So, a few months ago I offered up a one-shot for Ashley's Auction. This rad gal named Abby won, and she requested... angst, angst, angst. The one-shot turned into something so much more, so now I'm posting as a multi-chapter story.

I tricked Rahnnie and Mel into prereading for me, and thankfully my girl Hadley's on board, too! I seriously couldn't do any of this without them.

The chapters won't be nearly as long as this one. Hoping to update a couple times a week. We'll see what Baby Beagle allows ;) it's mostly pre-written so fingers crossed for consistency!

Thanks for readingI'd love to hear your thoughts on these new folks.

Chapter One

"Oh, you're still up," Edward says when he walks through the front door, a little after ten.

I sit up on the couch and pause the show I'm watching. Though I'm exhausted from the long work week and the bottle of wine I've nearly polished off, I wanted to wait for him since he was still sleeping when I left for work this morning.

"Still up," I reply through a yawn. "I missed you. I thought you were gonna be home earlier."

"I know, sorry. I texted." He takes off his dark denim jacket and empties the contents of his pockets before sitting down next to me. Phone, keys, lighter, and a turquoise box of American Spirits litter the coffee table. "Did you eat?"

"Yeah." I nod. "There are leftovers in the fridge if you want."

"I'm not that hungry." He leans over to kiss me and tastes like whiskey and cigarettes. The musty scent of weed clings to his faded black T-shirt.

"You were with the guys?" I ask, kissing him once more before stretching out on the couch, so my feet are in his lap.

He smirks. "Yeah."

"What?" I ask, mirroring his smile. "Why do you look so happy?"

"I quit," he says, eyes glazed over a bit.

"Quit what?"

He grabs one of my feet and applies pressure to the arch with his thumb. I relax a little, watching his tattooed forearm flex with each squeeze.

"I quit my job," he finally says.

"What?" I shake my head, slightly confused. "Why?"

"Paul was bitching about me leaving for tour, and started hinting that he wasn't gonna save my job until I got back. It became a whole thing, and I got fed up so... I quit."

"But you loved your job." I don't even know if this is true, but I say it anyway. Most of the time he complains about his bartending gig. It's not exactly a glamorous profession, but he makes enough from tips alone, and the ability to have his days free to work on his music is a huge perk.

"I love the band more."

I realize now his impromptu night out with the guys was probably a celebration of his newfound freedom. It stings a little that I'm just now hearing about this, hours later.

"What about money?" I question, still not convinced this was the best decision he's made. I wonder how much of it was made by pride and how much was made on impulse.

"It's not like we aren't making money playing shows. It'll be fine." He leaves the couch to grab a beer then sits back down next to me.

"What about rent?"

He laughs, but it's not exactly humorous. "What about it?"

"Don't you think this is a decision you should've talked to me about first? We live together. You aren't the only one this affects."

"It's not like Paul was going to pay me to go on tour," he points out, cracking open the beer. "I have money saved. And we already agreed you're going to lease out the spare room while I'm gone to supplement my portion of the rent."

"Right. That's the plan."

It was his idea actually, and I agreed to it. But then I was the one who had to search for the roommate. I was the one who had to meet with strangers, trying to find the best fit to live with me from June through September. I guess it made sense—I was the one who'd be living with them anyway. I just wish he were a bit more involved in that whole process.

In the end, I found someone to move in for two out of the four months he'll be gone. It's a friend of a friend, so thankfully, I don't have to worry about living with a complete stranger.

Edward swigs from the can, eyeing me. "Why are you being weird?"

I shift on the couch to sit up. "It just... quitting your job seems like such a rash decision. I don't know."

"I mean, it's not. I've been thinking about quitting for a while."

"You never told me that," I mumble, kind of hurt. This feels like something I should have known before it actually happened. This feels like something he should have confided in me, yet he didn't. And I didn't even find out until hours later, like letting me know wasn't on his radar.

"You never asked," he says simply.

"What—I'm supposed to read your mind? Randomly ask if you're thinking about quitting your job?"

"No, I just mean we don't really talk about work."

"We talk about work," I defend. His job consists of late nights, and my elementary teaching job consists of early mornings. There's not always much to share, but we definitely vent to each other.

"It's fine." Another swig of beer. "We usually talk about other things."

"Like what?" I don't even know why I ask, but when he shrugs and doesn't answer, it makes me feel even worse.

I fall quiet for a moment and let his words, or lack thereof, sink in. I don't know why I feel so frustrated by this, but things feel a little off, and I don't know if I can let it go. In a few days, he's leaving for four months. Maybe now's not the time to get into all of our issues. Or maybe it's the best time. Maybe it's better that all of this comes out now, instead of over FaceTime when he's drunk and high from playing a show, and I'm home alone and missing him.

"What are you gonna do for work when you get back from tour?" I ask.

He laughs, but this time there's humor behind it. "I don't know. Find another bartending job? I'm not really thinking that far ahead."



"Shouldn't you though?"

"Sure, I guess, but it doesn't really feel like a priority."

"So, what feels like a priority?" I demand.

"Going on tour. Booking shows. Getting our name out there." He lists off the most important things to him, but all I hear is that I'm not one of them.

I could let it be. Shrug it off. Be the cool girl. Pretend like it doesn't matter. But it does, and I want to know that I matter to him.

"I'm not a priority?" I ask quietly.

"I didn't know we were talking about you," he mumbles with a frown. "Of course you're a priority."

"Feels kind of like I'm an afterthought," I mutter.

He tilts his head back to look at the ceiling, agitation radiating off of him. "Don't start."


"Don't be that girl, Bella. Don't."

"What girl?" I question, already defensive.

"Jasper said Alice started this huge fucking argument with him the other night. Emmett and Rose got into it, too. Just because we're leaving for a few months doesn't mean everything is gonna change. Don't lash out and start a fight with me."

"I don't even know what the hell you're talking about," I blurt. "I'm pissed you didn't tell me you were gonna quit your job. This has nothing to do with my insecurities about you leaving. So, don't try to make it seem like that."

"Okay." He sighs. "Well, I'm sorry I didn't tell you. I didn't plan it. It just happened."

I could accept his half-assed apology. We could move on, keep the peace, and enjoy one of our last nights together. But I just can't stop myself from pushing this further by asking: "You don't really plan much, do you?"

His eyes narrow slightly. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"I think it's pretty self-explanatory," I reply evenly.

"This conversation again?" His laugh is bitter. "What are you doing, Bella? I leave town in two days."

"I'm just saying that you might want to get your shit together soon. Have a back-up plan maybe, for when you get back from the tour."

"Finding another bartending job will be easy. And who knows how the tour is gonna go or when we'll be back. I wanna see how that plays out. What connections we'll make."

My heart races. "I thought you were only going to be gone for four months?"

"We are."

"Then plan for four months out. I don't know what the problem is."

"There is no problem, I just don't want to tie myself down if I don't have to."

"What's gonna happen on tour? It's not like you're gonna make it big," I say then immediately regret it because I don't actually think that. I said it to hurt him. I know I did. I said it so he'd have that exact look on his face. But now that he's wearing it, it doesn't feel nearly as good as I was expecting. I just feel low and spiteful. Like a real bitch.

"Wow." He exhales, standing from the couch, beer in hand. "Thanks, Bell. Really appreciate your unwavering support."

"I don't mean it like that. I just mean it's a lot harder than you think—"

"You don't think I fucking get that? You don't think we're reminded every day when we're busting our asses trying to make shit happen? When we see other shitty bands make it big, and they're not even half as talented or dedicated?"

"If it's so hard then why don't you put that energy into something else?"

"Because it's my fucking dream!" he shouts, red-faced and exasperated. "Haven't you ever had a fucking dream?"

You, I think. But I don't say it. I want to get married. I want kids with him. I want our life to be stable—to know where we stand—and I want him to want all of those things, too. But he wants a life on the road. He wants late nights and jam sessions and writing songs that will stay with us long after he's gone. It's admirable. It really is. But his dream doesn't involve me, and it makes me so fucking sad.

"You know what I want," I mumble, tears stinging my eyes.

He scrubs a hand over his mouth, still standing. "Yeah, you want me to be somebody I'm not."

My sadness quickly dissolves into anger. "That's the stupidest thing I've ever fucking heard."

"It's not. You want me to have a nine to five job that I fucking hate. You want me to be miserable. I can't do that for you, Bella. I can't give you what you want."

"I just want you to be with me," I declare. "I don't want you to be miserable. But fuck, maybe I make you miserable. Maybe it's a good thing you're leaving. Hit the road, get some space from me. It'll do us some good."

"You don't make me miserable. I fucking love you. But sometimes your expectations are suffocating, and I don't know how much longer I can take letting you down."

"Then stop fucking letting me down!" I yell. "Ever think about that?"

"I can't be someone I'm not. I can't be your ex-boyfriend, little Ben Cheney, golden boy and corporate douchebag. If that's what you want so bad, why are you with me? You know who I am, and you know what I'm not."

I glare. "I don't want that. I never wanted that. I just want you, but I want us to be happy."

"We're not happy, though. Every time you see a post of one of your friends getting engaged or having a kid, or fuck, doing some domestic shit, you start a fight with me."

"That's not true." If I started an argument for every single time I saw someone's life evolving, we'd fight nonstop. The only time I bring that stuff up is when I've been drinking a little too much or when it's someone we're actually close with.

"Maybe we shouldn't talk about this," he mumbles and disappears into the bedroom.

I immediately get up from the couch and follow after him.

"What, you want to end this argument now?" I ask incredulously. "You get to leave town in a couple of days and be distracted, and I have to just sit here and stew in our unresolved fight? Fuck that. Don't do that to me."

He removes his black T-shirt and tosses it on the floor. I stay silent, waiting for a response, staring at his tattooed arms and chest until he turns away from me.

"I'm not gonna be able to tell you what you want to hear. So it's fucking pointless," he mutters, grabbing a clean white tee from the dresser.

"I'm sorry I want something more for you. I love that you're a musician, and you're so passionate about what you do, but—"

"You want more for me?" he sneers, pulling the shirt over his head and scrubbing a frustrated hand through his hair. "Don't twist your apology like that. Like you're the good guy, and I'm the bad guy for doing something I love."

"That's not what I'm trying to do," I insist, throat constricting with the urge to cry. "I just… I guess I wish you loved me as much as you do the band."

"It's different, and you fucking know it."

He walks back into the living room, and I follow again, refusing to let this end.

"Trust me. I do know it's different. You always put the band first," I tell him as I sit back down on the couch. He grabs his cigarettes and lighter from the coffee table, like he's desperate for a smoke. "All of your money, focus, energy, everything goes into the band. You didn't even tell me tonight that you quit your job until hours later. How do you think that makes me feel?"

"I already said sorry," he reminds me, shrugging. "I didn't think about it."

And that's what this boils down to. He doesn't think about me. He doesn't think about our future or how his decisions will affect us. I'm second-best. I always will be.

I'm crying then. I fucking hate being the emotional one, the one who ends up in tears during fights, but I can't help it. It's exhausting, having the same fight over and over again. It's exhausting loving a man who doesn't love me back in quite the same way.

"Bella…" He squats in front of me, forcing me to look at him. "Come on. I don't want our last few days to be like this."

"I don't want any of our days to be like this," I say sadly, sniffling.

His thumbs brush against my cheeks, but they stay wet. "We're just going through a rough time. When I get back, it'll be better."

"I don't know if I can wait that long," I mumble, shaking my head.

He drops his hands from my face, frowning. "What the fuck is that supposed to mean?"

"I mean… fuck. I don't know? I'm supposed to just put my life on hold for four months?"

"Why would your life be on hold?" he asks incredulously.

"You won't be here. I mean…" I trail off, not even knowing exactly what I'm saying. But this conversation seems to be veering into a topic we've avoided for at least a year now.

"You said you'll come visit while we're on the road," he reminds me. "We'll still talk and see each other."

"Yeah, I'll come see you like, one time, but I can't follow you around while you're on tour."

"Why not?"

"Because I have a career."

"In a few weeks you'll have the entire summer off. Unless you agreed to that part-time summer school gig?"

"No, I didn't, but… I mean. I have a life."

"I thought I was your life?" he asks sadly.

"You're part of my life, but what's the point? You're not offering me anything. You're not making any promises. What am I supposed to hold onto?"

He stands, nostrils flaring. "All I'm asking for is four months. Let me do my thing and live my dream for four months. You can't give me that?"

"I'm giving you that. You can have it. Go. Leave. Whatever."

"You're making it sound like it's over. Like you won't wait around for me."

"Why should I?"

"Because I fucking love you!" he shouts. "That's why. Because when you love someone, you make sacrifices for their happiness."

"I love you, too. So fucking much. But are you happy?" I ask, chin trembling.

He sniffs, shaking his head. "Not right now."

"And what about my happiness?"

"Putting a ring on your finger isn't going to make you happy. And it's not going to change who I am."

"I'm not asking you to change!" I yell.

His hands fly up in frustration. "Then what the fuck do you want?"

"I don't know. I don't know anymore."

"Goddammit!" he yells, fisting his hair. "I can't believe you're doing this now. Bringing up all this shit. It's gonna fuck with my head. I don't need this."

"It's not like I planned this. The same way you didn't plan to quit your job. The same way you really don't plan anything at all."

"Oh, fuck you," he says harshly.

"Fuck you," I spit back, standing.

It's not the worst way we've spoken to each other, but it hurts more now than it ever has. Maybe because he's leaving soon. Maybe because this time it really feels like there will be nothing left for us after this.

I don't know how we got to this place. This angry, bitter, spiteful place. It wasn't always like this. The first year and a half of our relationship was perfect. Fun and easy, both of us so wrapped up in each other. It's only been in the last year that some of this has been brought to light. But we never fully addressed our issues, and now it feels like it's too late.

"Maybe we shouldn't talk while I'm gone," he suggests, and I exhale sharply.

"You'd love that, wouldn't you?" I push his chest. Not hard enough for him to budge, but enough for him to know that's a stupid idea. "So, you'd get the freedom to do whatever the fuck you want with zero consequences?"

I push him again, and he grabs my wrist, stopping me.

"What the fuck are you talking about?" he snips.

"You'd get to fuck roadies and drunk bitches and have zero guilt about your girlfriend waiting back home."

"I never said that!" he roars. "I'm sorry you're insecure, and that's immediately where your brain goes, but I never said that, and I've never done that, so whatever you're thinking is on you."

"But you have!" I shout, pushing at his chest again. "You cheated on your last girlfriend with me! Once a cheater, always a cheater, right? A real stand-up guy. I'm so fucking lucky."

"Don't pretend like you didn't get off on it. Don't act like you didn't love that I wanted you so fucking bad I couldn't hold back."

He's right. I did. I loved the passion and the secrecy. I loved the way he couldn't keep his eyes off of me when I was around, until one day we were drunk and gave in to one another. Maybe it doesn't seem romantic, but it was to me. When I look back on it now though, it just seems sad and cold. It seems wrong.

"Did it once. Why wouldn't you do it again?" I taunt.

"That was different, and you know it. I didn't love her like I love you. I've never cheated on you."

Maybe he has been faithful, and maybe he does love me. But it's not enough. It still doesn't stop my brain from creating irrational scenarios that make my blood boil.

"You didn't love her, and you barely love me," I mutter. "Because you're a selfish fucking asshole. You always have been, and you always will be. I don't know what I fucking thought—"

He turns away from me. "I'm not doing this anymore."

This stops me cold. "What?"

"I'm not gonna stand here, and let you say all of this shit to me. You're gonna regret it in the morning, so just… stop. Fucking stop."

"You can't handle the truth?" I push.

"It's bullshit is what it is, and you know it."

He grabs his keys and phone and moves toward the door, hand on the knob.

"You're leaving me," I laugh, but it's humorless, and it hurts. "Great. Okay."

"I'm not leaving you. I'm getting some air. I think it'll both do us some good."

He turns the knob and opens the door, and I can't stop myself from saying it.

"I don't want you to stay here tonight."

With his back to me, he pauses. I'm defeated. But so is he. Maybe it's shitty of me. Or maybe it's too little, too late. But I know how this will end: he'll get some air and grab some beers. He'll come back drunk, and I'll be here, crying and wallowing and expecting this to be the end. When the morning comes, we'll wake in the same bed, not touching, until he moves between my legs to make it up to me, and we'll evade our issues until the next time.

Maybe he's on to something. I can't do this anymore, either.

"If you leave, I don't want you to come back here," I mumble, wiping my cheeks. My tears are coming faster now, but my voice is solid and strong.

When he turns to look at me, there's a solemn expression on his beautiful face. "You're kicking me out?"

"I'm… no. I don't know." I've never told him not to come back, and it makes my stomach clench with fear. I thought it'd make me feel better. I thought the look on his face after I said it would give me some sort of satisfaction. But all it does is leave me feeling more empty and alone than I've ever been. "Edward—"

His expression changes in an instant. From confusion to bitterness to hatred. Like he's calling my bluff. Like he wants to find a way to hurt me in return. But I'm already in pain. He doesn't have to say the next words to make me hurt.

"Fuck you." There's no sharpness behind his words, just apathy. There's nothing to cut me with, and that's almost worse.

With those last words, he walks through the door and doesn't even slam it on his way out.