Tuesday, March 20, 2001 | By: Drotuno

An Angel's Promise Chapter 16

"What's in this book, Marcus?" my love growled, tapping the cover.
"A story you two need to hear. It's about an immortal couple that shared the same connection as you two do."
I sat forward, my hands fisting in my hair. I could see Marcus' mind, and my voice was barely there with my next question. "And what happened to them?"
"They died."

"Your time of being away from her…is over."
I wanted to break something. I wanted to rage. And I wanted to run from the room. Because I couldn't get it out of my head that somehow I had stolen something from us. When I left Bella, I stole time from her – from us.
But I couldn't run. I couldn't rage. I couldn't even bellow curses into the open air, because my sweet girl was just about to shake apart.
"Carlisle," Jasper's voice warned from across the room. He could feel both of us.
"Edward, Bella," my father said, kneeling in front of us. "Do you need us to take a break, guys? Son?"
"No." I shook my head, looking up into his concerned face.
He frowned, his eyes flickering to Bella in concern.
"Damn," I growled, snapping out of it. "Baby, come here." I pulled her into my lap, forcing her gaze to mine by brushing her hair from her face. "Do you need a minute, sweetheart?"
She shook her head no, and I couldn't help but rub the wrinkle between her brows. She locked her eyes with mine, and I could see her mind register the guilt that was written all over my face, I'm sure. "No, Edward." She shook her head vehemently. "Please, don't do that. Please?" She took my face in her hands.
"What if…" I started, unable to even finish the sentence.
"You didn't know, son," Carlisle said, pulling the book closer to him. "May I?" he asked Marcus, who nodded and showed him the marked page. "Benedict and Grace…Pennsylvania…1738. They were Americans," he noted, "but this wasn't written by them."
"No," Marcus said with a shake of his head. "It was customary for scribes to record for us at one point. That was written by the immortal, Phineas. He was keeping an eye on things in what was called the 'New World.'" He snorted to himself, but turned to me. "I don't want you two to panic. I think that if we're careful, read every word, do some more research, and monitor your time apart, you'll be fine. You were away from Bella for two years, yes?"
"Yes," I whispered, barely able to leave the worried but warm brown eyes in front of me. "I love you," I mouthed to her.
"I know." She smiled slightly, kissed my forehead, and turned to Marcus. "What happened with them?"
It was Carlisle that answered. "Benedict and Grace were both immortals. They were turned in Wales before they decided to seek out America. According to Phineas, Grace stayed in Europe, while Benedict went overseas to set up a place for them. He was gone for…" He flipped a few pages. "He was apart from her for close to four years."
"Right." Marcus nodded and started pacing. "And the entire time they were apart, they described pain identical to what you two experience. When they were together, they said they felt sharp jolts of electrical current flowing between them. When that current wasn't connected, they started to fail, ache, pine away for each other."
"But how did they die?" Emmett growled from the other side of the room.
"Benedict and Grace exchanged letters constantly, but it wasn't enough. When he finally was able to bring her over, it took another year for her to arrive in Pennsylvania." Marcus stopped, looking up at Emmett. "By the time Grace got to Benedict, he was barely functioning. He had given up hope that she would ever arrive. They both knew the risks of traveling as immortals, especially back then. They could be caught, exposed for what we truly are, so he started to…decline."
"Edward." Alice frowned from the loveseat next to Jasper. "You…I mean…"
"I know," I growled softly. "I did the same thing."
"Now, I have a theory on Bella," Marcus said, but he directed his attention to Carlisle, whose head popped up from the book. "She was human when they met, human when they mated, and human when their souls connected. But she was also human when he left her…" I couldn't help but squeeze my Bella closer on my lap. "Amore, how was your health when Edward returned?" he asked, kneeling in front us and picking up her hand.
"Um, I felt instantly better," she explained softly. "I could breathe and sleep again. My chest felt…whole again. Though Jasper may have a better…understanding."
"She was a fucking mess," Rose snapped from across the room. Emmett wrapped a heavy arm around her, but she continued. "She was bruised, beaten, and just plain hurt."
"Rose," Esme chided.
"No," Bella said, stopping our mother. "Rose is right. I was those things."
"Bella wasn't…safe…while I was away," I ground out through gritted teeth. Having to open up these wounds again was just about to drive me mad.
Edward, my Bella's mind caressed me like the softest of kisses. Sweetheart, look at me. I met her gaze, and she pressed her forehead to mine, her hands on each side of my face while her thumbs stroked my cheek bones. Oh God, I love you. Please, please, don't blame yourself for this. We've been through it. We just have to figure out what to do next. Together. Please? Promise me, together. Don't shoulder this all on yourself. I'm begging you, Edward.
"Promise me," she whispered aloud.
"'Kay," I murmured. "I promise."
Damn, I wish she had been able to calm him before he left her, Emmett's mind hit me. When Emmett was worried, he got slightly cranky.
"Enough, Emmett," I snapped, looking over Bella's shoulder to him. I instantly regretted my temper, but I could only focus on the angel in my lap.
"Sorry, Ed," he mumbled, looking at Bella and then down to his hands.
He was never stupid. He acted like a loon most of the time, but he was well aware that the information we were receiving could mean the loss of his older brother and his baby sister. That alone was making him want to break something, because there wasn't a damn thing he could do about it. He could fight enemies, hunt for us if we were weak, but he couldn't stop the past, and it was killing him.
"Marcus," Jasper said, sitting forward. He shot a worried look between me and Emmett, but turned back to the man that was pacing again behind the couch. "Bella's emotions were everywhere, but so were Edward's. His return was to save her life…again." He grinned, shooting my love a wink. "She's trouble from the get go." Bella threw a pillow at him with the sweetest of giggles. "But when I saw her for the first time in our house…she was all over the place emotionally. She was calm, forgiving of me, absolutely over the top happy with Alice and Emmett, and Esme…there are no words for that emotion." He smiled sadly, looking at his hands. "I'd say need, but it came from the both of them. Love, too, but it was more.
"With Edward…it was everywhere. Sometimes, she would look at him, and she was filled with distrust, anger, self-hatred. When she told us what happened while we were away, she was riddled with fear. Pure terror. She shook with it. It took all I had to calm her.
"But the longer she was in the house, the more it changed. The distrust and self-hatred stuck around, popping up every now and then, but the anger abated. But underneath all of that was this pure white, blinding love. It was beyond the lust, beyond familial bonds. It was almost hard to stay in the room. I could barely concentrate with it."
Bella curled in on me, laying her head on my shoulder.
"No one is blaming you for any of it," I whispered in her ear. "Not one bit of it. Okay?"
She nodded, but said nothing, her mind filled with remorse and an ancient sadness.
"But she healed," Marcus verified with everyone in the room. We all nodded. "And then when was she changed? How long was it from the time Edward returned to the time she became immortal?"
"About six months," Bella mumbled into my neck, not bothering to lift her head. "Give or take."
"And you lived with the whole family?"
"Yes. Well, mostly. Sometimes I would go home to Charlie for a weekend, but Edward stayed with me." She lifted her head, turning to Marcus.
"Here's my theory…I think that most of your healing emotionally happened during that six months. I think that your change did the rest for you physically."
"Oh…" Carlisle frowned, standing up and joining Marcus in his pacing. His thoughts were all over the place. I couldn't zero in on one single thing. He was so worried about his family, me and Bella specifically, that he was forcing this conversation. "Interesting. So the toll that her mortal body underwent was still hurting her, even up to the time of her change? But the venom healed her…along with every other wound from that day with Victoria…"
He paced some more, stopped in front of the book, and picked it up. "Travel, communication, and survival in the seventeen hundreds would've been difficult for Benedict and Grace. And according to this book, during those five years, they only exchanged a handful of letters. It's different now. Aside from that two year period, any time apart, they've spoken on the phone. They said it made things easier, right, guys?"
Bella and I both nodded.
"Okay, so I think Marcus is right. I think that if you two are very careful, you'll be fine. How was work this week, Edward?"
"Apart?" I clarified, and he nodded. "Better than before. I had asked Bella to stop by more often. She drove me to and from work. It was something to look forward to, take the pressure off of us. Toby's on his last treatment as of next week, and he's all I'm waiting for. I insist on seeing him through. Bella and I have already talked about it. Dr. Wilder asked me to give him enough time for a replacement. I was thinking three more weeks?" I posed the last sentence as a question, thinking maybe between Marcus and Carlisle, something should change.
"Bella?" Carlisle asked, wanting her opinion.
"He's right. It's better. Not great, but better. Though I'm not sure it's because we know it's almost over," she said, her brow furrowing.
"Who's Toby?" Marcus asked.
"He's this fantastic little kid," Emmett chuckled, shaking his head. "Eddie's been working with him for months now. He had cancer, but he's good now. He's the funniest thing, I swear. I don't blame you, bro. He's a good little dude."
We all laughed, because he was right. Toby had won me over from the beginning. He was a medical puzzle at first, but his bright demeanor was my undoing. He smiled, laughed, and loved through all of his sickness, and he loved my wife unconditionally.
"Yeah." Rose smiled, shaking her head. "He's a sweet boy."
"Stop!" Alice growled from the window in the corner. I hadn't even seen her get up. And looking at her right then, I realized I hadn't heard a single thought from her. "Just fucking stop!" she snapped, looking at all of us.
"Alice," Bella gasped, getting up from my lap.
Jesus, Edward. Look at her. She's terrified, Bella thought to me.
Bella flew to Alice's side, taking her by the shoulders. "What, Ali?"
"I don't care about Toby or time apart. I'm not losing you – either of you," she growled, gripping Bella's t-shirt at the sleeves.
"What have you seen, Alice?" I asked, going to her.
"Nothing. I can't see anything. I should have seen this!" Bella wrapped her arms around her, and I could faintly hear my sister ask her if she was shielding us.
"No, sweetie, I'm not," Bella vowed.
"You stay together. You live here or at your own house. Go back to school together, but no more. I can't see anything about this…" Her rant was muffled in Bella's shirt.
"Alice," I said, pulling her from Bella's embrace. I knelt before her, taking her hands. "How could you have seen this? It's so rare. You only see what you know, Ali. Please calm down. For me?"
"Please, Edward," she whispered, her face nothing but pain. "Just stop. Be together. No more hospital, no more. We'll all go to school again or something, but just don't… I should've made you go back to her. I should've seen…"
Alice fell into my arms, dragging Bella with her. Her dry sobs were killing me. I looked over to Jasper, who looked heartbroken. "Come on, darlin'." He tugged her from my arms and held her tightly.
"Now we need a break," Esme said firmly, standing up from the sofa. "And give me that book." She walked off with the book in her arms, mumbling something about, "Reading this stuff for my damn self…nothing can happen to my children…"
"We'll get the hospital its replacement." Carlisle nodded once sharply. "Your time is up as soon as Toby checks out next week. Do you hear me, Edward?" His command was not one to be ignored.
I nodded, shoving my hands in my pockets. "Yes, Father."
"You okay?" Demitri asked as I joined him and Carina out on the back patio.
I nodded, plopping down in a chaise and pulling my knees to my chin.
"Where's Edward, honey?" Carina asked, tucking my hair behind my ear.
"Calming Alice down. They're very close." I smiled sadly. "Like Jasper and me, they see something in each other." I told them quickly how when Alice and Jasper joined the family, Edward's talent made her feel comfortable, not the freak that she had come to believe.
"Ah." Demitri smiled, nodding in understanding. "And you and Jasper?"
"There's no telling," I chuckled, shaking my head. "We just bonded. And we are married to two people that can see and hear…everything. It's not always easy. That was probably a part of it." I paused, looking at the two of them. "When I was changed and we figured out my shield, I was able to help Jasper with a bloodlust he had been struggling with for years. We had to be close – in school, in public. It helped him feel like a part of the family, instead of on the sidelines."
Carlisle was suddenly standing before me, offering me his hand. "Come, little one. Let's go for a walk." He was nervous, so I didn't argue his command.
I grasped his hand and stood, taking off at a run into the woods at the edge of the back garden. I don't know how long we ran before Carlisle stopped suddenly, practically falling down on a mossy rock.
"Edward will blame himself, Bella," he said, speaking more to his shoes than to my face.
"I know."
"You mustn't let him."
"I know."
"I blame us all."
"Please don't. This whole…thing can be dealt with. We were planning on getting back into our every day interaction anyway, Carlisle. Please…and this goes for all of you…please don't make this about the past. How did we know? How could we have known?" I frowned, leaning back against a tree and sliding to the forest floor. "Look, I get why he left. This has nothing to do with it. What's done is done."
"Are you hurting now?"
"No." I shook my head. "He's right there less than two miles away." I jerked a thumb behind me. "If I wanted him to, he could hear this conversation."
Carlisle smiled, finally meeting my eyes. "Not yet," he chuckled, standing up and starting to pace. "All those things you were going through while Edward was working, all those feelings of anger and fret…there was a reason. I wonder how long…"
"I know… so we know now, right?"
"Right," he agreed, still pacing. "Jasper said you were scared when you told us about Jake's abuse. Why?" He stopped in front of me, waiting for an answer. "Were you frightened…of us?"
I shook my head and took a deep breath. "I know when I was human, all of you…Edward included…underestimated me. Wait…" I held up a hand when he started to argue. "I get it. I do. I was human, and you guys hadn't been for a freakin' long time. But I think it has something to do with being mated to Edward…because I understood what you all were…instantly. Once I had the truth…what you were…what you all were…still didn't matter to me.
"I knew exactly what kind of creature held me every night in my bed. I knew what powerful beings you all were. But above all of that, I loved you."
I ran my fingers through my hair, holding it out of my face, and continued. "When Edward left, I stumbled upon another powerful creature. I'd seen Jake kill the very same type of being that I'd thought was invincible. Laurent never stood a chance. And if he didn't survive Jake, then how could I?" I winced at Jake's old behavior. "I also knew Edward. I knew his temper. I felt his protectiveness. I was absolutely terrified of Edward's temper meeting Jake's strength. Period. Because my Edward loses his sense of control when it comes to me.
"I had to tell you the truth, because it was time to admit the abuse, and Edward would have never just let the bruises go without an explanation, but understand that I was barely able to speak about it. If I had lost Edward to a fight with Jake, I knew Jake would kill me…at least at that point in time. He was angry and possessive then; he would have taken my love for Edward and punished me for it. If it had worked out the other way, the pack would have come after all of you.
"I had you back. I wanted to hold on as tightly as I could, Carlisle. It was a really fucking scary conversation. I will always be surprised that Edward didn't shatter the TV or something."
Carlisle laughed, shaking his head and kneeling before me. "You were infinitely more important than his shows of anger, little one. Always. But you're right. His control amazed me then, too."
"Because I was holding the most fragile and perfect thing. She'd seen enough anger." Edward strolled into the small clearing where we were talking, and Carlisle stood up with a smirk. "How could I scare her like that? Believe me, it was the TV that almost met its demise…and the microwave, the front window, the refrigerator…" He chuckled, giving me a wink.
I smirked up at him with a giggle I couldn't control.
"How's Alice?" Carlisle and I both asked.
"Better," he told us, taking Carlisle's place in front of me. "She's really worried. She just freaked out a little. She feels she should have seen this coming." He reached up, tracing his fingers up my cheek and tucking my hair behind my ear. "She wants to see you, love."
"Okay," I said, and stood up, taking Edward's hand.
"She loves you both so much," Carlisle mused softly. "I imagine the thought of something happening to either of you is too much for her, especially if she feels she should have seen it coming."
"Well, there's that…and the fact that she totally regrets not kicking my ass back to Forks long before two years were up," Edward smirked, shaking his head. "We both feel…responsible."
"It's not any one person's fault, son," Carlisle said, gripping his shoulder. "I really think this will be fine. You don't want to be apart anyway. And after next week, you don't have to be."
My arms wrapped around Edward's waist, and I pressed my forehead to his chest.
"I'll see you back at the house, guys," Carlisle mumbled. "Don't take too long. I know everyone is worried, okay?"
I nodded against Edward's shirt, but he said, "We won't."
I felt myself being lifted up, and Edward sat down on the rock that Carlisle had been sitting on just minutes before. He adjusted me so that I was straddling his lap with my face in his neck. His head hit my shoulder as his arms wrapped all the way around me. We were in our own little cocoon of healing.
"I think what scares me the most," he mumbled into my shoulder, "is that if I had been a little more foolish and stubborn, it could have killed you."
"Or you could have drained me, or Jake could have broken my neck, or James could have…or Victoria could have…or Chelsea…or Felix or on and on and on, Edward," I growled, pulling my face back. "It's not easy being me," I teased with narrowed eyes and a dramatic sigh.
The smile that crept up my husband's face was stunning, just perfect. His eye brows flicked up slightly, and he tilted his head. "Right. Point taken," he snorted into a sweet chuckle.
"Do you have some issue being with me on a daily basis?"
"No," he smirked, shaking his head. "I actually think it's a fine idea."
"Well, then…we go from there, right?"
"How are you taking this so well, love?"
"I thought I was going crazy, Edward. I felt wrong and childish and immature. Knowing it wasn't my fault…knowing that we were just making a mistake…well, it gives me some answers, you know?" I frowned, looking between us and playing with his ring. "I've felt wrong from the get go, but you wanted it, so I tried. We were pushing something that should've never been attempted. We know now."
Edward nodded in agreement, his face solemn. "We're careful. No more mistakes, Bella. I can't…" For a moment, I wondered if he had felt the same frustration, and suddenly his head snapped up. "Oh God, yes," he grimaced. "I just couldn't go more than a few hours without needing to speak with you. I felt obsessed, too possessive. I mean, I tried to give you space. But we didn't need space, we needed…this." He motioned between us and then cupped my face. "And when I was with you…it wasn't enough. It ends now, love."
"'Kay." I nodded. "I'll just suffer with you by my side every day…" I teased, giggling when his long fingers dug into my sides.
"Won't you tire of me?" he chuckled, tilting his head at me.
I couldn't resist his hair, because the poor thing looked wrecked from his nervous hands. I ran my fingers through to calm it down as best as his hair could get. "No. But I don't think this means we can't separate for a few hours. I think you can still hunt with the guys, and Alice can torture me with shopping. But no long term time apart. No separate careers, no separate trips, no nights apart."
"Is that what you think monitor our time meant?"
"I'm pretty sure. Don't you?" I asked, and he nodded in agreement.
He leaned in and kissed my lips chastely, pulling back to look up at me through his long eyelashes. "You aren't worried?"
"Wretchedly so, but I have you. We have them," I said firmly, pointing back towards the house. "Do you think they'll let us screw up? Would you let me? Do you think I'll let you?"
He smiled again, nodded, and stood up with me still in his arms. His face was suddenly serious. "I've spent our entire relationship trying to protect you… I feel like I've failed somewhere along the way."
"I'm here, right?"
"Yes, ma'am," he smirked, nodding slowly. "And I thank God every day."
"Me, too," I murmured, kissing his lips. "Me, too."
I stared into the flames of the fire pit, turning Edward's ring with slow, deliberate turns. The entire family was a continuous din of chatter around us, and that included Marcus, Elena, and Stephano. They were nervous, but hopeful. They were concerned, but all had different theories or plans we should follow.
I was over it.
My shield was over my emotions and my thoughts, and I kept silent in the comfort of Edward's arms. He wasn't talking much, either. Occasionally, he would pull me closer, breathe deeply into my hair, but all in all, he was quiet, too.
Alice was fine now…well, as fine as the little high strung pixie could get. She was absolutely terrified that something would happen to us, and she felt utterly guilty that she hadn't seen any of it coming. Even worse, she felt responsible for not making Edward return sooner than he had.
Again, I was over it. Not because all of it could have been avoided, because it could have. But it was the past. There wasn't much we could change. And I had always said that the Edward that left me and the one that came back to me were two completely different men. Edward was more open, honest, loving, sensual – freer. And I loved him more – if that were possible – than the one that left me in the forest just outside of my home in Forks.
Edward's self hatred was rolling off of him in waves. He felt responsible for the whole situation. I could feel it in his tense muscles, hear it in his deep, frustrated sighs. It came through every touch to my hand and every kiss to my head and neck. He was writhing in guilt, practically marinating in it.
I took a deep breath, snuggling closer to him and hoping he would relax around me. We were lying side by side on one of the chaises, my back to his chest. I closed my eyes as another debate kicked up.
"What about this Phineas dude?" Emmett asked Marcus. "I mean, is he still around? Because we could ask him about this shit."
"He's still alive," Marcus mused, his voice always soft. "He lived in the Boston area the last I heard, but that was…oh, twenty years ago."
"I say we look for him," my large, over-protective brother stated firmly.
"We could," Carlisle agreed. "I wouldn't mind asking him a few questions."
Then there was the big book review going on with Jasper, Esme, and my sisters. Esme had Marcus' giant leather book in her lap, and the rest of them surrounded her, reading that damn thing word for word.
"This shit reads like stereo instructions," Rose growled. "Could it get any less exciting? This Phineas needs to get a little more descriptive."
But it was Demitri's amused chuckle that made me smile. I looked over at him, and he shot me a wink.
"You look just this shy," he smirked, holding up his thumb and forefinger only millimeters apart, "of losing it, little one."
I shrugged, rolling my eyes. "It's best to let them all just…do what they do."
Edward snorted softly into my hair, and I felt him nod behind me. "Baby, do you want to go home?"
Before I could answer, the whole patio exploded in protestations.
"No, stay…please?" Alice begged.
"Not yet, son," Esme said, looking up from the book.
"Bro…just a little longer. What do you think about finding this Phineas guy?" Emmett asked, texting a message on his phone.
"Look," Edward growled, finally losing the patience he'd barely been keeping in check. "No offense, but I asked my wife."
They all froze, Esme flinched, but of all the faces around us, it seemed she understood instantly.
"Hey, take it easy," I scolded, sitting up in front of him. "It's okay. They're worried, sweetheart." I cupped his face, but his eyes were black, seething. "Edward…let's get out of here for an hour or so. Hmm? We'll come back here," I growled, looking over my shoulder at my nervous and pushy family, "but we'll get out for a little while. Can you guys run our lives for a few hours without us?" I asked, my eyebrow rising in a threat.
"Yes, ma'am," Jasper replied, hiding his smile.
"Good." I nodded, looking back at my still incensed husband. "Drive me somewhere, anywhere."
Demitri and Carina were in silent hysterics. Carlisle fought his smile, but Alice looked worriedly up at her brother as I tugged at his hand. He was eerily still and deathly silent, and there was a brief flash of something else in his dark eyes, but only when they locked with mine.
"Here," Rose said softly as we stood up. She pulled a set of keys out of her pocket, throwing them to Edward. "Go ahead. Take her over there."
"Thanks," he mumbled, taking me by the hand and leading me through the house to our car. He opened my door for me, running around to slide gracefully into the driver's seat. "I'm sorry, Bella…it's…"
"I understand," I said softly, linking my fingers with his, but stared out the window as we flew down the driveway.
There was nothing but silence and stillness in the car. I wasn't sure where we were going at first. In fact, it seemed Edward was just driving to drive – without destination or hesitation. We wound through the streets of London, skirting out into the countryside, only to follow the winding streets into a warehouse area that I recognized.
"We're going to Rose and Em's shop?" I asked, almost flinching at my own voice breaking the quiet.
Rose had decided to rent out a small space to work on different projects that she was interested in. I knew that they consulted on a website that was dedicated to high end upgrades and refurbished cars, but I had only been to the shop one time.
"Yes," was all he said, but his thumb made soft, gentle circles over the knuckles of my hand.
I knew I was worrying her. I knew I had blown up in front of the entire family and Marcus, but I just couldn't stop my temper, my nerves or my frustration.
And Bella. God, I loved her with a sickness. She was trying so hard to keep me calm. Once again, she was the rock, while I was not.
When I had asked her if she was worried, she said yes, but her demeanor was almost relief. She'd said that she finally understood all the pain and anger that she had been going through the last few months. She said she'd felt like she was going crazy. Bella wanted answers, not to cut open the scars of the past, but I couldn't help but think – and not for the first time – that leaving my girl, that perfect, sweet, loving girl, would be the dumbest thing I'd ever done, even if I lived to be a thousand.
And now it felt like we were paying the true price.
If what we were hearing was true, then the separation that our souls had been put through had put our bodies in jeopardy. The pull that we felt towards each other, even in the very beginning, was there for a reason. We were meant to be together, but that pull could only be fought so much before the connection snapped, taking us with it. My Bella wasn't crazy, and I wasn't experiencing normal newlywed separation – we were ripping apart, not at the seams, but at our very souls. No. More.
I knew that Marcus was there to help. Hell, I'd called him myself. But the dredging up of all the old mistakes, the opening of wounds, the reliving of the pain – it was all too much. My family's minds were nothing if not focused on helping us, but I couldn't think. I was too angry, feeling belligerent and stubborn. I didn't want their help, because I had gotten us into this mess. It should be me that figured something out. They weren't placing blame; I was.
The question was: What was there to figure out? We stayed together, worked together – no nights away, no forcing us apart. Bella made it sound simple. And it was simple, but I couldn't shake my ire. I really just couldn't get rid of the sickening feeling that I was drowning in.
And I couldn't stay away from my angel's touch.
Even when Alice needed me and Carlisle needed my Bella, I couldn't stay away, following them into the forest after making sure that Alice was barely under control.
I couldn't stop touching her when we were just quietly sitting in front of the fire, but I knew my love could feel my tension. The more my family planned and read and worried, the angrier I became – and the more I needed Bella. And the more she wriggled closer.
My patience ended when I hadn't spoken a word in an hour, finally asking my wife if she wanted to go home. I wanted to take her away from what I knew was making her uncomfortable, but more than that, I needed her to take me away. I wanted the minds of our family and friends out of my head, leaving only the sweet tenor of the only mind that mattered.
But more than all of those things – more than anger, guilt, worry, planning – I just wanted her. I wanted her with a slow, deep burn that even Jasper wasn't registering from me. I wanted her hard and gentle, quiet and screaming. I wanted my name on her tongue and her taste on mine. I wanted her flesh in my hands and her breath in my face. I felt insane with the need to beg her to let me touch her – to tell me she was mine, and that her forgiveness was still there, still valid.
I knew they needed us at the family home, but their protests to our leaving just set me on fire. It was all I could do not to explode. I wanted to tell them all to go to hell, that Bella was my wife, my responsibility, and if she wanted to go home or New York or fucking Mars, I would damn well get her there.
Bella reacted almost as if she'd been waiting for it. She placed herself as a barrier between me and everyone else, finally giving me an out.
"We're going to Rose and Em's shop?" Bella asked, dragging me mentally back to the car.
"Yes," I answered, pulling out the garage door opener. I drove in, closing the bay door behind us.
"Oh, look," my sweet girl said with a smile, getting out of the car, "they finished that truck. That looks good." I leaned against the workbench along the wall, my arms folded across my chest. "The last time I was here, it looked no better than my old truck." She snickered, shaking her head a little.
I had no idea what she was thinking, but I could see her posture, see her glance sideways at me. A little frown shadowed across her features, but she instantly got rid of it. I wanted to talk to her, but I was afraid that all that would come out was either an unlimited amount of curse words or a wracking sob.
"This has to be the cleanest garage in the history of the world," she mumbled, wandering around the shop, poking at car parts and picking up a tool here or there. She reached the end of the tool bench where a stereo sat and said, "Let's see what they're listening to…" She pressed the button, and a sweet smile flickered across her lips. "Muse…hmm, that's Rose, not Emmett." She chuckled, turning to me. "Why are we here, Edward?"
I thought I could take my mind off of things, revel in us, but I could barely think. I pushed away from the bench and walked to the opposite side of the garage. There sat a car under a tarp. I grabbed a hold of the material, pulling it off and tossing it to the floor at the back of her new car.
"You didn't!" she gasped, a smirk playing on her face as I nodded. As she walked around the car, I went back to stand in front of it, leaning once again on the tool bench. "Jesus, it's exactly the same," she whispered, running her fingers across the silver paint of her Volvo. It was an exact copy of the car I was driving when we first met. It was the same model and year, identical all the way down to the black leather interior, except the driver's side was on the opposite side as my American model.
Just as the words, "It's sort of fitting," came out of her mouth, the song changed on the CD to Sing for Absolution. I turned my back on her, unable to see her wait patiently for me. I knew I was scaring her, but I needed to break something. Rose would just have to forgive me.
Everything I did wrong the night I left her came flying back at me with each sung word.
Tiptoe to your room
a starlight in the gloom
I only dream of you
and you never knew…
"Will you stay?" she asked, looking up at me with love I didn't deserve.
"Not tonight." My voice didn't even belong to me. It was cold, without inflection. And I knew she felt something was wrong, off.
And the wretched bastard that I was couldn't stop from crawling through her window anyway, long after she had fallen asleep. I couldn't stay away from her, and yet I was trying to leave her. What the hell was I thinking? That it would be good for her? That she would move on? Deep down, I never wanted her to fucking move on.
There's nowhere left to hide
in no one to confide
the truth burns deep inside
and will never die…
"You…don't want me?" she gasped, and I heard her heart shatter. I heard it sputter with my own ears. And yet I didn't stop, didn't fall at her feet like my soul begged me to. I should have told her I was an idiot, but instead, I acted like I knew everything. I knew nothing.
The lies that had spewed from my mouth that day were unforgivable and vile. They went against everything that I'd wanted, against everything that we'd needed. As the chorus played, my control snapped.
Sing for absolution
I will be singing
And falling from your grace
"Edward, please talk to me," Bella said softly, just as I gripped the edge of the tool bench and flipped it over with all the strength I had inside of me. The wood splintered, the bolts securing the top to the wall stripped out of the drywall, and tools scattered throughout the garage, pinging and clanging.
"Edward, stop," she begged, but didn't come near me. "Please!"
"No!" I snarled, picking up an electric tool I couldn't have even given a name to and launched it somewhere into the back of the garage. "My fault, all of it," I whispered, squeezing my eyes closed before yanking another part of the bench from the wall. More tools skittered across the floor, clanging against the metal wall somewhere close to the bay door.
"Oh, sweetheart, it's not your fault," she said from behind me. I heard the sob that she held back, I heard the sympathy, the pity, and I put my fist through the last section of the tool bench. Rose was going to kill me anyway; might as well finish the damn thing off.
Suddenly, I felt myself jerked away from the wall, the mess in front me, only to find myself planted, pinned, and stuck to the hood of the Volvo. The hood bent slightly, not with the force with which she slammed me onto the car, but with the strength she was keeping me there.
"Stop!" she growled, shaking her head at me and turning around. "I hate using that on you." She hiccupped a sob, finally meeting my still shocked gaze when she turned back to me. "I know what you're torturing yourself with, Edward, and you couldn't be further from the truth. It's not your fault. You didn't know. We didn't know."
I struggled against her shield, barely hearing a word she was saying.
She paced slowly to my side, looking down on me. Her voice, her face, they were both calm and collected, where I was panting and growling. "I'm not letting you up. So you can give up that struggle. You won't talk, but you can damn well listen."
"Bella…" I growled low, still pushing against her shield, but it held fast.
"No," she sighed, shaking a finger at me. "You've had your chance, but you chose to stew in whatever misconception you have. You're done stewing. I gave you space, and I gave you quiet, both mental and physical, but instead of talking to me, you bottled it all up. Now, you can listen…"
With that said, she opened her mind, her heart, letting me see everything the day I left her – my cold expression, my unwavering voice, my conviction to what I had thought was best. And then she sped forward two years to the day that Victoria pulled me back into Bella's path again.
I saw and felt the distrust, the hope, the unwavering love, despite what she thought I might be there for. It was the drive back to my house that I saw it in her mind.
She would have let me go, too.
If it would have made me happy, if it was what I truly wanted, she would have released me back to wherever it was that came from, despite the agony that it would have caused her.
"Baby, please…" I begged, fighting her shield again. "I'm sorry…I just…"
"I know, Edward," she snapped. "We. Didn't. Fucking. Know." She turned away from me again, walking to the front of the car to stand just a few feet from where my legs hung off the hood. "We aren't leaving here…you aren't leaving that spot…until you can let this guilt, this self-hatred go, love." She looked at me with a raised eyebrow when I opened my mouth to speak, so I snapped it closed.
My wife was a sweet, loving girl. She put up with me like no one in my family ever could have, but at the moment, she was completely in charge, and she was pissed. I had pushed her too far. And there was a part of me that didn't quite know what she was capable of.
"This whole thing has reopened wounds, and I hate it," she sighed, leaning against a tall, red toolbox. "It really hurts to speak of it, especially when we've buried the past. We've talked to Carlisle about all of it, dragged it all out in the open, but you insist on taking this blame." She paused and looked down at her hands.
"Bella-love, please let me up."
"Shut up," she snapped, and my mouth fell open. "You'll talk when I'm finished."
If I weren't concerned that I may never leave the top of that car, I would have laughed at her stunningly, beautiful ire, but instead, I shut my mouth like she'd asked.
"I know that you lied that day, Edward. And you know I believed you instantly, because you'd never lied to me before. I know that you wanted the best for me, and I would have done the same thing for you. What's done is done. We didn't know that there was more to…us." She sniffed, her eyes black with anger as she looked at me and then back down to the floor. "Our past is done. Some of it was just perfect, beautiful…and some of it wasn't. But I'm not sure I would change anything."
She hopped up on the toolbox next to her, sitting Indian style and covering her sweet but sad face. "You will answer these next few questions. Do you think I'm stupid, Edward?"
"No, baby. I think you're perfect," I mumbled, feeling like the biggest jackass on the planet.
"Do you think so little of my forgiveness that every fucking time this shit comes up that it has to be renewed like a damn library book?"
"No, ma'am." I might have laughed, if it weren't for the exasperation on her face.
"Don't you think I'm scared, too?" she asked, finally meeting my gaze again. When her little chin started to tremble, my heart broke into a million pieces.
"Yes, Bella, I know you are, baby. I'm so sorry…you have no idea…"
"I know I stayed calm today. Someone had to," she huffed, rubbing her face in frustration. "I'm just grateful that we only lost two years, and I hope that means something, that we have some sort of leeway. I'm grateful that we felt something wrong in enough time. I'm ecstatic that I'm not going crazy, that my reactions were because we needed each other, and not just because I'm spoiled and want you around me all the time. And I'm willing to listen to suggestions from everyone, but the one person that I needed today shut down on me. Edward, please stop acting like you're alone in this." Everything she said was muffled by her hands, but I heard every word like a slap to my face.
"God, baby, I'm sorry…please let me up."
"No," she said calmly, looking up at me. "You should learn what it's like to not be in control."
There was a part of me that was angered by that statement; however, the look in her eye and the confidence in when she said it made my pants suddenly become too tight to be comfortable. My girl was taking control, and it was really, really sexy.
She hopped down from the toolbox, stepping between my legs. "When you shoulder all the pain, all the responsibility, you take away my ability to help you, Edward. And I want to help you. Understand?"
"Yes, ma'am," I answered.
"Repeat after me," she started. "I can't change the past." She folded her arms across her chest as I repeated it back to her. "My wife is strong enough to handle anything I throw at her." Her little smirk was too cute for words, but I repeated the most truthful statement of the day. "I'm in serious trouble with my siblings for the mess I've made."
"Oh God, Rose is gonna kill me," I groaned, my head falling back to the hood of the car.
"Close enough," she snorted, rolling her eyes. "And yes, she is. You're on your own with her, too. I hope she makes you rebuild it."
I groaned again, covering my face.
"Last thing…I like my wife in control," she smirked, but she finally caught sight of my now prominent erection. She eyed it with a hungry look in her eye, licking her lips with want.
All I could do was nod, because her shield started to move over and around me – and it felt amazing. It was like being touched with ten hands instead of her two. I felt roaming fingers over my chest and biceps, I felt grips to my thighs, and I'd swear it moved through my hair.
"God, love…"
"Shh," she smirked, her eyes now warm, but darkening every second she watched me writhe under her shield on the hood of her car. "I feel like playing…who loves you, Edward?"
"You do," I gasped, as my shirt's buttons popped open slowly one by aching one. I growled when it felt like two hands were pressing and rubbing the outside of my jeans, only to stop to flick open the top button.
"I do. I love you more than you apparently believe, because I love you even when your temper gets the best of you."
My back arched up off the hood of the car when her shield wound around me to grip my ass. She was molesting me without even laying a hand on me. And damn if it wasn't sensational.
"Does it feel good, baby?" she crooned, looming over me, and I nodded, finally opening my eyes.
My moan morphed into a growl when I saw she had stripped down to the most delicious of lingerie sets. It was a periwinkle blue, all satin, hugging every curve. I tried to reach for her, but her shield held me back. I was within inches of touching the most beautiful thing in the world, but couldn't, and she was enjoying every second.
"Show me how good it feels, Edward," she purred, still keeping her body away from me and forcing my hand down my stomach to the top of my jeans.
The throbbing between my legs was begging for release. I didn't need much encouragement. I pushed my hand into my jeans, wrapping it around my erection. I couldn't help the hiss that escaped me at the sensitivity.
The rest of the buttons on my jeans popped open, freeing me to truly grasp myself hard.
"Mmm." She licked her lips, watching my hand move up and down my shaft. "You have no idea how good that looks."
"If you let that shield up, I'll show you more," I bargained with my own smirk, my hand still working up and down.
"Nice try, handsome," she chuckled darkly, crawling further up the car so that her face was level with mine. She licked her lips again, her gaze traveling up from what my hand was doing to my mouth.
I knew that look. My girl wanted a kiss. I've read that look since the first time our lips ever touched.
"Please," I gasped, my neck straining with my impending climax and my desire for her mouth on mine.
She slipped that shield down to just below my neck, and her mouth was on mine in an instant. We both purred at our connection's electrical shock charging through us. Tongues slid softly together, slowly – a complete contrast to how my hand was quickly bringing my release.
She broke from my mouth, pressing her forehead to my cheek to look down between us. With a quick glance to my face, she forced my hands above my head.
"Fuck, baby," I panted, squeezing my eyes closed. "I was so close…please, love. Something, anything."
I felt her shift so that she was straddling my stomach. My head snapped up to look up at her.
"Do. You. Want. Me?" she asked, enunciating every word. And I saw it. She was giving me back my day in the woods. She was perfect and sweet, determined, but a touch sad. And I needed to fix it.
"Yes…always, yes. The answer will forever be yes. I want you happy, mad, silly, and confused. I want your problems to be mine. I want your help to continue to make me a better man. I want you by my side as my equal, behind me as my back up, and in front me as my guide. I want to give you the world, but I want you to take from me whenever you see fit. I want you. Only you." I couldn't help that my voice broke, because I finally got it.
"You're forgiveness means everything to me. If I weren't forgiven, I wouldn't be right here. I know, baby. Please, please, please…let me hold you," I begged, finally feeling my freedom.
I sat up, and we came together with a shared whimpering sob. We were fumbling with my shirt and her underwear, my jeans finally hitting the garage floor. We were gasping into each other's mouths, tongues twisting. Our hands were rough and firm. And our hips were trying to find some sort of friction, any friction.
I wove my fingers into her hair, turning her head to ravish her mouth as her arms snaked under mine in order to hold onto my shoulders.
I rolled us over on the hood so I could settle between her legs.
"Now, now, now," she chanted, her fingers digging into my shoulders and her legs hitching up around my waist.
With one swift thrust, I was home. I was where I was needed, loved, wanted. Forgiven.
Her head fell back to the hood of the car with a soft thud as I began a slow, deep rhythm. I couldn't stop from pressing my mouth to the exposed skin of her neck.
With every lick, kiss, and nip, I told her how beautiful she was, how much I needed her, and how sorry I was for my selfish behavior earlier. But when I told her that my dominate wife made me so hard, she fell over the edge, screaming my name and pulling me right along with her.
Eventually, we slid off of the car and got dressed.
"So much for your surprise," I frowned, running a hand through my hair, and turned towards the sweetest sound in the world. My Bella was in hysterics.
"Okay, first," she snorted, holding up one finger. "That," she continued, pointing to the car, "was the best gift. Ever. Thank you. It's perfect, because I loved that car so much."
"You're welcome, sweet girl." I chuckled at her amusement.
"Second," she giggled, holding up two fingers. "I have no doubt that Rose can fix it."
"Before or after she kicks my ass?" I asked, gesturing to the grand mess I'd made of my sister's pristine garage.
"Hmm, after." She laughed, falling into my arms. "Don't worry, baby. I won't let her remove any appendages."
"Comforting, Bella," I said wryly, which only started her giggles again. Despite Rose's impending wrath, that sound would be worth every foul word I would hear. "We should go back, you know." She pulled back to look up at me, her eyebrow raised. "I can't change the past," I stated with conviction. "But I love you, and we'll figure it out…together."
"Good boy," she beamed, standing on her toes to place a sweet kiss to my lips. "Okay, so let's go tell Rose what you did."
I groaned, wincing with the fury I was about to step into, but let her in my car. I took a deep breath and got in. It was time to pay for my temper the hard way.


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