New songs have been added as well as pictures for this chapter. Feel free to play around the blog.
I don't like you but I love you seems that
I'm always thinking of you oh, you treat me badly, I love you madly,
You really got a hold on me (you really got a hold on me)
Said you really got a hold on me (you really got a hold on me)
I don't want you but I need you
Don't wanna kiss you but I need to oh you do me wrong,
Now my love is strong, now you really got a hold on me
(you really got a hold on me) said you really got a hold on me
(you really got a hold on me)
I love you and all I want you to do is just hold me,
hold me, hold me, hold me
You Really Got a Hold on Me-She and Him
"Edward, are you all right?" I asked, touching his forehead. He'd been in bed since returning home from the morning trip.
I felt a little guilty for not going with him, but I didn't want to be a nag. At this point, our marriage was being only held together by loose strings. I tried to be everything for Edward, but I knew that we were falling fast.
He opened one eye and glared at me. "Go away, Bella. I just need to rest. I told you I went to the Boxing Club this morning. I'm really fucking sore, and I think I'm coming down with a cold. Keep DC away. I don't want him catching my shit."
I used my hand to test his temperature. "You do feel a little warm. I'll make you some homemade chicken soup. Can I do anything else?"
Groaning like he was in pain, he turned over. "I'm not hungry. I took some pain meds. I'll be fine. Go to the Water Tower Place and buy some shit. There's no limit on any of your cards. I want you to really shop. Don't worry about the money."
I frowned, putting the glass of water to his parched lips. "Drink. I'm not interested in shopping, honey. I'm worried about you. What's really wrong?"
Since his return, he'd been acting strange. He'd left at around five and came back hours later as I was changing Dante's diaper. I couldn't see any visible marks on him, but he clutched his ribs like Jasper used to do after he'd gotten beaten up in a brawl. I really wanted to believe the boxing story but that didn't explain his attitude.
"Leave it alone, Bella. There's nothing to talk about. I told you what happened. If you don't trust me, then I don't know why the fuck you're still here," he mumbled, closing his eyes again.
I grabbed my purse and walked to the door. "Fine. It's clear you don't care enough about me to tell me the truth, Edward. Husbands are supposed to communicate with their wives! I thought we were making progress, but you continue to push me away. Don't worry; I'll keep Dante away from you."
He sat up and forcefully threw the water glass against a far wall, shattering it into a million tiny pieces. Lately, there had been many times when Edward's rage scared me, and this was just another one. I didn't know what I'd done to make him hate me so much, but I was starting to fear for my safety.
"Get the fuck out, Bella! I don't need your nagging shit right now. I have enough to worry about. Go take care of my son," he snarled, turning away from me.
With tears in my eyes, I ran from the room. When I got to the library, I closed the door and sat down on one of the pristine Queen Anne chairs. Then, I let all the pain and anguish engulf me. I didn't want my baby boy or any of our family to see me so shaken, so I stayed until I had the tremors under control.
Shakily, I stood up and opened the door. Edward was on the other side waiting for me. Almost all of his body weight was being supported by the wall. He looked terrible. The usual luster and shine was missing from his hair and eyes. Plus his skin was three shades paler than normal. Despite the way he'd treated me; my heart went out to him.
"Come here, babydoll," he said softly, holding his arms out for me.
I wanted to be strong and walk past him, but I needed to feel his body heat around me. I needed to feel some love and affection. Most of all, I needed to feel Edward's heart beat to believe we were still intact.
"I don't know why you're so angry at me. I love you, Edward," I sobbed, letting him comfort me.
He kissed my forehead gently. "It's not you, Bella. I'm angry at myself. If you knew what I've done, you wouldn't love me anymore."
I pulled back so I could look up into his emerald eyes. "That's not true. Tell me," I whispered quietly.
He loosened his arms a little so that I could breathe again. "It's…the drugs and… I'm sorry about hurting you and not being there for Dante. I'm not a good person. You deserve better."
Quietly, I kissed the skin just below his ear. "Don't say that, honey. You are good. Um, I can stay with you today. Di and Esme won't care as long as Dante gets to go along."
He shook his head and kissed my fingers. "Go buy shit, babydoll. I'm not good company at the moment. I'll be okay once you get back. Get something sexy."
Reluctantly, I backed away from him and straightened my clothes. "I'll get you something, too. Relax and know that nothing you do will make me stop loving you."
Edward's special smile that he gave only to me graced his handsome face. Feeling much better, I helped him back into bed. Then I found a tiny broom and duster in a storage closet and cleaned up the mess. By the time I finished, Edward was fast asleep.
"I love you, Mr. Cullen," I whispered as I shut the door.
Bree met me in the hall. "You look pretty, Bella," she said, linking her arm with mine as we walked down the stairs. There was an elevator, but I thought it was a little much.
She and Riley were staying in another part of the mansion. The place was so big we could all have gone weeks without bumping into each other. The money and power that the Volturi exuded was legendary and hard to understand for someone like me.
I smiled, giving a once over to Bree's simple, long-sleeved winter white dress. Her long blonde hair was piled on top of her head in a messy bun and her clear blue eyes were full of wonder. All in all, she was a beauty.
"You look darling, Bree. I bet Riley can't keep his hands off of you. You two seem awfully loved up," I teased, giggling.
Suddenly, she stopped and looked down at me. "I…want him to, um, do things, but I am scared, Bella. I have no experience in these matters. I read book but it confuse me more."
"Um, well, if you don't mind me asking, what have you done? It's none of my business but it may help me to help you."
She shrugged and began playing with her angel wing necklace. Since Edward had given it to her, she'd never gone a day without it. With the clothes and hair, Bree looked especially angelic.
"I, um, we kiss. Riley touched my chest once, but I got scared. We hold hands," she finished, shyly.
I closed my eyes and remembered the days when I was so innocent. The first time Edward touched me, I knew that I wanted him. We used to be insatiable, but lately I didn't feel the same passion. Mostly I was worried for the future.
"You shouldn't do anything you're not ready for, Bree. You're only eighteen. I know Riley will respect your wishes. You can always ask me or any of the girls if you have questions. We won't laugh. In fact, I was thinking of doing a sex education night at the bookstore. There's a new novel by a renowned Human Sexuality college professor coming out next week," I said encouragingly, leading her along.
Eventually, we reached the bottom steps. I could hear Dante's laughter from the den. He was such a happy baby. I thanked God every day that he was mine. It took a lot of patience and time to care for him, but the rewards were priceless.
"Hello, little man," I cooed, taking him from Esme. She pouted but gave him up easy enough.
"He was just changed. Our bambino is so much like Edward. Those diapers used to be a nightmare," Di said, laughing.
I giggled while bouncing my little angel on my knee. "Hey, that's my husband you're talking about."
She smiled. "Speaking of husbands, let's get this show on the road. It's time to go spend some of their cash while they talk about boring business things. Athenodora and Penny should be down soon."
A few minutes later, they appeared. I looked away as Cai kissed his girls and walked away whistling. In the little time that I'd known him, I'd never seen him this happy. I was hoping for a Spring wedding for those two.
Penny went straight for Dante, begging until I let her hold him. Smiling, she kissed his rosy cheeks and began him rocking gently. My baby boy just sucked on his pacifier while looking up at her. Alice, always the handy one, took out her fancy phone and snapped a picture of them.
"We're all here. Let's go, ladies," Di said, leading us out the door.
There was a Hummer waiting for us at the entrance. Two men who were bigger than Em opened the door and helped us inside. Esme did Dante's car seat and Penny immediately took the space next to him. I took the other side.
"It's too bad Paulo and Chara had to go back to Greece, but I understand. Paulo said they had to get things done if they hope to make Christmas," Di said sadly.
Esme squeezed her shoulder. "We'll all be together this Christmas in Seattle. I hope the days fly by until then!"
Upon hearing his grandmother's excited voice, Dante began wiggling and trying to get out of his seat. I stuck a bottle in his mouth to calm him down. Instantly, he began sucking on the nipple like it was his last meal. I smiled, glad that he was happy.
The ride to Water Tower Place was fun. We ate cookies and listened to pop songs. By the time we stopped, I felt good. Despite my worries, I was going to enjoy myself.
"I can't wait to show you everything, Bella. I spent so much time here when I was a teenager. Edward used to flirt with all the girls at the shops… Oops," Ali said, putting her hand over her mouth.
I rolled my eyes. "I know about his past, Alice. It's okay. Where should we go first?"
If I thought Alice was a champion shopper, she had nothing on Di. We went to almost every store on each floor. Dante fell asleep in his luxury pram about an hour into the trip. We all took turns pushing our little prince.
Fortunately, there were guards watching us from all corners. They were mostly inconspicuous, but I recognized them from the Volturi mansion. I didn't doubt that they were armed, too. Shopping with Mafia wives was not the same as it was for regular women. We had to be heavily protected from enemies at all times.
"This would look divine on you," I said, holding up a red dress for Bree.
She blushed and took the hanger. "It is sexy. How much?"
Laughing, I pushed her into an empty dressing room. "Don't worry about it, Bree. I know you have your own account and money that Edward and Carlisle set up for you, but I'd like to buy this as gift to you."
She argued for another five minutes before agreeing to try it on. The dress fit her body like a glove. It wasn't obscene but managed to show off the womanly body that she sometimes hid. I knew that Riley would appreciate my meddling.
"You're a babe," Ali squealed, making Bree stand in front of the mirror.
After three hours of hardcore shopping, Dante was awake and cranky. We tried everything. He didn't need to be changed, he wasn't hungry, his temperature was normal, and there wasn't any discomfort in his stroller, but he kept crying. I didn't want to be a burden to the saleswomen so I took him out of the boutique.
"What's wrong, sweetheart? Mommy is here. You're fine," I cooed, rubbing his little back.
All of a sudden, he stopped screaming and began playing with my hair. Relieved, I laid soft kisses all over his cherubic face. A minute later, one of Edward's men came up and startled me. I took a step back out of fear.
"What's wrong?" I asked, looking behind me.
He nodded to a group of women who were intently watching us. "I'm being cautious. I heard about what happened in Seattle."
I put on my best fake smile. "Thank you. It's better to be safe than sorry."
"If those fucking bitches so much as lay a finger on you, they're dead," my husband growled, taking Dante away from me.
I hugged him, inhaling the signature sinful scent. "What are you doing here? I'm so happy to see you, Edward."
He moved Dante aside so that we could kiss on the lips. I heard some feminine lip smacking a second before heels began clacking. Wearily, I turned around to see the fashion gang stomp away. A tall, dark-haired modelesque woman stared for an extra minute before being pulled away by her friends.
I sighed and looked down at my boots. "How many of them did you sleep with? I'm guessing the tall one."
His face crumpled. "I haven't been with any of those bitches. That woman…she's the sister of the woman my father was with when he was killed. Their family has always believed the Volturi had something to do with her death. They used to be more vocal, but the Uncle took a large sum of money from Marcus to build his store. In return, their family leaves us alone."
I felt sick. "I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to…. I'm sorry, Edward."
He leaned down and stroked my hair. "It's nothing, babydoll. My past is ugly. I promise I won't let anyone hurt you or D.C."
It turned out that Edward wasn't the only man to show up. My brother and the rest of the guys took the bags to the car while we went to get a table. There was a small argument on where we'd eat. By that point, I was so hungry that I didn't care.
Penny settled it by wheeling Dante into the Mity Nice Grill. A young man, who looked to be around Bree's age, seated us after we told him our party number. We were given a huge table near the back. I liked that the atmosphere wasn't stuffy, and the food looked delicious.
Di sighed dramatically as she perused the menu. "I don't care about my waistline today, ladies. I'm getting the biggest burger on the menu and dessert!"
We all laughed. When the time came to place our orders, all the girls chose their man's dinner. I felt wholly inadequate, because I hadn't a clue of what Edward would want. He'd changed so much in the last few weeks.
I ended up getting soup, burgers, and salad for us. Dante happily clapped his hands as Bree fed him a miniscule piece of bread, his little tongue darting in and out as he ate. Times like these, he melted my heart.
Fifteen minutes later, the guys came back. Alice decided that she needed to sit in her Jazzy's lap and promptly began making out with him. Esme rolled her eyes while gently pulling them apart. Carlisle just chuckled and sipped his beer.
"Newlyweds. You and Edward were like that just a few months ago," Marcus said, taking his seat.
I blushed and looked away. "We were until this little guy came," I answered, wiping some drool off my little lamb's mouth.
Edward took a seat on my right, leaving Dante's high chair between us. I took a picture of him giving our son an Eskimo kiss. That was one of the many reasons why I worked so hard to make our marriage good. My baby boy needed his father as much as he needed me.
Thankfully, Edward loved the food that I'd ordered for him. We took turns feeding Dante some organic tomato soup. I think half of it ended up on his Superman bib, but it was fun watching him try new things. He seemed to like it.
"He's getting so fucking big. I remember when all he could have was breast milk," Edward said, wistfully. I was too happy to criticize him for cursing in front of our son.
Smiling, I kissed Dante's forehead. "I know but that means we're doing good. We want him to get big and strong. Pretty soon, he'll be walking and running."
After dinner, we decided to go to a few more shops. The men took Dante and headed for some electronics store while we went to Betsey Johnson. There were many things I liked in the store, so I wound up purchasing some dresses and colorful purses.
At around ten, we decided to call it a night. The kids were exhausted and there weren't any stores left for Alice to take over. Riley was practically carrying Bree. She still kept her old hours and was up at five most days. We'd all tried to get her to sleep in but nothing worked.
I was headed outside when Esme and Di took the stroller from me. Surprised, I looked up questionably at them. They shared a look and pointed to a silver car. Edward was by the driver's side smirking at me.
"I think your husband wants a little alone time, Miss Bella," Dr. A. teased, hip checking me.
"I can't. Dante needs me to read him a story. It's not right of me to make you all take care of him. He's my responsibility," I whined.
Di and Esme waved me away. "Bella, it's our pleasure to watch DC. We can read to him. Go be with Edward."
Hesitantly, I nodded and kissed my little lamb's forehead. Edward came up and did the same thing. We buckled him into the car seat and watched until the car disappeared from view. Then we went to Edward's car.
"What is this?" I asked, letting him adjust my seat.
He smirked, giving me the full-on Cullen charm. "It's a 1998 Chevy Corvette. I've had it since high school. Do you like it?"
I rubbed my hands on the leather seat. "It's nice. Where are we going?"
"I want to share more of my past with you if you're up for it," he mumbled.
I took his hand, kissing the knuckles. "Always. I love you, honey."
He smiled wide enough to bring out the little dimple in his left cheek. My nipples hardened instantly. Luckily, I was wearing a small leather jacket so Edward couldn't see. I planned on making love to him tonight, but only after we talked.
"Wait here," Edward said, closing my door. It was a cold night. There was a small snowstorm headed into the city later.
When my husband returned, he had a huge waffle cone, cup, spoon, and napkins for me. Giggling like a teenage girl, I took it all from him. He'd remembered my favorite ice cream: chocolate chip mint. Sighing, I took a lick.
"This is sooo good, Edward," I moaned, as he got into the driver's seat.
"I'm happy you like it, babydoll. I should do shit like this more often. We...need to talk. I'm not…treating you the way that I should."
"What's wrong with you? Is it the stress? I don't want you to keep using drugs. You don't have to do the Senate thing. I'll beg Marcus and Caius if I have to.
"Um, Edward, where did you go this morning?" I asked quietly.
Angrily, he pressed down on the gas taking us well over the speed limit. "I went to the fucking Boxing Club. I already told you this. I'm always fucking stressed. Portland didn't go as planned; one of the fuckheads turned on us. Sometimes I just wish I had a normal life."
I reached over and grabbed his arm, trying to give him comfort. "I know but we don't. I'm in this with you until the end, Edward. I went into this with my eyes wide open. I'm sorry for what happened in Portland, but I imagine it is part of your business. Did you…kill someone? I'm not mad if you did."
For a long time, nothing was said. Then, Edward looked at me and snarled. I shrank back from his angry green eyes. If looks could kill, he would have had me dead in a heartbeat. It was another time among many when I truly feared my husband.
He pulled into an empty lot and stopped the engine. The only light was from the moon. I contemplated taking my phone out and calling Jaz, but I chose to trust Edward. He'd been rough with me before but nothing I couldn't handle.
"You should fucking hate me! Have I corrupted you so much, babydoll? We're talking about fucking murder! I end lives. How can you live with me? I disgust myself," he cried, burying his head in his hands.
I took off my seat belt and crawled into his lap. He adjusted his seat so that I'd be more comfortable. I began to unbutton his shirt. He relaxed and placed his hands on my buttocks, slowly kneading the flesh. Warmth and desire pooled low in my belly.
"I could never hate you, Edward. Kiss me," I groaned, looking deep in his emerald orbs.
Languidly, he licked my top and bottom lip before plunging his tongue inside. I sucked the tip, changing the angle so that he could be in the lead. He licked me slowly, delicately, making sure not to give me too much.
"You taste like the ice cream, babydoll. I want to be inside pussy paradise so fucking bad, but I need to show you something first."
It took me a few minutes to understand his words. I was still in the lust fog caused by his long fingers and gifted tongue. Just imagining what we'd do later almost made me come. Blushing, I crawled back into my own seat.
We pulled up to a nice brownstone just as I was finishing my ice cream. Edward fidgeted and played with his hair. It was unlike him to act so nervous. Suddenly, I was frightened.
He cut off the car and opened his door. "This is it, babydoll. This is the place I became a killer, where my father died. I haven't been here in five years. Let's go inside."
After he helped me out, we were buzzed into the lobby. The security person on duty must have known Edward, because he let us in without question. The lobby was tastefully done in soft whites and Roman tiles.
Edward took my hand and led me to the elevator. Then he pressed the fifth floor button and closed his eyes. I stayed close, offering what comfort I could without smothering. I had a feeling things were going to go badly.
"Do you really love me, Bella, even the monster?" he whispered, walking down the hallway. There didn't seem to be any other tenants on this floor.
"I love all of you, Edward. You're not a monster. You're a wonderful husband and father," I stated quietly.
He stopped in front of apartment five-o-nine. "This is it. I killed the motherfucker right here in this hall. Then, I opened the door and found the bitch dead in the living room. My father was in the fucking bedroom dead as hell with the condom still on his dick. At least the bastard used protection," he reminisced, laughing dryly.
I didn't want to follow him into the apartment, but he seemed to need me there. Part of being a wife was about being there for your husband through good times and bad. Lately there was more bad than good, but I wasn't ready to give up.
Inside the apartment was pristine. There were pictures of Edward's father all over the place. They looked so much alike. It made me sad that I'd never met him, but I had a feeling he wouldn't have approved of me anyway.
"That's his urn. Edward Masen Sr. just had to be cremated. Mom respected his wishes. He even controlled her from the grave," he said, pulling out a small sharp blade.
I backed away. "Edward, what the heck are you doing? You're scaring me. Please put the knife away. I want to go home."
He laughed maniacally, advancing on me until my back was pressed against the wall. I was about to scream when his lips crashed down on mine. With all my strength, I tried to push him off. He didn't even budge.
"Show me you love me, Bella. Let me fuck you here amongst death and ruin. You want to be with the Devil, really fucking be with him. Come on," he demanded, trying to unzip my jeans.
"No. Stop! Don't do this, Edward. Get off me," I pleaded, clawing at his face. He was still wielding the weapon.
As a last resort, I punched him hard in the stomach. It hurt my hand but caused him to loosen his grip. I used his momentary paralysis to run to the other side of the room. All the food that I'd eaten earlier was threatening to make a reappearance. I felt icky.
It didn't take long for Edward to come for me again. This time I clocked him in the jaw. He laughed and pushed me against the wall. It hurt, making me whimper.
"Fight back. I want you to fucking hit me, Bella. Fight," he yelled, pulling my hair.
I tried to kick him in the groin, but he blocked my shot. Then when I tried to run, he caught me. I fell on the floor and he quickly rolled on top of me. The fear of what was happening was nothing compared to my anger.
"Stop! Get off! Are you just going to rape me? I'm your wife." By this point, I was hysterical.
He stopped trying to take my clothes off and sat up. "Babydoll…"
I stood up and ran to the elevator. Once I got outside, I waved down the first taxi driver who passed. The driver took off as Edward came running into the street. I wiped my eyes, trying not to cry in front of the stranger.
"Where to, Miss?" he asked, looking at me through the mirror. I gave him the address to the Volturi mansion.
Unfortunately, Edward caught up to us at a red light. He honked and got into the driver's path. There were no cops around. I couldn't put the innocent man in danger. Nervously, I asked him to pull over.
"I'm sorry. That's my husband. He can take me. Here's a twenty for your trouble, Sir. I apologize," I said, stepping out of the taxi.
Edward pulled over to the curb and opened my door. "Babydoll. I'm so sorry."
I pushed him away and sat down. Why did Edward always ruin our good night? He was doing a great job of making me hate him. I already felt the bruises forming on my back, arms, and legs. Was the real Edward a domestic abuser? Is this what I'd gotten myself into?
While he drove, I stared straight ahead. There was nothing left inside of my heart. All I felt was misery and regret. I just wasn't strong enough to save Edward from his demons. If we kept up like this, he was going to drag me down with him.
Instead of taking us home, he drove towards the Chicago River. Watching the boats made me remember the time Edward and I had snuck onto that stranger's boat to have sex. I was still in my early months of pregnancy and so in love. I thought nothing could touch us; boy had I been wrong.
I rolled down the window to let some of the icy air into the overheated car. I still felt slightly sick and Edward's driving wasn't helping my stomach. The night had gone wrong so fast; like Edward, it gave me whiplash.
"Take me home. I don't want to hear your bullshit apologies. You almost raped me. I'm in pain. It's not the first time either. You won't let me inside, so I can't help you. I just want you to stay away. Don't touch me anymore," I sobbed.
He laughed. "I won't. There are plenty of bitches that I can fuck. Hey, maybe I'll start with Anna. I always did love a good long blonde. Gina wants my dick bad, too. How about I give it to her? We can stay married. It'll be just like Esme and Edward all over again."
It was my turn to laugh. "That's why you hired them anyway, isn't it? I was a fool to marry you. Any man who has been with almost a thousand women is a whore! Was this always your plan? You go and continue being the playboy while I raise our child? What happened to Ti amo, babydoll? You don't even wear your Tungsten. Do you even know where it is?"
He tugged on his hair. "Fuck! I'm not really going to fuck them or anyone else. I'm also not giving you a fucking divorce. You're mine forever, Bella."
Sighing, I closed my eyes and breathed deeply. "Are you willing to work on our marriage? It can't be over this easily. I admit, I'm jealous of Anna and Gina, but I still trust you. Even after all of this, I love you enough to try."
He sniffled and wiped at his eyes. "I didn't mean any of that shit. I wanted to make you mad enough to hit me. I'll work, babydoll. I promise I'll go back to therapy. I'm so sorry for what happened. I just wanted you to hate the monster. I'm sorry I hurt you."
In my weakness, I let him kiss me and promise me the world. I knew it was all lies. Edward had demons he wasn't even ready to fight. It wouldn't be long before we really had a breakdown. Because I was so in love, I was willing to give him another chance.
We arrived back at the mansion around one in the morning. I checked on Dante, who was sleeping peacefully, and went to run myself a bath. The fight had left me feeling filthy. I no longer believed Edward's boxing story. I had a sinking suspicion that he'd been with another woman.
He walked into the bathroom just as I was lowering myself into the clawfoot tub. I didn't want to use the Jacuzzi because we'd made love in there the other day. As the soapy bubbles surrounded me, I let my mind go completely blank. When I opened my eyes, Edward was kneeling next to me on the floor.
"Babydoll, I know I ruined yet another date. I wanted you to suffer with me. I'm sorry," he explained for the zillionth time.
I closed my eyes again, submerging myself into the lavender scented water. Here, I felt safe. I loved the water. After my parents died, I used to spend hours in the bathtub. Jaz had been worried so he got me a membership to the YMCA pool.
"Why do you keep hurting me, Edward?" I whispered, avoiding eye contact.
"Why do you let me?"
Shaking my head, I sat up and grabbed a sponge. "I truly love you. This isn't you. I keep hoping the old Edward Cullen will come back, but I'm losing faith. I can't help you if you won't help yourself. People say love is pain, but I've had enough pain to last a lifetime. I need some love."
He took the sponge and massaged my shoulders, slowly washing me. "You're so beautiful, Mrs. Cullen. I love you, too. I'm sick, Bella. Don't give up on me just yet."
As he kissed my forehead, I began to cry softly. It was like I was under Edward's spell. He did the most horrible things to me, but I still loved him. I wasn't the strong woman I wanted to be. Instead, I was a doormat. How many times could I let him hurt me and survive?
The next two days passed quickly, and by Monday, we were back in Seattle. Edward didn't return with us. He had business to do in Boston with Liam. When we'd parted at the airport, he promised me that we would work on our marriage when he got back. I wanted to believe him, but I didn't. It took a lot of effort just to give him a goodbye kiss.
"Earth to Bella," Maggie teased, waving her hands in front of my face.
The bookstore was busy with students studying for finals. We were making more money than ever. I'd hired a few more staff members for the upcoming holidays. All in all, my business was going great. Jaz said I had a real knack for it.
Bree lifted Dante out of his playpen and sat down. "She miss her husband. Leave her alone, Mags."
I listened to the girls light banter. It wasn't exactly the truth. I was relieved that Edward was gone for a while. I needed time to think. Dr. A. had been very helpful in my latest session. She said I needed to stop letting Edward have all the control in our relationship. She also suggested I tell Cai about the drugs, but I'd begged for her secrecy.
A few minutes later, there was a knock on my office door. I stood up to answer, expecting it to be Jane or one of my sisters. Imagine my surprise when I saw Giles Atwood, my publisher, on the other side.
He smiled, holding out a piping hot mug of hot tea. "Thought I'd come down and talk to you. Is this a bad time?"
Smiling, I waved him inside. Maggie and Bree acted like they'd never seen a handsome man. I'd never seen so much primping and stuttering in my life. To me, Giles was handsome but not in the same way as Edward. His dark coal black hair, soulful blue eyes, and light stubble had probably stopped many a female heart, though.
"Bree, Maggie, would you mind taking Dante in the other room while I talk to Giles?"
"No problem, Bella," they assured me, carrying my little lamb away.
Giles sat down in one of the big leather chairs in front of my desk. "The book is selling briskly. We're so proud of you, Bella."
I blushed. "Thank you. It's been a great experience. Vladimir and his family are coming for Christmas. I'd really like for you to meet them."
He nodded. "I'd like that. Don't think me rude, love, but how are you? You look a little gutted."
"It's nothing. I have a barely six month old baby, a business, and my husband is gone a lot. I have tremendous family and friends support, though. I'll be fine," I lied, shrugging.
He reached across the desk and rubbed my hand. "You can talk to me. I'm your friend."
As delicately as possible, I pulled back. "I know, but it wouldn't be appropriate. I'm supposed to confide in my husband. Thanks for the offer."
He smiled, taking a sip of his drink. "There's nothing wrong with having more than one confidant. I've just ended a bloody bad relationship myself, so I'm not going to make any moves on you. Just know that I'm here, love."
We spent the next hour talking about Hamlet, one of my favorite Shakespeare stories. By the time he left, I did feel better. I also felt guilty for letting another man cheer me up. Fortunately, Giles wasn't the flirty type.
The rest of the day was spent with Esme. We went over design plans for the new house. I was all over my head, so I only chimed in occasionally. When she showed me a twenty-thousand dollar sectional that she wanted for the living room, I feigned a headache. Later, Jane drove Dante and I home.
The night progressed as usual. I called Edward but he didn't answer. After I breastfed Dante, he fell asleep in my arms. I kissed him and gently laid him in the bed. Then I turned on his night magic. It consisted of a classical music CD that Edward made for him and a light Mobile that gave the effect of a starry night. Dante loved it, and I liked hearing Edward's fingers tickle the ivory. He never played for me anymore.
Before I went to bed, I decided to call my errant husband. He hadn't contacted me all day. I knew he was fine, but I still needed to hear his voice. A woman picked up on the second ring.
"Um, is Edward Cullen there? It's his wife. Can you put him on?" I asked, worriedly.
There was shuffle and then he spoke. "Why are you calling me now? I was going to leave you a message. Is something wrong with DC?"
I began to sob. "No. I just wanted to hear your voice. We miss you. Who was that woman that answered your phone?"
He took a deep breath. "She's no one. Look, I'm busy, Bella. I love you and Dante. Kiss him for me. I'll be home tomorrow night. We'll do something fun."
"The cuts on your stomach…I didn't say anything before but did you…" I trailed off.
"Fucking hell, Bella! I got into some shit in Portland. I got cut. They're shallow. It's no big deal. I'm busy with Mob shit right now. I love you, babydoll. Go to bed. I'll see you soon."
A little voice in my head told me I was a fool to believe that he wasn't cheating on me. I drowned that noise out and wiped my eyes. Then I went and got Dante. I hated using my baby as a crutch, but I needed to hold him. He was a symbol of me and Edward's intense love for one another, and the source of my only happiness lately.
"Goodnight, little lamb," I whispered, pulling him close.
The week flew by at the speed of light. Giles came to visit me again. We ate lunch together while going over my book tour. Jane looked uncomfortable the whole time. I knew she'd have to report it to Edward and he would go off.
Later that night, Alice and Rose came over to help me get dressed. Edward had invited us all for drinks at HADES. Esme and Carlisle were more than happy to watch Dante. Earlier in the day, he had had a play date with baby Sasha which always put him in a good mood.
"Can't read my poker face," Ali sang while curling my hair.
Rose stood in front of the full length mirror, turning around so that she could see all angles of her silver minidress.
"I do not look like a woman that's pushed out two big headed kids. We're going to have guys all over us tonight," she said, preening.
An hour later, we were being led into HADES. I was wearing a ruffled blue silk dress that stopped below the knee. It had a black band to accentuate my waist. In the old days, I could have gone bra-less, but my new C-cup post baby boobs needed a strapless bra. My nails were painted to match the dress. Black suede sandals and a cool black and blue wrist cuff finished the look. Alice had given me eighties dramatic makeup to go with the outfit. Judging from the guys who stopped and wolf-whistled when we walked through, I guessed we looked hot.
"They're playing "Frozen" by Madonna. This is my song," Rose said, dragging us out onto the floor.
She, Alice, and I were soon joined by Maggie and Bree. We danced together to keep guys away, not that any would dare come near with Felix hovering just beyond the dance area. I twirled around, letting the music control my body. Then all of a sudden, I felt a pair of strong hands encircle my waist.
"What the fuck are you wearing? I go out of town and you forget shit," he snarled, taking my hand.
I opened my eyes. "I'm just dancing, Caveward. Lighten up. I haven't seen you in days and you want to argue with me. Typical."
Growling, he hoisted me into his arms. A second later, we were in the elevator headed up to his office. Anna was at her desk flirting with Demetri. I gave him a cold look as we entered the room. I'd never forgive him for how he treated Maggie.
"Bella, don't be like that," he pleaded, holding out his arms.
I looked away. "You hurt, Maggie. She didn't deserve to be treated like shit. How could you?"
For some reason, Anna decided to jump into our conversation. "Some women don't know how to please their man. Can you blame a guy for straying? Men have needs. If the woman they're with can't fulfill them, they'll look elsewhere."
If it hadn't been for Edward's grip on my arm, I might have attacked the bitch.
"If you love someone, you will be faithful to them. It's not about needs, it's about true love," I corrected.
She giggled. "Oh my. You're so wonderfully innocent. I can see why Edward loves you."
My husband stepped forward and got into her face. "Mr.-fucking-Cullen to you, remember? Bella is my wife so show some fucking respect. You can go work in D's office tonight. Bella is going to help me."
Anna pouted. "I'm sorry, Mrs. Cullen. I didn't mean to be rude. I'll just be getting out of the way."
Demetri helped her pack. Before they left, I pulled Edward down for a deep kiss. He squeezed my bottom and picked me up so that I could wrap my legs around him. We stayed like that until the door slammed shut.
"You're bad, babydoll," Edward said, chuckling.
I kissed his jawline, contemplating how to get my way. "Please fire her. I'm telling you she's bad news."
He shook his head. "I can handle, Anna. She's all talk and no bite."
Resigned, I let him carry me to the lair. We hadn't been back in weeks. I missed our secret spot. Everything was the same except now we had a bassinet. We had yet to bring Dante here, but I knew it wouldn't be long.
"What do you want to do, babydoll?" Edward asked, laying me down on the black silk duvet.
I stood up and took off all my clothes. Edward did the same. Then we crawled into bed. There was no passion or anything. We both knew where we were headed, but neither of us wanted to acknowledge it.
I cut him off, already knowing the question. "I don't. I can't trust you anymore, Edward. You hurt me. We're going to need to work on things before we get back to lovemaking."
He screamed into the pillow until his voice went hoarse. "I hate myself for what I've done to you. Hurt me back. Fucking hit me, beat me bloody. I fucking deserve it!"
Sobbing, I pulled him down on top of me so that his head rested over my heart. "I can't hurt you, honey. I tried that before and it almost destroyed both of us. We're broken, but we can be put whole again. I'll try if you will. Please, don't make me regret this."
Edward rubbed his stubbled cheek over my breast and placed my hand in his hair. "Hum to me, like you do for Dante. I'm scared, Bella. Don't let me go."
I began singing softly, letting my fingers massage his scalp. "I'm here, Edward. Just hold me. Just hold me."
After Edward fell asleep, I did something I had sworn I would never do--I rifled through his private things. There were lots of money clips and business cards. Some of them had lipstick stains, which were personal signatures.
In his coat pocket was a card with a naked woman and a whip on the front. There were unused Magnums in the same area. Since I was on birth control, Edward and I never used condoms. As if that wasn't bad enough, there was a message on the back of the card saying 'See you next time, big boy'.
I ran to the bathroom and vomited. I'd barely eaten in the last few days, only consuming enough so I could breastfeed without passing out. It was hard for me to keep food down when my world was falling apart. I thought about talking to my family, but I didn't know where to start.
Fifteen minutes later, I had my phone out and was dialing the number. It went to a voicemail which promised sex and all kinds of debauchery. I knew Edward had cheated on me with another woman. The tears came hard and heavy. The man I had given my heart and soul to had done the one thing I couldn't bear.
When I was finally able to breathe again, I put on a shirt and curled up on the living room couch. Soon after, I fell asleep. Sometime during the night, Edward carried me back to the bedroom. I knew I should have fought or confronted him, but I wanted to live inside of the dream for just a little while longer.
"Ti amo, babydoll," he whispered, stroking my hair.
"I love you, too."
Bella is in denial. We've all be there. Love is blind. Please review and let me know what you think. I can take constructive criticism. The next chapter will be a smuttake AU set in the 30's. I'll post everything as soon as possible. Review and Dante will come play with you, don't and you get Anna's skanky ass. It's always your choice. Click the comment button. I'll be with the Stoli. *Huggles*