An: Thank you for all the wonderful reviews. Y'all are amazing. I know FFN is being wonky about updates being sent to your email, so whenever you see this chapter…Hello! I decided to go ahead and post this chapter since most of you know the posting schedule.

Shout out to my amazing prereaders and beta. Without them, this would not be possible.

***Fiddling was had. All mistakes are mine.

Chapter 27

"I've been here before
But always hit the floor
I've spent a lifetime of runnin'
And I always get away
But with you, I'm feeling something
That makes me want to stay

I'm prepared for this
I never shoot to miss
But I feel like a storm is comin'
If I'm gonna make it through the day
There's no more use in runnin'
This is something I gotta face

If I risk it all
Could you break my fall?

How do I live? How do I breathe?
When you're not here, I'm suffocating
I wanna feel love run through my blood
Tell me, is this where I give it all up?
For you, I have to risk it all
Cause the writing's on the wall."

"Writing's on the Wall" by Sam Smith


"Did you have a good time?" Bella asked as they pulled out onto the highway. She'd been waiting until they left to ask him all the questions.

"I did. Your parents are great." He cast a smile her way.

"Well, they think you're pretty great as well."

"Oh, do they?" Edward smirked.

Renee and Charlie had already invited him back. They made Bella and Edward promise to come for at least one, if not both holidays this year.

"You know they do." Bella chuckled. "You're so cocky. I'm sure you always charmed all the parents."

"Maybe. But none of them mattered…until now."

"How?" Tears pricked her eyes. "How do you always know exactly what to say?"

Before Edward could respond, both of their ESPN alerts went off. Assuming it had to do with the All-Star game, neither of them jumped to check the alert. A few minutes later, Bella's phone started blowing up with texts and calls.

"What the hell is going on?" Edward asked, his curiosity getting the best of him.

"I don't know. I wonder if it has something to do with that alert. Rose has called twice. I've had my calls on 'Do Not Disturb' the whole weekend."

Bella swiped open her phone, went to her alerts, and read the headline out loud.

"'Jacob Black, starting forward for the Atlanta United, was arrested early Wednesday morning on I-295 in Sandy Springs, Georgia for driving under the influence and reckless driving. He was booked in Fulton County jail at 3:35 a.m. and released shortly after 9:00 a.m. after posting bond.'"

"Oh my God!" Bella cried out.

Edward gripped the steering wheel, his knuckles white as a muscle ticked in his jaw. Just hearing that dick's name agitated the fuck out of him.

"What a dumbass," Edward sneered.

"You don't think…" Bella flipped to her Instagram to see if Jacob still followed her.


"You don't think Jacob saw the pictures of us on Instagram, do you? He still follows me. I just checked."

"I don't give a flying fuck if he saw them. Do you?"

"Oh, God, no. I can't help but wonder, though." Bella bit her thumbnail, pondering what was going on in Jacob's mind.

Edward glanced over at her for a second. "Bella, you're not responsible for his bad choices."

"I know. And thank you," she said, her words breathy.

"The guy's not right, Bella. You saw it. He lost it right in front of us."

Bella sighed. "I know he did. If he was going to kick up a fuss, I would've expected it after we walked the red carpet. But there was nothing. I'm not gonna lie, though, I did worry about that in the back of my head."

"Shitfire, shug. I didn't lose any damn sleep over it. I don't give that asshole the time of day, and you shouldn't either."

"I don't. Promise. If he wasn't in Atlanta, I wouldn't have given it a thought, either. I do, however, have to admit that I occasionally look over my shoulder."

Edward reached over and linked his fingers with hers. "Baby, I don't want you living in fear."

"Meh, it's not so much fear. It's more…caution."

Edward furrowed his brows. "Call it what you want, but I don't like it. Especially with our schedules."

"I'm fine, darlin'. Really."

Edward sat in thought for a few minutes, breaking the silence with a question he'd pondered for some time. Now seemed as good a time as any to bring it up.

"Bella, how much time do you have left on your lease?"

"Edward, I'm fin—"

"If you say fine one more time, Swan," Edward threatened playfully.

"Okay, okay," she surrendered, throwing her hands up. Bella had a feeling she knew where Edward was going with this. "I have about seven months left. Why?"

"Well, I was thinking, it might be safer if you stayed at my house. I mean, we're with each other all the time anyway when we're in town, and he doesn't know where I live. You won't need to be looking over your shoulder constantly."

"Are you suggesting what I think you're suggesting?" Bella asked. She was surprised at the direction the conversation had turned.

"If you mean us living together…then yes. Think about it. We're basically doing that now. You waiting at my house for me and vice versa. We both miss each other when we're not together. It just makes sense."

Edward glanced over at her to see her reaction. He was hoping she would take him up on his offer. He knew it would give them the peace of mind they wanted, but also, just being able to hold her every night as they went to sleep gave him a sense of serenity he'd been looking for, for so long.

Bella considered his words. "It does. I know I don't like being away from you if I can help it."

"See? And just so you know, this isn't the first time I've thought about this. I've been thinking about it for some time. I wanted to make sure that everything went well with your parents. And since we've technically been together for over a year, moving in together isn't so far-fetched," he reasoned.

"But I'm still in a lease. I can't just pick up and move everything up to Kennesaw," Bella lamented, though she did love the idea of being with him more.

"I agree. We won't be moving everything. Just clothes and things you want and need with you. Consider it a trial run. If it doesn't work at my place, then you or we can move back down to your house. I can always rent my house out if I need to. I know you're closer to work from yours, but again, Jacob doesn't know where I live, so it's a safer option for the time being."

"It does make sense. Let's get home, look at our schedules, and then make a plan. It may be a good idea not to be there for a while. I can have Peter and Al keep an eye on it for me."

"I like it." A wide grin stretched across Edward's face.

"But remember, I have Millie."

"How could I forget?"


Before Edward went back on the road after All-Star week was over, they moved Bella's clothes and some kitchen items she wanted over to Edward's house. It was a quick turnaround, but neither of them regretted the decision. It was another positive step forward in their relationship, and Edward felt better knowing Bella was safe in his home.

Their game and travel schedules were grueling, and Bella was out of town more than she was home. Between traveling for her endorsements and practices and out-of-town games, Bella's time in Atlanta was sparse at best.

The Braves were playing well, hanging in the number two spot of the Eastern Division. They were making their run for the post-season, so tensions were high. Edward's swing stayed consistent, and he had moved up to the number four spot on the batting rotation. Though he missed his girl something fierce, and their time together had been rare, Edward was satisfied knowing they were both happy doing what they loved.

It was a Thursday evening in August when things turned ugly. Bella and the team were in Chicago preparing to play against the Chicago Red Stars. She and a few of her teammates were watching the Braves play against the Phillies in her hotel room. Bella hated to miss the game since it was at home, but she couldn't miss the practice days before the game. She had just left to get ice when all hell broke loose in her room.

"Bella, Bella!" Leah called out into the hall.

She had just turned the corner when she crashed into Leah.

"Leah, what the hell? Are you okay?"

"It's Edward. He's been hurt."

Bella stopped in her tracks. "What? Are you sure?"

"He was hit in the face with a baseball when he was up at bat. He's down."

"Oh my God." Bella dropped the ice bucket and ran to the bedroom.

Her friends made room for her on the bed, right in front of the TV. Edward was down on his side on top of home plate, and he wasn't moving. The team physician was there, checking him over, and his teammates formed a protective wall around him. The team was visibly shaken, and emotions were running high as Edward remained still. The doctor attempted to use smelling salts to revive him. Bella watched as Emmett kneeled on the ground next to Edward, his hand resting on Edward's back as he was murmuring in his ear.

"Edward, please!" Bella cried out when there was still no movement.

The replay of the event played on the screen. Bella gasped and broke into sobs when she saw Edward take the hit right in the center of his forehead. Her phone went off as she stared numbly at the TV. One of the girls answered it and handed it to her.

"Bella, it's your sister."

Bella grabbed the phone and slammed it to her ear. "Rose! What's going on? He's not moving!"

"I know, sweetie. Stay calm. He's in good hands. They're bringing out the cart now."

"The cart?" Bella stood and started pacing the hotel room, her eyes never straying from the television. "He's still not moving, is he?"

"No. Not yet. But, I'm here. I won't get off the phone with you until we know he's okay."

The stadium was quiet as they worked on Edward. People were standing out of respect, desperately waiting and hoping that their Darling would be okay.

The girls were quietly holding hands as tears continued to roll down Bella's cheeks. Leah had her arm around Bella, doing her best to give her support. Finally, Bella saw Edward jerk.

"Oh, thank God. He's moving," she rasped. What felt like hours amounted to a mere minute, but for Bella, it was a minute too long.

The doctor rolled him over onto his back and flicked his miniature flashlight in front of Edward's eyes, testing his pupils' reactions. Edward tried to sit up, but they halted his movement, giving him time to adjust. There were a lot of questions being asked and shaking of his head in response as Bella watched with rapt attention. Finally, Edward sat up with the help of the doctor and a PT. Emmett was not far from his side.

The cart pulled up and the EMTs came over and checked out Edward before loading him onto the stretcher. The crowd erupted into applause when they saw him sitting up on the stretcher, waving to them to signal he was okay. The entire stadium chanted, "Thunder," while medics took him off the field.

Relief flooded Bella's body when she saw him moving and waving to the crowd. It had to be a good sign.

"Babe, I'm going to see if they'll let me go back there so I can see how he really is, maybe let you talk to him. Okay? Just stand by."

"Thank you, Rose. That would be amazing." Bella sniffled.

The waiting practically killed Bella, but she needed to hear Edward's voice. After about ten minutes of waiting, Bella finally heard the phone shuffle and then a familiar voice.

"Bella? It's Heidi."

"Oh, Heidi! I'm so glad it's you. How is he? Is he okay?"

"He took a pretty good hit. Knocked him the hell out. The ball was going about ninety-two miles per hour. He's lucky it wasn't faster."

"Shit." Bella shook her head. Heidi was right. He was damn lucky it wasn't faster. "Is he awake? Can I talk to him?"

"He is. He's asking for you. They're getting him ready for transport. Hold on, let me walk back into the room."



"Thank you."

"Oh, Bella. You're welcome, honey. Give me just a sec to get back there."

Bella could hear the echoes of Heidi walking in the background. Then she heard her muffled voice speaking to someone."

"Shug?" Edward croaked.

"Oh my God, Edward." Bella choked back a sob.

"Hey, hey, baby. I'm okay. Don't cry." Edward's voice was soft and gruff, as if he had just woken up from a long night's sleep.

"I don't think I've ever been more s-scared in my life." Bella stumbled over her words as she tried to keep her emotions under control. "Seeing you lying there on the ground not moving. I just... Oh, Edward, are you okay? What are they sayin'?"

"My head feels like it's about to split open," he replied groggily. Edward felt like he had been hit over the head with a two-by-four.

"Oh, darlin', I hate that I'm not there. I'll be on the first plane out of here in the morning."

"It's okay, love. Can't be helped. And you stay and play your game on Sunday. I'll be here when you get back."


"No buts. I'm gonna be fine. This is an important game for y'all. They need you."

Bella felt defeated. She wanted to be with him, but she also had obligations. "Listen, if anything changes, if things turn serious…I want you to tell me, okay?"

"I promise."

Bella heard the doctor and some others talking to Edward, interrupting their conversation. He sounded agitated as he answered their questions.

Edward's head was pounding. He was exasperated by the constant questions and attention. The queries were important, but all he wanted to do was talk to his girl and calm her down. Her tears broke him. He prided himself on never wanting to bring tears to her eyes unless they were happy ones, and there he was, five months in, and he was already making her cry.

"Hey, baby. They're going to take me to Emory. Run some tests. Make sure my head's okay. Pretty sure I have a concussion. They just have to determine how severe it is."

"Will you please call me with the results?"

"Of course I will. And hey, will you do me a favor and call Mom? Tell her what's going on and where they're taking me?"

"Absolutely. I love you," Bella whispered.

"Thanks. I love you too."


"Bye, love."

As soon as their call disconnected, Bella called Edward's mom and filled her in. Neither Esme nor Carlisle was at the game, so Esme was grateful for Bella's call. His parents gathered their things and headed out the door as they talked to her. They promised to call if Edward took a turn for the worse.

Bella stayed up late that night, tossing and turning as she waited to hear from Edward. Her mind was running rampant with all the unseemly possibilities and outcomes of this injury. When he finally called, it was after ten p.m.

"Hey, darlin'. How are you feeling?"

"Better. They finally gave me some pain meds that work. I've had a wicked headache off and on for hours with a few bouts of nausea."

"Poor thing. I'm so sorry. Are your parents still there?"

"No. They just left."

"Good. I know you were glad to have them there. So, what did the doctor say? Is everything okay?"

"Grade two concussion. That damn ball knocked me out for damn near a minute."

"I know. I saw," she whispered.

"I'm sorry I scared you, shug."

"Well, you didn't do it on purpose. But I'm not gonna lie, it scared the shit out of me." Bella huffed out a weak laugh. "How did it happen? It wasn't on purpose, was it? I know pitchers can get quite ornery."

"No, no. It wasn't on purpose. Wheeler even came by to check on me and apologize; he felt just awful. He's a local boy from Smyrna."

"That was very nice of him."

"Yeah, it was. I just feel stupid. Sometimes, they throw a pitch a certain way and it looks like a big ol' watermelon coming at you. So, your inclination is to swing, 'cause it seems so close and big. But when I went to swing, I completely misjudged it because it was coming straight at my head."

"It sounds like a simple mistake to me. Don't go being hard on yourself. I am just grateful you're going to be okay. How long will you be out on concussion protocol?"

Edward groaned. "Two to three fucking weeks."

"Oh damn. That sucks."

Bella already knew how bad Edward was when he hurt his heel. It was not going to be easy keeping him down.

"Yep. It could be sooner. Apparently, being knocked unconscious is a big deal. So, they have to watch me closely. I'm still dizzy when I stand, and my vision's a bit blurry. So far, those are the only symptoms I have besides a headache and a little nausea. I'm staying the night for observation, but I just want to leave and get home."

"So far, Edward. So far." Bella shifted in the bed as her concern set in.

"So far?"

"Those are the only symptoms you have so far. You're staying for observation for a reason. If something goes wrong while you're at home…" Bella's voice cracked.

"Baby, I know. I know." Edward sighed. "I'm just frustrated. I'm not going to do anything stupid. We're just so close to making post-season, I can taste it. They're doubting us at the moment, but I know we have it in us to make it all the way."

"I get it, but you're important. Head injuries are no joke, so the doctors are going to be very judicious about when you can come back. The more you listen to your doctor, the faster you'll get back out there."

"Yeah, yeah. I know. I've never been one to sit still."

"I know you're not. But I need you to promise me something."


"I want you not to push yourself."

"I hear you, shug. I promise."

"I'll be home Sunday night. Millie's at Rose's, but I'll come straight to you, okay?"

"Okay. You get some sleep. You have a game tomorrow."

"All right. Now, please keep me posted if anything changes." Bella yawned.

"Will do."

"I love you, darlin'."

"Love you too. Sleep well."


The Storm lost the game 2-1. Bella scored the team's only goal. Though she was disappointed in the outcome, the only thing she could focus on was getting on the plane. She landed back in Atlanta around ten-thirty p.m. Edward arranged for a driver to pick her up, so it was one less thing for Bella to worry about once she landed. She arrived at Edward's around eleven-thirty, smiling as she held the key to his house in her hand. They had come so far since spring training.

Bella put her key in the door and quietly opened it. She didn't want to disturb Edward. Once she was inside, she heard the television. She walked into the living room, and there was Edward, sitting in the dark with a big container of animal crackers, watching TV.

"Hey, baby," Bella whispered. She didn't want to startle him.

"Shug." Edward opened his arms wide, welcoming her in.

Bella sat down beside him and nestled into his embrace. "I missed you," she murmured into his chest.

Edward kissed the top of her head, inhaling her sweet floral scent. "I missed you too."

"How are you feeling?" Bella hugged him tighter. The reality of what could have happened to him really hit home for her.

"Meh…my head still hurts. Still a bit nauseated and dizzy. It's to be expected." He sighed.

"Have you been here all alone? Where's your mom?"

"No, she just left. Once we knew you had landed and were in the car, she decided to leave. She wanted to give us some privacy."

Edward tilted up her chin and slanted his lips over hers. "Damn, you're still the sweetest thing."

"Sweeter than these animal crackers?" she jested.

Bella remembered Edward had them when he was out with his foot. It was a reminder to remedy that and keep him stocked with batches of chocolate chip cookies this time too.

"Definitely sweeter."


The next two weeks flew by, but not for Edward. Every day that ticked by was one more day he wasn't on the field. The battle to make post-season was underway, and Edward was growing increasingly irritable. His symptoms had lingered longer than he had expected, so his inactivity was making him stir-crazy. Bella, on the other hand, was going to practice and taking care of her obligations. She enjoyed the unexpected time they had together, but as Edward's days on the injured list increased, so did his agitation.

One night, as Edward tossed and turned in bed, he reluctantly gave up the fight and slipped out of bed, quietly heading into the living room. He wanted to make sure not to wake Bella. She had a big day in the morning, so he knew all his flopping around wasn't helping her sleep.

Edward turned on the television, keeping the volume low, and surfed the channels for something to watch. It was the sixth night in a row he found himself out of bed after midnight. He landed on a movie he'd never seen and settled in to watch. About halfway through the movie, Edward went into the kitchen to get a bottle of water. As he walked out of the kitchen, he spied the big container of animal crackers and grabbed it. He plopped back down onto the sofa and continued watching TV, carelessly eating the cookies.

Around three in the morning, Bella woke to an empty bed. Knowing she wouldn't be able to sleep until she knew where Edward was, she left their room to look for him. She popped her head out of the room and whispered, "Edward?"

"I'm sorry, shug. Did I wake you?"

Bella walked into the room and sat down next to him. "No. I woke up when I didn't feel you in the bed with me. It was getting awfully cold without you." Bella raised her hand and moved a lock of hair off his forehead.

"Go back to bed, baby," Edward mumbled. He took her hand off his forehead and kissed the center of her palm.

"But, Edward, you need to—"

"I'm fine, Bella. I just couldn't sleep. Go back to bed. You have a busy day. Don't worry about me." Edward's tone was clipped. He was already frustrated with his insomnia, so he didn't feel like discussing it any further.

"Okay. You sure you don't want to come with me?"

"I'll be there in a few…promise." Edward leaned in to kiss her lips. "I love you. Sorry I was short with you."

"It's all good. And I love you more."


Bella kissed him back sweetly before getting up off the sofa. She could tell something wasn't right, but now was not the time to address it. Bella glanced back one last time, and Edward's eyes had returned to the screen.

Every night, for the next three weeks, Bella woke to find Edward wide-awake on the sofa, watching TV and eating animal crackers. He would stare mindlessly at the television, barely registering what he had on. Sleep escaped him, and each day he withdrew more and more into himself. The fact that he wasn't sleeping certainly didn't help his surly disposition.

A week and a half later, as Edward's time on the injured list came to an end, he still didn't seem like himself. He had dark circles under his eyes, and while his concussion seemed to be healed, his curt interactions with Bella unnerved her. Every morning, since he'd been cleared to practice, he'd been extremely irritable when he left for the stadium, and he'd been equally irritated when he returned. Bella was worried about him, so she decided to talk with him the next morning before he headed out for his first away game.

Bella knew it wasn't going to be an easy conversation, so she decided to busy herself in the kitchen and wait for him to come out before he left.

"Morning." Bella smiled as she turned on the blender to make them both a protein shake.

"Morning," Edward grumbled, taking a seat at the island.

"Did you get any sleep last night?"

"Not much. I caught a few hours." Edward scrubbed a hand over his face.

Bella walked over and handed him his shake. She placed a kiss on his cheek before returning to pour her own breakfast into a glass.

"Thanks," he mumbled.

Bella nodded in acknowledgment.

"I didn't think you slept. I woke up and you were out of bed again."

Edward's jaw flexed as he sat in silence and drank some of his shake.

"Edward," Bella began, "please don't be upset with me for saying this, but I'm worried about you. You're not sleeping. You look…unwell. You have dark circles under your eyes, you're barely eating. I've never seen you like this."

"I'm eating," Edward snapped as he waved the shake in front of her.

"That's hardly enough to keep you alive. And in case you didn't know…animal crackers at midnight are not eating," Bella shot back. She knew that would strike a nerve, but it had to be said.

A cool mask of disdain washed over his face. "I don't need to be challenged." Edward slammed down his drink and backed away from the counter, scraping the chair along the floor. "I gotta go."

"Please don't go." Worry pinched Bella's features as she raced over to his side and wrapped her arms around his waist. "I'm not trying to upset you. I'm so sorry. I'm just worried."

Edward wrapped his arms around Bella and pulled her tightly to him. He knew he was being an ass, but he just couldn't manage to pull himself out of the hole he felt swallowed up in. The unrest in his soul haunted him.

He could feel a spot on his shirt getting damp from Bella's tears. Shit,he thought. He made her cry again.

"F-f-fuck b-b-baby, I'm so sorry." Edward fought the sting in his eyes. He held her tighter, doing his best to hold it together. "I didn't mean to snap. I don't know what's wrong with me. Ever since I got hit, I don't feel like myself. I'm edgy, I can't sleep…my mind's just constantly spinning."

Edward's confession came out strangled. He struggled to find the words to describe how the agitation he felt every day crawled under his skin. The disappointment he felt in himself overwhelmed his senses every single day since the accident.

He combed a shaky hand through Bella's hair, trying to soothe her. The rote movement brought comfort to him as well.

Bella hummed appreciatively as she nuzzled into Edward's chest. It was the closest they'd been since the accident. She missed his touch, no matter how shaky it was.

He'd never mentioned how his anxiety manifested itself, but Bella attributed the shaking of his hand and the slight stutter as one of the signs. She'd noticed it a few times since his injury. He tended to shake or stutter when faced with discussions or situations that troubled him or were stressful, like his injury. His emotional well-being showed cracks in its armor.

Bella's concern grew with each passing day.

The Braves had seven weeks left to grab the National League East division title. They were not favored to clinch at this point, so on top of everything else Edward was going through, the stress for the team was becoming palpable.

"Edward, I love you. Will you please make an appointment with your doctor?" Bella asked meekly.

Edward realized she was right. He needed to find out what was going on. What he felt was beyond what Dr. Jay could help him with. He needed an appointment with his therapist, because something wasn't right. With everything that'd been going on, Edward had put off making that much-needed appointment.

"I will, shug. I will. As soon as I get home." Edward bent down and cupped her face. "I promise. Okay?"

Bella nodded. "Okay. Thank you."

Edward gave her a toe-curling kiss goodbye, and it ignited something in him he hadn't felt in the last month. His senses had been dulled and depression had set in, but that kiss brought back the physical fire he held for her. He hoped the kiss would hold them both over until he came back, because damn it, he wanted her. If he'd had the time, he would have taken her right there in the kitchen. He missed her, even though she'd been beside him the whole time.

An: Whew. What's going on with Edward? I can't wait to hear your thoughts about this chapter, so please let me know what you think.

Thank you so much for all the love y'all give this story. It's made this journey so special. This story is looking to be about 33/34 chapters. I am working on a chapter now, and boy is it hard knowing that these last few ones will be the last I write of Darlin' and Shug. I'm going to really miss them taking up space in my brain everyday.

***Contest Alert. There is a contest going on called The Tropes Contest. I am lucky enough to be a judge. Come and join the FB group under the name Tropes Contest: Twilight Fanfiction. The FFN page is called the Tropes Contest. If you are a writer and you're reading this, please give us your words. They're accepting submissions until May 12th.

I have a FB group called DrivingEdward Fanfiction. It you want pic teasers, updates, and all things Darlin' and Shug, please come find us.

See you in two weeks

~Be Happy

~Be Kind

~Be Blessed