Gotta give Robert Pattinson a nod this week for his infamous Twilight ad-lib. I stole, er, borrowed it freely in this chapter.
The Search For Me
I have an idea plaguing me-
A notion of the ideal "me"
Found in some idyllic place
Lost in your idyllic face.
Why do I think you hold the key
To the new and improved me?
The sage would tell me, look within
And give myself a different spin.
But I've taken myself for a drive
And still I haven't yet arrived
At the place I want to be
Living in that brand new "me."
I view your two-dimensional face
And see much deeper than that space
I know that you will fill my need
And plant the seed
That hunger feeds
Driving me down to my knees
And ridding me of my disease.
Fill me, change me-
Make me whole.
Cast me in a brand-new role.
Shed me in a different light,
Let me see through your insight.
This is my unspoken plea
When I meet you in 3-D.
You take my hand and lead me there
Open me and lay me bare
Make me leave my search behind
And look instead within to find
The "me" that's lived here all the while
Revealed in your divining smile.
I lie and gaze into the green
And realize how wrong I've been.
I see my reflection in your eyes
And know the folly of my lies-
The foolish tales I told myself
To protect me, hidden on my shelf.
I only need now to be brave
And give in to the thing I crave-
To let you see imperfect me
And find the beauty I can't see.
Suddenly I know what's true-
I see the "me" who touches you.
The me who makes you sigh and come
The me who makes you come undone.
I like the "me" I am with you.
Surprisingly, you like her, too.
You like the "you" you are with me-
We bring each other clarity.
There is no room for falsity
Amid such naked honesty.
In you I found much more than "me"
And you discovered more than "he."
It took one fateful night to see
The pronoun trumping all is
Edward sat at Bella's desk, reading the poem again. He'd already read it several times this morning, having given up on the notion of sleep after a long, restless night. Every time he did, the words stabbed again, in different places, each more sensitive than the last. As poetry went, he didn't think it was half bad, though he didn't know much about that particular mode of expression. He didn't really care if it was good or not. It was about him - about them. It made him ache inside again, stirring up those same maddening, bittersweet feelings he'd fought all week. After his fifth time studying the poem, he thought it might be the most beautiful thing he'd ever read.
Bella thought otherwise. At the bottom of the page, she'd written:
Geez, Swan. Rhyme much? You sound like friggin' Dr. Seuss. Give up and go make some green eggs and ham, Swan-I-Am.
Every time he read this, Edward chuckled. Then he'd look over at Bella's pale, shiny face as she sweated out last night's poisons in her sleep, and he wanted to shake her and tell her how fucking amazing she was, and ask her why she didn't get that. Why had she looked for validation in him, of all people? And more incredible, how was it that she seemed to have found it in him?
He thought back to that evening one week ago and tried to remember exactly what he'd said or done that made such an impression on her; that bolstered her fragile ego enough to make her write these words about their fateful meeting. Her inability to view herself clearly had frustrated him from the start. He had only spoken the truth; made her try to see what was real instead of imagined.
And now she imagined they were a couple.
He had certainly behaved like a jealous boyfriend last night, coming to her aid like some demented knight in rumpled suit clothes. He wasn't sorry he'd come. He didn't trust those two idiot college boys as far as he could throw them. They were equally suspicious of him, but thankfully he seemed to intimidate them a bit. His tall stature and ability to give a menacing glare from under heavy brows had gotten him out of fights a few times before. Back then, he'd been concerned about preventing any injury to his pianists' hands. And now he couldn't afford to get arrested and put Renaissance Escorts in jeopardy.
But he suspected that nothing would deter him from protecting Bella.
He shoved his chair away from the desk and got up to roam the claustrophobic room once more. He checked his shoes, sitting on the windowsill next to the air conditioner - still damp. He'd cleaned them up in the small dorm sink as best he could. He would have fun explaining this one to Rosalie. She was fairly generous with her employees' wardrobe allowances, since it behooved her to make sure they looked as well-put together as possible. Surely this wouldn't be the first time she'd had to replace an escort's fine Italian leather shoes for such occupational hazards as being vomited upon by drunken clients.
Bella's little friends had certainly found it amusing when she unloaded all over the sidewalk in front of him. Edward, on the other hand, was more relieved than annoyed. He preferred that she purge some of the alcohol from her system before it did any more damage. But the idiots escorting her home found it hilarious, which incensed him. How could they find humor in Bella being so sick? He supposed they were merely enjoying him and his shoes getting the brunt of it.
At least the blond kid had the good sense to look guilty about his laughter afterward. Edward surmised he must be Mike, the ex-boyfriend. He looked innocent enough. But the other, darker kid, not so much. Edward peered into his bloodshot eyes, then narrowed his own.
"What is she on?" he demanded as he drew a moaning and apologetic Bella into his arms.
The kid's dilated pupils widened. "What do you mean? Nothing, man. She just had a little too much to drink."
"Is she stoned?"
The kid's face went sheepish, and Edward had his answer. He turned to Mike.
"What did she drink?"
"I'm right here, you know," Bella interjected, wiping her mouth. "It was just jungle juice."
A glance at the color of vomit seeping into his socks confirmed her statement.
"It was Everclear punch," Mike admitted, shoving his hands in his pockets. "I tried to get her to stop earlier."
"You should have tried harder," Edward barked. God, he sounded like Bella's father. He grimaced and turned his attention to her. "You feel a little better now?"
She nodded, but her words were woeful. "I can't believe I barfed on you, Edward. Oh my God. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. . ." She buried her face in his shirt and grabbed his tie, wrapping it around her hand and tugging, pulling him closer. His arms tightened around her, his hand finding the back of her neck, rubbing and soothing.
He bent down and whispered so that only she could hear. "It's okay, baby. I'm gonna take you home now."
He was grateful that she was coherent enough to remember where that was, and to assure Mike and the pothead she'd be safe with him. Once they arrived in her tiny single-bed dorm room, he'd instructed her to brush her teeth before he took his turn at the sink. He proceeded to wash out his socks and shoes, his back turned so that Bella could get undressed for bed.
"It's nothing you haven't seen before," she taunted over his shoulder. He glanced up in the mirror in time to watch her pull her t-shirt over her head and unhook her bra, throwing both over a vinyl blow-up chair that sat in one corner. And there they were, those perky little tits he'd fantasized about for days. They seemed to taunt him, too. He was mesmerized by Bella's drunken dance as she pushed her tight jeans down, cotton panties going along for the ride, until she wriggled free of them and tossed them on top of her other discarded clothes.
His eyes were glued to the mirror, staring at her naked ass bent over the bed while she pulled the covers back and retrieved a loosely-folded tank top and boy shorts from next to the pillow. Instantly he imagined pushing her onto the mattress and taking her from behind, spreading those sweet cheeks and plunging in deep, hands stroking her back and her thighs and that perfect round ass while he fucked her.
He squeezed his eyes shut, then opened them to concentrate on wringing his socks out to dry. By the time he hazarded another glance in the mirror, Bella was dressed, though not enough to purge all sexual thoughts from his mind. Those thoughts were even harder to ignore when she staggered up and threw her slender arms around him, pressing her breasts to his back, her abdomen to his ass.
"You came for me," she mumbled with a sigh between his shoulder blades.
"I'll always come for you."
She giggled a little and worked one hand over the front of his pants until she found the beginnings of his erection. Junior quickly came to life under her insistent probing.
"I can make you come again." Her hot breath seeped through his cotton dress shirt and scorched the skin beneath.
"I know you can," he said, suppressing a groan as he ran his hands down her forearms. With effort he pulled her hand free from his groin, then turned to face her, clasping her fingers between his. "And when you're sober, we can explore various methods to achieve that. But for now, you're going to take some aspirin and get some sleep."
Bella scowled and squeezed his hands tightly, pushing her torso against his. "That's crazy. I want you now. And I know you want me." She looked imploringly up into his face, her eyes drifting a bit before she forced them to focus on his. "In fact, now is perfect. Maybe when I'm drunk, it won't hurt. I want to feel you inside me when it doesn't hurt. I want to come, too. With you." She reached up on tiptoes but could still only reach his neck, so she planted a kiss there. "Fuck me and make me come, Edward," she whispered.
He let the groan escape this time. He tried to pull back, but it was no use. He didn't want to. He let go of her hands and grabbed her face instead, holding it steady, perhaps trying to infuse her with some sobriety. She stroked his forearms up and down and emitted a sort of purring noise that nearly caused him to lose every ounce of restraint.
He took a deep breath and told her, "I want to do exactly that. You have no idea how much. But I will not take advantage of you when you're like this. Trust me, you'll thank me later."
"Its not taking advantage when I want it," she insisted. She leaned in again, raising up on tiptoes, hands clasping his neck to pull him closer. "I want you. And the doctor said the only way it would get better for me is if I have more sex, and I don't want to use those stupid things she gave me. I want your fingers and your mouth and your dick instead. I want you. Don't you want me?"
"Christ," he swore in exasperation at her intoxicated wheedling. "You know I do. But I don't know what the hell you're talking about with this doctor business. It sounds like we need to have a serious discussion, tomorrow. When you're sober. All right?"
Defeated, Bella released his neck and dropped to her heels. She pouted and let her bleary eyes settle somewhere in the vicinity of his stomach. "Fine."
She dutifully took two aspirin that he'd shaken from the bottle he found in her medicine cabinet, then let him lead her to the narrow twin bed. She insisted that he climb in with her. Still fully dressed, he lay on top of the covers, spooning her, gently rubbing her temple, then her shoulder, until she passed out.
He had barely succumbed to sleep himself when Bella suddenly lurched from the bed and ran for the sink. The aspirin, and some remnants of jungle juice, had decided to exit her stomach without warning. He approached her retching form with tentative offers to hold her hair back, but she waved him away with one hand, moaning "Don't look at me!" between heaves.
He perched on one corner of the bed and waited helplessly until she was finished. He observed her gargle some mouthwash, then dig a can of bleach cleanser and a sponge from under the sink. The minute she began to scrub its porcelain bowl, he took over.
"Let me do that. Get some rest," he ordered softly.
She nodded and shuffled back to bed, where she promptly passed out again for a couple of hours.
Thus began a fitful night for both of them. Bella's sleep was intermittent, punctuated by trips down the hall to the girls' bathroom, and fits of vomiting in the sink when she couldn't make it that far. Edward cleaned up after her, soothed her, and tried to quell his own queasiness at the faint odor of vomit permeating the room, and alcohol dissipating from Bella's skin. He slept little, too worried about the possibility of her asphyxiating in her sleep to give in to unconsciousness.
They both found some peace around dawn, when Bella's stomach gave up the ghost after a few last dry heaves. Edward made her drink some water, though she was afraid to put anything in her stomach.
"I don't want you to get dehydrated," he admonished.
She shook her head wearily. "I can't believe you're still here."
He smiled and gave her a gentle kiss on the forehead. "Where else am I gonna go?"
They both slept a little then. The sun was kind enough to slumber beneath a thick blanket of gloom, letting little of its light creep around the room-darkening curtains. When Edward finally awoke, he was stiff and exhausted, but unable to lie in the cramped bed any longer, even with Bella at his side.
He decided to peruse the room then, taking note of the music posters on the walls, the paperback books on the shelves, and the photographs of her family and a few friends collaged on a corkboard over her desk. Bella was a perfect blend of both her parents: the dark hair and eyes of her father, the petite nose and kind-hearted smile of her mother.
Edward was still grinning at this when he looked down at the desk calendar, only to be flooded with sudden relief. There was his good luck charm, tucked into one corner. He pulled it out and viewed the familiar artwork and poem with the same melancholy yearning he always felt, tempered only slightly by the passing of years. He would never stop missing his parents; never stop wishing for their good advice. He'd certainly made some bad decisions in their absence.
He sighed and tucked his mother's painting back into the desk calendar for the time being. That's when he noticed the loose piece of notebook paper, its edge sticking out from under this month's page. Curiosity won over guilt, and he pulled the paper out to see what was written there. The poem looked lengthy, so he sat down at the desk to read it.
And now he sat here for a fifth time, a fifth reading, still waiting for Bella to sleep off her hangover. He wondered why she had overdone it so much. Was she really that desperate to fit in? He didn't understand it, as willful and strong-minded as she could be. She didn't seem the type to give in to peer pressure. Yet the poem in front of him belied her insecurities. He remembered how nearly terrified she'd been at first last weekend; how he'd had to coax her out of her crippling self-consciousness. But once he had, she had been a different girl. Bold, confident - as sure of him as she was herself. Maybe more so.
How had he brought that out in her, when he constantly fought to keep his own self-worth out of the toilet?
"What are you doing?"
Bella's quiet voice pierced his thoughts, and he turned to look at her. She was sitting up in bed, arms wrapped around her knees, hair so askew it resembled a wig, face drained of color.
"Just noticing you found this." Edward picked up his good luck charm in explanation.
"I'm glad I did. It's beautiful. Did Emily paint that? No wonder you were worried about losing it."
"My mother painted it, actually," he replied, getting up and seating himself on the corner of the bed, opposite Bella.
She looked surprised. "The signature said 'E. Masen' - I just assumed that stood for Emily."
"My mother's name was Elizabeth." His smile was wan as he said her name.
"Was?" Bella's forehead creased with concern.
Edward nodded. "She died when I was young. Both of my parents did. Car accident."
"Edward. . ." Bella's face was stricken now. She didn't know what to say. She was so exhausted that no adequate condolence could seem to form on her lips.
"I know. It sucks, you're sorry, I'm sorry. But it was a long time ago. I'll save that story for another day. Right now, I'm more interested in how you're doing."
She tried to muster a smile, though her lips felt glued to her teeth. "I'm kind of shitty, actually."
"No kidding." His grin was gently teasing.
"I feel like I've been run over by a Mack truck, repeatedly. And now there's a guy swinging a sledge hammer inside my forehead, over my right eye. Repeatedly." She put her hand to the spot and closed her eyes.
"I see you have some crackers and peanut butter," he noted with a nod at the mini-fridge and storage cart sitting next to it. "You should try to eat something and take some aspirin."
Bella moaned loudly with a grimace. Edward only chuckled and said, "Humor me. I think maybe you can keep some crackers down now."
"Maybe," she said doubtfully. But after he brought them to her, along with a glass of water and two more aspirin, she forced herself to eat. The saltiness of the crackers tasted surprisingly good, so she had a few more. She eyed Edward's encouraging face and was amazed all over again.
"Why are you still here? Why did you stay with me all night and subject yourself to my marathon puke-fest?"
He let out a small chuckle. "Because I've been there myself, more than once. And I wasn't about to let you choke to death on your own vomit in the middle of the night. I've grown kind of partial to you this past week."
Bella smiled in spite of herself, and Edward was relieved to see a bit of color seep back into her cheeks. "Well, I'm still mortified beyond all measure, but I'm glad you were here. Even when I wished you weren't. If that makes sense."
He nodded and gave her that half-grin that could cure just about anything, except the pounding headache consuming most of her brain power at the moment.
"So, you've officially seen me at my worst, I think it's safe to say," she told him. "I wouldn't blame you if you didn't want to stick around for the rest of this show. You know - me, being jealous and insecure and stupid, while you go about your job like a responsible adult. I guess I just proved that I don't handle what you do for a living very well. Which makes me both immature and a hypocrite."
Bella frowned and rubbed her forehead some more. Did she really just admit all that? Apparently she wasn't done spewing - she'd just switched to the verbal version.
Edward sighed and reached out to touch her, his hand grasping her calf, just below the knee. The heat of his skin was a welcome distraction from the throbbing inside her skull.
"I don't blame you for any of your reactions, and I don't think they make you immature. Just human. I found out how human I was last night, too. All this time I wondered how you would get past worrying about what I was doing; and I failed to realize that I would worry just as much about you. You gave me a taste of my own medicine, and it was a bitter pill to swallow. I didn't like seeing you in that state, with those two morons helping you home. I wanted to kill them both for letting you get like that."
Bella shook her head. "Don't blame them. I did it to myself. Neither of them forced me to get high or drunk. Mike tried to get me to slow down. But when I realized that the pot made me forget about you for awhile, I decided that the alcohol would work when the high wore off. I wanted the oblivion, so I wouldn't have to imagine what you might be doing with someone else."
Edward's eyes closed briefly as the truth he'd tried to avoid boxed him about the ears. He took a deep breath. "I knew this wouldn't be good for you. Impossible situation. . ." his voice faded and he dropped his hand from her leg.
"So what did happen last night?" she asked, her own voice hoarse. "On your date."
"Nothing. She hooked up with her ex-boyfriend. Turns out he'd hired a female escort to make her jealous, too. We all had a twisted laugh over it and went home."
Bella nodded dully. "So I worried for nothing. Got fucked up for nothing."
Edward nodded with her. But then she added, "This time." And he could not dispute the afterthought.
"You probably already slept with other girls this week, before we met up again," she continued in a lethargic drone. "I saw your schedule, remember?"
His nod was barely perceptible; he couldn't quite make his eyes meet hers, and she had her answer.
"So really, it doesn't matter anyway, because the deed is done," she said matter-of-factly. "And it will be done again. So either I deal with it, or I don't."
Edward let out an anguished breath. "You shouldn't have to. You don't have to. Say the word and I'm gone. This is no good for either of us. Maybe, if I figure out another way; but in the meantime. . ."
Bella was too sick to be consumed by the panic again. In fact, she was beginning to feel oddly pragmatic about the whole ordeal.
"Maybe we're looking at this all wrong," she suggested. "Maybe we should forget the idea of any kind of normal relationship. I could just continue to hire you, and you'll be all mine for that space of time, until the next time. I can't afford the fancy hotel, obviously, but surely you have cut rates for cheaper dates. Just some fast food and a quickie in a Motel 6 or something. I don't care about the trappings, just the time with you -"
"Stop," Edward cut her off, staring at her in horror. "Don't even. . . Just stop. Whatever we have may have started off as prostitution, but it's not going to continue that way. Not with you. No."
"Fine. Then let's just be fuck buddies for free. We'll see each other whenever we get the urge and our schedules allow. You can teach me how to get good at sex, and I can, I don't know, tell jokes or do your laundry or something."
Edward's horror had only escalated. "I'm going to chalk this up to some strange substances still being in your body, because the shit you're saying does not sound like you. We just proved last night that we are completely incapable of being just fuck buddies. And what is this crap about me teaching you to 'get good' at sex? I wasn't lying when I told you you're a natural. I have no complaints about our night together. I wish you felt the same."
Something snapped inside her at his words. "I want to feel the same. I do feel the same - you were amazing. The sex, and everything else about that night, was incredible. I just wish I was woman enough to have enjoyed it."
Hot, embarrassed tears began to form at the corners of her eyes, and she wiped them away before Edward's tentative hand could touch her. He ran his rejected fingers through the spikes of his unwashed hair and took a deep, exasperated breath.
"'Woman enough?' What the hell are you talking about, Bella? I thought you were through with this self-deprecating bullshit. You are not lacking in any way, as far as I'm concerned."
"Then why do I need these stupid things?" she exclaimed. She pulled out the drawer of her nightstand and grabbed a pink plastic bag from within, then threw it into Edward's lap. Perplexed, he opened the bag and stared at its contents. He didn't quite comprehend what he was seeing until he spied the tube of lubricant at the bottom.
"What the hell are these?" he demanded.
"What do they look like?" Her cheeks were flushed this time, with a strangely defiant embarrassment.
He glanced again at the varying sizes of clear cylindrical appendages and thought that they might possibly be helpful in preparing someone for anal sex, though he had a hard time believing that was Bella's intended use.
"They look like the least sexy sex toys I've ever seen," he announced.
"Bingo," she answered flatly.
He waited for some clarification, but receiving none, he continued. "And why do you have these?"
"Because my vagina is too small," she retorted. "I went to the gynecologist this week because I couldn't figure out why I was still chafed two days after we had sex. She had to use a special instrument to examine me because my opening was so narrow. She basically told me that I won't be able to enjoy sex until I get, you know, stretched out." She was beginning to feel humiliated talking about this with Edward, especially when he had that bemused smirk on his face. "So she gave me those things. To practice with."
For Edward's part, he was trying very hard to hold in his laughter. She obviously didn't find this subject amusing at all, and would probably have a hard time understanding why he did. He decided he'd try to explain himself as gently as possible.
"You just lost your virginity last week," he reminded her. "I think maybe you have some unrealistic expectations of your body. There's nothing wrong with you, or your vagina. Trust me on that one, okay?"
"That's easy for you to say," she grumbled. "My tiny vagina is probably fun for you."
He tried to suppress a grin. "It doesn't suck."
Bella was now having a hard time smothering her own smile, because she was beginning to realize how silly she sounded. "Well, I want to have fun too, you know," she countered feebly.
Edward leaned in and took her chin in his hand, forcing her to look at him. "Do you remember the first time I made you come? On the couch?"
He was using the honey voice on her, and she melted accordingly. She nodded.
"Did you have fun then?"
She bit her lip and tried not to roll her eyes at the absurdity of the question. "Yes."
"Do you remember how many fingers I had inside you when you came?"
His eyes were flames, and she the wax beneath them. She tried to recall the answer to his question, but all she remembered was the sensation of being stroked to a frenzy, inside and out, until she exploded in waves of ecstasy.
"Not exactly," she finally admitted.
"I had three fingers inside you," he murmured, continuing to melt her with his intensity. "You cried out at first, but then the pain went away, and the pleasure followed. And that will happen again, I promise you."
"With you?" Her heart was beating fast and her skin was damp with sweat again. She was simultaneously turned on, still sick, and increasingly aware that she was in need of a shower.
If he noticed, he didn't let on. "If that's what you want."
"Of course that's what I want."
"Then I'm yours. When you're feeling better," he added with a wry grin.
She let him kiss her, though she was sure her breath was as foul as a gym sneaker. His wasn't exactly moonlight and roses, either, and that made her smile. She remembered their morning after, and his insistence on kissing her then.
"I guess that brings us back to square one," he said ruefully as he pulled away.
"So much for progress," she agreed.
"Well, you've made great progress over the past twelve hours, I'd say. That's good enough for me right now."
She nodded in agreement, though she knew nothing had really been solved. Edward sighed and ran his fingers through his hair.
"I should probably go and let you recover. I think you'll feel better after a shower. I can bring you something to eat later, if you'd like," he offered.
She couldn't bear the thought of him dropping off some take-out, dressed to the nines again for whatever date he had lined up tonight.
"No, I'm okay. I have the feeling I won't be very hungry today. I have some soup and stuff in case I am."
He gave her a nod and another quick kiss, then got up off the bed. She hated the way the mattress sprang upward, as if his weight had never been there, pinning it down. She watched him walk to the air conditioner, then saw that his shoes were sitting on the sill.
"What are your shoes doing there?" she asked with a laugh.
"I thought they'd dry faster," he replied, giving her a grin over his shoulder.
"Dry? . . ." she questioned. Then a memory crashed through her brain with the subtlety of a hundred sledge hammers. "Oh my God, I threw up on your shoes, didn't I?"
"Just a little," he said nonchalantly as he picked them up and inspected them. Then he sat down on the bed again to stuff his bare feet into the shrunken leather and tie the laces.
"Oh, geezus. I was hoping that was just a nightmare. But I really did that, didn't I? I barfed on those beautiful designer shoes. Kill me. Kill me now." She pulled the covers over her head and fell back on the pillows, Edward's muffled laughter accompanying her dramatic gesture. She felt his body leave the bed again, then heard him walk over to the closet. She pulled the covers down just enough to see him pull two bedraggled socks off of a hanger and stuff them in his pocket.
"The socks, too?" she wailed. "I puked on your poor feet. Oh, that's disgusting. I'm so sorry. Please kill me," she begged again.
"I told you," he said, sauntering over and bending down to kiss her nose. "I've grown rather fond of you. I'd prefer to keep you alive."
"Prince Charming," she mumbled from beneath the sheets as he turned to leave.
"What was that?" he asked, pausing at the door.
"Call me later," she said.
"Answer your phone." His face was stern.
Hers was contrite. "I will."
"Feel better, Bella." And with that, he was gone.
She had little time to miss him before falling into a headache-soothing sleep. She awoke sometime in the mid-afternoon, sweaty and dehydrated. But best of all, she actually felt a little hungry. She knew she'd reached a turning point, and for that she was grateful. She stumbled out of bed and stretched a bit, then grabbed her shower caddy and bathrobe in order to head down the hall to the showers. But as she passed her desk, a brightly-colored piece of paper caught her eye. She already knew what it was before she stopped to inspect it.
Edward had forgotten to take his good-luck charm. Or maybe he had left it on purpose once more, promising his return. She smiled as she ran her finger gingerly over the heavy watercolor paper and its fragile four-leaf clover.
Then she realized that her latest botched attempt at poetry was sitting on the opposite corner of the desk, atop the calendar, when she distinctly remembered stuffing it in between the pages after having given up on it a few days ago. Peering at the sheet of notebook paper, she noticed several new lines written at the bottom in a familiar, elegant script, directly below her own harsh critique.
I like this poem, Swan-I-Am.
It's better than green eggs and ham.
It speaks a truth that's hard to say
When circumstance gets in our way.
I like the "me" I am with you
And I'm still shocked you like me, too.
A better man I'll never be
Than the one I am as part of
Bella smiled all the way down to the shower. But once she closed the curtain and stood under the spray, she let the tears flow freely.
I had such great intentions of answering reviews after the last chapter, because they really do mean the world to me. But when I sat down to type, this chapter came out instead. Go figure!
A huge thank-you this week to JedigirlSC for nominating "The Agreement" as Fic of the Week at The Lemonade Stand, and big hugs to all of you who voted it into fourth place! I'm always amazed and humbled when things like that happen. I'm grateful to each and every one of you. :) xoxoxo