Thursday, April 10, 2014 | By: Drotuno

Masen Manor Chapter 11 & Pics

Chapter 11
December 2001
BELLA
“Bella, get up,” Alice commanded, but I pulled my covers tighter over my head, making her laugh. “No, not gonna work, sweet cheeks.”
The covers were yanked away, and I grimaced at the smell of food in our dorm room. Glaring at her didn’t scare her away, either; she merely grinned and set the plate of food on my nightstand.
“You didn’t eat a thing all damn day yesterday, and your nightmares kept me up most of the night. You’re gonna sit up, eat this, and shower. Then you’re gonna go to the east wing.”
I shook my head at her, practically growling in protest.
“You are,” she argued, tugging me up into a sitting position. “You are, because I’ve already seen it. And when you come out, you’re a billion times happier. So do what I tell you, and no one gets fucking hurt.”

Giving her a side glance, I pouted, but did as she asked. I wasn’t quite sure she didn’t mean it. She was small, but feisty, so it was kind of possible she’d pick me up and shove me into the shower without a care. However, she was right. I’d spent all of Friday night and all day Saturday in bed. It had been cold and slushy outside, so it wasn’t like it made a difference. A quick glance to the window told me that Sunday had dawned bright and clear.
Without complaint, I ate the toast and eggs she’d brought me. I was hungry, but I didn’t taste much. My heart was a little tattered, slightly frayed around the edges.
Edward had feelings for me, but Edward was something…different. And Edward was MG.
The sound of his broken voice when he begged me to let him explain was the only thing that had me considering going to the east wing. If he was what he’d hinted at being, then I could almost understand why he’d hidden it. Alice didn’t always tell people that she was psychic, simply because of the way people reacted, and she was something somewhat believable...in a strange/daytime talk show kind of way. But if Edward was indeed a vampire, then it would go without saying that he’d have to hide it, keep it from everyone. Like he’d said in the journal, human beings had a tendency to react harshly to things they didn’t understand.
All that aside, I focused on just Edward – the guy that made my palms sweaty, my stomach do flip-flops, and the one person I’d found that made me completely and utterly comfortable for the first time since I’d woken up in the hospital and couldn’t speak. He’d wiped away more tears, given me more reasons to smile on the toughest of days, and been so supportive and patient with my piano lessons that I couldn’t be angry at him. I was hurt that he’d lied, though, and that was reason enough to go to the east wing. I wanted answers.
Alice huffed and nodded once. “Thatta girl.”
Frowning over at her, I continued to pick at my breakfast. I wasn’t so sure I shared her enthusiasm. I tried to stay mad, but really, curiosity was overriding everything. I reached over and tapped her temple lightly.
Smirking, she folded her arms across her chest. “I just told you. You go. You come back happier. That’s all I see.” Her face softened a little. “And that’s important, Bella. Your nightmares are fucking scary. When you’re happy, they aren’t as bad, but the last thirty-six hours has been…rough on you.” She waited when I opened my mouth, but sighed when I snapped it closed again. “I wish I could tell you more, but it’s blurry.”
My brow wrinkled, but I nodded. Most of the time, her visions that included me and then became blurry had to do with Edward. I was beginning to see a pattern, but it wasn’t something I thought needed sharing. Alice had more than one time said that Jasper and the Cullens weren’t all that clear in her sight. What they were – what they might possibly be – wasn’t my secret to share, though Alice had her own theories. And she accepted it without batting an eye.
It was that last thought that had me throwing away my garbage and getting out of bed. Alice smiled, but said nothing as I walked into our bathroom and shut the door. As I showered, every reply from MG rattled around in my head at the same time that all my conversations with Edward did. But the one thing that I remembered most was his fear of me finding out.
I know you’re so very smart, and it’s possible you’ll put it all together soon enough, which scares me more than anything because I don’t know what I’ll do if you shun me. If you do, I hope that you can forgive me one day. It wasn’t my intention to mislead you or lie or even scare you. You’d been through so much that my first instinct was to let you be, but I can’t. I’m forever a different man, a better man thanks to you. My God, have you ever changed me! In a very short time, you’ve become the best part of me, Bella, and each time I see you...each time we speak, it only makes me more sure that you were worth every second of the wait.
Something about that told me that he’d wanted me to know, but at the same time, he didn’t, because I’d reacted exactly as he’d expected. Again, with the waiting.
As I pulled on my jeans and sweater, I remembered the conversation back at the diner with Edward on Thanksgiving break.
A long time ago, I had a reading. I was told some things I didn’t want to believe…”
The strange part was…she saw a swan, Bella. A beautiful, silent swan, and Leah saw music – hands on a piano. It didn’t make sense then, but it does…now…”
So…good or bad?” I asked him.
Definitely good.”
I hadn’t seen it then, but hindsight gave me a touch of clarity, if only because I knew so much more now. Edward’s face, despite how good he was at masking things, had been telling the truth. But just how long ago he’d been given his reading was the question, along with a million more.
I stepped out of the bathroom completely dressed to find Alice waiting for me. I wanted to know what she saw, what made me so happy at the end of her visions, but as quickly as the thought came, so did the guilt. I’d more than scoffed at the idea that Edward had waited for me, that some sort of fortune had been given to him, but I couldn’t accept the fact that he might be something out of a fiction novel.
Clearing all of that away and focusing on just Edward – the Edward I knew, that I’d fallen in love with almost from the first time he’d spoken to me – I started to shake. I’d worried that the one person that I could open up to, actually speak out loud to, would one day just up and leave, and in spite of his deception, it was that thought that still scared me. It didn’t matter what he was, but who he was to me. And I couldn’t get on the train to Boston for Christmas break without at least hearing what he had to say.
Alice didn’t say a word, but she walked to me and hugged me before giggling and shoving me out into the dorm corridor.
Sundays were always quiet in the halls. Most students slept in, some worked quietly in the library on homework due on Monday. As all of us were due to leave Tuesday morning, there were some that were already packing.
I took my time winding through the castle, glancing around me as I reached the familiar tapestry. When the hall was empty, I ducked behind the heavy fabric, pushing the door open. I gazed around the ruined room with new eyes, still seeing the destruction, but wondering why it had happened and how it had stayed that way for so long. My heart pounded at the sight of the purple journal in its usual spot. I picked it up, frowning when there was no reply.
I knew he was there. I could feel him, but I knew if I actually looked at him, there would be no going back. I’d have to stay, have to hear him out. And the pull to him was so strong – the same thing he’d said about me in the auditorium – which made me wonder if it was as strong for him as it was for me, because I was shaking as I fought it.
My eyes found him instantly sitting in the shadows of the broken steps. He was beautiful…and sad. He was watching me like I’d bolt from the room, but when he spoke, his voice still drew me in.
“I didn’t read it, love.” He shook his head, but his face was an open book; worry, anxiety, and something I couldn’t quite put a name to flickered over it. The fact that he was still wearing the same clothes from Friday was not lost on me.
Walking to him and up a few of the steps, I wondered why he hadn’t read it. Though thinking back on my reply inside the book I was currently hugging against my chest, maybe it was a good thing. The words were moot now.
“Why?” I asked, trying to keep my feelings in check when the sound of my voice gave me the brief smile from him that I loved so much.
“I didn’t feel I deserved to read it.”
I wasn’t sure what to make of that answer, but as I gazed around at our surroundings, I asked, “How old are you?”
“Twenty-two.”
Something about that instant reply pissed me off, and I started to turn around, but he spoke quickly and softly.
“I was born June 20, 1879. I was bound to this world for eternity in the summer of 1901.”
He was a hundred and twenty-two, though he sat in front of me, looking like he could be a model for a magazine, be on a cover of a romance novel, or fit in as a college student in any college…anywhere.
A million questions cropped up onto the tip of my tongue, but I needed to know just who he was. Was he the tutor I’d fallen in love with? Was he the “ghost” I felt I could tell anything to? Or was he both?
“And your real name?”
“Edward Anthony Masen Cullen.” His usual flair of placing a hand on his chest now held more meaning. It came from a time long forgotten. It came from a time when this castle was a home, not a school.
“So this is your house.”
“Yes.”
His honesty was apparent. It sat right there in front of me, but even more was the emotion that caused his voice to sound raspy, like a plea. And as I looked at him, I couldn’t deny how I felt about him. It would have torn me to shreds to turn on him and leave the east wing. His posture was stiff, anxious, like he was prepared to defend himself from me, if needed. He also looked like I felt: emotionally thin, as if one word would shatter him into a billion pieces.
“Did you mean what you said?” I asked without thinking, shaking my head at his ability to make me at ease, despite how hurt I felt.
“Which part?” he whispered, his shoulders sagging a little. “I’ll tell you anything you want to know, Bella, but nothing I’ve said thus far is a lie.”
“About… Did you mean what you said about how you feel about me?” I was embarrassed to ask, but I needed to know. If I was merely something to keep his attention for the time being, I couldn’t take it. If he truly meant that he couldn’t stay away from me, that he’d do anything for me, that what he felt was permanent, I wanted to know. I couldn’t bear to think that I felt these things alone.
He laughed, but it was a little sad, and he gripped his hair nervously. “God, Bella…you have no idea. If I tell you the heart of it all, you may run from this wing and never come back. But…yes.”
That answer was once again cryptic. “But you will tell me?”
“Yes, sweetheart. All of it.”
My heart hurt at the term of endearment, and no matter how badly I wished the battling, armored butterflies would keep still in my stomach, they didn’t. They warred deep within, making it hard to breathe, to see past the tears that were welling up against my will.
“Let me show you. There’s nothing about me that I want secret or hidden from you anymore.”
I stared at his open hand, an offering of peace, and my tears fell down my cheeks. He’d hurt me by lying, but I could see he was open, honest, and just as on edge as I was. His hands were gorgeous, with long, slender fingers, smooth skin, and almost perfectly shaped nails. They’d wiped away tears, played the piano with such talent and grace, and now I knew they could produce beautiful handwriting.
I slipped my hand into his, but didn’t move from my spot on the step. He froze, gazing down at me. He hadn’t stood up yet, which made it easier for him to tilt my face up. He wiped away the tears so gently that I barely felt his touch.
“Bella, I’m so sorry for misleading you. I…” He sighed, frowning a little. “If you’ll allow me to explain everything, I promise you can beat me with that book in your hand.”
My mouth twitched a little.
“Not that it would hurt, but still…” he joked, smirking, but it fell just as quickly as it came. “Please, Bella. Hear me out.” He squeezed my hand gently. “You’ve told me so much about you. It’s time you knew everything about me.”
Nodding, my eyes stayed on his form as he stood up. “Where?”
He grinned down at me as he led me up the stairs. “My real living quarters.” He gestured to the destruction around us. “This is just…to scare people away.”
I couldn’t help the laugh that escaped me. “It doesn’t work, Edward.”
“Obviously,” he muttered wryly, giving me a wink.
We got to the top of the stairs where the sun was beaming in from outside. Edward stopped us, his head falling a little, but he turned to me.
“Bella, I need you to say the word…what you think I am, because…I’m not normal. And you’re about to see that as soon as I step across this landing,” he said, tilting his head at me. “Say the word.”
I glanced at him, then the sunbeam, wondering if he was about to burst into flames.
“No, I’m not gonna shrivel up,” he said with a chuckle.
“You can read my mind?”
“I can read minds – all but yours – but the worry was written all over your beautiful face,” he countered with a slight laugh to his voice. “Love, please say the word.”
Swallowing, I took a deep breath. “Vampire?”
He flinched, but nodded. “Our skin is different.”
He stretched out his arm, and my mouth fell open at the sight in front of me. I couldn’t help but reach out and trace a finger over what looked like diamonds sparkling. It was beautiful, glimmering in the sun and casting rainbows of light against the steps.
“So pretty,” I whispered, gaping up at him, but I could see he didn’t think so.
“It’s the skin of a killer, Bella,” he explained. “Once we…become what we are, our skin hardens and stays cool to the touch. Nothing can cut us, scratch us, save another one of us.”
“Us…” I dragged the word out. “Your family.”
He nodded. “C’mon, sweetheart. It’s a long story.”
We turned the corner of the landing, the stairs I’d been drawn to since the beginning, and continued up another flight. We came to the end, to a dark wooden door. Edward reached out for the doorknob, but I froze again.
“I’ll never hurt you, love,” he whispered, bending down a little so that his eyes met mine. “Physically,” he clarified. “I’m sorry that I deceived you, but I can’t harm you. It would end me. You need to know that now.”
My brow furrowed, but I nodded, gesturing for him to lead on.
My mouth gaped when the door swung open. I wasn’t sure what I’d been expecting. With all the destruction around us, the room I walked into was completely the opposite. It was stunning and beautiful, filled with dark woods and warm rugs. It was open like a loft apartment in the city, though it had been divided up into different sections. There were endless shelves along the wall, filled with books, music, and what looked like a really expensive stereo and TV. In the window was a rather large antique desk, and on top was a pretty high-tech computer, printer, and monitor. To my left was a sitting area, with leather couches and chairs that sat in front of a large fireplace.
It was the most beautiful room I’d ever seen, but there seemed to be something missing.
I spun around, only to look up at Edward. “No bed?”
“I don’t sleep,” he said with a chuckle.
My eyebrows shot up. “Ever?”
“No, not at all.” He held his hand out for me with a sweet smile, and I took it. “Let me start a fire. It gets a little cool up here.”
He led me to the soft leather sofa, and I took a seat in the corner, watching as he started a fire. Once it was blazing, warm and orange, he sat down in the opposite corner of the couch, but he didn’t sit back. He rested his elbows on his knees, sinking his fingers into his hair.
He seemed to steel himself and finally turned to me. “The only way I know how to tell you everything is to start from the beginning.” When I nodded, he did, too. “I was born in this house. I grew up in this very room. And I became what I am here, too.” He winced a little, but got up and sat on the coffee table in front of me. “Bella, the song I played for you, the story about my parents. That was all true. It just happened the summer of 1901. Do you remember that story?”
I nodded, but answered him anyway. “Yes.”
“Well, that night…the night my parents died…was the night that changed everything,” he started, looking down at his hands. “My father was a drunk and rather abusive toward my mother. I’d been home for the summer from Harvard. I had one more year before I received my teaching degree, but my mother had wanted to see me. She knew I probably wouldn’t come back after I graduated.” He met my gaze. “I intercepted a fight between them, accidentally knocking my father out…though he was damn drunk to start with. My mother sent me from this house into Hunter’s Lake to allow my father to sleep it off, so I left. I decided to go to this little pub – which is where the diner is now, mind you,” he said with a smirk, “and I met a gypsy woman. I had been drinking, but she told me she’d read my future. My friend, James, had already left with a girl, and I followed Giselle up to her place.”
I frowned, wondering where he was going with this, but nodded for him to go on.
“Bella, she was the one who saw you coming,” he sighed, shaking his head a little. “She saw several things that night – my death, death at home, and then you…a hundred years later.”
My mouth fell open. “How?”
He huffed a humorless laugh. “I don’t know, love. And I didn’t really believe her at first. It didn’t make sense, you see. I mean, she saw my death, but then she saw…my soul mate coming a hundred years later. I was confused and disbelieving, to say the least.”
My heart thudded heavily in my chest at Edward calling me his soul mate, but I didn’t say anything.
“She tried everything to warn me,” he continued, reaching out to play with my charm bracelet, but he seemed to stop himself and pull back. “I left her place, still a little drunk, and started to walk home. The woman my friend James had left with wasn’t human, and she cornered me in the middle of the woods. Alone.”
“She…made you?” I asked, not really knowing how to put it.
He smiled so sweetly that it was heartbreaking and then tapped my chin with his fingers. “I’m sure Maria’s intention wasn’t to create me, but devour me.”
“Oh.”
He chuckled. “Right. Oh. Had it not been for Carlisle coming to look for me, because he’d been summoned to my home due to what had happened to my parents, then I wouldn’t be here today. He stopped Maria and killed her, but I was way past saving. Carlisle gave me a choice, but I begged him not to let me die.”
“Carlisle… Dr. Cullen?” I asked him.
“Yeah,” he sighed, sitting up a little straighter. “As much as I hated what I’d become, I have to be extremely grateful for him. He has been a friend, a father, really, for so long. And he showed me how to live a better way.”
“What do you mean?”
He sat forward, taking my hand. “Bella, you haven’t asked the one question you should be asking… What do I eat?” he said, and even though his voice was rough, it was still gentle and sounded fearful of my reaction.
My stomach plummeted, but I waited.
“Your heart sounds like a hummingbird’s wings,” he noted softly, looking at me worriedly. “Normally, our kind would drink from humans. Carlisle taught me that there was another way: animals.
“He likes to think he’s funny,” Edward went on with a wry, crooked smile. “He calls us vegetarians. Even though it’s not as…enticing, it is ideal for maintaining our thirst without causing harm. It also gives us our eye color.” He pointed to his honey-gold eyes, shrugging a shoulder. “Those that drink from humans have red eyes.”
“So… Jasper and Dr. and Mrs. Cullen?”
“Yes,” he answered immediately. “They are my family. For a while, it was just Carlisle and me maintaining this house and a few other places. Esme came along a few years later. They are my parents for all intents and purposes. Jasper, however, was changed by the same woman who changed me. He’s my brother in more ways than I can explain.”
Edward stood up, his face a little pained. “When I woke up as this, Bella, I was so angry. And with everything that happened, plus my parents, I flew into a fit of rage. That’s what you see in the east wing.”
“Why not…change it?”
He smiled a little. “It keeps me…grounded. Reminds me of where I came from, I think. Plus, after Esme started this school, it kept the students away from my rooms.”
I couldn’t help but grin and shake my head.
“Well, it used to work, love,” he said with a laugh, but he came and sat back down on the coffee table in front of me. “The story isn’t finished, but you haven’t run away, so…” He tilted his head at me. “You can understand why I have to hide what I am, what we are, right? The rules I wrote about…they’re real. There are immortals that govern us, not that they pay much attention to Carlisle due to our diet, but humans aren’t supposed to know about us. It’s the one rule they enforce. For the most part, they leave us alone. I’ve never met them, but Carlisle has. And then…if humans found out, they’d probably panic.”
I toyed with my charm bracelet, nodding. “No, I get it.” When I looked back up at him, he was waiting patiently for me, as always. “So…you said…the truth is usually overshadowed by fiction…”
“Ah, yes,” he sighed, smiling. “While Dracula is about a vampire, the only thing that’s true is his diet.” He snickered a little. “The holy water, crosses, garlic, coffins thing…all myths. And obviously the sun thing…” He pointed toward the window.
“No fangs.”
He grinned, nodding a little. “No, but our teeth are very sharp, and we carry venom.” When I looked at him in question, he said, “It’s what immobilizes our prey and causes the change.” He leaned down. “Still not running?”
“No,” I told him, shaking my head and trying to figure out a way to tell him how I felt. “I’ve tried. I can’t. I don’t know how,” I said, repeating the words he’d said to me in the auditorium.
His intake of breath made me glance up at him. His expression was hopeful, but a little heartbroken at the same time.
“There’s more, Bella,” he said softly. “You okay to hear it?”
I nodded, watching his hands as they once again reached out to play with my charm bracelet.
“Once I woke up to this life, I told Carlisle about Giselle and her predictions. He went to look for her, but she was gone. After a few years and my thirst was under control, because we wake up like…I don’t know…feral beasts,” he sighed, shaking his head, “Carlisle and I started to look for her. We found her about ten years later, just outside of Manhattan.” He sat up a little. “Bella, she told me the same damn thing. Only this time, I could see her mind,” he said, tapping his temple.
“Her predictions showed a girl,” he went on, cupping my chin. “I couldn’t see the whole picture, but she kept seeing a swan, wings wrapping around me, and a scar.” His thumb traced along my throat softly. “I could never see where it was.”
He got up, walked to an end table, and opened a drawer. He reached in and pulled out a large sketch book, only to hand it to me.
When I cracked it open, he whispered, “You can see the dates. Carlisle said for me to draw what I’d seen in Giselle’s mind.”
I flipped pages, my mouth falling open. I saw deep brown eyes and a scar. My scar, but it didn’t show where. There were a few stunning drawings of Edward – or simply a male figure – with large white wings wrapped protectively around him. But I noted the dates. They started somewhere around 1911 and would shoot forward several years, sometimes a whole decade, but the images were the same.
“Carlisle and I brought Giselle here with us, along with her daughter, Sue, and granddaughter…Leah.”
I gasped, my eyes tearing away from the beautiful sketches and locked onto an even more beautiful face. “No.”
“Yes,” he snorted. “Every time they’d tell me a prediction, I’d draw…well, you.” He scooted closer to me. “Bella, I wasn’t kidding. I’ve waited a very long time for you.”
“So that’s what you meant,” I whispered, glancing down at the pictures he’d drawn.
“Yes.”
Questions still swirled around in my head as I flipped through the pages, catching glimpses of my scar, which was almost exact, but not on any particular place. There were brown eyes and swans and wings. Some tended to get dark, morose as time went on, but as I neared the end of the book, the dates became current. Puzzle pieces were put together to form me. Edward had drawn me at the piano, my hands on the keys, and my smile.
Smirking up at him, I held up the pictures, giggling when he shrugged.
“It was nice to be able to put it all together,” he answered simply.
I closed the book and handed it back to him, standing up from the sofa. I gazed around his room, at pictures and books, finally turning to face him.
“Will you…get into trouble…that I know?”
“As long as you aren’t gonna tell the whole school, Bella…” He frowned.
“No! I promise,” I vowed. “I haven’t even let Alice see the last few journal entries.” I pointed to the purple notebook I’d left on the couch cushion.
He grinned, shaking his head. “Relax, sweetheart. No, they don’t pay much attention to us, like I said.” He glanced over at the journal, picking it up. “I’m sorry about this, Bella. I really am. When you’ve been alive this long, you tend to forget the good things. The idea of you becoming a reality was…terrifying for me,” he said, gazing up at me. “I wanted Giselle’s prediction to be true, but then…I didn’t. I was scared. When we figured out that beautiful swan meant Bella Swan, I kind of refused to deal with the reality of it. Esme told me your story, how you rarely spoke, and I just didn’t think I’d be good for you. It seemed so unfair to drag you into all of this.” He waved a hand around the room.
“Why?” I asked, trying not to cry, but the tears stung my eyes.
“C’mere,” he whispered, waving me to him. He pulled me between his legs. “Bella, you’d already been through so much, and I just thought I’d make it worse, but…I saw you…” He smiled up at me. “I heard you play the first time in this castle, and I was…a changed man.
“I tried to stay away from you, and while I was warring within myself, you dropped your journal in the piano room. I’m sorry I read it, but then…I’m not. You were such a silent mystery, I just needed more. And your last entry, you sounded so scared. I just wanted you to know how strong you were, that no one would touch you here.”
“I’m not strong,” I whispered, shaking my head.
Edward smiled at me, but he let that argument go. “When I heard you play, I ran to Esme, told her I wanted to tutor you. I couldn’t fight it anymore. I needed to know you. The journal was a bad idea, but it allowed me to leak a little of the truth of myself to you. I shouldn’t have, I know, but I couldn’t help it.” He pressed a hand to his chest. “Bella, you must understand that when our kind change, it’s fierce and swift and irrevocable.” He held up the purple journal. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t read that!” I blurted out softly, smiling when he laughed. “It’s…dumb, and now it’s…”
“Irrelevant?”
“Yeah.”
He looked down at it, a rather sad expression on his face, but he handed it to me. “Burn it,” he stated, jerking his chin toward the fireplace. “We’ll start a new one. That is, if you want to.”
That question seemed bigger than just about writing to each other. I reached for the journal, not taking my eyes from his face. His honey eyes darkened a little as he waited for me.
Swallowing nervously, I asked, “Is that what you want?”
He smiled a little, shaking his head, but gently squeezed my shoulders, dragging his hands down my arms. He took the hand with my bracelet and toyed with the charms.
“Bella, I…” His brow furrowed and his eyes closed so that his long lashes rested against his pale skin. “I’m incapable of staying away from you. I’m also incapable of making an unbiased decision when it comes to you.” His eyes finally opened, locking with mine. “On the other hand, I know that this…this role I’m playing means I’m too old for you. To all of those around us, I’m the twenty-two-year-old piano tutor to a seventeen-year-old high school student.”
“You’re worried what people think?” I asked, smirking when his grin lit up his face.
“Not about me, sweetheart,” he said with a chuckle, “but it would cause a stir…publicly.”
I could no longer resist reaching out to brush his hair from his forehead, and it was so soft. He seemed to relish the touch, but kept his eyes on me.
“I won’t always be seventeen,” I told him, smirking when he grinned. “You, however, will always be twenty-two. And maybe you won’t always be my piano tutor.”
“Oh, you wound me, love,” he said with a chuckle. “I love teaching you.”
“So…next year, you tutor me…in private,” I said with a raised eyebrow.
Edward’s eyes blackened to pitch, and it was sexy in a dark way, causing me to lean in, but I stopped myself, looking down at the purple notebook. I frowned at it, realizing just what it meant. I’d originally written in a journal to my dad and then to some sort of ghost that Edward had become. But as I stood there, with Edward’s sweet face waiting for me to find the words, I knew I’d changed, too. He wasn’t the only one.
Locking gazes with him, I said, “I’ve talked this entire time.”
Grinning, he cupped my face. “You have.” His smile fell quickly when tears filled my eyes. “Why does that upset you?”
Shaking my head, I swiped haphazardly at my tears, but he reached up and did a gentler, better job. “I’ve been… I’ve worried that…” When he frowned, I sighed deeply, frustrated at myself. “What if… Edward, what if you’re the only one I can do this with?!” I hissed, a sob erupting from me. “What if I’m always like this? A freak? I’m not normal, and you’ll…”
“I’ll what?” he asked, though his voice held a bit of a growl to it. “Leave you? Get tired of it?” He shook his head, frowning up at me. “Won’t happen, Bella. I’ve told you before that I’m not going anywhere.” He wrapped an arm around my waist, pulling me closer, but he held my face so that I couldn’t look away from him. “I’ll wait as long as you need. I love that it’s me you can talk to, and maybe that’s selfish. I don’t care. You don’t know how much you’ve healed me, love. I can barely explain it, but maybe Carlisle’s right that I’m helping you, too, somehow. Is that so bad?” he asked me in a whisper.
I shook my head, sniffling a little. “I love that it’s you, too, but…” I shook my head again. “Edward, I don’t want to be this way, but I don’t know how to change it.”
I started to back away from him, but he held onto me, keeping me close. “Bella, look at me,” he stated, almost as a command, but there was a slight begging to his tone. When I finally looked at his face, he said, “Sweetheart, you won’t always be this way. You’re getting better all the time. But I swear to you, I’m here for whatever you throw my way. That’s what you do when you love someone.”
Another sob broke from me, and I finally wrapped my arms around his neck. God, I loved him, too, and I really hoped he meant it.
“I’m not as strong as everyone seems to think, Edward,” I sniffled into his neck, reveling at how just the scent of him could calm me.
He pulled back, holding my face in his hands like I was made of spun glass. “Tell me why you think that. You keep saying it, and you seem to think what happened to your dad was your fault. I can promise you that it wasn’t.”
Shaking my head, I pushed and pushed at him until he released me, though it looked like it pained him to do it.
“No! It was!” I yelled, which caused my knees to buckle in panic.
Edward reacted immediately, scooping me up and depositing me gently onto the sofa as he knelt in front of me. “Breathe, love. Don’t let the fear win. I know you’re scared, but I promise you… I’ll never let anything happen to you.”
He forced me to look at him as my breathing calmed down. Just his mere presence was helping, but knowing that he loved me seemed to give me some sort of courage.
“You promise?” I asked him, sounding like a scared child, but he honestly made me feel safer than I’d felt even before my dad died.
“Oh, yeah,” he said with a slight smile, but his forehead fell to mine. “I vow to you, Bella. No one will ever touch you again. One day, you’ll believe me.”
I sniffled and smiled, but shook my head. “I need to tell you what happened that night. I’ve never told anyone.”
He closed his eyes, but opened them again. “I’m here when you’re ready, Bella, but there’s no rush.”
I pulled back, tracing the scar across my throat, knowing the feel of every inch of it. “I want to tell you now…before I lose my courage.”
Edward studied my face, but stood up from the floor and took a seat next to me on the sofa. His face seemed blank, but I could see that he was preparing himself a little. Leaning in, he dropped a kiss to my temple, much like he had on the piano bench not too long ago.
“You have my undivided attention, my love,” he said, looking me in the eye. “The floor is yours.”



3 comments:

Maria said...

Thank you the the update and the photos. They are a wonderful complement to the story. I'm looking forward to hear Bella's story.

Snoopylover said...

I love the pic's that you add to this. It brings so much to the story.
I read the story on FF then come here and look at the pics :)

Love it, awesome story!!

LittleBella13 said...

OMG! What an awesome chapter!! I can't wait for the next update!! I'm so glad that Bella talked to Edward before she goes back home for Christmas...Will he be following her??? Please update soon!!!

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