest, and finally to my face before they darkened. My clit throbbed painfully. No matter how long we spent apart, we still craved each other. I licked my lips and he groaned.

"Fuck, babydoll. Please don't do that. It's taking all the strength I have not to push you down on the bed and plunge into your sweet pussy. I want you so fucking bad. I've wanted you all these months. You standing there in that t-shirt is making my fucking cock jump. The only thing that would make you sexier is if you were wearing my clothes."

Edward talking dirty to me was hot. I mentally fanned myself. This could not happen again. I wasn't going to let the sexual haze gloss over our problems. I decided to use his words against him. If I got him angry enough he would leave. This was exactly why I'd wanted to postpone our inevitable conversation.

"That's no surprise, Edward. All we ever had was sex. We were never in love, we were in lust. You no longer have privilege over my body. I would appreciate it if you didn't touch me. I'm here this week for Alice and Jasper. Your mother invited me to stay before I knew you would be here too. If we're going to have a problem, I'll volunteer to leave."

He balled up his fists and closed his eyes. I could tell he was fighting an internal war to stay calm.

"Is that what you fucking think?! That all we had was the fucking? Yes, we had a lot of sex but it was an extension of our love. You wanted it as much as I did. And no, you don't have to leave just because I'm here. Has it really come to this, Bella? Do you hate me that fucking much?"

I began to cry. "Edward, I don't hate you. I never could. I already told you why we can't be together. Can't we just try and be cordial to one another while I'm here? I'll be going back to Spokane in a week and you won't have to deal with me anymore for a while."

Edward stood up. He walked until he was right in front of me. I had my head down. I didn't want to see his eyes. He lifted my chin and tried to kiss me. I turned my head away. If I let him in, he would destroy me. He dropped his arms.

"I… I thought that maybe you still loved me. I can see now that that's not the case. You're breaking my fucking heart all over again."

How dare he make me feel guilty. He was the one always trying to leave. He was the one that said things to hurt me. He'd broken my heart more times than I could count.

"Don't try to throw it all back on me, Edward. You'd been trying to make me leave from the first time we met. Is it any wonder that I left to protect myself? You've said some pretty cruel things to me and I took it but I'm done. We're over. You are no longer my boyfriend. Stop throwing a tantrum and get the hell out of my room."

He grabbed my arm. "I've fucking apologized to you over and over again. I poured my heart out to you and you didn't even give me a fucking phone call. You've made it clear that you don't give a fuck about me anymore. I'm through with this shit. Fuck you, Isabella!" he spat.

I sneered at him. "You won't ever be fucking me again, that's for sure. Get the hell out of my room before I call Jasper and make him physically remove you."

He dropped my arm. Before he left, he turned back to me. "I never thought we would end up like this. I wish I never met you."

"Me too," I said. I heard the door slam shut and he was gone. I laid down on the bed and let the tears flow. He still had the power to make me cry. I had gotten better over the last few months but the fight had broken me again.

Someone was knocking on the door, so I went over to answer it. Alice was standing there with a huge smile on her face. It turned to a frown when she saw me.

"What's wrong, Bella? Did my brother say something to hurt you because I swear…"

I cut her off my wrapping my arms around her shoulders and pulling her inside. She was smaller than me but she was sturdy. She let me cry on her for a few minutes before she helped me sit down. She pulled out her cell and asked Rosalie to come upstairs and to bring Esme. They were there within minutes.

Esme was worried. "What's wrong with her? I knew having both Bella and Edward under the same roof wouldn't work."

I pulled away from Alice so that I could talk to Esme. "No, I'm fine. We just had a difficult conversation. I promise that we can get along for the holidays. "

She smiled at me and kissed my cheek. "Bella, I'm not going to lie. I invited both of you here because I want you two to get back together. I already love you like a daughter and want you to be a part of my family. I'm not going to pressure you, but promise me that you'll try."

I didn't want to give her false hope so I stayed quiet. She left us a few minutes later. Rosalie and Alice stayed behind to help me get dressed. Rosie and Ali were whispering about something.

"What? I asked.

Before Alice could stop her, Rosie piped up. "We know something awful happened between you and Edward in Italy. Did he hurt you? Is that why you moved away?"

I bowed my head. Of course they would think the worse. I hadn't really explained my reasons for leaving.

"No, he didn't physically hurt me. Look, it's complicated. Edward's a powerful man. I knew he'd never let me go, so I took myself out of the equation."

Thankfully, Rosie didn't press. It turned out Alice had already bought me a dress to wear for the evening. It was gorgeous,  made of a purple blue satin with a silk chiffon overlay. It came down past my feet so I could wear flats, which was great because my feet had been killing me lately. It had a V neck and empire waist with a jeweled broach. I loved the style because it was flowy enough to hide the extra pounds I'd gained. I hugged Alice and thanked her. She shrugged it off, insisting it was as much for her as me. She had picked out all of our dresses for the announcement party.

Soon, Ali and Rose left me to go get their outfits. They were going to bring them to my room so we could get dressed together. I used the time to take a shower with my favorite strawberry body wash and shampoo.

My muscles were sore, and I was hungry again. I rubbed my flat stomach that wouldn't be flat much longer if I keep eating everything in sight. I dried off and went back into the bedroom where I put on the dark blue lace underwear that Alice had included with the dress. Then, I slathered on some of my expensive lilac scented lotion.

Rosalie and Alice came back freshly showered and with their clothes. They helped me into my dress and then oohed and ahhed about how great it looked. Their dresses were both shorter than mine to show off their shoes. Unlike me, they enjoyed wearing heels.

Rosie's dress was short and gold. It showed off her killer legs to perfection. She matched it with an expensive looking pair of glittery gold stilettos. She was definitely a hot mama. She looked like a super model.

To me, Alice's dress was the most beautiful. It was white and strapless and had a lower empire waist than mine. It had a full tiered skirt and was floral embroidered organza. It really was a pixie outfit. She added six inch heels to top off the look. We all helped each other with hair and makeup. Ali insisted that we all go for the smoky eye look so we did that and pale lips. Rosie didn't like the pale lipstick, though, so she put on her signature red. Of course it looked great.

I straightened Alice's spiky hair so that it was tamed. Then, I added a white silk ribbon that I'd bought for her in Italy. She looked amazing. Jasper was not going to be able to keep his hands to himself. Rosie wanted to wear her golden curls hanging down so we just made them extra bouncy and added shine. She was a knockout. My hair was the longest. It'd grown to almost my mid back. Alice curled and shined it and Rosie put it in an elegant side ponytail that hung over my shoulder, a blue studded clip held it in place.

Alice was bouncing by the time we were done. "We're some pretty hot bitches!" she squealed.

Rosalie and I both tackled her in a bear hug. Esme came in to see what we were wearing and to take pictures. She was sophisticated elegance in her backless black column gown. We all gushed over how pretty she looked. I giggled when I thought about how hard it was also going to be for Dr. Cullen to keep his hands to himself.

For the first time all day, I felt really happy. Esme informed us that the men were dressed and waiting for us. We descended the staircase. Esme went first. She smiled and waved away the compliments she received. Rosie was next. I heard Emmett whistle and catcall. Her boys thought their mama looked 'pwetty.' I went next. Jaz, Dr. Cullen, and Em all complimented me. Edward wasn't down there yet, and for that I was grateful. Jaz kissed me on the cheek. We all turned to watch Alice make her grand entrance. I saw Jasper's eyes light up before he broke into a huge smile.

"You are a vision, Alice. I can't wait until you're my wife."

I swear she sprinted down those stairs like they were made of waves. She ran in Jaz's arms, and we clapped while they kissed. Esme asked me to go get Edward and tell him that we were heading out. I didn't want to do it, but she'd been so nice to me. I asked her where he was and she told me he was in the piano room. I definitely didn't want to go in there but I did.

The sight of Edward playing the piano while wearing a black tux almost knocked me to the floor. He was dead sexy. His long beautiful fingers flew over the keys as he played Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata".
I felt my nipples pucker and thanked God that this dress allowed me to wear a bra. I stood there and watched him play the whole song.

"Edward, that was absolutely beautiful."

He spun around at the sound of my voice. His eyes widened when he took in what I was wearing. He studied me from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet.

Then, he smiled. "It pales in comparison to your beauty, babydoll. You are stunning."

I blushed. "Thank you, Edward. You look very handsome."

It was then that I noticed his vest matched my dress. Damn Alice and her meddling pixie ways.

"About earlier…"

He cut me off. "We can talk later. Tonight is for Jasper and Alice. Let's put us aside and be there for them."
I nodded in agreement. He walked over and took my hand. I tried to pull away but he held on tight. "Please, babydoll, just pretend for tonight."

I couldn't deny him that, so I let him hold my hand. Esme beamed when she saw us.

Everyone was herded into their prospective cars. I was riding with Edward, Jasper, and Alice. The others were riding in Dr. Cullen's new luxury SUV.

We were all going out to eat at SkyCity at the Space Needle. The restaurant revolved around so you could take in the view. I'd only been there once when Jasper took me after I graduated college. It was wonderful from what I remembered.

Edward helped me into his Phantom. Jaz and Alice were too busy sucking face to pay much attention to where they were. I was nervous about being in a car with Edward, but since we had the engaged couple in the back, I figured it would be all right. Edward made polite conversation during the drive. He even put on the classical music to down out the moans going on in the back. I was so happy for Jasper. If anyone deserved to be happy it was him.

As we drove, I took in the scenery. I really missed Seattle. Maybe Alec was right; I should move back here. I would have to think about it, though.

Edward kept sneaking glances at me. He would smile, and I would blush and turn away. His scent permeated the front of the car. He was freshly shaved and I wanted to lean over and kiss his jaw. I resisted that urge.

He told me about the club and his godfathers. Caius had stayed with him for a while before returning to Chicago. I was glad that he got to spend some time with his family.

When we arrived at the restaurant, a valet came to take our car. It took a few minutes to pry Jasper and Alice off of each other. Edward and I smiled.

We met the rest of the Cullens out front then we all went in together. Our party consisted of eight people. A babysitter had come by to stay with Em and Rosie's boys.

Carlisle had treated the head Chef at his hospital, so we got preferential treatment. A divine menu had been put together for our enjoyment. It allowed us to sample all of the specialties. I was starving. My stomach was starting to make embarrassing noises.

Edward heard and leaned over. "Are you okay, babydoll? When was the last time you've eaten?"

I assured him that I was all right. "I ate lunch but it smells so wonderful in here that I guess my stomach's impatient."

He smirked and squeezed my knee. The appetizers started coming after that. I ate everything in sight. I particularly liked the crab mac and cheese. My plate was piled high with everything from beef tips to prawns. I couldn't get the food in my mouth quick enough.

I felt eyes on me, so I looked up. Everyone was eating and having their own conversations, but Edward was staring at me.

"What?" I asked with my mouth half full. I was getting tired of people looking at me like I was a circus freak.

He smiled at me. "It's nothing. I've just never seen you eat so much. Emmett must be rubbing off on you."

I looked down the table to see Emmett sitting with three huge plates in front of him. Rosie was trying to grab a shrimp off of one of them, but he slapped her hand away. I giggled.

Before the main courses were brought out, the waiter came to pour us champagne. Esme thought I looked a little flushed and insisted that I not drink any. I agreed with her because I was eating a lot. The last thing I needed was to throw up in front of all the fancy diners. I had sparkling water instead.

Esme and Dr. Cullen stood up to make a toast to the happy couple. We clinked our glasses. Alice showed off her princess cut diamond ring. We all complimented her on it. Jasper said some lovely words, and I began to cry. My hormones were all over the place lately.

For some reason,  Edward was frowning. I stroked his hand but that didn't seem to help. He wouldn't make eye contact with me. I assumed that he was sad that Alice would be a married woman soon. I knew how guys were about their baby sisters.

After the food was brought out, I forgot about everything else. I ate with relish. Thankfully, everyone else was too busy enjoying dinner to pay me too much attention. Edward did keep sneaking glances at me, though.

Halfway through the meal, I caught a whiff of fresh sea bass. I became nauseous and dropped my fork, clutching my stomach.

Edward noticed and wrapped his arms around me. "Bella, what's wrong? Are you sick?"

I leaned in to him and sniffed. His scent calmed my stomach.

"No, I'm fine now. That's what happens when I overindulge," I said smiling.

That didn't alleviate his concern. He worriedly stared at me. I told him that I needed to use the restroom.
Esme volunteered to come along. She led me to the back. I had to pee like a racehorse. I did my business and then came out of the stall.

Esme was standing by the sink clutching her hands. We were the only two in the plush bathroom.

"Bella, I hate to pry in your personal life but I've noticed some things. You are eating voraciously, you go to the bathroom a lot, and you're crying more often. Now, I know I don't know you very well but it seems like something is wrong."

She was right, but it was just the stress from the move. I was eating like a maniac to help me cope. I'd been drinking more fluids, so of course I had to pee a lot.

The next words out of her mouth brought to light that little worry that had been clawing in the back of my mind.

"Bella, honey, is there a possibility that you might be pregnant?"

"No, I'm just stressed out!" I shrieked before I ran to the toilet and threw up my insides.

Shit. I can't be pregnant. I'm on birth control. There is no way that I am having Edward Cullen's baby, is there?


  1. I didn't see that coming with Alec. What a shocker.

    It kills me to see Bella so miserable. She still loves Edward so much.

    I'm so disappointed to hear Edward treating Bella the same way. I know he wasn't going to change completely in a few months but I was shocked how much he was the same when she woke up in his room. I really thought he was realizing his mistakes and changing with the gifts he started out sending her. I just hope he hasn't relied on booze and drugs and hasn't been sleeping with different women. I have a feeling if he was with other women he'd never get Bella back.

    I had a funny feeling she might be pregnant. I wonder how that will change Bella's thinking. I can't see her keeping Edward from his child.

  2. i knew she was pregers.... damn i don't want him changing because of that i want him changing because he wants too... please tell me he didn't sleep around i will be so upset. i need to go to bed but i am still reading.. i just can't stop reading!! :D

  3. His possessiveness will never go away. I hope she can accept that. He really does love her... I think he knows something is off, and OF COURSE, we know Esme is right. Bella is pregnant.