Monday, January 30, 2017 | By: Drotuno

Even In Death - Chapter 8

Chapter 8 – Together Again
So many fears were swimming around and around in my mind
Who would have dreamed the secrets we would find

I've found a world where love and dreams and darkness all collide
Maybe this time we can leave our broken world behind

We'll be together again
All just a dream in the end
“Together Again” by Evanescence
The car was quiet on the way back to the city. Exhausted, Jake opted to close his eyes during the drive. My mind wandered, taking strange paths of thought. I wondered if Bella would beat me home or if she’d sneak in the back door. I wanted to know what she hunted and where she went to do it. I also knew there was a long night ahead, because despite the help offered by the Cullens, the two of us had a lot of things to discuss about what had happened and what we wanted for the future. No matter what the Cullens or Jake said or wanted, no decisions would be made without Bella and me discussing it first.

As I drew closer to my neighborhood, I tapped Jake. “Hey, where’s your car?”
“The street behind yours, in front of that empty house. You know, the one on the other side of your fence. I’m on watch tonight from there.”
I snorted softy, shaking my head. “Damn, you two were really that close the whole time?”
He grimaced and then shrugged a shoulder. “Sometimes we were. Sometimes it was Jasper and Emmett.” He wrinkled his nose a little. “She couldn’t stay away from you, Edward. We warned her it would be hard, that she wasn’t quite in control, but she wouldn’t have a bit of it. She kept saying it wasn’t fair, that you wouldn’t have left her, so why would she do it?” He sat up as we got closer to my house. “Be careful, man. She’s super strong, but you saw how all over the place she is. Just take your time and be careful. I’m not far if something goes wrong, okay?”
I grinned, nodding. “Fine, Jake. I get it.” I pointed to a drive-thru, and he nodded. “There’s nothing at the house to eat, so I might as well grab something now,” I explained.
We were pulling back into my driveway in minutes, and I shut off the car, staring at my home silently.
“She’s not here yet,” Jake stated before shoving a bunch of fries into his mouth.
Chuckling, I nodded and got out of the car. Once inside, I fed Steve, and Jake and I ate at the kitchen counter. Steve decided to join us, cleaning himself up in the spare bar stool.
“Okay, so… What’s with Rosalie?” I asked, grimacing at the memory of my wife and the blonde vampire going toe to toe.
Jacob barked out a laugh, shaking his head. “Pleasant, right?” He rolled his eyes. “She’s kind of a bitter bitch. And I mean that as… I’ve heard the story about how she was changed into a bloodsucker, and it’s pretty harsh. Attacked, beaten, raped by the asshole who was supposed to marry her. He cornered her with his buddies, and they were all trashed. It was Carlisle who found her in an alleyway.” He held up one finger as he drank from his soda. “But… Don’t feel sorry for her. Bella wasn’t lying when she said Rose killed everyone she knew as a human. She waited just long enough until the investigation was over and just long enough until she wasn’t a feral newborn vamp. She stalked, terrorized, and killed every man who touched her that night, and she didn’t let a drop of that blood cross her lips.”
My eyebrows shot up at the story, but he went on.
“She’s…um… She’s loyal to Carlisle to a fault, even though she claims she hates what she is. A few years later, Emmett had been attacked by a bear, and she knew he was her mate, so she brought him to Carlisle for help. She’s angry and loves a good argument, but she’s one of them. Rose will fight for you, in spite of her frigid personality.”
“You have changed your mind about them,” I pointed out almost as a taunt but truthfully, too.
He shrugged a shoulder. “It’s their presence that sets off the change in my pack. When they were in Forks, they were there for three years, and in that time four or five of us started to change into the wolf. It’s a wretched process at first, so yeah, it was easy to hate them. Then those nomads came through, and we were working together as best we could. All that shit changed when it came to Bella…” He shook his head slowly, wiping his face with a napkin. “They knew of her, but I was her friend, so I lost my mind and put my foot down. She had to stay. Technically, she was the responsibility of the pack and the Cullens. We’d caused it, so we had to work together.”
“Personally, I think it’s good for you,” we heard from the door of the den.
Grinning Bella’s way, I took in the sight of her. Seeing her in our home again was a touch overwhelming, but she was leaning against the doorjamb watching the two of us. Steve uncurled himself from the chair and dropped down to the floor to walk to her. He sat down at her feet, wrapping his tail around himself. She squatted down slowly to love on him. He was twitchy with her at first but then closed his eyes and purred.
“Whatever, Bella,” Jake countered, getting up to toss his wrappers in the garbage. “I can play well with others when I try.”
She snorted, rolling her eyes up at him. “Get out of my house.”
Jacob laughed, nodding a little, but he looked my way. “This… I’m glad this worked out for you guys. I’m not far.” He pointed toward the back door. “However, I’ll be going back to La Push once you’re at work tomorrow, to check in and to see which members of my pack are coming back to the Cullens to patrol the woods.”
“Thanks, Jake,” both Bella and I said at the same time.
“Sure, sure.”
Once the back door closed behind him, Bella and I locked eyes.
I was just about to tell her how much I missed having her home, but her demand was sudden and adorable.
“Play for me,” she whispered, her chin trembling. “You haven’t touched the piano in ages.”
I shook my head in agreement. She was right. The only time I’d gone near the instrument was to unpack the den and uncover it. I’d found her note, but I didn’t have the heart to play. However, now I couldn’t deny her. In fact, my whole soul felt lighter and freer with the knowledge that she was still alive – no matter what definition one used.
“For you, sweetheart? I’d gladly play,” I told her, offering her my hand. “But only if you sit with me.”
Her smile and giggle were beautiful as always, and her hand slid into mine perfectly. I led us into the den, gazing around a little. This was the way it should’ve been once we’d moved into our house. And I was going to make damn sure that I soaked up every second.
“We still have some talking to do, baby,” I whispered against her temple as I settled her down onto the piano bench.
“I know, Edward. And we will. But I’ve missed this. You. The sound of your music.”
I settled down beside her, glancing over at her. “Requests?”
Grinning, she shook her head. “Nope.”
As I studied her face, endless songs and composers ran through my mind – Beethoven, Chopin, Debussey. I even considered something I’d written for her, but in the end, I put my hands on the keys with a specific mood in mind. Liebesleid by Kreisler seemed to fit. The title alone meant “Love’s Sorrow.”
I wasn’t sure who relaxed quicker, Bella or me. But the moment I started to play, a sense of calm washed over the room. Bella let out a long, deep breath, and my fingers played with ease. It was a complicated piece, but I’d needed it. I needed something to wake me up, to bring me back to who I’d been before I thought I’d lost the beautiful girl by my side, the one watching my fingers with a new fascination.
When the song was over, I chuckled a little at her wide eyes. “What, sweetheart?”
She stood suddenly, her hand splaying flat on the lid of the piano and her eyes locking on mine. “Play something else, Edward. I can hear everything.” She grinned with a childlike excitement. “I hear your heart match the tempo, the…the…things inside pounding the strings, the pedals pressing, the build, the sadness… I hear everything. I can even hear your fingertips touching the keys.”
“Well, that’s different,” I teased her, giving her a wink when her head spun my way. “Fast or slow?”
“Don’t care.”
For the next several minutes, she drank in everything as I gave her bits and pieces of all sorts of songs – classical, contemporary, and my own. It was the latter that stopped us, because I’d written a song at the beginning of our relationship, and it seemed to sum up just how much I’d fallen for the beautiful girl in the UW campus library. I’d dubbed it a lullaby back then, but it was more than that; it was the shy, perfect start to just us. I played that one through completely, my gaze locked on to my hands, which hadn’t yet left the keys. My shoulders hunched a bit, and my brow furrowed as I tried not for the first time that day to wrap my head around the fact that I had my girl back. Tears stung my eyes as I began to wonder if I was dreaming, lucky, or even if all this was in my head and I’d completely succumbed to the grief.
Strong arms wrapped around me from behind, and Bella’s body molded to my back. “I’m sorry,” she whispered against my shoulder.
Sitting up when she stepped back, I turned around on the piano bench, smirking when she realized she’d apologized again when I’d asked her to stop. She shifted nervously on her feet in front of me.
“I can smell your tears,” she stated, her nose wrinkling at how strange that sounded. “I hate that smell; it’s salty and almost acidic. It hurts me.” She shrugged a shoulder and rubbed a spot over her sternum. “I could smell them when you were asleep, when you would call for me. I could hear that all the way next door.” She pointed toward the back door. “So I’d come to you, talk to you, hoping like hell it would soothe you.”
“C’mere,” I whispered, offering her my hand. When she slipped hers slowly into mine, I tugged her a little to stand between my legs. Reaching up, I trailed my fingers along her cheek. “I’m sure I should thank you. My dreams were…”
“Ugly,” she finished for me, and I nodded. “At first, when the Cullens were merely placating me by letting me see you, I’d think to myself… ‘This is the last time. He should move on.’ But I’d always come back.” Her brow furrowed as she cupped my face in her hands. “I love you too much, Edward,” she said through a defeated-sounding sigh, smiling when I turned my head to kiss the inside of her wrist. “When we realized Victoria had figured out who you were to me, I knew I had to protect you, so…”
She trailed off, and I waited patiently to see if this was like before, where she was all over the place, but she remained quiet for longer than I expected. However, like before, her next statement came from nowhere.
“What do we do, baby?” she whispered, her bottom lip trembling. “Do you honestly want this as your future? No kids, no more daylight, no more growing old in this house. Hell, no more growing old at all if that’s what we choose.”
“I think that’s the key, Bella,” I said with a nod. “What we choose.”
“Me, too.”
“I know I want to always be with you.”
“Me, too.”
“I know there’s a lot I need to learn about it all.”
She snorted, rolling those beautiful eyes that seemed a touch lighter since the Cullen home. “Me, too.”
Grinning, I wrapped an arm around her waist to hold her close. “Well, maybe we can learn together?” I suggested, tilting my head a little. “You know, so when we decide about the future, we’ll be prepared.”
“I want that.”
“Me, too.” I smiled at the conversation that took on our usual rhythm.
I lost myself in the sight of her face, those eyes that seemed to darken just a bit in the last few minutes. That was a new thing; the color of her eyes seemed to change with her mood.
“Your eyes,” she said so very softly, trailing a finger beneath them. “I thought the green was so pretty before, but now…” She huffed a sweet laugh as she shook her head. “I can see so many more colors besides the green – gold, brown, even blue. They’re beautiful, especially with those long eyelashes.”
The way she was looking at me brought back so many memories. I could still read her, in spite of her changes. I knew when my girl wanted to be kissed, but I was still remembering Alice’s warnings from back at the Cullen home.
I took a deep breath and let it out, swallowing thickly. “Bella, I… If you don’t stop looking at me that way, we’re in so much trouble.”
She grinned, and it was a little mischievous and a whole lot sexy. She leaned into me, and I couldn’t stop my hands. It was such a natural habit to touch my wife. Up her thighs, along her sides, and around to her back, I waited patiently for her to break that gaze, but she didn’t, and it seemed like she was testing herself.
“Bella—” I started, but she let out a sound I’d never heard before – it sounded close to a purr or a growl…or maybe both combined.
“Edward, don’t move.” Her tone was no nonsense yet pleading at the same time.
My hands came to a standstill, and I wanted to laugh that they happened to have stopped on her sweet bottom, something I’d always loved to touch. I could feel the difference in her body right then. She was firmer, muscular, almost too hard, but my hands stayed still.
“I want to try,” she whispered, and it was barely audible. “I’ve missed you so much. I thought you’d hate this…that you’d be better without me, but… I want to kiss you; I need to try.”
I gritted my teeth in order to not just give into what she wanted, which was how things used to work, but that wasn’t the case now. Things had changed, she had changed – literally – so we had some relearning to do.
“Okay, so tell me what you need me to do, sweetheart.”
“Stay still.”
“Don’t move,” she breathed, dropping her forehead lightly to mine. Both hands came up to frame either side of my face as she swallowed thickly. “I… There’s a burn, but it’s nothing. There’s a part of me that just wants…” She trailed off as her eyes closed and her nostrils flared a little, like she was trying to get herself under control. When those eyes opened again, they were pitch black. “I want to take, to claim what’s mine, Edward. It’s so strange.”
“Talk it through, my Bella,” I stated calmly. “You say you’re too strong, so go slow. Focus.”
“I don’t want to hurt you.”
“I’ll tell you if you do.”
“I could lose it so easily.”
“Slow, Bella.”
She nodded against me, closing those eyes again, and she leaned in to press her lips to mine with the ghost of a touch. For a moment, it really was about helping her to control her strength. However, everyone’s warnings came to mind, including Bella’s own.
This kiss was different than any kiss before it. Whereas before, it was me who had to control urges and strength and wants and needs, now it was Bella. There was a frightening amount of strength humming beneath the surface of her hard skin. Her body shook with her attempt to control it.
Her smell, her taste, and her sounds were getting to me. They made me want more and more and more. I forced myself to stay completely still, but it was for nothing when her lips became urgent and needy. What started as slow and gentle – top lips, bottom lips, in the middle – all went out the window when it was Bella who moved. She shifted quickly, climbing astride my lap on the piano bench, and suddenly we were kissing in a way that I’d thought I’d never have again.
I lost myself for several seconds, pulling her flush to me, turning my head, and threading my fingers into her hair. When a sound escaped me that I couldn’t stop as tongues touched and tasted, Bella was off me and across the room before I could take the next breath. The sound of her hitting the wall was a muted thump.
She was panting, but so was I. Licking my lips, I shook my head.
“I’m sorry,” we both said at the same time, which made us start to chuckle.
I rubbed my face, still laughing a little. “Wow, Bella.”
She huffed out a breathless laugh. “No shit.” When I pulled my hands away to see her, she was nervously fidgeting but hadn’t left the wall where she’d stopped. “Edward, I… I have to be so careful with you.”
She stepped away from the wall, pointing to the slight damage she’d caused. There was a bit of a dent in the drywall, a barely there crack. Luckily, it was the same wall at which I’d thrown my CDs, so it didn’t matter much. It needed to be repaired at this point.
Bella glanced around the room, seemingly searching for something. When she found an old vase – honestly, I couldn’t remember where we’d gotten it – she picked it up and locked gazes with me.
Without a bit of effort, that vase was instantly crushed into a sparkling glass powder. And when she held up her hands, there wasn’t a scratch on her.
“I hate it, Edward.”
“You shouldn’t.”
“I’m not normal.”
“But you’re mine,” I countered, shrugging a shoulder as I stood up. “Physical and diet changes don’t mean a damn thing to me, Bella. I’m not going anywhere, and I’m okay with starting over in some aspects.” I sighed deeply, shoving my hands deep into my pockets to keep from kissing her again. “Jesus, sweetheart, I thought you were dead! Shit, I’d have been happy if your calls were ghostly.”
Bella laughed, finally relaxing, but she walked to me, and I welcomed her with open arms.
Kissing the top of her head, I whispered, “I’ll take anything… Anything, Bella, as long as you’re still here.”
“You should sleep, you know,” Bella whispered, reaching over to rake her fingers through my hair.
The room was in darkness, except for the moonlight and streetlamps shining through the window. If I thought Bella was beautiful before, then I was sorely mistaken. Even in the strange shadows that hung in the room, she looked unreal and ethereal, an angel or tempting demon, and I wasn’t sure I cared which one she was, because she felt real and tangible beneath the touch of my fingers.
We’d carried our conversation to our bedroom after we’d cleaned up the destroyed vase in the den. All I’d wanted was to hold her, and I was truly afraid to shut my eyes, for fear she wouldn’t be there when the alarm went off in the morning.
I nodded but didn’t say anything, but she knew me better than that.
Her smile was sad, sweet, and slightly heartbroken. “I’ll still be here when you wake up, Edward. I promise.”
A part of me believed her, but the still-bruised and battered part of my soul wasn’t so sure. We were on our sides, face-to-face, and I reached out to wrap an arm around her waist to pull her to me. The change was noticeable. Where she used to be soft in certain places, she was firmer, almost hard. The warmth of her was gone, but her sweet scent was the same, if not more intense. Or maybe I’d just missed it too much.
“Edward, please,” she begged in a whisper, her eyes dark but pleading.
“I… I just got you back, Bella,” I argued, my voice cracking a little when I reached up to trail my fingers along her cheek. “I don’t want this to end. What if…”
I tried my damnedest to swallow down all the emotions I was feeling all at once – fear, elation, sadness. The latter had to have been residual grief, but accepting that this was a new reality wasn’t exactly as simple as I would’ve thought. I lost my wife, but I got her back just as I was trying to accept that horrendous loss. It was a strange and dreamy feeling. I couldn’t wrap my head around any of it.
Her lips met mine – almost harshly. “Shh…” she breathed against my mouth. “I swear to you, baby. I’ll be here when you wake up. I’m very much real, and I’m very sorry you doubt that, Edward, but as long as you want me here, I’m here.”
I nodded, but I fought sleep, even though I was exhausted from the shocking events of the day.
“I love you,” I told her, wanting her to truly know that if I was dreaming up my wife in our bed again. “I always will, my Bella. Nothing could change that.”
Her gorgeous face softened, her eyes a bit lighter. She tangled her legs with mine, pressing soft kisses to my forehead and eyelids. However, it was her fingers raking gently through my hair that was doing me in. My heavy eyelids were getting harder and harder to keep open, and eventually, darkness took me.
When the alarm on my phone sounded loudly what seemed like minutes later, I sat up straight, wild-eyed and frantic.
“Hey, hey,” Bella soothed, cupping my face and making me look at her. “You’re okay.”
I collapsed back onto my pillows, nodding and rubbing my face. But I couldn’t help but smile when her body loomed over mine, with her hair creating a curtain around our faces.
“Morning,” I sighed, gazing up at the miracle smirking down at me.
Carefully, she leaned in and kissed my forehead and then my lips. “Get your handsome ass up. I made you breakfast before you have to leave for the hospital. You’re carpooling with Carlisle.”
Snorting at that whole thing she’d just rattled off at me, I kissed her again and sat up. “Right…no morning run. Got it.”
She frowned, reaching over to pet Steve, who was happily spinning circles in front of her for her attention. “It’s for your safety, Edward. I’ll get with Emmett today, see if he can get your old treadmill out of storage. I can’t go, but he can take the key. Okay?”
Chuckling, I cupped her face with one hand. “I wasn’t complaining, sweetheart.”
Her smile was small and sweet, but she nodded, pointing toward the bathroom. “Go shower, and I’ll make you a cup of coffee.”
This feeling of completely normal was a little surreal. I’d missed it so much. The routine of getting up, running, breakfast, coffee, and mumbling conversation had been an everyday thing for years – even when we were still at UW. The loss of it for well over two months had wrecked me. It was the simplest shit I’d missed most when I’d thought she was gone.
My shower was welcomed and needed. I’d only slept a handful of hours, and my day at the hospital would be long. When I stepped out, drying off, I caught sight of the foggy bathroom mirror.
Edward, I love you more than you’ll ever know. XOXO, Bella
The notes were back. And my whole being shook at the fact that I would never be without them again.
That thought, though, brought reality with it. Bella and I needed to discuss every option we had when it came to what she was, what I could be. I realized that my only source of information would be Carlisle, that we all needed to sit down and talk about what we wanted.
I wasn’t sure I was ready, but I knew for a fact that living without Bella wasn’t an option. Neither was growing old while she stayed the beautiful, youthful thing she was.
Once I was dressed and sitting at the counter, I couldn’t keep my gaze off Bella as she puttered around the kitchen. She was moving carefully and deliberately, making sure to watch her strength.
“Carlisle’s here,” she said, even though I’d heard nothing, and I turned to look out the front window to see the sleek, black Mercedes turning into the driveway just then. She smiled at me, walking around to stand in front of me. “I’ll be home when you get here. I promise.”
“What are you doing today?” I asked her, reveling in the fussing she was doing over my tie, collar, and hair.
“I need to hunt. And I’ll need to get with Jasper and Emmett about the storage unit. Text or call me anytime you want, baby, if you need.”
Nodding, I sighed and leaned in to kiss her forehead and inhale deeply the scent I loved so much. “So…I’ll see you ’round?” I asked, smiling when she giggled at the old phrase we’d always used.
“Oh, yeah, Edward, I’ll see you ’round.” Her lips met mine, and before I could lose myself in her, she pulled away. “I need to hunt. Sorry.” Her fingers were at her throat.
“Don’t be, sweetheart. We’re gonna get through this, you know.”
She nodded, looking worried, but pointed to the window. “Go, before Carlisle thinks I’ve run away with you.”
Grinning, I nodded, grabbing my coat from the hook at the door. “Maybe you will someday, Bella.”
Her giggle and smile were the best thing, and I needed them before I left the house.
“Maybe, Edward.”


trbuie said...

I like them getting reaquainted all alone with out the nosy Cullens. If I was Edward I would still be leery of their opinions on my adult life with my adult wife.

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