Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight. It belongs to Stephenie Meyer.
It's been forever, I know. So I figured that the best thing would be to give you a summary of what has happened up until now. If you remember the story, feel free to skip the paragraph below.
Edward, a homeless war veteran suffering from PTSD which has made him mute, is saved from freezing to death by Bella, a recently single librarian living in Chicago. They spend the night together, but the next morning Edward leaves, leaving Bella a note and his dog tags. Bella, who has already fallen hard, spends weeks searching for him and finally finds him in a homeless shelter downtown where he is staying with his closest friend, sixty-something Joe. They are attacked, Bella escapes and the next night Joe arrives on Bella's doorstep with a very sick Edward. After nursing him back to health Bella makes love with Edward and he again leaves, believing it is what's best. Bella discovers that she's pregnant and invites Joe to stay with her and also gets him a job at the library. Her best friend, Angela, is very supportive of her decision and is a big help to Bella. After a lot of soul searching, Edward decides to return to Bella and also start therapy for his PTSD in the hopes of getting his voice back. Several weeks later, Bella and Edward have grown close again, Joe has moved into a place of his own and Edward is finally ready to see his estranged sister who he hasn't spoken to in years. The visit ends badly when Alice's husband Jasper, who is in the army, accuses Edward of having done something terrible when it is revealed that Edward's discharge from the army was not honorable. Weeks later, Edward receives a text from Alice, asking him to come and visit, and to see their mother who knows nothing of Edward's life since Carlisle disowned him for choosing the army over medical school.
Okay, that pretty much sums it up, I think. :)
Thank you to Edward's Eternal for beta'ing this and for all her helpful advice. :)
And thank you to all of you, who are still reading this story despite the loooooong hiatus.
I woke, feeling incredibly relaxed and deliciously sore in all the right places. It made me smile. Edward and I had finally made love and it had been fantastic. Those weeks of waiting had definitely been worth it. I rolled over to find the other side of the bed empty and sat up, looking for him.
I grabbed my discarded sleep clothes from the night before and put them on before leaving the bedroom. I stopped abruptly outside the living room at the sight of him; he looked different somehow. Pacing, pacing, like an animal trapped in a cage, as if he couldn't escape. I had the strangest feeling that this was not the first time he had done this, only now I was here to witness it. Did he feel confined? Was he longing for something more than my small life? I'd had these thoughts before and I knew I had to ask him.
He turned and the look on his face just about made me cry. He looked guilty, like he had been caught doing something he shouldn't.
'Bella,' he mouthed, standing stock-still.
"Are you alright?"
He nodded slowly, then grimaced and shook his head.
"Do you…do this a lot?" I dared to ask.
He nodded again, avoiding my eyes, but I wouldn't have it. I walked over to him and held his face between my hands, lifting it up. I knew something was wrong, but not for a moment did I think that he wanted to leave me. Those days were behind us.
"What do you need?" I whispered. "Anything, sweetie."
He sighed, his warm breath fanning across my forehead.
"I can see that," I said.
He opened his mouth to speak but shook his head and turned to pick up his phone. His finger flew across the screen, typing out a message for me to hear.
"I'm sorry, Angel. I love being here but I need more. I need to run, to get more exercise. I need to get out every day or I'll go stir crazy. I should have said something but I didn't want to ask you for anything else. You've given me so much already."
I actually breathed out in relief. That was all? He needed to run?
"We'll get you some running gear then," I said, shrugging my shoulders. "It's no big deal, Edward. I want you to be happy and I definitely don't want to see you pacing like this again."
'But the money.'
"Will you please not worry about that?" I asked gently. "We can afford some shoes and stuff for you, I swear."
"I'll pay you back when I get a job," he typed.
"Okay," I nodded, sensing that this was important to him.
"I wish you would have said something sooner," I said.
"I didn't want to burden you," he typed.
"You're not a burden," I told him firmly. "I know that it's been all about me and the baby lately, but you matter just as much."
He shook his head.
"Yes, you do. I want you to talk to me if something is bothering you. I want to know and I want to help you if I can. You don't have to hide things from me. I love you, Edward, and nothing is going to change that. I swear."
He smiled then, so beautifully for a moment, but then his eyes clouded again.
"What is it?" I asked.
He hesitated and fiddled with his phone before handing it to me where I read the text message on the display.
"Your mom," I whispered and looked up at him. "Tonight?"
He nodded slowly.
'You'll come with me?' he mouthed, reaching out to hold my hand.
"Edward, of course I will."
He pulled me into his arms, against his chest, and I felt his whole body sag against me with relief.
"Of course I will," I said again, now muffled against his shirt. "You won't ever be alone again."
He tightened his arms around me in response and I held onto him just as firmly. I meant what I said; he was never going to be alone again. No matter what happened today with his family, he had me and that was never going to change. I loved him so very much; this silent, tormented man who had so much love and kindness inside of him. I wanted him to feel safe and cared for always, because he deserved it and he made me happier than I had ever been.
"Are you scared?" I whispered.
He nodded and let go slowly before leading me to the couch where we sat down together. His phone made our communication so much easier and he started typing immediately.
"I think I made a mistake," he started.
He glanced at me and I nodded for him to continue.
"She cut me out of her life when I left, but I did the same to her. I never contacted her after I was discharged and now she thinks I'm dead. I was stupid. Proud. What if she doesn't want me in her life? I was so ungrateful to her when I lived at home. I never ever appreciated everything she did for me. I was a shit son."
"I was," he insisted, tapping angrily at the display. "My dad treated her like crap and I just let him. I never stood up to him."
"You did," I said softly. "You left to do what you wanted instead of following his ambitions for you. You made your own way in life. That's what a mother wants for her child."
"And look what happened," he typed. "I don't have anything to show for my decision."
"Well, you have me," I said, unable to keep the hurt out of my voice. "You probably wouldn't have met me if you had stayed and finished school."
Edward's expression turned remorseful and he took my hands in his.
'I'm sorry, I didn't mean…'
"I know," I answered automatically.
'Bella, I didn't," he mouthed. 'Forgive me?'
"There's nothing to forgive," I said. "But I guess your dad won't exactly be impressed with your life now, will he?"
Edward shook his head, releasing my hands to pick up his phone again.
"He'll say I threw my life away."
"But you don't feel that way, do you?" I asked.
"No," he typed. "This is where I'm meant to be, I know that. Everything else doesn't matter but he won't see it like that. Career and money. That's all he ever cared about. He'll say I'm a loser, that I'm nothing."
"Then fuck him!" I exclaimed.
Edward cracked a smile.
'Fuck him?' he mouthed, grinning.
"Yeah," I smiled. "Fuck him. We don't need him, right?"
'We,' he said silently. 'I love that.'
"We," I said. "You and me and baby. Always. And maybe your mom and Alice too?"
"You want them in your life?"
He nodded again.
"Do you think it's possible?" he typed, glancing at me with an anxious expression on his face.
"I hope so," I whispered, holding his hand. "I really hope so."
Later that night I found myself standing outside a large beautiful townhouse, still holding Edward's hand in mine. He was clutching it so tightly that it almost hurt but I wasn't about to let go. He needed me so much in this moment.
"Should we ring the bell?" I asked, looking up at him.
He nodded stiffly, clenched his jaw, but didn't move a muscle so I reached to do it, going very slowly in case he wanted to stop me. He didn't. Instead, he flinched slightly when the sound rang out but didn't move otherwise. I didn't blame him for being on edge. The last time he had seen his sister, it had ended disastrously and I hoped Alice had been telling the truth when she promised that her husband wouldn't be here tonight. I had no doubt that it would be too much for Edward to handle, and seeing his mother again after all these years was more than enough to cause him stress and anxiety. I was apprehensive, as well. I knew that Edward's parents were rich and that their social circle consisted mainly of other people with money. The daughter of a small town police officer probably wasn't the sort of girl they had imagined at their son's side. Still, I hoped Edward's mother would like me and reached down to straighten my dress. Edward squeezed my hand and I looked up at him.
'Beautiful,' he mouthed and gave me a soft smile.
"Thanks," I whispered and drew a deep breath. "I guess I'm a little nervous."
'Me too,' he said silently, cracking a smile that didn't quite reach his eyes.
The door opened and Alice appeared, dressed in tight black jeans and shirt which looked like she had altered it to her own specifications, chopping up the neckline and adding safety pins here and there. With her black spiky hair and dark makeup she looked like something out of a Goth fashion magazine. I liked it a lot, although it wasn't something I could ever see myself wearing, but I could see how comfortable Alice felt. Edward had told me of their father's old-fashioned views on appearances and I was glad that she was finally able to wear what she wanted.
"Edward, Bella," she said, opening the door wider. "I'm so glad you're here, please come inside."
We shuffled inside, and I'll admit that Alice's polite, automatic greeting puzzled me a bit. It was so far removed from the way she had been the last time we saw her. Edward's eyes darted around the place and his grip on my hand tightened.
"Is someone else here?" I asked Alice.
"No!" she said. "I'm sorry, I should have…I mean, mom isn't here yet. And, uh, neither is Jasper. He's…out."
Edward's relief was palpable and his smile turned genuine as he faced his sister.
"I'm so glad you're here," she said softly, her eyes welling up. "I've missed you."
Edward released my hand and drew her into his arms. It made me beyond happy to see how much love there was between them, in spite of everything.
"Come in and sit down," Alice said after a minute, leading us into the living room. "Would you like something do drink? Maybe some wine, or are you driving?"
"We took a cab. We don't have a car," I explained. "At least not yet."
That made Edward smile. He was really excited about getting one.
"No car?" Alice asked, clearly shocked. "How do you get around?"
"Well, I, uh, I walk mostly," I said awkwardly. "Or take the 'L'. A car is pretty expensive and there hasn't really been a need for one."
"Oh, of course. I didn't realize…I mean, Edward and I always had cars, you see," she said, sounding apologetic. "Ever since high school."
"I only lived a few blocks from school so I rode my bike, mostly. Small town," I said, shrugging. "I did get a truck my senior year, but I only used it when my friends and I would go to the beach or hiking in the woods nearby."
"That sounds really nice," Alice said, a spark in her eyes. "I bet you wore cutoff jeans and t-shirts, right? And you got to eat ice cream and junk food and have sleepovers?"
"Well, yeah," I smiled, remembering it. "Especially during the summers. Angela and I, she's my best friend, we were inseparable back then. Still are, actually. You two didn't do any of that?"
Edward and Alice both shook their heads.
I had no idea what to say.
"We spent summers in Europe," Alice said. "Stupid hotels, stupid people, drinking tea, going to museums, eating weird food."
"It did kind of suck," Edward supplied, using his phone. "We never saw our friends during the breaks. Dad was always off visiting hospitals wherever we went."
"And mom was miserable," Alice mumbled. "Still is."
Silence fell, heavy and uncomfortable.
"I'm sorry, I got off track," Alice said with a nervous laugh. "Would you like some wine or something else?"
Edward shot me a look, raising his eyebrows. Was he asking if it was alright for him to have a drink?
"I'll just have water, thanks," I replied, turning to Edward. "Beer for you, sweetie?"
He nodded and smiled gratefully.
"I'll be right back. Make yourselves at home," Alice said, before she hurried off, leaving us alone in the large room.
"Wow," I said, looking around at all the expensive furnishings. "This place is unreal. You grew up in a house like this?"
Edward grabbed his phone.
"Yes, and like I said, it sucked. I want to see your home in Washington, ride bikes with you and go to that beach. I want our kid to experience all that, to have your kind of childhood. All that money never made me happy like I am now."
"Shhh!" I stage-whispered, motioning to Edward's phone. "That thing isn't exactly quiet. I don't want your sister to know about the baby yet, please?"
He nodded contritely.
"I know what you mean, though," I confessed. "I've never really imagined myself raising a child in the city. And Forks is a great place for families."
Edward's eyes were lit up and I couldn't believe we were discussing something so important at a time like this.
"Later, okay?" I whispered, taking his hand in mine. "You haven't even seen the place yet and there's my job and Angela and Joe and your family…"
'Okay,' he mouthed, still smiling.
Edward in Forks….For some reason I could easily imagine it. It was quiet there, safe and peaceful, which was something he could definitely benefit from. And I did miss Charlie a lot. Plus it would be easy to find a house to rent, a job for Edward, maybe working with the lumber. We could have a beautiful little life there, raising our baby far away from the streets of Chicago and all the bad memories that haunted Edward. It was definitely worth thinking about.
Alice returned with our drinks; water for me, a beer for Edward, a bottle of red wine and two glasses.
He saw the extra glass and shifted nervously, probably thinking about their mom joining us.
"When is your mother coming?" I enquired on Edward's behalf.
I didn't want him to sit on pins and needles, thinking that she could arrive at any moment. Alice glanced at her wrist watch.
"Umm, half an hour," she said, sitting herself down on the couch across the table from us. "I wanted us to have a little time alone first. I hope that's alright?"
Edward nodded slowly, relaxing into his seat.
"First of all," Alice said. "I want to apologize again for what happened with Jasper when we came to visit you, for what he said, and I want you to know that I didn't agree with him. When I met him he wasn't even in the army anymore, he was in school. But he went back after graduation, and he became an officer."
She fidgeted and took a drink of her wine.
"The army is his life," she continued, looking at her brother. "I didn't expect to fall for an army man, it just happened. I know it's not perfect and I don't believe you did what Jasper said, but…Jasper loves his job and the military. And, and I love him."
"Alice, you don't have to apologize for who you love," I said.
I, of all people, should know that you don't choose who you fall in love with and while I disliked Alice's husband for having driven Edward out into the streets with his harsh comments, I could hardly fault her for loving her husband.
"I know," she said. "He's really not a bad guy, I swear. He's so good to me. You have no idea."
Next to me, Edward sighed and scrubbed his face with his hands.
"I know you probably won't get along very well, but I know that Jasper is willing to try if you are," Alice said hesitantly. "He knows he was out of line, Edward. He said so himself when we got home."
"That's…good," I murmured, glancing at the man next to me.
He nodded and picked at the label on his beer bottle.
"Okay," Alice whispered. "I have to tell you something now, Edward. It's really the reason why I wanted you come early tonight. Before mom shows up. I…"
She took a drink of her wine.
"I don't even know how to say this. I was going to tell you last time but then the thing with Jasper happened, and I didn't want to tell you over the phone."
Edward leaned forward.
'Tell me,' he mouthed. 'It's okay'.
"Edward, you're dead," Alice whispered.
"They found your body. I mean, it wasn't you, obviously, but we thought it was…you. There was a funeral and everything!"
Alice's voice cracked and her eyes filled with tears.
"I didn't believe it at first. I didn't want to, but…but all of your stuff was there; your driver's license, wallet, even an Mp3 player with all the bands you liked."
I couldn't believe what I was hearing and yet…Alice had cried so hard on the phone when she heard that Edward was alive and she had said something about all of them thinking he was dead. I hadn't really pondered her choice of words. Until now. And I realized that it wasn't just assumption on their part. Edward was officially dead. But…how?
Edward made a croaking sound and I immediately took his hand in mine. His face was pale and his eyes wide. He mouthed something but I couldn't make it out.
"Again, sweetie," I whispered and gently cupped his cheek to turn his face towards me.
'Who?' he asked.
"Who?" I said. "You mean who did they bury?"
"I-I don't know," Alice stammered. "The body was….damaged, they said. No way to identify him but all of your stuff was there, and…and everything else matched. Even the height and hair color!"
"What happened to your license and all your things?" I asked.
'Stolen,' Edward mouthed, his face still ashen. 'First winter.'
"They found, um, him, last summer," Alice whispered. "In an old abandoned building downtown. He'd been dead…a long while. And…"
She started sobbing.
"There had been some animals. I didn't see, but they told us that his face was…gone!"
I couldn't stop unwanted images from entering my mind and my stomach convulsed. Standing abruptly, I covered my mouth with my hand and ran towards the hall. I had no idea where the bathroom was, so my only thought was at least making it to the door before I lost it. Edward was right behind me and the moment I bent over to throw up in the bushes outside I felt him pulling my hair back and supporting me so I wouldn't fall.
"I'm so sorry!" I gasped before vomiting again and again.
When I was finally done, my body was shaking and I felt cold sweat on my face. Edward helped me stand, smiling faintly and stroking my hair away from my forehead.
'You okay?' he mouthed.
"Yeah," I croaked. "Worst one yet."
"Oh, my God."
I turned my head and saw Alice standing just inside the door, her mouth hanging open.
"Bella, are you, are you pregnant?" she asked.
I looked up at Edward, hoping he wouldn't be upset, but he was still just smiling and stroked my hair again.
"I guess the cat's out of the bag," I whispered.
He smiled wider and simply shrugged. I turned to his sister.
"Yes," I said.
"I'm going to be an aunt?" she whispered.
Edward laughed softly and nodded his head.
"Oh, my God!" Alice exclaimed. "Oh, my fucking God!"
"Yeah, I know," I said.
"This is happy news, right?" she asked eagerly. "You're happy, right?"
"Yes," I nodded and smiled.
"Oh, my God!" she yelled again and rushed over to embrace the both of us. "I'm so happy for you guys."
"Thank you," I whispered and looked up at Edward.
His eyes were so beautiful and the look in them was so warm. The shock he had received just minutes ago seemingly forgotten as he held both me and his sister in his arms. This was what he needed; happiness and being with the people he loved. This moment was perfect.
"I can't believe it," Alice said, still grinning widely as she drew back. "This is amazing. A baby!"
I drew a deep breath when my stomach seemed to flip again and I covered it with my hand.
"Oh, we should get you inside," Alice said. "You shouldn't be on your feet."
I laughed softly as both Edward and his sister started ushering me through the door, as though I could hardly walk on my own, which certainly wasn't the case. But then I heard a sound behind me and my laughing stopped. It was a high pitched cry that sent chills up and down my spine, and made all three of us turn around at once.
Oh, no. Not like this.
A woman stood in the driveway next to a car, her eyes fixed on us. Green eyes, just like Edward's. Just like Alice's. It was their mother.
"I…" she said, stumbling on her feet. "I don't…I…"
Before any of us could say or do anything her eyes rolled into the back of her head and she collapsed on the ground.
"Mommy!" Alice shrieked and rushed to her. "Edward, help me!"
I followed right behind him as he knelt down next to his mother and Alice, and ever so gently lifted her into his arms before pressing his three middle fingers against her throat, checking her pulse. He exhaled and looked up.
'Okay,' he mouthed, blinking back the tears I saw in his eyes.
The woman's eyes were still closed, but it was obvious that she was struggling to open them.
"Yes, mom," Alice croaked and grasped one of her mother's limp hands. "It's Edward. Everything will be alright now."
She started crying and I couldn't stop my own tears from falling when their mother finally managed to open her eyes and looked at her son for the first time in years.
"Honey?" she whispered, reaching up her free hand to brush the wetness away from Edward's cheek.
Edward's mouth opened and closed several times as he tried to mouth words to her, but even I couldn't make sense of them. His lips trembled too much, but it didn't matter. The look in his eyes said it all.
I love you, mom.
I swear, that I will try my hardest to get the next chapter out as soon as possible, but as most of you know, I am still buried in my thesis, I have two small children, plus I had to take a part time teaching job starting this August to make ends meet, which means I will be really busy.
I hope you liked this. Thank you for reading. :)