Solace @missliss15
Chapter 11

EPOV

It was early Monday morning, and I'd just started my coffee in the percolator when there was a loud banging on my door. I drew in a deep breath before letting it out slowly. I knew nothing good would come from whoever was standing on my porch.

There was another round of banging before I heard Emmett call my name. "Edward! I know you're awake!"

I pulled open the door, stepping aside to let him through. "I am awake, but the question remains, why are you standing on my porch at daybreak hollering and making a spectacle?"

He pushed past me into the house, looking around. "Are you alone?"

I narrowed my eyes at him, not liking what he was implying. "Jah, I am alone. Might you tell me why you'd think otherwise?"

"You know exactly why. I saw you with that Englischer at the market. Everyone saw you with her! You held her hand! What are you doing? She's not Amish!" he all but shouted.

"First, I'll kindly ask that you keep your voice down inside my house, brother. Second, the Lord blessed me with eyes the same as he did you. I am aware she isn't Amish."

"Then answer my question, Edward. What on earth are you doing with that English girl?"

"Her name is Bella, and as for what I'm doing"—I shrugged—"I'm trying to find peace and happiness." I walked over to the percolator, pouring coffee into my cup, all while Emmett's eyes never left me.

"I never learned how to use one of those." He gestured toward my coffee.

I raised my eyebrows at him, confused at his turn in conversation. I imagined he was trying to gain control over his temper. "That's probably because your wife and children are alive and healthy."

"Don't say such things, Edward!" he snapped, his anger reignited.

"But it's true, Emmett. When Maggie died, I had to learn how to take care of myself. I had to learn to do all her chores along with mine. I've been alone for a long while now; why would you begrudge me companionship? Wasn't it you, Mamm, Daed, Jasper and Alice who were hoping I'd find just that?"

"Because this Bella is not just a new friend. I saw the way she looked at you, and you at her! There is more than just companionship lurking between the two of you."

"Maybe there is. She makes me feel things I haven't in a long time. I pray you never have to suffer how I have, but know, brother; if you were ever in my place, I'd support you."

He glanced around the room, looking anywhere but at me. "I wish I could stand here and tell you the same, that I support whatever you're doing, but I can't. You'll break Mamm's heart with talk like this. There are plenty of good Amish women that will take care of you just as Maggie did."

I felt anger rise in me and took a deep breath, trying to gain control over my emotions, but I was finding it difficult. "Is that what you think I want? A carbon copy of my wife? Because you're wrong. Maggie isn't here any longer, and no one can replace her! Is that what you'd want if you no longer had Rose? To just replace her?"

"Stop talking as if my wife will die at any moment!"

"Well, my wife died! Do you think a few casseroles and people telling me they're sorry for my loss helped? Because it didn't! I never expected to find someone I care about again, and I'm sorry if she doesn't fit your idea of what I need. But if God put her in my path, and the chance for love and happiness is being presented to me, then I'm taking it. I need to get to work now." I opened the door, gesturing for him to leave.

"Think about what you're doing, Edward," were the last words he said to me before climbing into his buggy.

It was closer to dinnertime when I finally made my way over to The Cupboard. I knew Bella expected me earlier in the day, but I'd had more work on my plate than I'd realized. There was also the fact that after my argument with Emmett, I'd been in no frame of mind to hold a conversation with her.

The way he acted shouldn't have been a surprise. He'd never experienced holding his wife while she took her last breath, and I prayed he never did. He couldn't understand how something like that could change a man's heart and soul. Still, his ignorance frustrated and hurt me.

When I said I'd support him if the day ever came that Rose was no longer walking the earth, I was being honest. I would be there for him, and it would thrill me if he found love again, no matter who she was.

"Hey," Bella greeted me with a smile, and I did my best to return it. "It worried me when you didn't show up earlier."

"I'm sorry to have worried you, there was more work than I realized. Do you have a few minutes to spare?"

She glanced around the restaurant. "Liz was actually about to send me home. We've been dead all day, but then I saw you come in. Just give me a second, and I'll clock out."

"Great." I smiled my first genuine smile of the day.

She pulled her coat snug around her. There had been no snow yet this winter, but it was still cold.

"Are you sure you're good with walking? I'm perfectly happy to sit here in your car if you'd rather." I didn't want her to freeze.

"No, I don't mind. I like the cold. Are you all right? You seem upset today."

I gave her a weak smile. "You can read me like no other can, Bella. I don't know if I'm all right or not. My brother stopped by this morning."

"Oh."

"Yes, oh." I chuckled softly. "He was very vocal in his disapproval of whatever this is between us."

"I don't want to cause issues with your family—"

"You're not." I shook my head, slipping my hand into hers and giving it a squeeze. "My family has caused their own rift with me for some time now. They never really understood the pain I went through. They stood by my side, they helped cook and clean, but they never truly understood my mourning. It's as if my parents and brother thought I should have gone to bed one night and woken up the same man I was before Maggie passed. It's just not possible. You're the only one I've said this to, but I'm thinking of leaving the church."

She gasped, stopping in her tracks and looking at me. "Edward... please put my mind at ease and tell me this isn't because of me. I know what your faith means to you."

"It's not because of you—well, not completely. The thought has been there for a while. It's not a decision I'm taking lightly or one I would make overnight. I'd lose most of my friends and probably all my family, but they continually show me that what I want or need doesn't matter to them unless it's what they want. As for my faith? I'm Amish, but I'm not naïve enough to think God only exists inside my community."

Bella laced her fingers with mine. "Whatever you decide, even if it's staying, I'll always support you."

I pulled her against me, wrapping my arms around her and holding her there, breathing in her scent. "Thank you."

I can't wait to hear your thoughts, so hit me with them!

A huge thanks to Sunshine1220 for taking on the role of my beta! :)

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