Monday, December 19, 2016 | By: Drotuno

Even in Death Chapter 2

Chapter 2 – Make This Go Away
Look at me, my depth perception must be off again
Cause this hurts deeper than I thought it did
It has not healed with time
It just shot down my spine
 You look so beautiful tonight
Remind me how you laid us down
And gently smiled before you destroyed my life
Would you find it in your heart
To make this go away
And let me rest in pieces
“Rest In Pieces” by Saliva
EDWARD
I stepped up to the counter of the UW library, my eyes raking over the form who had yet to look my way. She was busy, but she was beautiful. Long, dark hair pulled up into a high ponytail, petite but curved in all the right places, and skin that resembled creamy, smooth silk. But it was the eyes that just about caused my knees to buckle out from underneath me.
Warm, brown, and sweet – like melted chocolate. It felt like she was looking straight into my soul.
“Checking out?” she asked, smirking when all I could do is nod and push my stack of books toward her on the counter. “Okay, I’ll need your ID…”
I pulled out my wallet with shaky hands, trying to ignore the impatient people behind me.
“C’mon, beautiful, I’m gonna be late for class…” The kid behind me trailed off when those dark eyes landed on him with a withering glare.
“Then you should’ve come up here sooner. Now, you’ll wait.”

She turned back to my ID, smiling my way as she scanned the barcode. “Edward Masen,” she read, giving me a quick glance.
“Yes.”
“Nice to meet you, Edward. I’m Bella Swan,” she said, and she picked up my books with my ID on top to hand back to me. “See you ’round?”
“Yeah, definitely.”
“Good.”
I turned from the counter, walking back to the table where I’d been working and giving Bella one more glance. She was ignoring the advances of the guy who’d been in line behind me, shaking her head no at whatever he was asking her.
~oOo~
The drive back to the dorms was quiet, but dinner had been anything but silent. I’d talked more with Bella than all the girls I’d known my whole life. And not one time had I felt awkward or out of place. Until now…
I wanted to kiss her. I wanted more than the flirting we’d done in the library and the amazing date we’d just been on. I wanted her to be mine. We’d become friends and study partners after the first meeting in the library a few months ago. I wasn’t the only guy trying to get her attention, but I was the only one she interacted with, and I was certain I was the only one with her phone number.
I parked the car, turning to Bella when she smiled my way.
“You don’t have to walk me up there.”
“Yes, I do. I want to make sure you’re safely inside, Bella. Statistically, college is—”
“Hush, Edward,” she said through a sweet laugh. “My dad’s a cop, you know. Think he didn’t tell me all the statistics before I came to UW?”
Grinning, I nodded and got out of the car. I walked around to her side, holding the door for her. “Then he’d tell you that walking alone back to the dorms is dangerous. No matter what time it is.”
She studied my face, tilting that gorgeous head of hers up at me. “And you should tell your grandmother she taught you fine manners, Mr. Masen.”
“She’ll be glad to know that.” I chuckled, shaking my head and giving her dorm a quick glance as I leaned back against my car. “Bella, I… I had a really good time tonight.”
“Me, too.”
“I want to do it again.”
“Me, too.”
“And…I really want to kiss you.”
She giggled, biting her bottom lip briefly. “Huh…me, too. So what do we do about that?” she asked softly as she stepped closer.
Reaching up, I brushed a lock of hair away from her face to tuck it behind her ear. Trailing my fingers down her cheek and along her neck, I leaned in closer. She smelled so very good, like flowers and fruit and a touch of popcorn from the movie we’d gone to see. Despite my desire to kiss her, my experience was so limited, it was practically nonexistent, but when her soft lips met mine, everything seemed to click into place. I pulled back a little, gazing into her eyes, and then leaned back in for more. Top lip, bottom lip, and then Bella turned her head just right, and we were lost to each other. Tongues tasted, swirling together, and teeth scraped lightly over lips. My hand slipped deep into those dark locks, pulling her closer and cradling her head. Bella gripped my shirt and my jeans at the waist, and by the time we came up for air, I was losing control of every part of my body.
Bella’s eyes were even darker when she gazed up at me. “Edward…” she breathed softly.
Nodding, I pressed my forehead to hers. “Yeah.” I pulled back and gave our surroundings another glance. “Let me walk you to the door, Bella.”
Her lips met mine briefly, and she nodded as she slipped her hand into mine. “Okay.”
Once we were at the dorm’s entrance, I turned back to her, leaning in for one last kiss. “So,” I whispered against her mouth, “I’ll see you ’round?”
Her laugh was beautiful as I repeated the same thing she’d said to me the day we’d met. “Yeah, Edward. Definitely.”
~oOo~
“I’ll see you ’round, baby…”
Those words and the sad sound of her voice snapped me out of sleep like I’d been slapped. I sat straight up in bed, trying to catch my breath and stop the flow of tears, but the pain was too much. The emptiness that Bella had left behind was massive and all-consuming. My chest and heart ached with it all.
Steve came bounding into the room, tail high. He looked at me curiously as he hopped up on the bed. His head bumped against my jaw. “Hmm?” he purred against my hand.
“Jesus, I can still smell her here, Steve,” I sighed into his fur, and he sat down in front of me. Running my hand over his head and down his back, I gazed over at the framed picture on Bella’s nightstand. It had been taken around the time we’d gone on our first date. The picture radiated hope and love and silly smiles. It was windblown hair and stubble on my face. “I just want her back,” I whispered to the cat Bella had adopted just about the time we’d moved in together.
Hmmph,” he purred again, this time against my cheek, but he turned tail and left the room, most likely wanting to be fed.
I rubbed my face with both hands, trying to shake the dreams out of my brain. As good as the memories were, it hurt when they were gone the second my eyes opened. Although, as I pulled on jeans, I had to be grateful that once again last night was memories and not nightmares.
I was off from the hospital for the day, and I was expecting Charlie later. The idea of unpacking this house without my wife’s input was daunting, but I knew I needed to at least start on it, on something. There was still the living room and den left to do, so I trudged downstairs to make coffee, feed Steve, and get to work.
Starting in the living room, I unpacked DVDs and more framed pictures, leaving the books for another day. Hooking up all the components to the TV didn’t take long. We’d had cable service installed the week we’d moved in, but we hadn’t even had a chance to turn it on. Stacking up the slowly emptying boxes, I brought them out to the garage for the recycle bin.
I entered the den – or really, what Bella had jokingly dubbed the music room – and shook my head at the large ghost standing in the middle of the space. There were very few things I’d taken from my parents’ home after they’d died, but the cherry wood baby grand piano was one of them. And I was happy that Grandmother had let me continue lessons well into my high school years. When Bella and I moved in together, my grandmother wasn’t happy, but when I proposed, giving Bella my mother’s ring, my grandmother shipped my piano from Chicago to Seattle as an early wedding gift. The first time I’d played for Bella, my girl had cried happy tears, telling me I was very talented.
A lump formed in my throat with that memory as I reached for the cover. I tugged it off slowly, revealing rich, dark wood. My brow furrowed at the open lid to the keyboard. I didn’t remember leaving it open when the movers picked it up. In fact, I was damned sure I’d secured it closed before they’d put it on the truck. I also knew that I hadn’t touched the piano since they’d set it in this room. There had been no time, with the little unpacking we’d done and with Bella’s accident, then the search, and finally the memorial service.
However, sometime before any of that, my wife had taken the time to leave me a note on the music stand.
My beautiful Edward… Don’t you ever get too busy to play. Always play. For me. Love, Bella
Seeing her handwriting, hearing her voice in my mind, and seeing such a blatant reminder that she was gone caused a sob to tear through my chest and throat. I sat down hard onto the piano bench, crying for the loss of that beautiful spirit, the amazingly loving woman that had ruined me for anyone else on this earth. My mind understood that was quite possibly the last note she’d left me. My heart, on the other hand, wanted to believe the angel that was my wife was trying her best to comfort me. Both of those concepts were irreconcilable. They clashed together, refusing to let me breathe. Reaching for the note, I crumbled it in my hand, bringing it up to my nose. Unbelievably, the paper was saturated with the scent of fruit and flowers, just like everything else my girl had ever touched – bedding, clothes, my old T-shirts.
Keeping the wadded note in one hand, I reached for the closest thing with the other. CDs by the handful met their demise against the far wall. Plastic cases and shiny discs exploded against the wall in raging heartbreak. I threw them as fast as I could grasp them out of the box. I hurled them hard enough to dent the drywall, chip the paint, and even lodge bits of plastic into the wall. I threw them until strong arms wrapped around me.
“Jesus, son… Sit down,” I heard Charlie’s voice at the edge of my rage. “What happened?!”
I held out my shaking fist as he sat me harshly back down onto the piano bench. Warm dark eyes met mine as he pried my fingers apart to retrieve the note Bella had left for me. Sad tears welled up in those eyes as he read the words that probably meant more to me than he’d ever understand. He merely nodded solemnly, pressing the wrinkled note back into my hand.
“Sorry, kid,” he whispered through a heavy sigh.
It was then that I’d noticed he wasn’t alone. Glancing up at the large tanned-skinned man silently and reverently picking up the shattered CDs, I saw Bella’s childhood friend, Jacob. He looked older, more mature than the last time I’d seen him. In fact, he looked weighted down with stress and worry.
“Damn, Edward. You okay?” he asked as he set a stack of the CDs on the closest shelf. He walked to me, and I stood up to shake his hand, pulling him into a one-arm hug.
I let out a deep breath and rubbed my face hard. I held out the note. “This…I wasn’t expecting her to leave a note. It’s like… I don’t know…like she’s haunting me. Just when I think I can take a step forward, stuff like this happens.” I smirked at my own behavior, shaking my head a little.
Jacob read the note, his eyes narrowing a bit at the wrinkled paper and his body shivered, but he smoothed his expression when he met my gaze and handed it back. “She leave notes for you a lot?”
Snorting, I nodded and rolled my eyes. “All the time – my lunch, texts, textbooks, class notes, the bathroom mirror…” I chuckled at the last one, but that was just my silly Bella.
“Sorry to bust in on you, Edward,” Charlie said, wrinkling his nose. “We heard you yelling when we pulled in, and… I wasn’t sure… I’m a cop, kid. I’ll always be a cop.”
Grinning, I gripped his shoulder. “It’s fine. So I guess you brought her car…”
I walked to the window that faced the driveway, my forehead thumping to the glass at the sight of her little silver car parked behind mine. I sighed deeply, fogging up the glass for a moment. Right behind it was Charlie’s cruiser from the Forks Police Department. For a split second, I wished that car could talk, tell me what the hell had really happened that night on the side of the road. My only wish, my only thought was that I hoped to all of heaven above that my girl didn’t suffer. I could take just about anything but that.
“Her stuff is in the trunk,” Jacob said softly, handing over her keys. “We… Charlie and I cleaned the car up, fixed the tire, and…well, you can do what you want with it, Edward, but…it’s up to you. Maybe you should sell it?”
My gazed snapped angrily to him, but he meant no harm. “I dunno. Maybe,” I finally conceded with a shrug of one shoulder as I turned back to the little car I’d bought her. I fought my smile at the memory, because poor Bella had been devastated when the old truck her father had given her finally quit running altogether, even with Jacob’s constant maintenance on it. It had taken some seriously big puppy eyes and pleading to get Bella to give in and let me spoil her, but she loved the little Volvo I’d bought her.
“Thank you…for bringing it, I mean,” I told them, turning to face the two men, who were missing Bella just as much as I was, even Jacob, who was engaged to a really sweet girl on the reservation in La Push. He loved Bella like family.
Charlie gazed around the room, roaming out into the rest of the house. “Kid…you want some help? I mean, I’m no decorator, but I can at least help put stuff away, get you out of boxes.”
Jake nodded in agreement.
Huffing a tired laugh, I looked over at the stack of boxes still left. “Yeah, that would be great. I’ll order us some pizza. Want a beer?”
“No, I still gotta drive back, but pizza sounds good.”
~o~EID~o~
Setting the last of the broken-down moving boxes and two empty pizza boxes out by the street, I turned back toward the house. Jacob and Charlie had stayed with me for several hours – at least long enough to finish the living room, kitchen, and clean up the mess I’d made in the music room.
Three men trying to set up a house was comical at best. It was being done out of necessity, not any real decorating, where Bella would’ve come into play. Somewhere in the house were curtains and pillows and art that needed to go on the walls, but for now, having our possessions in their place was good enough. I walked up the driveway by Bella’s car.
Her keys had been in my pocket since Jake had handed them to me, so I pulled them out and popped open the trunk. A small cardboard box sat in the back amidst the normal car trunk paraphernalia – spare tire, a few tools, jumper cables. Bella had a few bags in there from the move, random stuff she didn’t want to forget but weren’t majorly important – some papers, shoes, a jacket left behind. I removed the box from the trunk, and set it down on the driveway before unlocking her car.
It was obvious Jake had driven it up from Forks, because the seat was much farther back from the steering wheel than Bella’s shorter legs could’ve ever reached. I sat down in the driver’s seat, inhaling deeply the scent of her car. Some of Bella’s flowery smell had dissipated, leaving the scent of oil and rubber; it was the scent of an auto shop. There was also an underlying aroma of a cleaner of some sort, which merely brought reality to the forefront of my mind. There had been blood everywhere in and around this car.
One more glance around the Volvo, I noted some things hadn’t been touched. Bella’s tassel from graduating from UW was hanging from the rearview mirror. A picture of the two of us was tucked into the corner of the dashboard behind the steering wheel. Reaching for it, I plucked it from its spot, tucking it safely away in my wallet. I rummaged through the console and the glove compartment, but it was all the normal things – insurance and registration, tissues, and a few random pens, not to mention some spare emergency feminine products. With a sigh, I got out of the car and locked it, picking up the box to tote inside.
It had been a long damn day, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to see what was in the box, but I sat down on the sofa in the living room and set the box on the coffee table. I glared at the seemingly innocent thing but pulled it to me, opening the flaps. Letting out a long breath, I peered inside. Bella’s purse and sweater sat on top, with a tiny, plastic bag containing jewelry. It was that last thing that brought tears to my eyes. A necklace I’d given Bella our first Christmas together was inside, the delicate chain snapped. No wedding band or engagement ring, not the earrings I’d given her for our first wedding anniversary. Just that necklace that looked like it had been pulled forcefully from her neck. I set that aside, taking out her purse, which was the usual stuff – wallet, mail, tissues, pain reliever. All the things Bella lugged around in her purse. Still no cell phone, which I could well imagine was lost somewhere in the Forks’ woods, dead and water-logged.
With a sigh, I left the stuff on the coffee table to go upstairs and shower. I had an early shift at the hospital in the morning.
Once I stepped out from the bathroom, I smiled at Steve, who had been extremely helpful investigating empty boxes all day. I could imagine such a task had been hard, because he was sprawled out on Bella’s side of the bed.
As I plugged my phone in to charge overnight, I noticed I’d missed a few calls and voice mails. I played them back on speakerphone while I dressed in underwear for bed. The first one was expected. Charlie.
“Hey, son, just letting you know we made it back home. If you need anything, just call. We’re not far – both of us. We can come to you, or if you need out of the city, you are more than welcome here. There are a few games comin’ up, so… If you’re interested, let me know.”
I smirked and shook my head at his message. Sports, to Charlie, could heal all wounds. Or at the very least numb some of the pain. The phone beeped for the next message as I closed the bedroom door and shut off the bathroom light.
There wasn’t any voice, just some sort of static or whispering, ending in what sounded like a growl. My brow furrowed as I sat next to the bed and replayed it. It was quick and almost too soft to hear, no matter how high up I put the volume.
The next message – and last – made me sit up straighter.
“Edward, it’s Carlisle. I was wondering if you could meet me in my office a bit early tomorrow. I haven’t had a chance to visit pediatrics yet, and I was hoping you could introduce me to the nursing staff on the floor and show me around. Roxanne says they think most highly of you up there, so I… Well, as you can imagine, I’m still getting to know this hospital and the people.” He laughed lightly. “You’d be doing me a huge favor, and I’d like to see how you’re holding up. Thanks.”
For a moment, I wondered if he was still meeting some resistance concerning his recent placement at HMC. And because I hadn’t been around during the whole thing, I was a safe bet for him. But then there were the few times I had worked with him in the ER over the week. He was, indeed, a calm, caring doctor. He genuinely cared about staff and patients, and it seemed he had taken a liking to me, because he checked on me regularly. Or maybe my story made him feel pity for me. I wasn’t sure which excuse it was, but I had no problem helping him out. He was a bit strange, but I liked him.
Resetting my alarm for just a bit earlier, I fell back on the bed, smiling over at Steve, who barely shifted when the bed moved. One long, orange paw stretched out, finally covering his eyes.
“Right, right… Turn the light out, human. Got it.” I chuckled, reaching over to shut off the light.
The room went dark, except for the street light outside beaming in through the window. I closed my eyes and pulled the covers up, trying to relax after the long, strange day. Just as I was about to roll over, the sound of my phone buzzing across my nightstand had my eyes snapping open.
Once I’d grabbed the phone, my heart stopped and my hand shook so badly I almost dropped the phone to the floor. As it was, it landed on the bedside table with a thump, still continuing to vibrate. But it was who was calling that had my brow breaking out into a sweat.
My wife’s happy smile, a picture I’d taken just a few months ago, lit up the screen of my phone. Her number. Her face. It didn’t make sense. She was gone, and so was her phone.
Swallowing thickly, I swiped my thumb across the screen to answer.
“Who is this?” I answered angrily.
There was a sudden inhale of breath, but whoever was on the other end didn’t say anything.
“How did you get this phone!?” I yelled, starting to shake with anger and heartbreak. “Answer me, dammit! Where did you find it?!”
There was that same whispering that sounded like static, and then the phone beeped that the call had been ended.
I wanted to throw my phone, but at the same time, I wanted answers. My first assumption was that some kids had found my wife’s phone and were playing around. But deep down, somewhere in the depths of my soul, I wanted her back. And as crazy as it sounded, I’d take whatever I could, even though I knew it wasn’t possible. My wife had died almost a month and a half ago.
As exhaustion finally overtook the anxiety and adrenaline, I knew I needed to remove her from my cell phone account, but the finality of that, of slowly erasing my wife from my life, hurt too much to think about at the moment. Finally, I sent a text to my Bella’s phone number before rolling over and going to sleep.
Reward for the return of this phone. Name your price. The only question is where you found it.
There was no reply by the time my alarm went off the next morning.

3 comments:

trbuie said...

This is gut wrenchingly sad. I think Bella is vamped up and Carlisle and Jacob both know. But no one is telling Edward the truth and they are keeping Bella from telling him or contacting him. :(

LoLo-50 said...

I feel so bad for Edward I do believe that Bella is alive,well sort of.

LoLo-50 said...

I feel so bad for Edward I do believe that Bella is alive,well sort of.

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