Falling for a Dark Soul @tufano79
Chapter 29

Disclaimer: None of this mine, nor do I claim to be Stephenie Meyer. I just like to dabble in the playground that she created with Bella, Edward and her Twilight characters. No copyright infringement is intended.

Up next will be Bella … what will happen next?

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Edward

I picked up the plate of cake, walking to the elevators and rode up to MAC. I heard laughter in the small conference room. My stomach twisted, but walked toward the sound. I turned the corner, seeing Bella smiling at James and his hand was on her face while his other hand was braced by her hip. I watched, in horror, as he moved closer to her. The plate I was holding fell from my hands as I saw a repeat of the ultimate betrayal.

Bella was allowing James to …

How could she? She was supposed to be different!

My heart shattered like the plate at my feet. I couldn’t watch this. I turned on my heel and damn near sprinted back to the elevators. “Edward?” I punched the call button. The doors opened and I stepped inside. “Edward!”

I turned around, anger seething through me. “You’re no different than she was,” I sneered. “How could you?”

“Edward, I didn’t do anything,” she cried, tears falling down her cheeks. “I fell and hit my head on the table … we were both getting slap happy. Emmett went to go get food …”

“Fucking liar. You are a liar and a cheat,” I growled. “I’m done. So fucking done. Tanya, she betrayed me. In a way, I expected it from her. You? Broke me.” The doors closed and I fell to the ground as my heart shattered into a million pieces.

Nothing could put my heart back together. I was just a shell, an empty shell. I wasn’t worthy of love. I wasn’t worthy of life.

What was the point?

Bella

I raised my shaky hand to face and felt the tears on my face, on top of the goose egg that was forming on top of my forehead. What just happened?

“Man, Cullen needs to pull the stick out,” James said coldly.

I whirled around, glaring at the man who had single-handedly ended my relationship. “You caused this,” I sobbed.

“Oh, bull shit,” James scoffed. “Cullen is a fucking pussy. I know that you two are together …”

“Not anymore, James,” I cried, interrupting him. “Because of your actions, you trying to kiss me, he just ended it. His ex-wife cheated on him in this office and now, it would appear that history had repeated itself.” I stumbled, falling down, and leaning against the front receptionist desk. My heart was stammering against my ribs. I had broken him. James’ actions had broken Edward. He looked so … shattered.

The elevator doors opened and I hoped it was Edward, but it wasn’t. Emmett stepped through, holding up bags from Portillos. “I have food,” Emmett sang as he walked into the lobby. “What the fuck happened?”

“I tripped and fell. James helped me up and we were both slap happy. James thought it would be a good idea to try and kiss me. Edward saw that and …” My voice cracked, curling myself up into a tight ball.

“James, you crossed a line,” Emmett said, sitting down next to me and enfolding me in his arms. I leaned against him, gripping his shirt as allowed myself to fall apart.

“This is my fault? It’s Edward who’s a fucking nutcase!” James argued. “We’ve been pulling insane hours to get this advertising campaign done, Emmett. We still have a shit-ton of work to finish it …”

“You don’t,” Emmett said coldly. “This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. You’re fired. Bella didn’t feel comfortable enough to work with you, but she did despite her trepidations. You crossed that firmly drawn line by trying to kiss her.”

“She wanted it,” James argued, leering at me angrily. “Good luck trying to get this campaign done without me. It’s my ideas, my work. Jane wanted me.”

“No, she wanted Bella and she got Bella,” Emmett said. “And if you try to encrypt the work we’ve completed, you will be sued for breach of contract and you get to explain to Jane and Eric why their campaign didn’t go live. Pack up your shit and get the fuck out of the office …”

“You’ll be hearing from my attorney,” James snapped at us, stomping away and grabbing his computer and tablet. He threw the flash drive at me. The metal edge hit me near the eye and my tears came anew. James left the office and he scowled as the elevator doors closed.

“Bella, come on. Let’s get you to the hospital,” Emmett said, pulling out a handkerchief. He pulled it away and it was covered in blood. “He got you good.”

“The campaign?” I sniffled. “The work isn’t done.”

“Means nothing,” Emmett argued. “I’ll call in reinforcements. You might need stitches and to get away from the office. Perhaps, you can talk to Edward.”

“He won’t talk to me,” I frowned. “He looked broken. So broken. I did that.”

“No, Bella. You didn’t. James did that. Edward perceived that and a lot of it has to be due to his past,” Emmett explained. “Let me call Jasper, Alice and the rest of my team. They’ll finish up the work. We’ll meet the deadline.”

I nodded and let him help me to my feet. We got my purse and he drove me to the hospital, where I got three stitches underneath my right eyebrow. I also had the bump on my head examined, which was nothing. While I was waiting to be discharged, I rubbed my chest and tried to keep the tears at bay.

“Bells, I know that you’re hurting,” Emmett murmured.

“I feel empty,” I whispered. “I hurt Edward. I want to explain it to him, but he won’t listen to me. He basically compared me to his ex-wife. He said that I was a liar, Emmett. He doesn’t trust me. How can we move on from that?”

“By taking it one step at a time. However, I’m saying this from a place of love. Why don’t you take some time off?” he suggested. “Take a vacation.”

“I do need to fly out to Forks,” I muttered. “Something to do with the house. It’s not selling. What about my work? The shit I need to get done?”

“After the past few weeks, you deserve the time off,” Emmett said. He held up his cell phone, wiggling it. “Alice agrees.”

“Okay,” I said, curling up on the gurney and hastily wiping tears away. He gave me a tender look, hugging me close. By dawn, I was discharged and I had an itinerary for my trip back to Forks. We were leaving this evening and we didn’t have a return date. I packed our bags, just to keep my hands and my mind busy. I didn’t want to dwell on what had happened because if I did, I would start crying.

Alice came over in the late afternoon with my sister. She was shocked by the damage done by the USB drive James had thrown at me. She hugged me, giving me support. I held onto her, closing my eyes in vain to keep the tears from spilling onto my cheeks.

Katie was extremely confused as we drove to O’Hare. I explained that we needed to go back to Forks to deal with some things with the house. She asked if Edward was coming with us since he was originally planning on joining us. I bit back a sob, looking at Alice. She explained that something happened between Edward and me. She left it open-ended in case we reconciled, but I wasn’t holding my breath.

Once we got through security, my exhaustion hit me but I got some coffee at Starbucks and I called Linda Newton, my old boss. Katie was coloring while I spoke to Linda.

“I’m flying back tonight, but I’ve been up for almost forty-eight hours,” I explained. “I’m … a lot has happened, Linda.” My voice cracked and I swallowed back tears.

“Oh, sweetheart. Can you tell me what happened?” Linda cooed. I bit my lip, but a broken whimper came from me. She changed tactics. “What time are you landing?”

“Around seven,” I answered.

“Let me get you a hotel, Bella. You’ve done so much for me and the store. It’s the least I can do for you, sweet girl,” Linda said. “You can get a good night’s sleep and I can pick you up, driving you to Forks tomorrow morning. You can stay with us. Mike has moved back home … he’s getting a divorce. A woman showed up pregnant and Jessica drop kicked him to the curb, not that I blame her.”

“I’ll just stay at the house or get a room at the inn,” I snorted. “I’m sorry to hear about Mike.”

“No, you’re not,” Linda teased. “I’ll make the arrangements for your stay tonight and I’ll call you when I’m on my way tomorrow morning.”

I looked at Katie, who was now watching something on her iPad. I sighed. “If I needed my old job back …”

“Oh, Bella,” Linda breathed. “What happened?”

“I’ll tell you tomorrow,” I sniffled, wiping my tears away as I sipped my coffee. “Thanks, Linda.” I ended the call and I finished my coffee. I looked at the screen of my phone. The image blurred as tears fell down my cheeks. It was a photo of Edward, Katie and me from the Memorial Day barbecue. Our smiles were radiant and love emanated from every pore. I quickly changed it to a picture of me and my sister before I encouraged Katie to walk to the gate. As we settled at the gate, Linda texted me confirmation of an overnight stay at the Hampton Inn and Suites near the airport.

An hour later, we were seated on the plane and Katie was looking out the window. “How long is the flight to Seattle?” she asked.

“About four and half hours, Kit Kat,” I answered. “We could take a nap.”

“I think you need it more than me, Bella,” she said, looking up at me. She looked almost like our mother. “What happened to your eye? Why do you have a band aid on your eyebrow?”

“I got a deep cut,” I answered. “I had to get stitches.”

“Oh, okay,” she nodded. “When do you need to get them out?”

“I don’t know, Katie,” I shrugged, leaning my head back and closing my eyes. A few tears fell down my cheeks and my heart lurched. Tiny fingers wiped my tears away.

“Does it hurt?” she asked.

“More than you know, Kit Kat,” I breathed, allowing a few more tears to fall. “More than you know.”

I couldn’t sleep on the plane despite being exhausted. I managed to stay awake until I arrived at the Hampton Inn near Sea-Tac. I checked in, ordered some room service. I ate the food, but didn’t taste anything. I encouraged Katie to go to sleep and I quickly showered. I curled up, checking my phone once more to see if Edward had texted me. He hadn’t and it shattered my heart even further. I fell asleep, muffling my sobs with my pillow.

xx FFADS xx

The next morning, I woke up with Katie sitting on my bed. Her blue eyes were worried. “What is it, Katie?” I asked, my voice croaking.

“You were crying, Bella,” she answered. “For Edward.” She lay down next to me, wiping her fingers down my damp cheeks. “What happened? Did you fight?”

“Yeah, Kit Kat,” I nodded. “It was a really bad fight and …” I closed my eyes, wrapping my arms around my sister.

“What if you said you were sorry?”

The innocence of children … I missed it. If only an apology could fix this. “It’s not that simple, Katie. Edward said some things that really hurt my feelings because he believed that I did something to him to hurt his feelings.”

“Can’t you talk to him?” she pressed.

“Katie, enough,” I sighed. “You wouldn’t understand. Now, Miss Linda is coming to get us. We need to get you cleaned up and I need to change my dressing above my eye.”

“It’s your fault that Edward hates you,” Katie snapped, stomping off the bed and into the bathroom. The door slammed shut. I closed my eyes, allowing tears to fall freely down my cheeks. It was my fault. It was also his. He wouldn’t listen to me. He was so angry that he just shut down.

Again.

As much as I loved him, I don’t know if we could come back from this.

My cell phone chimed and I saw a couple of texts.

I wanted to make sure you got into Seattle okay … and that you’re okay. Call me ~ Alice

I’m on my way, Bella. I’ll be at the hotel by eleven. I’m bringing breakfast and coffee ~ Linda

Bells, I wanted to let you know that the campaign will go live as scheduled. James … he’s been fired, as you know. I have more news about what happened to him, but I’ll wait until you come back to tell you. Don’t worry about anything and know that, in time, everything will be alright. Love you, Bellsy ~ Emmett

I sent a quick response to Linda, thanking her for picking us up. I also sent a message to Emmett, apologizing for leaving him in a lurch. I should have put in the work before abandoning my job. He waved it off and said that it wasn’t my fault, but James. I was about to call Alice when Katie walked out of the bathroom. She looked at me, scowling at me angrily. “Don’t, Katie,” I snapped. “There’s a lot more going on than you would understand.” I sat up and scrubbed my face, forgetting the stitches. I hissed in pain. “Miss Linda will be here in a half hour. Will you be okay while I get ready?”

“Can I call Edward?” she asked. “We missed his birthday.”

“No, Katie. We just can’t,” I sighed, swiping my phone so she wouldn’t find his number, calling him over and over again. I picked out a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt. I ducked into the bathroom and took care of my morning routine. As I was putting on a fresh bandage over my stitches, my phone rang. I answered it, grateful to hear Linda’s voice. She was about fifteen minutes away and wanted to know what I wanted for breakfast. I told her that I didn’t have much of an appetite, but to pick up anything sweet for Katie.

Walking out of the bathroom, I saw Katie sitting on the bed. She was confused and obviously angry. I sat down next to her, brushing her hair back. “Katie, I know you love Edward. But, right now, we’re not talking because of a disagreement between the two of us. He adores you very much. We just need time.”

“Will we see him again?” she asked.

“I hope so,” I shrugged. “Now, we need to get you dressed and we need to repack our bags. Miss Linda is coming with breakfast and is driving us back to Forks. Do you want to stay at the house or have me get a room at the inn?”

“At the house,” she said. “I miss my bedroom.”

“Okay,” I nodded. “Now, it’s colder here.”

“I know. I remember,” she grumbled, taking her jeans and hoodie that Edward gotten her from Brookfield Zoo. She changed in the bathroom and I packed up our bags.

As I was balancing them near the door, there was a quiet knock. I opened the door, smiling at Linda. She gave me a hug and handed me a cup of coffee. Katie came out, hugging Linda and settling at the table to eat her breakfast. Linda handed me a breakfast sandwich. “Eat what you can, sweet girl,” she chided gently. “From the empty look in your eyes and defeated expression, you’re grieving again. You lost so much weight after your mom’s death. You’re just as skinny, if not more so.”

“I’ve been pulling some insane hours at work,” I explained. I blinked to Katie. “I’ll tell you more once we’re on the road. Katie will nod off as soon as you get on the highway.”

“I’ve already checked you out and paid your bill,” Linda said. “Once you’re both done with breakfast, we can make our way to Forks.” Twenty minutes later, Katie was loaded up in the back of Linda’s Chevy Tahoe. We didn’t have a booster for her, but we made it work. As I predicted, she crashed once Linda got onto the highway. The hum of the wheels calmed her. “Okay, talk to me, Bella.”

“It’s a mess, Linda,” I sighed. “I don’t know where to start.”

“You can start with how you got that empty look in your eyes,” she prodded gently. “When I last talked to you, you sounded happy and that you were head over heels in love.”

“I was happy,” I muttered. “Edward, the guy that I was seeing …”

“Was?”

“Yeah. He’s got some … I don’t know … he doesn’t trust easily. He was abused as a child in the foster system when his parents died,” I explained. “Physical and other kinds of abuse.”

“Oh, shit,” she gasped.

“Right. As a result, his relationships were strained with his adoptive parents and his marriage fell apart after he discovered her cheating with his best friend at the office. He was closed off and angry. When I was first hired at the advertising agency, I called him out on it and he apologized to me. I didn’t see an angry man, but a lost broken child, uncertain how to act. That’s when I saw how broken he was. We built a friendship and that friendship grew into more,” I explained.

“So, what happened?” Linda pressed.

“As I said earlier, I was pulling some insane hours to meet a deadline for a new clothing line. I was pulled in to work with another team since the owner of the clothing line was a friend of one my clients. The problem was that the man who was leading the campaign work was a man who I did not feel comfortable with. He was hired and is a brilliant graphic designer, but had history of sexual harassment at his previous jobs. He harassed me and was suspended for a week without pay about two months ago,” I sighed. “Edward and I got into a fight because I wanted him to be my boyfriend, nob my boss, but he shut down. He was cold and he seemed to take James’ side.”

“But, you made up? You said it happened a couple of months ago,” Linda sighed.

“We made up, but Edward punished himself for what happened to me. His hands were torn to shreds and he looked shattered,” I shrugged. “His mom said that in order to cope with his abuse, he had to shut off his emotions. In a way, to deal with James, he did the same thing. Anyway, we got over it. There was a lingering cloud above us and it came to a head on Saturday.

“Edward hates his birthday,” I explained. “He was born on June 20th and his parents died two days after his birthday. He usually celebrated his adoption day in April, but we couldn’t get together due to scheduling conflicts. So, we made plans to celebrate on his actual birthday. Katie and I were going to celebrate it with him, but my work schedule imploded. We had this looming deadline. I was spending more time with the man who made untoward comments about my body than my own boyfriend, and my sister. I tried to get out of the work on Saturday, but I couldn’t.”

“I think I can see where this is going,” Linda cringed.

“Yeah,” I sighed. “My eyes were crossing and I went to go to the bathroom. I was also starving and slap-happy. I tripped over a cord and I hit my forehead on the edge of the glass table. That’s the bruise on my forehead. James helped me up. I was laughing nervously, desperate for him to stop touching me. He stepped toward me, leaning in to kiss me. That’s when I heard a plate shatter. I looked up and saw Edward. He look betrayed and he left. He called me a liar and a cheat and he left. I tried to explain, but he wouldn’t listen.

“Then, James said some bullshit and he had his own tantrum after he was fired. He threw a flash drive. It hit me just below my eyebrow and I had to have stitches to close it up,” I grumped. “I don’t know what happened to Edward since Emmett took me to the hospital. He encouraged me to take some time off and I … I had to get out of there, Linda. So, flying out here seemed like the logical choice. I had to deal with the house. It also puts some distance between me and Edward.”

“Do you think that you can forgive him?” Linda asked.

“I don’t know. I still adore him and I want him to be happy, but he doesn’t trust me even though he said over and over again that he did,” I muttered, yawning widely.

“I’m not an expert, but I think that both of you need to talk to each other if you want to get over this,” Linda said.

“He wouldn’t listen to me when I tried to explain …” I argued.

“If you had caught Edward in a similar situation, would you have listened?” she countered. I frowned, crossing my arms. “He hurt you with his words and you, inadvertently, hurt him with what happened. It’s not your fault, Bella.”

“Then, why did he walk away? Why did he call me a liar? A cheat?” I cried. I wiped my cheeks and pinched my nose as my head pounded. Tears fell down my face and my heart cracked even further. “I’m none of those things!”

“Get some sleep, Bella,” Linda encouraged. “You’re overwrought and exhausted.” She took my hand, squeezing my fingers. I gave her what I thought was a grateful smile, but it felt more like a grimace. I slid on my sunglasses and just like my sister, I fell asleep to the hum of the wheels on the road and the soft jazz played through Linda’s speakers.

xx FFADS xx

Linda left me her Tahoe to run errands while we were in Forks. A couple days after our arrival, I met with the realtor, one of my high school classmates, Lauren Crowley. She was just as awful now as she was in high school. She blamed me for the house not selling despite the fact that I paid a pretty penny for intense staging and increased advertising. After hearing her excuses, it sounded like she wasn’t giving me what I was paying for and I contacted her mother-in-law, Beverly Crowley. I explained what I paid for, which I was not receiving.

“Bella, I’m so sorry,” Beverly said over the phone. “According to the paperwork, you’re barely covering the cost of the listing fee.”

“I’m sending you a copy of what I’m paying to Lauren, monthly,” I snarled, sending her a copy of the contract from my laptop. “It’s almost as much as my mortgage in Chicago and it’s draining my savings. That money will eventually be replaced once this house is sold, but …”

Beverly gasped loudly. “Bella, the house, if going by what is laid out on this contract, should have been sold within days. It’s a fair price and you’re doing everything to ensure its sale,” she said. “Let me come over this afternoon with Lauren. That girl is fleecing both of us.”

“It sounds like there’s no love lost between you and your daughter-in-law,” I snorted humorlessly.

“No, I’ve been losing money and now I know why. My son has a gambling problem and Lauren is used to a certain way of living,” Beverly explained. “I’ll make this right.”

“What time should I expect you?”

“I have a showing in about ten minutes, but I should be over after that. I’ll call you when I’m done,” Beverly said.

My sister was spending time at her old daycare, which was for the best. She was still angry at me for not allowing her to call Edward. I actually avoided looking at my phone as I dealt with the sale of my mother’s home. While I waited for Beverly, I was going through some things that we’d left at the house. A lot of clothes were bagged and donated to Good Will. I made arrangements for some older furniture to be donated, as well.

I was carrying down bags of Katie’s old clothing to the back of Linda’s SUV when my cell phone vibrated. I pulled it out and Beverly said that she was on her way with Lauren in tow. I walked inside, making some coffee and arranging some treats. The doorbell rang and I opened the door. Lauren was standing on the steps, her overly glossed lips pursed angrily. “Come in, Lauren,” I said.

“I got a call from Beverly. What did you say to her?” Lauren growled.

“Oh, the fact that you’re not doing your job,” I snapped back at her. “I paid you a shit-ton of money to sell this place and you’ve done nothing.” The doorbell rang again and I opened it up, smiling at Beverly. “She beat you here.”

“Damn it,” she grumbled. She stepped into the house, looking around. She also looked out into the yard, shaking her head. “Is there a place where we can talk?”

“In the dining room,” I said, gesturing to the airy room overlooking the side yard. “Can I get either of you some coffee?”

“No, thank you,” Beverly answered. “I picked up some coffee on my way over here from the showing.” She sat down at the table. I sat at the head and Lauren scowled at us, standing at the entrance of dining room. “Come and sit, Lauren. We have much to discuss.”

Lauren walked into the dining room. She sat down and pulled out my file. It was very thin. Beverly pulled out another file, again marked with my name and it was much thicker. “Where did you find that?”

“In your desk, Lauren,” Beverly said.

“It was locked up,” she growled.

“And now I know why,” Beverly hissed. “You’ve been taking the money from Bella and haven’t been doing anything that you laid out in this contract. Bella was kind enough to send me a copy of the contract she signed with you. When I pulled out my copy of the contract for Bella, which has a signature that doesn’t match the one on the paperwork I received from Bella, I found different information. Explain yourself.”

“The house will sell,” Lauren argued, shaking her head.

“It’s not even listed!” Beverly yelled. “Lauren, I gave you a chance because you showed promise. But this is beyond the pale. You stole money from Bella to pad your own bank account.”

“Tyler’s gambling has gotten out of control,” Lauren simpered. “If I didn’t have the money, we would have lost the house.”

“Wait a minute … the money I was paying you was going toward your mortgage?!” I asked.

“Bella, I’m so sorry about all of this,” Beverly frowned. “I calculated how much you paid based off this bullshit contract that you received from my ex-employee.”

“I’m fired?” Lauren cried.

“You stole over $75,000 from Bella. She could press charges and you could go to jail,” Beverly snapped. “Do you want me to call Deputy Burke? I’m certain that Mark would love to come here to take your statement.”

Lauren’s face paled further. “Bella … I … please?”

“Please? $75,000, Lauren! Money that I paid you to sell the house I grew up in,” I yelled. “The house where my mother died! How despicable can you be?” There was another knock at the door and I saw a cruiser parked on the street. Opening the door, I saw Deputy Mark Burke. He was the same man who informed me that my mom and Phil had died. “Wow, perfect timing.”

“Beverly called me as soon as she found out what Lauren had done,” he said, taking off his hat. “Ironically, her husband is sitting in the drunk tank after losing his shirt at an underground club.” He took out his handcuffs. “Lauren Crowley, stand up.”

“I’ll pay back every cent,” Lauren sobbed.

“No, you won’t,” Mark sighed. “Your house is in foreclosure. Your credit cards are maxed out and the repo man is searching for you to take ownership of your car. Lauren Mallory-Crowley, you’re under arrest for grand larceny, fraud, attempted fraud, and identity theft. You have the right to remain silent …” He snapped the handcuffs to Lauren’s wrists and continued to mirandize her as they left my home.

“Bella, I’m truly sorry. You were reeling with the death of your parents and I sent Lauren to handle this because I was overwhelmed with another client. In the long run, she ended up fucking us both over,” Beverly said. “I cannot repay all the money that you paid Lauren. It would bankrupt me. My reputation is already tainted thanks to her … I will honor the original contract you signed with Lauren, waiving all commission fees and handling everything until the home is sold. I can give you a check for $25,000 and pay you the rest of the money in installments.” She pushed paperwork from the bank.

“Okay,” I sighed. “It’s not your fault, though.”

“It may not be my fault, but I am responsible,” she argued. “You’re not the only person she screwed over, but yours is the most apparent. She was the sloppiest with your home. I should have noticed it sooner and I will forever be sorry.” She stood up and took the paperwork. “I’ll be by over later today to take photos.”

“She didn’t even do that?” I growled.

“Nope,” Beverly said, shaking her head. “The only reason I know that was when I searched for your listing and it wasn’t there. I don’t have my good camera. I’ll be back in an hour.”

“How long will it take?” I asked.

“About an hour, maybe less,” she replied. She reached across and squeezed my fingers. “We’ll get this place sold.” With a sad smile, she got up and left me in the dining room.

I thrust my hands into my hair, angry that I’d been fucked over.

Again.

When will I get a fucking break?

Rain began to fall, hitting the windows in fat splats. With a heavy sigh, I got up from the dining room table and went back to loading up the bags of clothes into the back of my borrowed car. Once I’d finished, Beverly came back with her camera. She took photos of the house and said she’d send me a link once the house went up on the real estate websites. I gave her a spare key for the door and thanked her for her help.

The weather had gotten worse and I put on my rain coat. I needed to pick up Katie from her daycare center near Forks Elementary. I was getting ready to leave when there was a knock on the door. “What now?” I grumbled. I walked to the door, opening it up. Standing on the doorstep was Edward, who looked like absolute shit. I let out a choked cry, but I swallowed down my sadness and anger. “Edward … what are you doing here?”

He looked up at me and his green eyes appeared dull. He also had scratches on his face and his hands were beat to hell. “I … I needed to see you,” he whispered.

“You made abundantly clear that you were done,” I said coldly. “You walked away, Edward.”

He closed his eyes and he gripped the door frame. Tears fell freely down his cheeks. “I’m sorry, Bella. I’m so sorry. I saw James and you and I just reacted. My first reaction was one of betrayal.”

“Edward,” I sniffled, holding up my hand. “I can’t. Not now.”

“Bella, please,” he pleaded, taking my hand and I pulled away, not wanting to feel the electricity between us.

“I have to pick up Katie,” I muttered. “I don’t want her to see you like this, Edward. When was the last time you ate?”

“Saturday,” he answered. “I’ve been … Bella, I need to make this right.”

“You may not be able to,” I snapped. “You called me a liar. You called me a cheat. You don’t fucking trust me!” I blew out a breath, watching as my words hit him. “We have to talk, yes. Later.”

“When?” he asked.

“After Katie has gone to bed and you can’t come inside,” I said, wiping tears away. “I came here for a reason, Edward. You hurt me with your actions. I tried to explain it to you, but you ignored me and you hurt me. I’m sorry for what happened, but I needed time. I needed space. I needed to get away to get over this. Us.”

He nodded. “I know I may not be able to fix what happened between us, but I had to try. I still love you.”

“I still love you, too. But you don’t trust me. That’s the problem,” I pressed. “Come after eight and don’t ring the doorbell. Now, if you’ll excuse me.” I pushed past him and walked down the steps to Linda’s car. He followed me, looking so lost. “Do you have a place to stay?”

“I’m staying in Port Angeles. There were no rooms at the inn in town,” he murmured. His movements were anxious and fearful. He looked nothing like my Edward. My Edward had disappeared that night when he called me a liar and a cheat. “I’ll be back here at eight, angel.” I shot him an angry look. His eyes fell back to the ground and his shoulders fell further. “Apologies, Bella.” He pulled out a set of keys and skulked to the sedan parked on the street. He turned over the car, looking up and I watched as his face crumble as he drove away.

I took a few deep breaths before getting into the SUV and picking up my sister. I stopped at the diner on the way back to the house. Katie was still giving me the silent treatment. I put the cheeseburger I’d gotten for Katie in front of her and sat down next to her. “You’ve got cut me some slack, Katie,” I said.

“Can I call Edward?” she asked.

“Kit Kat, we’re not talking at the moment and even if we were …” I trailed off. “Perhaps tomorrow, Katie. I don’t know. I’m struggling here.”

“Okay, okay,” she said. “Aren’t you going to eat?”

“I got a salad,” I lied. “It’s in the kitchen.”

“Eat with me, Bella,” Katie pouted.

Crap.

I nodded and went into the kitchen. I made myself a salad with a sandwich, walking back into the dining room. I picked at my food, listening to Katie talk about their day trip to a nearby dairy farm. She told me about how she milked a cow and fed a calf. As she prattled on, she was so focused on telling her story that she didn’t notice that I wasn’t eating. I pushed my salad around and took a few bites of my sandwich.

After dinner, we FaceTimed with Alice and Jasper. I got to hear about Katie’s time at the farm again, watching as Alice tried to hide her distaste of anything outdoorsy. Jasper was a little more into it, having spent some time on a farm when he was kid, visiting his grandparents. We ended the call and I frog-marched my sister up to the bathroom to give her a bath. She was covered in mud, hay and grass. She also smelled like a farm, as well.

Once Katie was clean, we watched some television before I put her to bed. My sister, however, fell asleep leaning against me. The farm had clearly wiped her out. I picked her up and tucked her into bed, kissing her forehead. Knowing that she was asleep and that it was nearly eight caused my heart to take off into a gallop. Edward would be here soon and we’d have a long-overdue conversation.

Eight o’clock came and went.

Then, nine …

With each passing moment, I grew angrier.

By ten o’clock, the doorbell rang and I shot up. I told him not to ring the doorbell. I threw open the door, ready to ream him out, but I saw Deputy Mark Burke darkening my doorstep. His eyes were impossibly sad.

“No …” I croaked. “Not again …”

“Bella, I need you calm, sweetie,” he breathed. “My wife is in the cruiser and will stay with Katie.”

“What happened?” I asked, trying to keep my tears at bay.

“There was an accident,” he explained. “You were listed as Mr. Cullen’s emergency contact. He’s been taken to Olympic Medical Center. I’ll drive you there.”

“Let me grab my coat,” I said shakily, swiping my rain coat and purse. Mark’s wife, Melinda hugged me as she walked passed me. “Do you need my number? When Katie wakes up, she’ll be confused.”

“Mark gave it to me,” she said.

I nodded stiffly. Mark gestured out to idling cruiser. I followed him into the rain and got into the cruiser. He backed out of the driveway, heading toward town to Port Angeles. “What happened, Mark?”

“The rain has been awful and you know how people don’t really care or pay attention,” Mark grumbled. “Well, this time it was one of the logging trucks.”

“Mark,” I choked. “Is he dead?”

“No, Bella,” Mark breathed. “He’s in bad shape, but still alive. Several logs smashed against the driver’s side and he was pinned. He managed to call 911, but when emergency personnel arrived, he was unconscious. They got him out, airlifting him to Olympic Medical Center.”

I wiped my tears away, my heart breaking as I listened to Mark describe the accident. He also drove on the curving roads to Port Angeles with practiced ease despite the slick conditions. We arrived at the medical center and ran into the emergency room. Mark took charge. “I have Edward Cullen’s fiancée. She’s here to make medical decisions.”

The nurse nodded, opening the sliding doors into the treatment rooms. A nameless, faceless doctor approached us and he explained that Edward was stable, but needed surgery to correct a broken hip and leg. I wasn’t hearing the doctor. I was just staring at Edward on the gurney. His pale skin was even more pale, almost grey, covered in scratches, cuts and bruises. He had a tube breathing for him along with several other tubes coming out of his body.

“Can I touch him?” I whispered. “Does he know I’m here?”

“He’s heavily sedated and he does have a significant concussion,” the doctor said. “You can hold his hand.”

I walked over to his right side since the damage to his body was on the left, on the driver’s side. I sat down on the stool, taking his hand into mine. It was cold, limp. I let out a sob. “Edward … come back to me … please?”

“Miss Swan? Do we have your permission to perform the surgery?” the doctor pressed.

“Yes,” I nodded, kissing his torn up knuckles. “I love you, Grinch. I’m sorry. Please … I can’t lose you.” I stood up, nodding to the doctor. He sprang into action and within a few moments Edward was being rolled to the surgical suite. I sat back down on the stool, feeling completely lost.

Mark crouched in front of me. “Does Edward have any other family? Besides you?” I nodded. “Do you want me to call them?”

“No, I’ll do it,” I whispered. “Is there a place where I can fall apart?”

“Come on, Bella,” he said kindly. “There’s a conference room around the corner.”

He led me to the conference room and I thanked him before he left. I slid down the wall and finally allowed myself to completely shatter. I sobbed for me, for Katie, for Edward. When I was sufficiently cried out, I pulled out my cell phone. I found the number I needed. I pressed the name, shakily holding my phone to my ear.

“Hello?”

“Esme … it’s Edward …” I sniffled. “He’s been in an accident.”

A/N: Sorry … another cliffie. I promise to post the next chapter quickly. I’d wanted to get to this point during NaNoWriMo, which I did. So, go me!

Now, there are pictures with this and they’re on my blog. You can find a link for that on my profile. I’m also on FB: Tufano79’s Twilight Fanfiction Appreciation. Twitter, too: tufano79.

Up next will be Edward. We will be hearing from him, but it will be the lead up to this moment. So his chapter timeline coincides with this one. You’ll find out what happened while Bella was in Forks.

Leave me your thoughts …

Thank you for reading.

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