Saturday, June 1, 2013 | By: Jenny

Hard to Love Chapter 11 – Epilogue

Chapter 11 – Epilogue
Present Day
Edward, why are we here?” Bella asked, smirking over at me once we were out of the car.
Grinning, I simply reached for her hand, taking a long, slow gaze around the elementary school playground. The sun was shining, the air was crisp and clean, and it was a Sunday, so the place was all ours. But the best part of all was the bright, clear, warm brown eyes gazing up at me like she knew I was up to something, which I was.
Bella had recovered quickly. Emmett had forced her to take almost a month away from the bakery, but she’d worked from home when she felt like it. I’d stayed out with her the first week, but between our mothers, she’d been watched over pretty closely after that. Her memory was just fine, though she hated that she could only guess about the accident itself. She was pretty sure some sort of animal ran out in front of her on her way home. Charlie had said there wasn’t anything on the road after the accident, so we could only guess that she’d tried to avoid hitting something and skidded out of control.
The headaches had stuck around for a few weeks, but they were few and far between now, since it had been a couple of months. I was just happy that she no longer got lightheaded when she stood up too quickly or turned too fast. I was pretty sure Felix was too, because he’d accidentally gotten kicked a time or two when I’d tried to get to her before she hit the floor.
Looking at her right then, you wouldn’t know anything had happened at all. She was that bright, happy thing she’d always been. And damn, if she wasn’t beautiful. She was wearing dark jeans and a pink sweater, her hair pulled back into a long ponytail that fluttered in the slight breeze. She took my hand, linking our fingers together, as I walked us through the old playground.
They’d refurbished some parts of the play area over the years, but the swings were still in the same spot, only with newer seats and chains. However, the swings weren’t my goal. Despite the fact that Bella and I had met in that spot eighteen years ago, I didn’t want to talk there. I was leading us to the huge, partially buried tire in the far corner. I wanted to remind her of a promise we’d made to each other as kids.
Ooh, the old tire fort,” she sang, diving in just like I’d thought she would.
Chuckling, I followed in after her. Where a tire that big came from, I had no idea. As kids, we could fit on one side; it was a tight fit now that we were grown, but we each took our usual side, our feet meeting in the middle. In order to get more comfortable, I draped her legs over mine and pulled her close so that we were almost face to face.
We shoulda kissed in here,” she said with a sweet, secretive giggle as she grabbed my face in both hands.
Brushing my lips across hers, I whispered, “We still can, Princess...just wait, though. Okay?” When she pulled back a little, licking her lips, I brushed a stray hair away from her face. “Do you remember the last time we sat in here?” I asked her, tilting my head a little.
Her brow furrowed a bit, and I wondered if she’d forgotten. She knew all about the stories I’d told her while she was asleep in the hospital, but I’d left this one out. And as I sat there, I wondered if I’d left it out on purpose...for this moment.
Bella’s eyes drifted over my face as she reached up to trail a finger across my eyebrow. “Yeah, that was... We were eleven, right? Well, you were almost twelve. It was just before we left this school.”
Smiling, I nodded. “Yes, exactly.” I picked up her arm and pushed up her sleeve, bending it and revealing an old scar. “You still have the scar,” I whispered, kissing the tip of her elbow. “God, Bella...you were so upset that day. I didn’t know how to handle it. You were usually my rock, but I found you in here after school...”
~oOo~
Age 11
Pouring out the water from the bucket, I ran back into the classroom to give it back to Mrs. Stevens. I’d had to wash all the blackboards for calling Newton a dumbass. I closed the closet, rushed to my desk, and hoisted my backpack up onto my shoulder.
Mr. Masen, I hope you’ll watch your language from now on,” the old bat called after me.
Yes, Mrs. Stevens!” I yelled, bolting down the hallway toward the playground, where Bella was waiting for Charlie, who always picked us up on Friday afternoons just a bit late, but he bribed us with ice cream before Esme picked me up at their house.
Hey, Bella! Where you at?” I called, spinning around when I heard laughter. When I caught sight of the new girl, I sneered. Bella and I didn’t like her, but Liquid Lauren sure did. And of course, Jessica always went along with whatever anyone else said.
Your girlfriend is hiding,” Jane taunted, pointing at the old tire fort. She was a short thing, mean as the day was long.
Ignoring her, I ran across the playground, dropping my backpack next to Bella’s pink one. “Hey, Princess...what’cha doin’ in here?” I asked, crawling in and taking my usual spot across from her. “Charlie’ll be here any second. Don’tcha want...ice...cream?”
My heart stopped when I saw that she was crying, like really, really crying. Bella sometimes got teary over things like movies, or me getting hurt from Roger, but she hardly ever just...sobbed. Tears streamed down her face as she held her elbow, which had dirt and blood caked on it. Frowning, I crawled closer.
Bella, what happened?” I asked, starting to reach for her arm, but she jerked away.
Don’t,” she sobbed. “Just...forget it. Okay?”
I sat back on my heels, watching as she swiped at her face. “It was Jane, wasn’t it? I knew she looked way too happy,” I mumbled, poking Bella’s knee. “What’d she do?”
She...” She sniffled and looked out the hole in the tire, wrapping her arms around her knees. “We were talking about middle school, okay? And then they said...they told me... They said you and me wouldn’t be friends anymore...that you’ll find other friends. Guy friends. That it’s weird that boys and girls are best friends. She said girls should have girl best friends and boys should have boy best friends, and I...” She looked down at her elbow. “When I told her to bite me, Liquid Lauren tripped me.” Tears fell down her face when she looked up at me. “Is it weird? I mean, would you rather hang out with boys?”
I shook my head. “What the hell for?” I asked her. “And who, Princess? Mike? He’s a dumbass, even though I’m not allowed to call him that anymore.” I smiled when she giggled and sniffled at the same time. “I don’t see the big deal, Bella. We like all the same stuff, so what difference does it make? And besides, you’re the only one that knows...you know, about my mom,” I whispered, scooting closer on my knees. “I can’t tell no one about that, ya know?”
I won’t tell.”
I know,” I said with a nod. “Does it feel weird to you?”
No! I just don’t want it to change when we go to middle school,” she muttered, picking up a stick and throwing it out the hole.
Me, either,” I sighed, using the tail of my shirt to try to clean up her elbow. “This is pretty bad, Princess,” I murmured, blowing on it when she hissed a little. “Renee’ll clean you up.”
Bella nodded, sniffling again, and looked up at me. “If we both don’t think it’s weird, then it’s all right...right?”
Smiling, I nodded. “Right. And I don’t want to find other friends. You’re my best friend.”
Bella just...got me. I didn’t need a guy friend. Most of the guys in our class were...well, dumbasses.
She looked up at me, still looking sad, and I hated it. She always made me forget the stuff that upset me. She always made me smile, and I wanted to do the same for her.
Hey,” I whispered, nudging her leg again. “What if... What if I promise that we’ll always be best friends? We’ll make a pact together.”
A small smile slowly crept up her face and she nodded. “You swear it?”
I swear it.”
We crossed our hearts at the same time, smiling when it was over. Bella’s tears dried, but we both stuck our heads out when we heard Charlie call for us.
Hey! Thunder and Lightning...where are you?”
~oOo~
Present Day
Thank God Jane didn’t stay in Forks very long,” Bella muttered, smiling when I chuckled. “She was a nasty piece of work.” She scooted closer, kissing my lips. “I didn’t tell you something else she said,” she confessed. “She said you were cute. And that you’d forget about me...”
Rolling my eyes, I shook my head. “Never. Why didn’t you say something?”
“’Cause I knew you were cute,” she said with a giggle, running her fingers through my hair. “I was your friend, but I wasn’t blind, Edward. You always looked like this...wild thing. All windblown and fierce. And your eyes...so green, but I didn’t want girls to look at you that way.” She paused a moment, her face softening with memories. “We kept that promise, for the most part.”
Yeah, even when I was pretty angry with my life, I still considered you my best friend,” I told her.
I know, baby,” she sighed, smiling sweetly. “Did you bring me here just to tell me this story?”
Grinning, I shook my head. “No. There’s something I want to talk to you about. I told you that in the hospital, and I told you to remind me when you got out, but I just... I’ve been worried about you, but you’re all better now.”
Edward, what is it?” she asked, her brow furrowing.
I swallowed nervously, glancing out the hole in the tire and then back to her. “I wanted to do this here because...that promise meant the world to me, Bella. I don’t think you understand just how much. Without you back then... Well, I would’ve been pretty damn alone.” I picked up her hands, kissing her fingers. “Now? Now I love you so much, but I’d like to think that our friendship comes first.”
I love you, too, Edward, but you’re...kinda scaring me.”
Laughing softly, I shook my head, but I reached into my jacket pocket. Finally, I was able to give her the ring I’d planned to the night of her accident.
Princess, I swear to you that you’ll always be my best friend, that I’ll spend the rest of my life making sure you know just how much you mean to me,” I vowed, crossing my heart and opening the box between us. “Will you marry me?”
Bella gasped, her hands flying to her mouth before she finally took the box from my hand. Tears fell down her face, reminding me of that day so long ago, but this time, they were happy tears. She was quiet for a moment, but then she reached up to cup my face with one hand.
Is this... Jesus, Edward, were you going to ask me this the night I got hurt?” she whispered, her voice shaky.
Yeah,” I whispered back with a nod, looking down at the ring. “I’ve had this ring since before we moved back to Forks, though.” I locked eyes with her again. “This is another pact, Princess...”
She giggled and kissed me. Hard. Pulling back, she pressed her forehead to mine. “Yes, yes...a thousand times, yes!”
Grinning like a loon, I helped her slip the ring onto the finger I’d played with while she was unconscious in the hospital. I kissed it and then her lips.
Best friends,” I whispered, crossing my heart.
She crossed hers too, whispering, “Always.”

1 comments:

Evelyne-raconte said...

Very beautiful fiction. I have loved it through and through. Thank you for sharing.

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