Thursday, July 4, 2013 | By: Drotuno

Pieces of You Chapter 6 & Pics

Chapter 6 – Talking to the Moon
Chicago, IL – November
“Where the hell is Rose?” I asked, bumping into Emmett in order to take my shot. The swish of the basketball net made me grin at him and back away.
“Visiting her mom early for the holidays,” he said, dribbling the ball, only to fake a spin on me. “She’s been gone for three days. She’ll be back tonight in order to make it for Thanksgiving at Mom and Dad’s tomorrow.”
The air was cold, but it hadn’t started snowing yet. My eyes were watering, my lungs burned, and every exhale ghosted out in front of me. But we’d been getting punchy inside – too much stress, shit moving too slow – and we’d needed to work off the excess energy.
“I thought she already went a couple weeks ago,” I wheezed, blocking him.
“What? Oh! Yeah, that was her dad she went to see then. This time, it’s her mom. They’re divorced,” he explained.
“You...alone in the house for that long? Twice? Scary,” I teased him, jumping up when he took his shot. I blocked him, only to take the shot myself and make it.
My brother grinned. “That’s what she said,” he chortled, shrugging his shoulders. “I’m not allowed to use the stove.”

Laughing, I braced my hands on my knees in order to catch my breath. Fuck, I didn’t know what I would’ve done without my brother and Rose throughout all this bullshit. Emmett was a hell of a lawyer, but aside from that, they’d kept me going, tried their best to keep my chin up, and for that, I was so very grateful.
“You’re killing me,” I panted. “It’s too cold for this shit. Can’t I just beat your ass on Madden?”
“Oh, thank God. I think my lungs are frozen,” he complained, tossing the ball back into the garage. “You can try. Come on.”
We were just about to close the garage door when Dad’s car pulled into the driveway, so we waited until he got out to join us. His face looked set in stone, but it was hard to tell if he was pissed or hiding something. Mom called it his lawyer face, a poker face. There was no reading him when he looked like that. It honestly had scared the absolute shit out of Emmett and me as kids. We never knew when we were in real trouble. And Carlisle Cullen had been super pissed when I’d walked out of his conference room, essentially giving up everything.
He took a deep breath and let it out. “We should talk. All of us,” he stated, pointing for us to go on in.
Emmett eyed him for a second, but then slapped his hand on the garage door button, and we filed into the kitchen. Once cups of coffee were poured and we were all sitting at the table, my dad slapped a file folder down.
“I hope she was worth it,” he sighed forlornly. When my hands balled up into fists and my lip curled in anger, he held up a hand. “Settle down, Edward.” He pushed the folder toward me. “This is final draft of the most recent settlement. Emmett was right. Giving up the house and the gallery softened them. But you lost a significant chunk of your grandfather’s money.”
My nose wrinkled at that, but I flipped open the folder. My dad’s father had left Emmett and me a rather large inheritance. We were his only grandchildren, so he’d made sure to set us up for life. At eighteen, we were given half of it in order to go to school. At twenty-five, the last half kicked in. Being married meant that Jane had access to that, as well. In all reality, I could’ve lived comfortably for the rest of my life on the first half alone.
“Now,” he said, tapping the page. “The account that contained the portion you received when you turned eighteen can’t be touched. You weren’t married at the time. They know that, and they understand that. It was a condition of the pre-nup. The other half, though, is a different story.”
I flipped through the pages, nodding that I’d heard him. Gone was my house, gone was Sterling Gallery, and of course, gone was several million dollars.
“If you agree to this, then you’ll sign, and if she agrees, then we’ll file, and it’s over. We’ll rush the finalization. I’m sure I can pull a few strings,” my dad rambled.
Again, I nodded, but still flipped through the pages one more time. A pen landed in front of me, and I glanced up to see Emmett smirking, but he looked worried at the same time.
“How long?” I asked, glancing between them but jabbing a finger at the paper. “How long until I have proof that this is over?”
Emmett grinned, but looked to Dad. They both knew I was ready for this shit to be done, but my brother knew why I needed black-and-white proof.
“She still has to sign, too, so I don’t know, son. I’ll do my best to rush it,” Dad answered, shrugging a shoulder.
“Please,” was all I said before snatching up the pen and scrawling my signature where there were little sticky note arrows pointing. When I was finished, I slipped the papers back across the table. I sniffed once, locking gazes with my father. “To answer your question...yes, she was. In fact, you could’ve left me penniless and she still would’ve been worth it.”
Bella didn’t care about money, my bank account, or where I worked. I knew that. It was easy to love that about her. In that respect, she was the complete and total opposite of Jane. Jane used me and the gallery to promote herself, but Bella...she wouldn’t hear of it. She’d never even allowed me to call any of my contacts about her photographs. As stubborn as my Sunshine could be, I could respect her wanting to do it on her own.
My father nodded at what I’d said and slipped the file back into his briefcase. “Well, then...I hope I have the honor of meeting this Bella someday.” He smirked when I grinned up at him, but on his way by, he gripped my shoulder. “And I hope she appreciates all that you just did. We’ll see you at the house tomorrow for Thanksgiving.”
I didn’t say anything to that, but merely nodded about the holiday. I couldn’t say anything about Bella, because I didn’t have an answer.
Once our dad was gone, Emmett smacked my shoulder. “Madden, asshole. Come on!”
A few hours later, I was back home and opening up my laptop. It was too monumental of a day to not email Bella. Again, I needed to talk to her, and this was the only way I knew to do it. I still hoped she was reading them, but I wasn’t holding my breath about it anymore.
To: Bella Swan
From: Edward Cullen
Subject: Thanksgiving
Hey Sunshine,
So tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and I guess I have something to be thankful for. I don’t know. We’ll see., I signed the final divorce agreement. If Jane and her lawyers agree, then it’s over. All of it.
I know, I know. I don’t have proof yet, but I swear I will. When I do, I want to show you everything, even if you don’t love me anymore or you’ve moved on, because I haven’t, and I don’t think I can move on, Bella. And I’ll never stop loving you. You’re in my every thought from the second my eyes open in the morning until they close at night. I see you everywhere.
Living in this house only proves that to me. I see everything we did here – every fight, every tear I caused you to shed, and every time we made love. It’s all over this house. I can’t escape it, but I don’t think I want to, either. I need those memories – both good and bad – to keep me going. Otherwise, I’ll go back to being dead inside like I was before, and I’m not sure how to do that.
Now that the divorce is almost final, I’m not sure what to do. Emmett told me to take the holidays to think about it, get my resume out there, but in reality, the art world is sealed off from me now. I lost Sterling, Bella. I lost my reputation, too. Jane took everything but my art center. And the funny thing is...I don’t miss it. I don’t miss the pompous patrons, the picky buyers, the endless schmoozing. I don’t miss the snobs – and they were all snobs. Jane surrounded herself with them. They’re people that want to be more than they really are, more than they have the talent to be, and it all revolves around money and status and who you know. I don’t want to be someone that they “know” anymore, and I’m not. It’s sort of freeing. I kind of like it.
It’s also strange to see who is on the other side when you go through something like this. It’s funny who you can count on to stick around. I’ve lost friends that I thought were true. Jane’s entire family has deemed themselves enemies at this point. My dad’s partner, Eleazar Denali, has been extraordinarily unbiased through all of this, but has remained a true friend to my dad, and his daughters have been great. Tanya and Kate have been super supportive, along with Kate’s husband Garrett. Though, friends I’d made in the art business no longer will accept my calls. Nice, right?
Anyway, baby, I just wanted to wish you Happy Thanksgiving. It’s supposed to snow, but we’ll see. I hope you’re happy and safe where you are, and I hope that one day, you’ll allow me to make up for all the things I couldn’t do when I had the chance.
I love you.
Chicago, IL – December
Lugging a box down the stairs and into the garage, I dropped it heavily into my trunk. I gave the house a final walk-through, making sure everything I’d packed up everything I wanted. I only had today to get into Sterling and my house to remove the last of my possessions.
I rolled my eyes at that. At least today wasn’t court ordered, since we’d settled this part of the whole divorce like grownups. Jane knew I’d left behind some of my family pictures, yearbooks from school, and my important papers, not to mention the rest of my clothes. She also knew that I wanted to clean out my desk at Sterling, not that there was a lot there, but I did want all the pictures my kids had ever painted or drawn for me.
Gazing around the garage, I grabbed a few tools that she’d never miss...or even know how to use. When I slammed the trunk of my car, I saw someone approaching. And he looked nervous as all hell.
“Jacob,” I greeted gruffly.
He flinched, but nodded and waved. “Hey, Edward... I just... I saw your car, and I knew I needed to talk to you.”
Smirking, I folded my arms across my chest, leaning back against my car. Jacob Black was the subject of conversation from every woman I knew, every woman that had ever come over to this house. They liked his russet skin, his toned physique, and his easy smile. Even more, he was genuinely a really nice guy, and from what I’d seen, a damned good father. He was only a few years older than me, but had a youthful face. Tanya, more than one time, had flirted with him relentlessly. Whether she ever succeeded with it, I had no clue. Nor did I care.
“I owe you an apology...” The poor guy looked like he was about to sweat to death, despite the early December weather.
Snorting, I held up a hand, jerking a thumb toward the house. “That, man...that’s a glass house.”
He grinned, but it fell away quickly. “I know. I know all about it. I just... I should’ve stayed out of it. Should’ve stayed away from her, but she swore there were no strings attached.”
“Maybe,” I muttered with a shrug of one shoulder. “She can be...very persuasive,” I admitted, realizing that I may have just gone through complete and utter hell with Jane and lawyers and the whole divorce, but I was now officially severed from her. Poor Jacob would now be tied to her through a child for the rest of their lives. And I suddenly felt I truly got the luckier end of the deal. “Umm...Jake... What are you gonna do?” I asked, simply out of curiosity.
His face morphed into a tortured expression, a groan escaping him as his head fell back. “I don’t know!” he whined, shoving his hands into his jacket pockets. “My wife has taken the girls. She’s now staying with her mother, but she’s talking about marriage counseling. She’s not hating on the baby, but she’s certainly pissed at me. The lawyers want me to file for full custody, but...I don’t know. Does Jane even want this kid, or was she using it as a weapon against you?”
My nose wrinkled. “I didn’t think Jane ever wanted kids. And I’d somewhat come to terms with that, but... Her dad is an incredible influence on her, Jacob. You have to be very careful. He’ll come at you with everything he’s got for child support...and maybe even embarrass you publicly. Not to mention your job for the city.” I gestured toward myself, and he nodded that he understood. “I thought I knew her, but I didn’t. Hell, I don’t even think I knew myself. But she’s essentially a selfish creature, man, so you may want to keep that in mind. I’m not saying that for your sake, but for the kid. It’ll now be caught between you. If I thought this divorce was bad, I can’t even fathom what you’re about to go through.”
“Oh,” he groaned and laughed humorlessly at the same time, rubbing his face. “You are so not helping.”
I studied his face, shaking my head at the damage that one woman had caused. “Jacob.” His gaze met mine when I called his name. “Go see my brother.” I pulled out my wallet and then held out Emmett’s business card. “If he can’t help you, he’ll put you with someone that can, but you’re gonna need all the help you can get.”
Slapping the card into his hand, we shook on it.
Just before I went inside the house to lock up, I turned back to him. “Can I ask you something?” When he nodded, looking wide-eyed and nervous, I continued. “How long?”
He grimaced, pointing to the house. “About six months after you moved in. So...two years, up until you moved out, and then she freaked the fuck out on me.”
I nodded, thinking that explained a hell of a lot – having to sleep in the guest room, not caring whether I came or went, even her panic at the end. It would’ve allowed me to keep Sterling, had we taken it to court, but I didn’t regret a thing. I still wouldn’t have dragged poor Bella through that mess for anything in the world. It would’ve broken her sweet, sweet spirit – and I’d done that enough already.
With a wave before falling down into the driver’s seat of my car, I said, “Good luck, Jake.”
He waved back as he backed out of the way. “You, too, man.”
A few weeks later, I was sitting in the corner of my parents’ living room, wishing like hell I was drunker than a motherfucker. My eyes raked over everyone in the room, noting every couple, every smile, every touch between them. My brow furrowed. I didn’t think Christmas would be so fucking hard, but it was. I missed Bella more than ever.
Getting up from the sofa, I made my way through the throngs of people to the kitchen. I kissed my mother’s cheek as she tended to whatever she was cooking. Grabbing a beer from the fridge and tugging my jacket on, I then stepped out onto their back deck. It was freezing, but at least I could clear my head. I gazed up at the night sky, noting just about every constellation I could see. I wasn’t an expert, but I’d liked picking them out when I was a kid. The North Star was bright, and I wondered if the sky looked different where Bella was.
The door opened and closed behind me, but I didn’t turn around, opting to take a long draw on my beer.
My mother’s voice met my ears softly. “James and Sarah are here. We’ll be eating soon.”
“What’s she like?” she asked, and I turned to Mom. Everyone said I looked the most like her, and that was probably due to our hair and eye color, but her smile was a lot like Emmett’s – a little mischievous and sweet.
“Bella. What’s she like? She has to be something else to have caused all this trouble this year,” she stated, shaking her head a little.
“She’s...” I sighed, gazing out over the snow-covered backyard. “Beautiful and talented. She’s sweet. I’m pretty sure she’s never judged a single person she’s ever met. She has no patience for pretenses or money. She couldn’t care less about status or being the center of attention. She’d absolutely hate that you think she caused trouble.” I smiled over at my mom when she laughed softly. “She’s kinda shy in some ways, but takes control in others. And she thinks everything I’ve ever said to her was a lie.” I shrugged a shoulder. “I love her, and she probably hates me.”
“Did you lie?”
“Not once. But Jane was working against me, so it all got...complicated.”
Mom nodded and stepped closer. Because it was chilly, I wrapped an arm around her shoulders, rubbing up and down to keep her warm.
“Did you ever love Jane?” she asked me, and my hand came to a stop.
“I cared for her, yes,” I admitted, “but it wasn’t... It wasn’t real love. I never wanted anything to happen to her. I never wanted us to end this.” I gestured my free hand around, the beer in the bottle sloshing inside. “I never even got mad at her – until I realized she was using me, stopping me from growing. But it took meeting Bella to make me realize just how much my priorities didn’t match up with Jane’s anymore.” I sipped my beer, setting it down onto the deck rail. “Jane and I were never all that...affectionate,” I went on, and my mom looked up at me. I shrugged, saying, “It’s the truth. So when she told me that we couldn’t sleep in the same bed, I never gave it much thought.”
“Oh, Edward,” she sighed, cupping my face.
For some reason, that simple touch settled my nerves, but opened my mouth. “I didn’t know, Mom. I didn’t go into any of this to hurt anyone, but one day, this girl shows up out the blue, and she’s amazing and perfect and funny and...and...and breathtaking, and I couldn’t see anyone but her. I wasn’t ready for the changes she brought out in me, for the way she made me feel almost instantly, or for how suddenly, everything became about Bella. Everything. I couldn’t stay away from her if I tried, and I did try. I swear, but...” I took a long draw on my beer, setting the bottle down. “It all got really complicated and secretive. There were obligations, art shows, and contracts, but I didn’t want to deal with any of it anymore. I felt trapped and wanted out, like I was gnawing on my own leg to get free.”
Mom reached up to brush my hair off my forehead. She didn’t say anything for a minute, but stood on her tiptoes to kiss my cheek.
“Did I ever tell you that your grandfather didn’t like me?” she asked, and my eyebrows shot up as I shook my head no. “Not at first, he didn’t. Oh, he warmed up eventually, but originally, your father was intended to marry someone else...and so was I, actually. We changed a bunch of people’s plans,” she stated with a touch of pride, I noted. “It wasn’t until I gave him the first grandson—” she squished my face, making me laugh “—that he finally decided I was okay.”
“Just okay?”
Her laugh was soft, but she nodded at the same time. “Yeah, but he wasn’t exactly an affectionate man. But your father and I ended those prior commitments before we ever got together.” Her smile fell off her face quickly. “I’m disappointed in you, Edward,” she sighed, and of all the shit I’d been through, that made me feel the worst. When my gaze fell down to my feet, she tilted my face back up by my chin. “I’m disappointed with how you went about things – the sneaking around, the allowing things to get out of your control. I’m disappointed that you took the vows of a husband, but didn’t abide by them, and that you took them with someone you didn’t truly, irrevocably love with your whole heart. I would hope that if you decide to remarry some day, you won’t take those vows, those promises to your wife so lightly next time.”
I looked away from her, because despite how much I knew that the affair with Bella had been the most pure love I’d ever felt, I was ashamed at how my mother pointed out how wrong it had been.
Again, she made me face her. “And I’m sorry, sweetheart,” she whispered, her eyes filling with tears. “I’m sorry that I didn’t see it, that the wedding ended up being a bigger event than the marriage for you. I’m sorry I didn’t see when my oldest boy was unhappy. I’m sorry you felt so trapped, that you felt you couldn’t come to me. I might not have had all the answers, but I would’ve held your hand through every bit of it.”
“I’m sorry, Mom...” I squeezed my eyes tight when they burned, but she brought my forehead down to hers.
“But most of all, I’m so very proud of you,” she said, sniffling a little, but she smiled when I pulled back to look at her. “You made sure that you did the right thing in the end. That community center is an amazing accomplishment, son. And despite how you lost a few things along the way...” She shook her head slowly, her eyes tearing up again. “That took a lot of guts to stand up to everyone in protection of someone else. Don’t let anyone ever tell you different. They would’ve been brutal on her in court, in the media, and there’s no telling what Marcus would’ve done to her.”
Nodding, I said, “I know. I just couldn’t let them touch her. I’d hurt her too much already. When she left, she unknowingly made herself safe. I can’t fault her for that, but I feel...empty without her.” I pressed the heels of my hands into my eyes. My heart hurt, and knowing I’d disappointed my mother made it even worse. I felt Mom’s arms wrap around me, and I hugged her back. “I want her back, Mom,” I mumbled through tears into her shoulder.
“You really love her,” she noted softly against my cheek, and I nodded again. “I wasn’t sure whether I could like the woman that broke up my son’s marriage, but...” She locked gazes with me when I pulled out of her embrace.
“Don’t. Please don’t blame Bella in this... I know we were both responsible. I know it was wrong, and if I could’ve done things differently, I would have, but I can’t. I loved her the second I set eyes on her. I should’ve waited. I should’ve never married Jane. I should’ve done a lot of fucking things different...” I grimaced at my language. “Sorry.”
She laughed softly. “Life is full of big and little mistakes, Edward, and the repercussions of making those mistakes can follow us for life, which Jane is learning right now with this baby. Life is also full of choices. You chose poorly by cheating...and most likely marrying Jane, who also chose poorly. I should’ve done a lot of things differently, too, son. I should’ve seen that Jane was using you. But you used her, too. You wanted Sterling so badly that you were willing to forge ahead into a loveless marriage.”
“That’s true. And for that, I lost it.” I smiled sadly.
“Right.” Mom nodded in agreement. “What you have to ask yourself, Edward... Did you learn anything from any of this? Because right now, you’re at a crossroads. You’ve severed yourself from Jane, you’re no longer at Sterling, and you’re still young with a lifetime ahead of you. All your mistakes have been rectified, save one.”
“Yes, Bella.” She cupped either side of my face, forcing me to look at her. “I am your mother, and despite all the things you’ve done wrong, I still love you. And my only wish for you in life is that you’re happy. Do you understand me?”
“Yes, ma’am.”
“Good. That being said, if this Bella makes you happy, then I hope that she’s as good of a person as your praises of her say she is. I hope that she at least gives you a chance to explain, because despite how wrong all of you were, Jane did make things way more difficult than they should’ve been.” She rolled her eyes and brought my face down so she could kiss my forehead. “Do you know where Bella is?”
“Yes.” My voice was barely there.
“And you’re still here, why?” she asked with a wry smirk.
“Um...uh...Mom, it’s Christmas. And I don’t have the final court papers back yet, showing it’s official,” I explained, my tone taking on the same tenor as when I was a kid explaining a bad grade. “I want tangible proof in my hand before I go to her.”
“Fair enough,” she sighed, reaching into the pocket of her coat. “Then Rose was right for handing me this before I came out here.”
I took the envelope she was handing me, looking at her like she was crazy.
“Well, go on,” she chortled, tapping the Christmas card envelope. “It’s your Christmas present from your brother and Rose. But I didn’t want you have it until we’d talked.”
My brow furrowed as I ripped it open, and what was inside made my knees give out. I sat down hard onto the closest deck chair, hardly acknowledging the chill under my ass. Inside the fat, green envelope were the official court papers showing that the divorce was final, but it was wrapped around a plane Florida.
My eyes shot up to my mother, and she smiled, brushing my hair from my forehead.
“Merry Christmas, sweetheart,” she told me softly, kissing my still-wrinkled brow. “Your flight is for the day after tomorrow. They wanted you to start the new year off right.”
“I don’t... I’m not...” Nope. I had nothing to say. I’d been prepared to do it all on my own, but the way my brother and Rose had set it up was almost overwhelming my emotions.
The back door flew open, and I smiled at Sarah dressed up in pretty red dress for Christmas.
“There you are, Mr. Edward!” she gushed, rushing to me. “I looked everywhere. Merry Christmas.”
I hugged her. “You, too, pretty girl.”
“What’s that?” she asked in a whisper.
“An amazing gift,” I answered. “A plane ticket.”
“Oh, a plane ticket! Where ya goin’?”
I smiled at her. “To see that person I’ve been missing.”
She smiled brightly and then kissed my cheek. “You look happy again. Good. Can we eat now? ’Cause James said presents after we eat, but Emmett said that’s crazy.”
My mother and I laughed, and I stood up, taking Sarah’s hand. “Come on, pretty girl. Before our brothers kill each other.”
Her giggle as we went inside the house was the best thing I’d heard in a long time, but it didn’t do anything to assuage my nerves at what now lay ahead of me.


hilary lee said...

sniffs wipes eyes lady you know how to get people to turn on the water works

Snoopylover said...

Love this pic from Remember Me. (such a awesome movie!!)

Looking forward to more of this wonderful story.

Love it!!

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