Falling for a Dark Soul @tufano79
Chapter 30

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 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 with him while Bella was in Forks.

Chapter Thirty

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?

I don’t remember the drive home. I definitely don’t remember how I got into my condo. I do remember tearing my condo to pieces as I roared in agony. Anything that wasn’t tacked down was thrown or shattered. I pounded my hands onto the wall, the countertops and doorways. I collapsed onto the floor; my energy spent. My hands, which had finally healed from punishment of what had happened between Bella and me a couple months ago, were again torn to shreds, just like my heart. Sam was frightened of me, but he curled up next to me as I cried brokenly. When I woke up the next morning, everything seemed worse. I was laying on the ground, surrounded by debris and my entire body was in pain.

However, that paled in comparison to the emptiness I felt in my heart, my soul. Again, what was the point? I was betrayed by the woman who I thought was my forever.

Forever was a dream, a fairy tale.

A shattered dream …

I didn’t deserve a happily ever after. I didn’t deserve anything.

Happy birthday to me …

My world lost its light and I was bathed in darkness once again.

Sam whimpered, putting his head on my lap. His gaze almost sympathetic and I slowly pet behind his ears. His face contorted as tears welled in my eyes. I felt so alone, so empty. I looked around my condo, surveying the destruction and I shook my head. I stiffly stood up. The door to my condo opened and I secretly hoped it would be Bella.

Unlikely, asshole. You broke up with her yesterday because you’re a fucking piece of work.

“Edward?” came the sweet voice of my mother. “Your downstairs neighbor called …” She looked around and gasped. “What happened? Were you robbed?”

I lifted my hand and let out a gruff, harsh laugh. “No,” I answered.

“Is it Bella?” she asked. Hearing Bella’s name made me choke and stumble. Esme walked over to me, guiding me to the couch. “Edward, you look … broken. Tell me, sweetheart. What happened?”

“I don’t know what to say,” I mumbled.

“Well, how about you tell me what the hell happened to the condo?” she pressed.

“I lost my temper,” I answered. “Mom, why am I so unlovable? Why do people just throw me away?”

“What are you talking about? Edward, you are one of the most lovable people I know,” she cooed, brushing my hair back. I flinched and moved away. I couldn’t handle being touched. Not now. Not ever. My mother looked confused, but she took a breath, continuing, “No one would throw you away.”

“But, she did,” I snarled.

“Who did?”

“Bella! She threw me away for a dalliance with James,” I snapped, thrusting my hands into my hair.

“I highly doubt that, Edward. She does not like him, obviously. She told me that she thought that James was a toad. Why would she …?” she pressed.

“Because, I’m not worth it. I’m not worth anything!” I shot up and began pacing since my condo could not handle anymore destruction. “The only thing I’m good for is to be used and abused. A punching bag, a living sex toy … I’m nothing, Mom.” I slid down the wall and screamed. “The one good thing in my life … she threw me away.”

My mother sat down next to me, pulling me into her arms. I struggled against her, not wanting her comfort. She wouldn’t stop holding me and I just gave up. I clung to my mother as I completely lost it. She didn’t say anything, but she did hold me. I’m not sure how long we sat on the floor, but she pulled away, wiping my tears. “Edward, in all the years you were my son, you’ve never let your walls down. You always kept everyone at arm’s length, even your father and me. You never allowed yourself to grieve, to cry, to feel that pain from your childhood.”

“I needed to protect myself,” I said, my throat raw. “I didn’t want to be hurt.”

“And now, Bella broke through those walls,” she said.

“But, she …”

“I doubt she threw you away, Edward. Did you give her a chance to explain?” she chided.

“She tried, but it sounded like excuses,” I snapped. “She’s no different that Tanya.”

“That’s not fair, Edward. If I had to guess you lashed out and you left before giving her an opportunity to tell you what had happened,” she sighed. “Edward, I love you more than words can describe. You are my child, even though I didn’t give birth to you. You are not even remotely close to being disposable.”

“Then, why did those assholes hurt me like they did?” I asked.

“Are you talking about Bella or those awful foster families?” she asked sympathetically.

“Both, I guess,” I muttered.

“Bella didn’t throw you away,” she admonished gently. “It sounds like you were the one who threw her away by not listening to her reasoning.” She kissed my temple. “In regard to those families who broke you, shattering your spirit, they took in children for the wrong reasons.”

“How many kids’ lives did they ruin?” I asked despondently. “Besides my own.”

“I don’t know how many kids exactly, Edward. They were punished to the fullest extent of the law for what they did to you.”

“Is there a way if you can find out?” I muttered. “What happened to them? Are they still in jail?”

“I can look into it, Edward. We didn’t push you to testify against them, but in hindsight, we should have … I don’t know. I promise to find out all I can about those animals who took your innocence, but I think you should come back home with me. You need to be with family,” she said. “Pack a bag for a couple of days. I’ll get someone to come clean this up and make repairs to the drywall and cabinetry. Your father can also help you with your hands. Some of those cuts need stitches.”

“You’re worried that I’m going to do something stupid, aren’t you?” I sighed. Like kill myself … it’s tempting.

“To be honest, yes,” she replied, giving me a worried look. “Edward, your neighbor thought you were being attacked up here. She tried calling you, but you didn’t pick up. It actually went straight to voicemail.” I got up and found what was left of my phone in the kitchen. I held it up, showing her the shattered screen. My mother shook her head. “Come on, Edward. You need to be with family. Also, I think you need to take a vacation.”

“Unfortunately, I can’t do that,” I sighed. “I’ve got several meetings that I can’t reschedule this week. I can take tomorrow off, but the rest of the week … I’m not sure.”

My mom guided me to my bedroom and plucked out a small roller bag from the closet. She pushed me to shower since I was still in my clothes from the night before. I had blood on my shirt from the damage to my hands. I hissed when the water hit the wounds and managed to clean up. When I walked out of the shower, I dressed in a pair of jeans and t-shirt, feeling marginally better.

“I’m uncertain what you’d like to bring for work,” Esme said.

“I’ll grab that,” I mumbled. I found a couple pairs of dress pants and some polo shirts. I folded them, putting them into the bag. With a frown, I stared out the window. “Mom, do you think I can fix the ginormous fuck up with Bella?”

“I think, in time, you will be able to. However, you need to fix the ginormous fuck up with yourself,” she explained.

“That’s the first time I’ve heard you curse,” I spluttered. “What do you mean?”

“I’m saying this from a place of love, but you need to fix yourself before you can fix your relationship with Bella,” she said, closing my bag. “I adore Bella like a daughter, but you are my priority. I will do whatever it takes to make you happy, Edward. I love you …”

“I love you, too, Mom,” I breathed, hugging my mother.

xx FFADS xx

I ended up getting seven stitches in my knuckles from my temper tantrum. I also chipped a bone in my pinky on my right hand. I may have to have surgery to repair it, but I would schedule it at a later date if I needed it. The following day, I also spoke with my therapist about what had happened. While meeting with him, his partner and psychiatrist, gave me a prescription for an anti-depressant and mood stabilizer. I was diagnosed with depression, general anxiety disorder and PTSD. I had been given anti-anxiety meds but I didn’t like to take them because they made my mind foggy.

On Tuesday, I went into work and hid in my office. I didn’t want to run the risk of bumping into Bella, or James. Toward the end of the day, Emmett waltzed into my office with scowl on his face. “You know, you’re an asshole,” he snapped.

“You won’t get any argument from me,” I mumbled.

“If you had just listened …” he growled, sitting down. “Are you done for the day?”

“I suppose so,” I answered, looking up at him. His icy blue eyes were swirling with disdain, but they softened. “What?”

“You look like hell, Edward. Why the fuck do you have scratches on your face and hands?” he asked.

“I had a fight with my walls and they won,” I quipped sadly. “Emmett, I’m fucked up but you’re abundantly aware of that fact.”

“I’m not going to disagree, but you need to hear what happened on Saturday,” he said. “We’re going for a ride and you’re going to talk to the asshat.”

“If I talk to him, his face will become personally acquainted with my fists,” I snarled.

“Mine, too,” Emmett sneered. “Shall we?” I nodded and we rode down to the garage. I got into Emmett’s Jeep Wrangler and he drove us to Trump Tower. He snorted. “Figured he’d live here.”

“Does he know we’re coming?” I asked.

“Nope, but I have a client who is letting us in,” Emmett grinned menacingly. “There she is now.” He hopped out of the car, tossing the keys to the valet who gave him a ticket. “Hey, Lara. Thanks for granting us access.”

“James lives on my floor and he’s a giant douchebag,” the petite woman scoffed. She was older with a spiky hairdo and earrings going up and down her ears. “A revolving door of women and he always makes inappropriate comments …”

“He hasn’t learned a god damn thing,” Emmett growled as we walked to the elevators and rode up to the fifty-fifth floor. Lara gestured to a door with a grimace. “Thanks, again.”

“Good riddance,” she said. “Let me know what happens. The sooner he leaves, the better.” She turned and walked to her condo, waving as she slipped inside.

Emmett banged on the door. “Management,” he barked. I arched a brow at him. Emmett just shrugged.

James threw open the door. “What?” he snarled. “Oh, fuck no. I’m not talking to you without my attorney present.” He tried to close the door and Emmett stopped him, pushing his way inside. “I should have you arrested.”

“Just like Bella should have you arrested for assault? She got stitches in her eyebrow because of your little stunt with the flash drive,” Emmett said, grabbing him by his shirt and tossing him over the couch.

“Stitches?” I asked.

“Why do you care, Cullen? You dropped her like a bad habit,” James sneered. “She’s a needy little cunt, always begging to rearrange schedules because of her brat kid. I bet her pussy is all sloppy because she pushed out that little ankle biter.”

“And so the mask comes off. Her ‘brat kid’ is her sister, asshole. She’s Katie’s legal guardian after her parents died. Shows how much you know, fucktard,” Emmett smirked evilly. “Now, tell Edward what you did.”

“I didn’t do anything!” James shouted, struggling against Emmett’s vice-like grip.

“Try again, asshat,” Emmett argued, picking him up and wrapping his hand around James’ neck.

“Alright, alright,” James said, pushing Emmett away. “The cunt …”

“James,” I hissed, my hands clenching into tight fists.

“Fine,” James grumped. “Bella stumbled and I helped her up. She looked so enticing as she was laughing. I had to have a taste of her. She pushed me away. What woman wouldn’t want me?”

“She didn’t want it?” I asked.

“She abhors me,” James scoffed. “But, I had to know what was so special about her. Fuck, I would have loved to dip my cock into her pussy now that I know the truth. Hmmmm … delectable.”

I couldn’t hold back. I reared back, hitting James squarely in the face and felt his nose disintegrate under my already aching knuckles. James roared, flying to me and his fists came in contact with my face, my ribs and my stomach. He was ripped off me and Emmett held him down. I got up, feeling a few of my old injuries barking. “What the fuck did you do?” I sneered.

“She wanted it, even if her body said no. But, you had to interrupt me with your temper tantrum. Then, Emmett fired me. I’m fighting it. I’m going to own MAC by the time this is done,” James said, looking at me with a maniacal grin.

“Do you know that we have security cameras in every room except the bathrooms?” Emmett asked. “Your little show was taped where you threw the flash drive, almost causing Bella to lose her eye. We’re also well within our rights to fire you because of your actions.”

“He attacked me,” James growled, pointing at me angrily. “In my own home! I should call the police.”

“But, you won’t,” Emmett said. “You leave Chicago and this latest infraction will not be shared with future employers. You fight us? We’ll own you.”

James glowered at him before looking at me. He must have seen something in me that caused him to stop squirming against Emmett’s hold. He sat back on his white couch and blew out a breath. “You really love her. Bella?” Emmett tossed a towel to James, stop his bloody nose.

I shifted on my feet, nodding. “Because of what you did, James, I probably lost her forever.” I walked to the window and looked out to the river below. My grief was palpable.

“What are you going to do?” Emmett asked. “Leave and have a chance at a career or stay and fight. You’ll more than likely lose and you’ll owe us money, possibly spend time in jail.”

“It’s not worth the trouble,” James spat. “I’m meeting with a realtor and selling this dump. You won’t hear from me again. Will I get a reference?”

“If you put down my name, I will tell them exactly what you did,” I said. “You are a liability.”

“You’re one to talk, Cullen,” James scoffed, twisting the towel in his hands. “Now, both of you, get out of my apartment.”

“Gladly,” Emmett said, walking over to me. He gave me a sympathetic smile. Turning, I followed Emmett to the door.

“Did the campaign for York Towne Clothes happen?” James asked.

“Yes, it did,” Emmett answered. We opened the door and stepped into the hallway, allowing it to fall closed behind us. With a smirk, he started walking to the elevator. “Jane was spitting nails when I told her what happened.”

“Regardless of the outcome, James is going to be blacklisted in the advertising community,” I chuckled darkly.

“Jane adored Bella and felt she was more approachable, having more innovative ideas than James,” Emmett explained. He stepped into the elevator, looking at me. “Now that you know the truth, what are you going to do about Bella?”

“I don’t know,” I shrugged. “I really fucked things up with her. I’m also a fucking mess.”

“Yeah, you are,” Emmett agreed, picking up my bruised hand. “Why did you shut her down? Why did you become the ultimate douche?”

“It’s a combination of things. You remember what happened with Tanya, right?” I asked.

“She was a complete whore and you deserved better,” Emmett agreed. “She also cheated on you numerous times. The last time was in the office with your best friend.”

“Right. Well, that shattered self-esteem and you all hated what I became after that. I was angry all the time and didn’t trust anyone. I still really don’t. When you’re hurt as badly as I was, trust is practically nonexistent,” I said. “Seeing what James was doing to Bella, it broke me. I saw it as the ultimate betrayal. So, I lashed out and I ruined what Bella and I had. I called her a cheat and a liar. Hell, I’ve been terrified to face her. That’s why I was hiding in my office.”

“She’s not even here,” Emmett blurted. His eyes widened comically as he hazarded a glance at me.

“What?”

“After you exploded on her, Bella became very upset and it only got worse after James had his temper tantrum,” Emmett explained. “I encouraged her to take a vacation.” When the elevator opened, he stepped out and turned to me with a sheepish grin. “Ever been to the Pacific Northwest?”

“I was supposed to go with her,” I frowned.

“Edward, I’m not happy with how you reacted toward Bella. I know that you had a shit life when you were a kid and that betrayal from your ex-wife really fucked you up. However, Bella still loves you. She was confused as fuck, but a love like you have doesn’t just dissipate,” Emmett explained as we waited for his Jeep. “Also, women love the grand gesture. Go to her, Edward. Talk to her. Work through this.”

“Do you think she’ll forgive me?” I asked.

“That, I don’t know,” Emmett answered, giving me a sympathetic look. “What I will do is help you find a flight and get Bella’s home address. I would suggest staying at a hotel. Especially, if things don’t go your way.”

“Good idea,” I grumbled.

We drove back to MAC. Emmett and I went into my office and arranged for my travel to Seattle. I was leaving on Thursday morning and staying in Port Angeles, a town near to Bella’s home. There were no available rooms at the inn in Forks. So, I made my reservations at the Olympic Lodge and thanked Emmett for his help.

I went back home to my parents. I told them over dinner about my plans. My father seemed concerned about me flying across the country without any sort of backup. My mother wanted me to focus on myself, but I had to try to make things right. Yes, I was being impetuous, but I had to talk to Bella. That conversation needed to happen face-to-face, and not over the phone.

Not like I could call her. My phone was completely obliterated. I was having a new one couriered to me tomorrow.

After I ate dinner with my parents, I spoke to my therapist using my laptop on a Skype session and I told him about what happened today along with my decision to fly out to Forks. His reaction was similar to my mother’s but he told me to take things easy, not forcing things with Bella. Let her call the shots. I was the one who’d hurt her with my ire and unthinking words.

I had been hurt, as well, but not by her. James had started the domino affect with his thoughtless actions and I interpreted it as Bella cheating on me. In retrospect, I should have known that she wouldn’t have betrayed me like that. It was the only fight that Bella and I had. After James had made some comment about Bella’s body a few weeks ago, I’d become cold and more focused on being the boss and not her boyfriend. Unfortunately, rational thought escaped me that night, just like it had escaped me the night of my birthday.

The next day, I went to work and I sat through my meetings. I was distracted, but I somehow managed to get through my day. As I was making arrangements for the rest of the week, Alice came into my office. I cringed, afraid of hearing her rant and rave about how I sucked as a human. I didn’t need to hear how awful I was. My self-loathing was through the roof. So, in true Grinchy form, I snapped at her. “If you’re here to tell me that I’m a walking, talking mistake, don’t bother. I already know,” I growled.

“I wasn’t going to say that,” Alice said softly, sitting down across from me. “I’m here to check on you. I’m worried about you.”

“Even though I’m an asshole,” I grumbled. I clenched my eyes and leaned forward. “Why do you care about me? Bella’s your friend.”

“So are you, Edward. Look, I know what happened between you and Bella was beyond your control,” Alice murmured. “But, you’re both hurting. I took Bella to the airport …”

“She must hate me,” I muttered.

“She’s not a fan,” Alice said wryly. “She was trying to be strong for Katie.”

I shook my head. My heart cracked in my chest as she mentioned Katie. I’d missed both of them so much. “How’s Katie?” I whispered.

“Confused and really pissed at Bella. She doesn’t understand why she can’t call you,” Alice shrugged. “Edward, be honest. Are you okay?”

I looked down at my destroyed hands, shaking my head slowly. “I’m a fucking mess, Alice. I destroyed the best thing that ever happened to me. I love Bella more than anything, but in the red haze of betrayal and anger, I lashed out. I know I made a mistake. I just hope that she’ll listen to me. We may never be a couple again, but at least, I want to be in her life.”

“Edward, she still loves you,” Alice breathed.

“Love isn’t enough,” I choked out. “How can I prove to her that I do trust her? She’s one of the few people that I do trust.”

“By being honest with her, Edward. She knows your past, I’m assuming,” Alice said.

“She knows everything,” I replied.

“If she knows everything, then hopefully, she’ll be willing to listen to you,” Alice murmured, reaching over and squeezing my hand. “I think, in time, you guys should be able to heal enough to move past this. Be patient with her. She was patient with you, give her that same courtesy. You hurt her, deeply. In your mind, what happened between her and that jerkface, she betrayed you when, in reality, you betrayed her.”

“What a ginormous cluster,” I groaned. “I wish I could invent a time machine to go back … stop this before it snowballed into this mess.”

“Last I checked, you have an undergraduate degree in advertising and a master’s degree in business management. Nothing about temporal mechanics,” Alice smirked. “Will do me a favor? Can you text me after you reach out to Bella? I really think you are good for each other. A love like yours doesn’t just … I don’t know. I want you two to be happy.”

“Thank you, Alice,” I whispered. “I want us to be happy as well.”

She got up, hugging me and kissing my cheek. She gave me a smile as she left my office. I blew out a breath, trying to quell the anxiety that was bubbling under my skin. Once I was settled, I turned to check into my flight. I packed my computer and rolled out my suitcase. I told Shelly, my assistant, to only call me in the case of an emergency. Rose was in charge until my return.

I just hoped that Bella would be returning with me …

xx FFADS xx

After my flight to Seattle, I picked up my rental car. I wanted something sturdy, like an SUV, but all they had available was a midsize sedan. I loaded my belongings into the back of the car and used the GPS on my new phone to guide me to the Olympic Lodge in Port Angeles. The drive was pretty, but I was barely paying attention. I was exhausted from the flight and my heart was stammering against my chest and vampire bats swarming in my belly.

How am I supposed to talk to Bella when I’m an anxious mess?

Fuck my life.

Pulling up to the Olympic Lodge, I parked the car and checked into my hotel room. Settling into the space, I unpacked my computer and clothing. I sent a text to Alice, informing her that I was in Port Angeles. She wished me luck. When I put the phone down, I ordered some room service. I wasn’t hungry, but I hadn’t really eaten much since the blow up. While I waited for my dinner, I curled up on the bed and dialed my parents.

“Hello?” answered my father.

“I’m in Washington. I’ve settled in the hotel,” I breathed.

“How are you, son?” he asked. “Be honest.”

“I’m a mess, but this is something I have to do, Dad. I have to make things right,” I muttered. “I know that you and Mom don’t agree with what I’m doing.”

“I wouldn’t say that,” he sighed. “I just hate seeing you in pain. I know that Bella didn’t have anything to do with that …”

“No, the blame lies squarely on James’ shoulders,” I explained. “It was my fucked up mind that caused the pain.”

“This might go without saying, but Bella might turn you away,” Dad said softly.

“I’m aware of that,” I huffed. “I have to try, Dad. I usually just turn the other cheek, especially when it comes to my own feelings. I wanted to avoid being in pain or being hurt. People who were supposed to love me always hurt me. It was easier to close everyone out.”

“Except for Bella and Katie,” Dad murmured.

“They loved me,” I whispered. “I don’t know if they can still love me, after what happened, but I’m not giving up. Not yet.” There was a knock on the door. “My food’s here. I’ll call you tomorrow, okay?”

“Of course, Edward. Please, be safe,” he breathed.

“I will. I love you, Dad,” I said. “Tell Mom the same …”

“Love is too small of a word, Edward. You are everything to your mother and me,” Dad choked out.

We hung up and I opened the door to the server. I tipped her, ushering her out so I could enjoy my cheeseburger and fries without her hovering. She was leering at me, flirting with me and I was not interested. I locked my door, picking at my food. While I did that, I looked at the photos saved on my phone. Thankfully it had just been backed up and I held back tears as I flipped through memories of me and Bella, me and Katie and of all three of us. I missed them so much.

I barely ate my meal. It tasted like ashes. I put the tray outside and decided to shower to get the funk of the airplane off my body. Once I was clean, I fell into bed and watched some mindless television until I eventually crashed.

The next morning, I woke up with a headache. I groaned, when I opened my eyes as the agony of a migraine pierced through my brain. I dragged my body to my toiletry bag, finding my prescription medication for my headache. I took it and eventually drifted back asleep.

When I woke up again, my head was free of the vice-like grip of the migraine. I had a bit of a medication fog, but my head didn’t hurt. I dragged my body up and threw open the curtains. I wrinkled my nose when I saw that I was raining pretty heavily. I showered once again and got dressed in a pair of jeans, a button-down shirt and a jacket. I picked up my wallet, cell phone and rental car keys. With a scowl, I darted out to the car and turned it over. I sat in the car, waiting for the inside to warm up. It was chilly outside and the rain made it even more biting.

Plugging in Bella’s home address into my GPS app on my phone, I followed the directions to a quaint home near downtown Forks. The town was tiny. If you blinked, you would have missed it. I parked on the street and my heart damn near stopped when I saw Bella. She was lugging bags out to a huge black SUV. I sat and watched her for a moment, seeing how dejected she was, even from a distance. Her shoulders were slumped and her skin was pale, nearly translucent.

Blowing out a breath, I got out of the car and walked toward Bella, but she went back inside. I walked up the steps and I rang the doorbell. I heard her grumble as she opened the door. Her eyes flashed angrily as she glowered at me. “Edward … what are you doing here?”

I looked up at her, trying to memorize her features. Her eyes were brimming with tears and her lips were pursed angrily. “I … I needed to see you,” I whispered.

“You made abundantly clear that you were done,” she responded coldly, crossing her arms across her chest. “You walked away, Edward.”

I closed my eyes gripping the door frame in order to not enfold her in my arms. Tears fell freely down my cheeks as my fragile heart cracked even further. “I’m sorry, Bella. I’m so sorry. I saw James and you and I just reacted. My first reaction was one of betrayal.” I took a step closer to her, needing to feel her body against mine.

“Edward,” she sobbed, holding up her hand. “I can’t. Not now.”

“Bella, please,” I pleaded, taking her hand. She pulled away like she’d been burned.

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

A full meal? “Saturday,” I answered. “I’ve been … Bella, I need to make this right.”

“You may not be able to,” she sneered. “You called me a liar. You called me a cheat. You don’t fucking trust me!” She blew out a breath, staring at me angrily. “We have to talk, yes. Later.”

“When?” I asked.

“After Katie has gone to bed and you can’t come inside,” she replied, wiping her tears away with the back of her hand. “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.”

I nodded, feeling completely broken. I was too late. “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,” she hissed, her hands clenched into tiny fists. “Come after eight and don’t ring the doorbell. Now, if you’ll excuse me.” She pushed past him and walked down the steps to the SUV. I followed her, wanting to be near her for as long as possible. She turned to look at me, her brows pulled together in concern. “Do you have a place to stay?”

“I’m staying in Port Angeles. There were no rooms at the inn in town,” I murmured. My movements were anxious and fearful. I was losing her. What could I do? Gulping down bile, I choked out, “I’ll be back here at eight, angel.” The look she gave me was filled with so much hatred. What was the point? My eyes fell back to the ground and I felt my shoulders fall further. “Apologies, Bella.”

I pulled out a set of keys and skulked to the sedan parked on the street. I turned over the car, looking up and stared at her as she scowled at me on the doorstep of her home. With a whimper, I pulled away from the house. I don’t remember driving back to Port Angeles. I vaguely remembered a sea of green until I parked the car in the lot of the Olympic Lodge.

In my room, I crawled into bed and curled around a pillow. I tried not to completely lose it, but my heart was dead. The woman who I adored was … she abhorred me. Shakily, I picked up my cell phone and texted Alice.

Total utter fail, Alice ~ E

Don’t give up, Edward. Bella’s stubborn, but if you take time to TALK to her, she’ll be open to forgiveness ~ Alice

She hates me ~ E

No, she loves you. I’m guess she said that, but her pain is … don’t give up, please? When you talk to her, just be patient ~ Alice

Okay. I’ll try to keep an open mind, but I’m not holding my breath ~ E

I tossed the phone onto the bed and stared sightlessly out the window as rain fell in sheets. It would appear that the world was weeping with me at the loss of my Bella.

She wasn’t mine anymore.

Because of my actions and my past, I’d lost her.

Forever, it would seem.

My dark reverie was broken by a phone call from my parents. I told them that I saw Bella and I was going to have a real conversation with her later on. Checking my watch, I realized I needed to go. Forks was an hour drive away from Port Angeles. The weather had gotten progressively worse. That meant that the drive would probably take longer than an hour.

I put my coat back on and headed back down the lobby. An elderly man was at the front desk. “You heading out, son?” he asked.

“Um, yeah. I’m meeting a friend,” I said, turning to face him.

“The weather is pretty awful. There are flood warnings and people are idiots around here, going too fast along the curves,” the man said. “Be careful, okay?”

“I will. Thank you,” I nodded.

“I don’t mean to pry, but do you have an emergency contact on your paperwork?” he pressed.

“Yeah. My friend is local and she’s my emergency contact,” I sighed. “I really should be going before I’m stuck here.” I waved awkwardly, darting into the downpour. I slid into the driver’s seat and drove back toward Forks. My windshield wipers were on high and I drove slowly, reminiscent of how I drove in snow. Behind me, there was a car riding my ass and they were honking angrily. I ground my teeth, easing my foot off the gas. The car behind me sped up and cut me off. I hit the brakes, spinning out slightly. “Fuck!”

I managed to right the car, gripping the steering wheel. My hands were aching from white-knuckling the steering wheel. I could barely see ten feet in front of me. I was traveling through a tight set of curves. My eyes widened as I saw a logging truck barreling my way, but it was out of control. It was caught in a hydroplane and the logs were shifting precariously. I slammed on the brakes. The car veered off and the driver’s side hit the side of the truck. I groaned in pain as the logs began rolling off, hitting my side of the car.

Eventually, the car came to a stop, landing against a large evergreen tree. I was panting. My entire left side was on fire and I groaned as I shifted in the seat. I reached for my cell phone, dialing 911.

“911, what’s your emergency?” came a male voice.

“Help …” I croaked, barely able to catch my breath. “I need help …”

“Sir? I can see that you’re on the 101,” the dispatcher said, but I could barely understand him. “Sir! Sir, stay with me!”

“I hurt. Help me,” I panted, drifting off as the pain overcame me. When I came to again, there were EMTs all around me.

“Hey, man,” said the EMT. “What’s your name?”

“Edward,” I answered. “Can you get ahold of my … girlfriend?”

“Is she your emergency contact?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said. “Her name is Bella Swan. I was …” I yelled out as they tried to open the door of the rental. “Fuck!”

“We’ll get in touch with her, Edward. Are you allergic to any medications?” asked a female EMT from the passenger seat.

“I don’t think so,” I murmured. “Make the pain stop. My legs … I can’t feel my legs.”

“You’re pinned by the steering column, Edward,” said the female EMT. “We’re going to get you out. I put something in your IV to help with the pain.”

“I need Bella,” I cried. “Please find her. Please? Please?” I reached blindly and the EMT took my hand. She cooed quietly until whatever they gave me coursed through my system and I fell back under.

xx FFADS xx

“Transfer him slowly. He’s got an unstable break of his hip,” a male voice said.

“Give me the bullet,” another voice said.

“Edward Cullen, thirty-six, in a car accident. The driver’s side was smashed to hell from a logging truck that took a turn too quickly. Broken left femur, unstable break of the left hip, collapsed lung, cracked ribs and possible internal injuries,” the first voice explained. “Given morphine in the field.”

“Does he have any next of kin?” asked a female voice.

“Bella Swan. We radioed dispatch and they’re sending the sheriff of Forks to make the notification …”

Bella … I need Bella. I moaned, opening my eyes and seeing a nurse and doctor hovering over me.

“It’s okay, Mr. Cullen. You’re at Olympic Medical Center. You have a tube down your throat to help you breathe,” the nurse said. I tried to move. “He’s becoming agitated.”

“He’s probably in pain, despite the morphine. Sedate him,” the doctor said.

No! No! I want to see Bella.

I felt the burn in my arm and my eyelids grew heavy. I drifted again. I don’t know how long I was in that abyss, but I heard the sweetest voice.

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

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

I heard her feet shuffle to me and the metallic sound of wheels running along the floor. Her warm hand slipped into mine. I wanted to squeeze her fingers, but my body was no in my control. She cried, her voice cracking. “Edward … come back to me … please?”

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

“Yes.” She picked up my hand and I felt her soft lips brush along my knuckles. “I love you, Grinch. I’m sorry. Please … I can’t lose you.”

I love you, Bella. I will do everything to make it right …

After that, I felt myself being moved on a gurney. I was given more medication. My pain diminished and I gave up my fight to stay aware.

I floated, coasting through psychedelic dreams and hellish nightmares. As I slept, there was one thing that was constant: the agony of my injuries. I was no stranger to pain. I’d lived with it for most of my life.

The pain of losing my parents, being thrust into the foster system.

The anguish of my lost innocence, at the hands of the people who were supposed to care for me. People who felt the need to take without asking, to punish without reason.

The agonizing sting of betrayal, having my heart shattered by my ex-wife when she cheated on me and aborted our children without a thought of how I’d feel.

“Edward, I’m here,” I heard. “Squeeze my fingers if you can hear me.” I tried to get my hand to cooperate, but there was a disconnect. “The doctors said they lessened the medications keeping you asleep. I guess your body is not ready to wake up. Your parents are here. They just went back to the hotel to get some rest. I should do the same, but I’m an anxious mess. I can’t drive. I can’t sleep. I can’t eat. I miss you, but I’m so fucking angry at you for thinking …”

Her voice cracked and her hand pulled away. My fingers twitched, aching to feel her warm palm in mine.

“I love you so much, Edward. I hate that your past made you so distrustful and that you automatically assumed that I’d hurt you like that,” she cried. “Especially with James. Ugh, he’s a toad. I can only imagine what things he’s riddled with. He’s diseased or something. Yuck!” I felt her shudder. “We have so much to move past if you want us to be an us again …”

God damn it …

It took a herculean effort, but my eyes fluttered open. The light pierced through my skull and everything was blurry. I blinked a few times. Things cleared up and that’s when truly saw how shattered Bella was. She was pale and her face was drawn, almost to the point of being gaunt.

“Edward,” she breathed, sitting down and brushing her fingers down my cheek. I tried to grip her hand. She smiled as tears fell down her cheeks. I wanted to talk, but I couldn’t. “Don’t try to talk, Grinch. They still have a breathing tube. Your lung collapsed and you needed some help.” She reached across my body, pressing a button.

A few moments later, a doctor and a couple of nurses came in. “It’s nice to see you awake, Mr. Cullen,” the doctor said. “I’m Dr. Torres and I’ve been on your case since you came into the ED. We’re going to get that tube out of your throat, okay?”

Within ten minutes, I was free of the tube and had a nasal cannula. “Don’t talk yet, Mr. Cullen,” Dr. Torres said. “You were intubated for over five days. Your throat will be raw.” I looked at Bella, shock covering my face. She took my right hand, rubbing my palm tenderly. “How’s your pain?”

I grimaced, realized how badly I felt. That’s when I noticed all the tubes and medical shit around me. My left leg was encased in a cast from toes to my thigh.

“Your car was hit by a logging truck, driving too fast for conditions. You have a broken femur, cracked ribs, collapsed lung and your left hip joint had to be replaced,” Dr. Torres explained.

“How long?” I choked out. “Recovery?” I coughed and Bella gave me some water. I looked at her gratefully.

“You’re young and healthy. Once your femur fracture has recovered, you can begin physical therapy. You should be up and about in three months, six months at most,” Dr. Torres said. “Do you want some medication for the pain?”

I nodded. The doctor looked at the nurse who injected something into my IV. They left shortly after that, leaving me with Bella. I stared at her. “I’m so sorry, Bella. I’m so, so, so sorry.”

“I know, Edward,” she sniffled, wiping her thumbs under my eyes. “I’m sorry, too. I should have followed you.”

“Don’t leave me,” I muttered. “Please, don’t throw me away.”

“I won’t, Edward,” she breathed, kissing my forehead. “We have a lot to talk about, but not while you’re as high as a kite.” She brushed my hair back, giving me a tender smile. “Just rest, Grinch. I’ll be here. I promise.”

“I love you, Bella,” I sighed, trying to keep my eyes open for as long as possible. I needed to drink her in. My body eventually lost the battle and exhaustion won.

Before I fell over the edge, I heard Bella whisper against my temple, “I love you, too.” With a sigh, I relaxed and unconsciousness tumbled over me.

A/N: This took a while to get through. Part of it was I had to wrap up writing a set of future-takes for A Modern Day Fairy Tale. They were posted around Christmas/New Year’s. We’re also getting close to the end of this story, too. I’m thinking we’ve got two, maybe three more chapters.

We do have to wrap up the drama between Grinchward and Angelella … that will be addressed in the next chapter. We’re also going to find out what happened with Lauren and the home sale and what will happen with James?

Leave me your thoughts and thank you for reading!

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