Chapter 13~ Apologies

Looking back at me I see that I

Never really got it right

I never stopped to think of you

I'm always wrapped up in things I cannot win

You are the antidote that gets me by

Something strong like a drug that gets me High

What I really meant to say

Is I'm sorry for the way I am

I never meant to be so cold

Crossfade~ Cold


"Fucking girls!" I sneered, smashing my fist against the steering wheel. "I trusted her and she's the same as all those other bitches!"

She was still standing motionless in the parking spot exactly where I'd left her. Frozen. Disconnected. Distant. I could see her barely flinch, paralyzed and statuesque as cars veered around her while honking.

What the hell was she thinking?

"E...what the fuck is going on?" Jasper snapped, partly confused and partly pissed.

I clenched my jaw, thinking about how I was going to fix this shit. My mind was going a hundred miles an hour, whirring with the possibilities of what could happen. I would have to go to the principal on Thursday morning and explain the situation, before the rumor made its way back to her and she dragged me in to her office. I knew she watched me closely, as required by the "powers that be," but I always kept out of trouble and my grades were exemplary. The only time I even met with her was when we first started school here last January, and even then she had made it crystal clear that she would not tolerate inappropriate behavior from any of her students. And by 'any' she meant me.

My throat tightened and I could feel my chest constrict, weighed down by a ten ton elephant.

"Bella asked me if I was gay Saturday night," I said, seething at the memory of feeling completely at ease with her, trusting that she would not betray me. "I told her I wasn't, and today she said she told Sam and Royce that she was messing up my hair while we were fucking? What is that?" I shook my head in complete disbelief as I focused on the erratic rhythm of my breathing that was suddenly in the forefront of my mind. I trusted her. I trusted Bella with all sorts of personal shit that I thought she would keep to herself. I was furious that she would do this.

I must have driven a mile or so before I realized that I didn't even use one turn signal or stop at any traffic signs. Everything seemed to be in slow motion. My skin grew clammy and I felt nauseated. In my chest, my heart was racing and I felt suddenly isolated from the world in an eerie, surreal way. I knew it was coming.

"Yo, Edward, dude…I realize you are pissed, but you might want to obey traffic laws at some point, okay? Just saying, you don't need Forks finest crawling up your ass, too." Jasper leered at me while I paid no attention to him. "So that's what she said? Why?"

"I don't fucking know, Jazz, she said they called her a fag hag or some shit. She was trying to defend herself from being associated with a homo, I guess. Fucking bullshit." I gripped the wheel with one hand and the other unconsciously pulled at the front of my hair. I learned that when I felt pain during a panic attack, I could focus on that rather than counting every breath as I tried to fill my lungs with air. Hair pulling hurt like a motherfucker usually, but today it wasn't working.

There wasn't enough physical pain I could place on myself to take away the hurt.

"Jesus fucking Christ…Edward pull the fuck over!" Jasper yelled, grabbing the strap above his head. I pulled the car to the side of the road, flinging the door open and stepping out onto the side of the highway, not paying any attention to oncoming traffic. Once outside, I gasped for air, struggling to find an adequately full breath that would fill my lungs. It was as if no matter how hard I tried or how big of a breath I took, my lungs never felt filled to capacity. Fuck, I needed to stop smoking.

I leaned forward, placing my hands on the roof of my car to brace myself, while cars blurred past mere feet away from me. I shivered in the realization that I could get hit standing like this, but I didn't care at the moment. I just wanted air.

Jasper got out of the passenger side, walking around to me, placing his hand in between my shoulder blades.

"Edward what can I do?" he said, his voice concerned and panicked. Jasper hated this. He had only been around a few times to witness my anxiety attacks, but this kind of stuff scared him, so he never dealt with them well. I don't think he liked seeing me not in control and I could tell now, he was afraid.

"Give me a minute…" I gasped. He kept his hand on my back, which felt oddly soothing. He had seen my mother do this I guess, which was why he was imitating her. It was a good ten minutes on the side of the highway, before I got myself together enough to get back in the car. Jasper drove the rest of the way home, jumping out barely before he had the car thrown in park. I got out, stumbling to the front step, where I put my head down in between my legs, continuing to take deep breaths from my nose as the doctors all instructed. Something about letting too much oxygen in and not enough carbon dioxide out, made the fingers and toes numb. That was one of the most frightening parts of anxiety attacks. All of the reactions were the same symptoms as a heart attack.

My mother came running out with a pill and a glass of water, which I knew was a Valium. She crouched in front of me, placing the pill in my hand as she brought the water to my lips. I was so thirsty. I drank the entire glass of water, confused and agitated, just wanting to feel better.

"Jasper, what happened?" she asked, as if I were not even there.

"He got in a fight with Bella," Jasper answered. "Long story." I was grateful that for once, his big fucking mouth didn't go off telling her everything because I didn't feel like dealing with it anymore.

The sound of a car pulling on pavement caught my attention. I looked up to see Bella and Alice getting out of Bella's car in her driveway. Alice had been driving. The two girls embraced affectionately, and then Bella gave us a quick glance before slipping inside. I couldn't see her expression, but from the way she looked down and scooted into the house, I got the impression that she was upset.

Good, I hope she feels like shit.

I felt betrayed, dishonored…abandoned, by the one person I had put my trust into in a very long time. The girl that I thought I was possibly falling in love with. In the back of my mind I wondered if I was being too harsh on her, because she didn't know that saying I was engaging in sexual activities with her was incriminating for me. But still, why the hell would she volunteer that information?

My mom sat next to me, rubbing my back while Jasper disappeared inside. The effects of the Valium hit me hard and soon I was nodding my head. The panic subsided, my breathing was back to normal, and my body was aching for sleep. I don't remember making it up the stairs.

I woke up later, starving, feeling severely emotionally drained and still a little disconnected. After I ate some halfway decent chicken and potatoes, my mother rubbed my shoulders asking if I wanted to talk about it. I told her no, and then she said that Jasper wanted to talk to me and that he was in the den. I found him sitting on the couch chewing his nails absently, with the television on mute.


He looked up at me with an expression I hadn't seen since I rode his bike into the neighbor's tree when I was seven. "Bro, you have a set of balls the size of Chicago bitching to mom about how I treat girls and how I make them cry, you know that?" I quirked an eyebrow, feigning confusion. Well, maybe not so much confusion as feeling trapped.

"Yeah, she had a nice little talk with me the other day. Thanks for that. I wasn't planning on saying anything to you because your so fucking sensitive about that shit, so I figured I'd let it slide, but you are such a hypocrite."

"Jasper what are you talking about?"

"I'm talking about Bella. She was at the tree house, bawling to me about how sorry she was and how you wouldn't even let her explain what happened."

"She was crying?"

"Sobbing. She's a fucking mess, thinking that you hate her and all she was doing was defending you and me and Em from those assholes talking shit about us. She was being loyal and you made her feel like a piece of shit."

"What?" I asked meekly, not really understanding what he was saying because I was so focused on the heartbreaking thought of Bella in tears. "Is she okay?"

"I don't know, but you need to talk to her. I told her that you were fucked up all because of a girl in Chicago and she cried even more so I held her until she stopped crying and then…"

He stopped suddenly.

"Then, what?"

He shook his head. "Nothing. She likes you a hell of a lot, and she's fucking crushed," he scowled. "Such a waste." He said the last part under his breath, not meaning for me to hear it.

"What's a waste?" I asked, acid in my tone as I narrowed my eyes at him. I knew what he was alluding to and I didn't like it.

He looked up at me narrowing his eyes right back. "You and Bella. She's a good girl and she's wasting her time with you."

"Fuck you, Jasper."

"No, fuck you, Edward," he said rising off the couch. His fists flexed at his side, practically mimicking my own.

"What are you going to do, hit me? Go ahead. I know you want to. I know you've been fucking itching to do it since Emily broke it off with you. Do it already! Just fucking do it!" His whole body was tense, preparing himself to lunge at me, though I had no idea what was holding him back. This was about so much more than Bella. This was about Emily. This was about leaving our home behind, our friends. All the repressed anger he had for the situation with Emily and everything else was finally coming to a head because of Bella being emotional in his presence.

"I should beat the piss out of you right now," he seethed, before cocking his head to the side. I knew Jasper had it in him to be a douche. He went through a lot when it all went down in Chicago, and no one really acknowledged it because all the focus was on me at the time. He never talked about his feelings for Emily, so everyone just assumed he was over it. But then, he opened his mouth, and what came out made me realize that he was still bitter and angry and waiting for me to throw the first punch.

"Oh, and just so know… I kissed her, because… you …fucking…can't." The smile that came slowly creeping across his face made me sick. He knew I had a temper that I had a hard time controlling. He was deliberately egging me on so that I would hurl my fist first, alleviating him from any of the blame or the repercussions.

My father's words rung in my ears: "Don't start it Edward, but you better finish it."

He had taught all us boys the same thing. Therefore, I knew what Jazz was thinking.

Well, truth be told, I had full intentions of being the one to start it and finish it.

"You vindictive motherfucker, " I sneered as my fist made contact with his mouth and before I knew it we were on the floor, having flipped backward over the couch, landing into the coffee table which buckled under our weight. Jasper's drink went flying and I heard the crash of the glass breaking. Mom's magazines scattered all over the floor. The batteries from the now busted remote bounced on the carpet. "You are nothing but a back-stabbing Benedict fucking Arnold. You act all concerned about me and shit when all you are tying to do is get in my girl's pants," I screamed at him.

"Your girl? YOUR girl?" You have got to be fucking kidding me!" Jasper screamed as he clipped my cheekbone with his knuckles, sending me back onto my ass. Jasper fell to his knees and we scuttled on the carpet. I felt the sting of rug burn on my elbow just before I reached and grabbed his right arm flipping him over pinning him down.

"I'm not fucking kidding you, Asshole. Stay away from Bella. She's mine." With his free arm, Jasper whaled into my stomach and as I doubled over, he hit me again on the right side of my face just a little lower, right under my eye. The throbbing began immediately, pulsing and aching over my cheekbone.

"She'll never be yours. You'll never have her. She's not going to wait around for you forever, dick." I had so little energy from the residual effects of the Valium still coursing through my system that he had a huge advantage over me. However, the words from his mouth gave me that last burst of energy I needed. I pushed him across the floor with my legs, sending him veering into the wood TV console. CD's came crashing forward off the shelves. Game controllers were flying out of the cabinet doors below. I wanted to fucking kill him. How did he know what Bella would do or not do? Like he even knew her at all.

He lunged again, but Emmett grabbed him and lifted him off the floor, his legs still kicking towards me. Mom was standing dangerously between us with her arms stretched outward screaming, "Stop it! Stop it right now!"

I brought my hand to my eyebrow, feeling for the warm spot of blood that was trickling down my cheek. I was breathing hard as I got up off the floor and brushed past the three of them. I turned to Jasper. "Emily was too good for you and so is Alice. She deserves much better. In fact I would rather see her alone than with you. I wonder what she's going to think knowing that you made a move on her best friend. I may have to have a little conversation with her."

I could hear Jasper yelling, "You fucking prick!" behind me, as I made my way to the kitchen. I ignored Emmett's yelling at him to stop, and then eventually I heard the slam of the front door and the screech of Jasper's car pulling out of the driveway. Opening the freezer, I pulled out a bag of frozen vegetables and placed it to my face just as my mother and Emmett turned into the room. Em looked confused since he had just walked into this mess from football practice and Mom, well, she just looked broken.

"Let me look," Mom said, pulling the bag away from my eye with a hiss. She touched the skin, making me flinch and mumbled an apology, before sitting down at the center island with Emmett. "It's not too bad, baby. Jasper's mouth looked a lot worse than your face. You two should be ashamed for fighting like that. What's this about?" I felt bad about all the broken shit in the den, but Jasper asked for it.

He kissed Bella.

Because he fucking could.

"Bro, what's going on with you? Does this have to do with the shit I heard at practice about you and Bella?" Emmett asked.


It didn't take long for the rumor wagon to pull into town. I slumped back in my chair with a sigh, running my hand over my forehead. "I fucked up, and Jasper kissed Bella," I said flatly. They both looked at me with wide eyes, surprised to hear the news.

"He kissed her? Oh, Edward…" Mom glanced at Emmett and then back to me. I gave them the abridged version of the events of the day, realizing that a conversation with Bella was entirely necessary. Now.

"I totally overreacted to what Bella had said. But at the time, I didn't know all the important details and I wish I just would have let her explain it to me. I didn't even let her say a word, Mom. I just towered over her and berated her. When I think about it now, she looked so hurt and scared. The thought of her − Jasper said she was sobbing. Sobbing…God, what did I do?" I groaned, flinching as the bag of icy plastic encountered my face again under my mother's hand.

"Dude, you need to talk to Bella," Emmett said simply, as if it was so easy. "Straighten this out before it's too late."

"I know, I know, but what the hell do I say? How can I avoid telling her about the legal stuff and still explain why I freaked out?"

"Sweetie, I don't think you can. And maybe you shouldn't. Maybe it's time that you are honest with her."

"Mom, no way, she'll…"

"How do you know what she'll do?" She abruptly cut me off, pulling her hand away from my face. "I've seen the way that girl looks at you. She is so head over heels for you that I am positive she'll accept you for who you are. You assumed this afternoon and look where it got you. Don't put words in her mouth or thoughts in her head, Edward. She's a smart girl, very capable of making her own choices. She chose to defend you today. She chose to stand up to those kids. Let her choose what kind of relationship she wants with you. You owe her that."

I sat straight up in my chair, tossing the bag on the black granite. "What if she doesn't believe me? What if she wants nothing to do with me?"

"Then she wasn't meant for you, Bro. Think about it. If she can't trust you, then why the hell would you want to be with her anyway? If she decides that she's afraid or whatever, then you just gotta make sure she keeps it between you and her. The last thing you need is for her to tell her girls. have to believe me on this. I'm no expert, but I'm not as stupid about relationships as people think I am. I knew what Rose was doing. I knew she was trying to get me jealous and it worked. I played right into her game. There is no game with Bella, man. She's straight up. She wasn't trying to screw you over, she was trying to help you in the only way she knew how. Bella had no idea what she was getting herself into. She jumped in feet first to defend you. That has to count for something."

"Of course it counts, Em. I just…I don't know." I said, completely skeptical, though I knew Emmett was right about the trust thing. I would love to have her know all about what happened and not have to hide or lie about why I flinched away from her every time she tried to touch me, but at the same time, I was petrified that she wouldn't believe my innocence and would want nothing to do with me.

"Listen, this is going to be hard, no matter what you decide to do. But you should be honest with her. You have to be. I don't think you have a choice anymore. If you want, we'll be here when you tell her, to back you up, show that we believe you." My mother was so desperate for me to keep Bella in my life. Maybe it was because she knew how alone I felt all the time.

I sighed. "Jasper was right. I can't be her boyfriend. There is no way I can tell her that I like her and then ask her to wait until she's eighteen before I can even hold her hand. Not a girl like Bella. She's beautiful and smart and everything a guy could want. Why would she want to wait around for me? I can't handle watching her with someone else. Just knowing that Jasper had his mouth on hers. This is going to kill me. Just shoot me now and put me out of my misery."

Em's growled. "Jesus Christ, E…stop being so dramatic. Just talk to her. Tell her. She'll listen. I know she will."

"Edward, if Bella truly cares for you then she will accept that she can only be friends for a while. Who knows? Maybe by the time this is all said and done, you'll only want to be friends. Maybe she's not as great as you're making her out to be. What if you don't even get along that well…"

I rolled my eyes indicating that was never going to happen. My mother backed off, grumbling, "Okay, okay…"

"Bella is a sweetheart. If she can't handle just being your friend for the next two years, then you don't hang with her anymore until then. If she likes you enough then she'll deal with all your crap. And dude, you have a lot of crap. Maybe you just have to take it slow...go day by day." Emmett was a good brother, I had to give him that.

I groaned again, not finding a solution I was at all amiable with. "Emmett is right," mom said. Maybe you shouldn't put a time limit on it, you know? Just see how things progress. But in the meantime, you can build a solid, strong, wonderful friendship without sex getting in the way. Sex complicates things. I know that's not what you want to hear that but it's true. This can be just you and Bella."

"Yeah, great…thanks guys," I said sarcastically, feeling as if nothing had been accomplished. "I'm gonna go for a swim, I think." I stood, threw the bag back in the freezer and walked across the kitchen.

"Edward, did you listen to anything we said?" my mother asked, turning around in her seat.

"Yeah, I heard you, but I don't like any of it," I replied, disappearing up the back stairs to my room. I vaguely heard her yell something about owing her a new coffee table...

I checked out the bitch of a shiner in the bathroom mirror. Definitely going to be tough to hide. I changed into my board shorts and headed down to the pool. Though I tried, I couldn't help but think about the last time I was in there.

Bella was with me and I would give anything to have her here now.

I was so fucking mentally drained that I didn't feel like doing shit anymore, particularly anything physical. I also knew the water would sting like a bitch on my cut up elbow and the gash on my on my cheekbone that Jasper had better pray to God didn't leave a scar, or I would be forced to rip his fucking limbs off.

I turned on the jets to the hot tub, grabbing a beer from the mini kitchen, and eased myself into the steaming water. After I opened the bottle, I guzzled half the contents before I laid my head back on the rim of the hot tub, feeling the sting on my arm and trying to ignore it. I knew that no matter what I decided to do, I had to talk to Bella. If I apologized, and didn't elaborate, then we could go on for a little longer just as we were. Is that what I wanted? Is that what she would want?

I wasn't stupid enough to realize that the attraction between us was growing rapidly and uncontrollably and that Bella, inquisitive by nature, would start to ask questions eventually. She probably had all sorts of theories gathered by this point anyway. I mean, she did ask if I was gay, so she could check that off her list, and she knew I didn't like to touch her. I can't even imagine what she thought that was about. The girl probably thought I was a freak of nature anyway. That aside, what about this kiss shit with Jasper? Did she want to kiss him? Did she kiss kiss him?

It wasn't so much that she kissed him, it was the thought of me not being able to do it that bothered me. I entertained the notion that I had the option of backing out….walking away from her so neither of us would get hurt. But I knew it was a lie. She was a part of me now, and I could no sooner walk away from her than I could change my obsessive habits. This was going to be difficult no matter what, and no one would win here.

I woke the next morning well after noon, feeling like absolute shit. My face was throbbing and my entire body ached with the lingering stress and anxiety, along with the haziness that the Valium left. I had slept like shit, thrashing and waking covered in sweat in a panic over nightmares of Bella alone in the woods by the tree house, crying… over me. I couldn't allow that to happen ever again, and if I didn't anything it would be to vow that my girl never shed another tear because of me. I laid in my bed for a while, staring at the ceiling, just wondering what I was going to do. Nausea hit me sudden and hard, and I bolted to the bathroom to puke.

While I showered, I rehearsed what I was going to say, reciting the story with the most detail. I tried to carefully word the parts I knew she might be upset over…the parts about the sex. I had no clue as to what Bella's own sex life entailed, but I didn't think she would want sordid details of mine, and I would try not to volunteer that information unless she outright asked.

After I dried off, I called Dr. Kate's office to reschedule the session. She was happy to oblige, though I think I could sense disappointment in her tone considering I had opened up for her so much last time. Knowing what was likely about to occur today, I would have tons of new goodies for her to salivate over on Friday afternoon at the new sitting.

Then I sat on my bed naked for about an hour.

I threw on boxers. I vacuumed, dusted, ironed jeans, changed my sheets, smoked three cigarettes, took a whiff inside Box -O- Bella, freaked myself out over it, and sat back on the bed again. I was starving, but I didn't want to have confrontation with anyone today. I just wanted to make it through the day without fighting with anyone over Bella or anything else. The house was quiet, and for that, I was thankful. A quick glance out the front window showed Bella's car was gone, which I was admittedly grateful for. I wasn't ready.

I showered again, feeling dirty from cleaning, silently chiding myself for being such a pussy and a procrastinator. As I was dressing, I heard voices downstairs, the house obviously filled with the reappearance of my family. I stood in my closet staring blankly looking for a shirt. Bella was going to listen to me divulge my truths and my secrets and practically my soul to her today. I wanted to make sure I looked good while doing it, and I knew it could very well be that last time I would talk to her so I at least wanted to leave her with a lasting image of myself. Awfully vain for a pathetic motherfucker like me.

My new white thermal was MIA, and I remembered washing it to soften it up because it was scratchy. The shirt had to be on before the hair was styled, otherwise it would be trashed. With socks in my hand, I bounded down the stairs, calling out to my mom for the whereabouts of said thermal shirt when there to my utter surprise…in my kitchen… was Bella.

Facing my father in a chair as he held her hand.

Jasper behind her, massaging her shoulders.

And Bella's white shirt soaked in blood.


I found myself stunned and appalled at the sight of my girl bleeding and everyone around her taking care of her but me. A brief flicker of jealously ran through me as I intentionally looked away from Jasper touching her. I wondered if she liked his hands on her. My father gave me a cursory glance and scowled when he saw my state of undress. I hadn't yet zipped up my jeans and I was standing there frozen in the doorway gaping at her dumbly, before I realized that she was peeking out at me through her fingers. She could see my ink and the piercing…and my goddamn brand of underwear for that matter. It was too late to hide it, so at my father's suggestion I found the shirt and crouched to observe him stitch up Bella's hand.

Her hand was so close to my face, I could smell the faint scent of her perfume on her wrist. I tried to focus on what dad was narrating as he closed up the wound, but in truth I was too shaken to pay full attention to any other detail but the ones from Bella. She looked really tired, like she didn't sleep well. She looked so soft, and vulnerable and very sad. I knew that sad was my doing.

After dad bandaged her up, gave her instructions to not get it wet, my mother asked me to walk her home. Jasper didn't even bother to offer, the douche. He kisses her and then won't even walk the girl home? Nice guy.

I helped Bella remove the tray of lasagna as my mouth watered at the smell. When she invited me to stay, I hesitated only because I knew it would force me to settle in and talk. I wanted to get over with and purge myself of the secrets, but at the same time, I wanted to run and hide away until 2016.

From the corner of my eye, I saw a bottle and pills scattered amongst the little blood droplets on her gray tile. I knelt to pick the pills up, noticing immediately what they were without even looking at the bottle. I felt like I was prying, but Bella told me they were for anxiety and that she had panic attacks.

Apparently she had secrets as well.

I sat at her kitchen table, serving lasagna, which was so amazing I almost asked her if I could bring home the rest of the tray. We talked as we had always done, easy and comfortable while we stuffed ourselves, and then I placed my fork down. It had been really nice. I mean, I had never actually sat down with a girl by myself and ate dinner with her, so it was sort of a trial run for a date.

"That was good. So…" I said hesitantly, as my eyes looked quickly to hers, while I mustered up the balls to begin this. Looking back at her again, staring away from her blood-spattered shirt, I said softly, "Jasper kissed you, huh?"

From her expression, I think my question wasn't one that she expected.

"Uh….yeah sort of. It wasn't technically a kiss, 'cause I didn't kiss him back." She shrugged her shoulders, completely indifferent about the kiss. I smiled ear to ear, knowing that she didn't kiss him back.

"He told me he spoke to you yesterday. What exactly did he tell you?"

"Not much, truthfully. He just said that you had a relationship with a girl Chicago. He wasn't too explicit." Her eyes looked a little glassy, and I thought that maybe the painkillers were starting to move through her system. For a minute I thought that I could back out, using the excuse that she would be too out of it to fully comprehend, but on the other hand, maybe a little numbness would help ease the situation.

"Do you want to know the whole story?" I asked, heart racing and my fingers fidgeting nervously on the table.

Please say no. Please just tell me to go the fuck home.

Bella replied indifferently, "If you want to tell me." I was a little taken back by her nonchalance, and if I had to be blatantly honest, a little irritated. Maybe she didn't even care. Maybe I had made too big of a deal about this because it was possible that she didn't want to know about my past. But regardless, I couldn't make her understand my actions and words without telling her everything in its entirety. I would just have to have faith.

I crushed the clean napkin between my fingers, buying time and steeling myself for her reaction. This would not be easy by any means and I would just have to deal with whatever outcome resulted like a man.

I sighed, but oddly proud of myself for actually doing it. "There was this girl, Charlotte..."

Her eyes widened, taking in the name. "Charlotte," she whispered almost inaudibly. I looked straight at her, gauging her reaction to the name. It was only a name, but it was so hard for me to even say aloud. So I stalled. "Uh…how does your hand feel?"

She narrowed her eyes at me just a little, catching on to me. "Fine. It's still throbbing but the Percocet just kicked in, so I'm good. Continue," she demanded with a wave of her hand.

Ah, so I did have her attention after all.

"Um…so, Charlotte and I were good friends. We had known each other since like, fifth grade I think, and she hung out with Jasper's girl, Emily and all of their friends, so all of us were one big group, you know? Well, Charlotte and I were close, but it was weird cause I found out she had a crush on me and then I felt a little strange around her, even though she had this douchebag boyfriend, Peter. He hated me and I thought it was because I made it to the starting roster over him but I figured out it was that and because he was aware that Charlotte liked me." I shook my head at the mention of that asshole. Bella was staring straight at me, fully attentive, so I kept going.

"I played on the Varsity baseball team…pitcher. We were at the championships, and we had won…and…"

Bella's perfectly arched eyebrows furrowed. "Wait…you were on Varsity baseball? How old were you?"

"I made the team as a freshman when I was fourteen." She looked at me incredulously. "Yeah, I was really fucking good," I clarified. She nodded. "But this all happened just after I turned fifteen. Last August. Well, we won the championships, and we had all gone out afterward and gotten our piercings." I gestured to the right side of my chest, as if she hadn't seen enough of me to not understand what piercing I meant. "Getting my nipple pierced was such a stupid thing to do, but at the time it was cool, I guess. It was a team thing…unity or whatever. The coaches wouldn't allow anyone to wear jewelry, so we got something that was hidden that no one could ask us to remove.

"Anyway, the day after, I went with my father, Jasper, and Emmett back to the same place to get my tat. I had wanted one the whole season, but I waited until we were finished because I didn't want my arm to be sore for the games. We all ended up getting one and my mother was so pissed at Dad, she didn't speak to any of us for like a week." I chuckled, remembering how she yelled at how irresponsible it was to have allowed fifteen and sixteen year olds to permanently mark their bodies up. I think he just wanted to be there to supervise when we did it, because he knew damn well I would have gotten the tattoo if I wanted to without anyone's permission or blessing. "That night the team was celebrating at the first baseman's house. I had taken a painkiller because of the piercing and the fucking stupid getting them a day apart, I don't know what the hell I was thinking.

"The guys got me – sorry, have to take responsibility −I got myself really drunk, and I'd gone upstairs to one of the bedrooms to lay down cause I thought I was going be sick." I took deep breath wiping my damp palms on my jeans before placing them back on the table. I laced my fingers together, stilling them from nervous movement.

"I was so wasted between the booze and the painkiller that I could barely pull my head off the pillow. I was asleep or like, almost unconscious, when I felt…" I looked up at Bella who was absolutely mesmerized by my words. I didn't know how she would handle the next part so I just shook my head and said it. "Charlotte always wore this strawberry perfume or shampoo or something. Nasty stuff. I still get nauseated when I smell artificial strawberries. But I knew it was her immediately by the way she smelled. She was next to me and kissing and whispering things to me that I didn't know how to even respond to. I remember she kept saying, "Eddie, take the pain away, make me feel better, please." My eyes met Bella's for a second, and I watched as her mouth parted a little.

"She just kept saying these fucked up things as she…" I stopped, refusing to utter the details aloud. The girl had her mouth all over me and she felt so good at that moment. I truly didn't want to have sex with her because I knew it would mess things up for everyone. But I was so far gone that I couldn't say no when I should have.

"After my pants were off, she did what she did and I barely moved I was so wrecked. But she was…I don't even know how to put this…she was kind of…aggressive? I had fingernail marks on my shoulders and a huge hickey on my neck. I honestly don't remember too much of the night after that. I know she left and I woke up the next afternoon and walked home." It made me sick rehashing the details, putting myself back in that bedroom at that horrible night. Bella was absently chewing on her fingernails. I was trying to read her expression, but she was masking it well.

Here goes Cullen. Lay it on the table.

I chewed my cheek for a minute, knowing this was it. "Later that day, the police were at my house saying that she had accused me of rape."

Bella gaped at me in sheer disbelief. I quickly explained, "Bella, I didn't rape her, I swear. I was pretty fucked up, and I don't know every single detail from that night but I do know that there was in no way a struggle from her. She initiated it and she finished it." I sounded pathetically desperate but I needed her to trust that I didn't hurt Charlotte in any way.

"I believe you," she said quietly, looking directly into my eyes.

"You do?"

"Yes, of course I do," she responded firmly. I was stunned at her absolute definitive response. She believed me, no doubt. "So what happened?" She leaned forward eager to hear the rest.

I gathered my thoughts together, my fingers back to fidgeting on the table. "Well, at the police station, she was there with her parents and that cocksucker, Peter. Bella, she was bruised up and battered. Her face…" I shook my head remembering how Charlotte looked, not unlike the way I did at the very moment. "She said she had been forced…sexually and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I did not do that to her. I was barely coherent that night. At the station, Charlotte couldn't look at me. Peter kept yelling shit at me and I was just so confused as to why she would be blaming me for doing this to her. I mean, if anything…"

"She assaulted you," Bella cut in quietly. I nodded. I mean I never said no, so it couldn't truly be considered rape, but she had her way with me under an altered state of consciousness.

"As they were leading her away, I caught Peter watching me through the glass. He fucking smirked, cocking an eyebrow up at me. He hit her and somehow forced her to put the blame on me. She told me he had pushed her around before, but I had no idea it would come to this. Obviously, he found out about her and me, and did this to either punish the both of us or salvage his reputation, I don't know which. But they had no real proof that it was me. I mean aside from the scratches on my shoulders and the giant hickey, they couldn't really prove that she was raped by me because there was no…" I looked up at Bella again, dreading the rest of this.

"Semen or sign of forced entry. They did a rape kit at the hospital. I can't even remember her using a condom. But there were no 'biologicals" or signs of any traces of latex. She claims she had taken a bath and flushed the condom, but I don't remember any of that." Bella sat back, clearly upset by all of this. I wanted to hold Bella and promise her I would take care of her, and that I would never ever do what Charlotte said I did. I suppose I was appreciative of her silence, though it was unnerving to say the least. I really wanted to know what she thought of all of this.

"Well, then I did the most stupid thing I could think of. I snuck out of my house and went to her house to talk to her, you know? Try to get her to drop the charges. Tell the truth. She was standing at the door all she kept repeating was, 'I'm so sorry, Eddie, I'm so sorry,' essentially admitting it was a false accusation. And if I would have been thinking straight I would have recorded it, but who the fuck knew? But then Peter comes out and after we exchange words, I beat the living piss out of him, which not only made things entirely worse, but fueled the idea that I was violent." I shook my head at my own stupidity and short temper.

"Charlotte's mom was an attorney and her dad was a politician, both well known in the community and apparently had people in high places that owed them favors. It didn't go to trial for lack of evidence, but they did hold an informal hearing. If I would have lied and said I did it, than I would have gotten six months at a juvenile detention center which was basically jail for dysfunctional derelict teenagers, and restraining order from Charlotte. But I was not about to go to juvie and I refused to admit to something I didn't do. It totally pissed everyone off, because Charlotte and Peter had thoroughly convinced all involved parties that I was the one who did it. The only ones that believed me were my family. My friends abandoned me, my teammates wouldn't even talk to me…it was so fucked up.

"They got this judge…Judge Aro," I sneered angrily, with contempt and malice toward the man insisted on in ruining my life, "who went on a power trip rampage and pulled out all this bullshit he'd been dying to use on someone. Apparently, he was under the impression that I was a spoiled rotten rich kid who didn't understand consequences or never had to take responsibility for my actions, so he decided he was the one to show me how harsh life really was outside the bubble of privilege and money. I was expelled from school because they couldn't have someone 'dangerous' amongst their students, I was not permitted to participate in any team sports or remain in any group organizations, I had to do fifty hours of community bullshit service at a rape and abuse counseling center, I had to attend weekly group therapy sessions with like, actual rapists, which by the way, my attorney had lessened down to individual sessions which I now go to in Port Angeles on Tuesdays." I raised an eyebrow with the intention of her understanding my piano lessons were a farce. Her eyes shut in understanding. "And…"

Bella's hands slipped from her mouth to cover her face momentarily while she took all the information in. She shook her head in disbelief as she said, "And? God, there's more?"

"The best part. The judge slapped a restraining order on me. It is called an NSRO- Non Specific Retraining Order. It basically says that I can't be in physical contact with a female until I turn eighteen. So instead of not being allowed within like, a hundred yards of Charlotte, I just can't touch any female… until 2010. Oh, and then I had to thank him… actually thank him for not putting my name on the sexual offenders list."

"What? Are you serious, Edward? That's the stupidest thing I have ever heard of. How do you even abide by that? I mean, it's nearly impossible."

"Yeah, I know. It was invented specifically to fail. Think about it…I can't be in any crowds, school is a complete bitch and if you notice, on Friday's and at parties, I basically keep to myself. My father had the best lawyers in Chicago working on it, but no one could seem to get the judge to reverse the order. So because I was thrown out of school, and kicked off the baseball team, I ended up a real fucking mess. So then it was either drop out, or go to public night school with the less than desirables so, I had no choice but to attend classes at the Caius School for Boys…this like, institution for all these wealthy little derelicts. Within the first week I had made friends with the wrong crowd. A mirror and a rolled up hundred dollar bill were their best friends. It was only a matter of time that I was doing bumps of coke with them and basically giving up on everything. At the time, I just didn't give a fuck and I was so goddamn angry, that when I was high, I felt good and I could actually forget what a mess my life had turned into for a little while. My parents knew I wasn't handling the situation well, but when they found out how bad I really wasn't handling it, they packed up all of our shit and moved here. I guess they hoped I could start over here, you know?"

"Oh, E...I had no idea…cocaine, really?"

I nodded, ashamed of what she thought of me. I was not proud of my actions, or what I did to my family. "They left everything behind for me, and I pay for it every goddamn day with guilt. Emmett left all of his friends and his teams, Jasper had to leave his girlfriend, which I am convinced that he will never forgive me for, Carlisle left the practice that he built from nothing because he lost half his patients, my mom gave up her design firm that was doing amazingly well, and …I changed my name and now pretend that person never existed. Oh…and they don't know that I know, but my parents had been looking into adopting a little girl from China when it all happened. They were forced to stop the process because who in their right mind would give a baby to a family with a kid that's a rapist?" I nodded my head indicating that I was indeed, finished.

Goddamn, that felt good…

And look… she's still here.

In light of everything I had said to her accompanied by the definite surge of painkillers in her system, Bella's eyes were glassy and hooded. The painkiller was kicking in full force for her. "B, do you want to go lay down? You look like you're gonna pass out any second." She vehemently shook her head no.

"I can't…I have so many questions, Edward. I …so that's why you don't touch me?" I nodded. "I thought you had a germ phobia or something…wow…I never in a million years thought…a restraining order…really? That's why you were so mad about me telling them we were together…this is so …overwhelming…" Her voice trailed off and she wiggled her fingers staring amazedly at them. Percocets were good shit.

"Woah…I feel sorta floopy," she said smiling. "I have want some?"

"Don't go pushing your drugs on me, Crackhead," I chuckled, pushing my chair out from the table. She cringed, realizing that I may have been sensitive to the topic of drug use but I wasn't. "Come on, let's go lay down, okay? I know it's a lot to process, but I'll answer all of your questions tomorrow."

"Tomorrow?" she asked standing, looking up at me very confused. She looked like such a sweet little girl… in a disgusting bloody white shirt.

"Port Angeles? Lunch? Unless you think you won't be up for it…"

"Oh, no, I didn't think you would still want to go. You were so mad…"

"Bella, why wouldn't I want to go? I really like you and I love hanging out with you…if you want to still hang out with me. I mean, if you don't want to, I understand." I crossed the room toward her, leaning my palm on the table. She continued to stare up at me, her grin a mile wide. I swear she was starting to sway.

"I definitely want to hang out with you…I like you too… a lot. A lottttt." Bella was slurring now, and I laughed at her. She was adorable.

"We'll talk more tomorrow. Come on…"

She took a Prozac from the counter, popping it in her mouth followed by a long swig of Pepsi. I followed her upstairs, just so that I knew she made to the second level all right. I had planned to stay on the couch for a while, in case she woke up confused or in pain. Bella was okay with wanting to hang out with me now, but in the morning, when the drugs wore off, it could be an entirely different situation. Once she took time to process who she was actually becoming involved with, there was still the possibility that she would change her mind.

When we got to her room, she turned to me and said, "Will you stay with me? Charlie won't be home until tomorrow night…please? My bed is soooo big and I won't touch you, I promise." How could I say no to her?

I really didn't think it was a wise idea, but she really didn't leave me a choice. She smiled again, handing me the television remote while she grabbed a shirt and practically tripped into the door as she crossed the hall to change. I sat on the edge of her bed, taking in her girlie bedroom and the little piles of clutter, which surprisingly did not irritate the hell out of me.

There was a long gray sock hanging over a chair, her closet doors were bursting out with clothes, and a pile of shoes sat in the far corner by a rocker. Bella had a small area of her desk lined with books and her closed laptop. The room was simple, new, and obviously not lived in for very long, very much like mine. She had just one picture of a pretty lady that I assumed was her mom tucked into her large oval mirror and one of her, Rose, and Alice, from the homecoming game. It was sad, really. A girl like Bella should have tons of memories in her bedroom, not vast emptiness.

When she returned wearing a big soft pink sweatshirt, she collapsed on the bed next to me, smiling lazily. I pulled the covers out for her and she tucked her legs underneath, drawing the comforter up to her chin. I wasn't sure if lying down would be appropriate, but I kicked off my Nike's anyway and rested my head on the pillow next to her, turning to look at her face.

"I'm sorry, for everything you went through," she whispered. Her lids fluttered closed, finally submitting to the sleep that was waiting for her.

"Me too," I whispered back, hoping and praying that come daylight, she would still want me in her life.

I watched her for a few minutes before I called home to tell my parents I was spending the night. They didn't think it was the most ideal situation either, but they said they would rather not have Bella alone in her state. However, I neglected to mention the fact that I was in Bella's bed with her. Bella never had a chance to call Charlie to tell him what happened and I blamed myself for not reminding her. I was so busy telling her about the shitstorm that is my life that I completely forgot.

Once I knew she was deeply asleep, I headed down to the kitchen and found cleaning shit under the sink. I wiped up the blood off the floor, cleaned off the counters, washed all the dishes and put them away and covered the rest of the lasagna, putting it in the refrigerator. Though I was stuffed from dinner, I eyed the jar of real peanut butter and slices of American cheese that were not in fact, soy based. I didn't know if I was overstepping boundaries by cleaning, but I couldn't rest knowing that not only was that mess left in the kitchen, but that she would wake up to it. Her hand would be useless for a week or so, and I felt it necessary to make things easy on her. I also stole a handful of Oreos from her pantry. Double stuffed…hot shit.

There was a knock on the front door around nine and I froze, not knowing whether to answer it. I peeked out the window and saw Alice outside jingling keys, singing some corny made up song about having Bella's car and driving it to work and almost hitting a grizzly bear on the highway on her way home. Now I understood why she and Bella were friends…they were both goofy.

I answered the door with a smile. "Hey, Alice." Upon seeing my face, she looked baffled and amused at the same time.

"Hey, Prince Not So Charming, what the hell are you doing here? You making Bella cry some more? Giving her another panic attack?" Without missing a beat she pointed at my bruised face and asked, "Did Bella hit you?" Her voice was almost excited, as if she was happy that Bella would throw a punch at me. I rolled my eyes at her, muttering "no," as she pushed her way past me into the living room.

I gave Bella a panic attack?

"Bella cut her hand and my father stitched her up. She's on some pretty heavy pain meds so I'm hanging out here just in case." I shrugged my shoulders, taking a bite of cookie.

"Oh. Is she okay?" I nodded. "Did you apologize to her?" I rolled my eyes and nodded. "You know she is crazy about you, right?" I shrugged my shoulders with a closed mouth smile. "Well, you better be nice to her and if I find out you make her cry again, I'm gonna hurt you. You hear me Edward Cullen?" I nodded and swallowed, licking the cookie off my teeth. It was pretty easy talking to her with a mouth full of food since she never let me actually speak.

"I'm crazy about her, too." She eyed me for a minute before dangling Bella's car keys over the coffee table.

"Tell Bella I said thank you for her car." Alice eyed me warily before she turned heading for the door. She stopped, facing me again. "Hey, if Bella didn't hit you then who did?"

"Jasper." A smile creeped on her mouth, as she bounced on the balls of her feet.

"Did you hit him back?" Alice's eyes were so wide. This was weird.

"Uh, yeah. In the mouth," I said.

"Good." She waved, opening the door.

"Hey Alice… thanks for taking care of Bella today. She's lucky to have you. And uh…whatever you're doing with ignoring Jasper is working. That fucker doesn't deserve you, but he's definitely noticed you."

"Bella's my girl. And Jasper can kiss my ass." She acted indifferent, but her skipping across the street toward her home told me otherwise. Jasper wasn't worthy of her, and I shouldn't have been doing him any favors, but whatever. Maybe her cute personality would rub off on him and she could get him to stop being such a douche.

I went back up to Bella's room, carefully lying down on the bed as to not jostle her awake. She slept so soundly it was nearly impossible, but still. Her breathing was soft and steady, and she looked so peaceful. Slowly, I reached out to her, brushing a lock of hair away from her face. I kissed her bandaged palm, stroking her fingers, before I placed her hand on a pillow to elevate it. Leaning into her, I inhaled deeply, taking in her scent and her innocence before I kissed both her eyelids and her forehead gently, whispering, "Sweet dreams, Beautiful."

I passed out that night, in my clothes, on Bella's insanely comfortable bed, next to the girl that I hurt but who had accepted me for who I was and found trust and faith that I was a good person. For the moment, anyway. I was relieved and anxious to find out what questions she wanted to ask and when she got her answers, would she still want to stay with me?

When I woke up the next morning, Bella was still sound asleep, her hair a wild mess of tangles splayed all over the bed. Quietly, I searched her desk drawer for a scrap of paper to write on. I found her stupid hamburger note pad and pickle pen. I also came across what appeared to be a very recent black and white picture of Bella that took my breath away. She was wearing a sundress, her long hair blowing in the breeze of what was likely her back yard in California. She was laughing and she was stunning.

I pulled out a piece of "cheese" and scrawled, "I'll be back at 11:00. Stole the picture of you in your drawer."

I sprinted home, ate a quick bite, then showered and dressed. My face was still swollen, but the bruises were less red and more purple, and I was kind of worried about the little scar that might be left on my cheekbone from the impact of Jasper's fist.

Girls like scars, right?

Right before I left, I placed Bella's picture in my nightstand, hoping that when the day was through I could put it out in the open.

The sun was shining and while it was still on the cooler side, it was an amazing day. It was a few minutes after eleven when I rang Bella's doorbell before I noticed the note that she hung on the door had fallen to the ground.

I'm at the tree house.

I was nervous. I was hoping the painkillers hadn't made her unaware of the reality of what I had told her. Through the trees, along the overgrown path, I could make out the faint movement of the tire swing. Bella was lying on her back, using her dangling feet to spin the tire around in a circle. One of her little black shoes was a short distance away, likely having flown off while she was spinning.

Once she wound herself a few times, she let go; the tire turning full force in a whipping circle. She squealed, shutting her eyes as she twisted. She didn't seem upset, so that was definitely a positive sign.

I stood back a few minutes watching her be joyful.

I approached, deliberately rustling the leaves underfoot as to give her adequate warning of my presence. She propped herself up on the elbow of her uninjured hand and grinned. Her face lit up when she saw me. At that moment I felt warmth and happiness for the first time in a really long time. "Hi!" she beamed.

"Whatcha doing"? I asked playfully.

"Enjoying my painkillers. Please thank your dad again for me."

She smirked and I shook my head at her. She lay back down, using her foot to kick off the ground to spin again. I laughed at her, bending to pick up her wayward shoe. She stopped the swing, hesitantly lifting her foot to me. I slipped the shoe carefully on her foot as we stared at each other for a minute, taking one another in, almost in awe.


Could I ever be her Prince Charming?

Fucking fairy tales.

Then I crouched down, turning the tire so that her face was inches from mine.

"Does it hurt?"

God I wish I could kiss you.

"Only when I do my Miss America wave," she giggled. "I feel good, actually. It hurt like a mother this morning, but I took a half of a pill and now I feel fabulous!"

"I bet. You're not going to pass out on me today are you? Cause we can stay local if you like," I asked.

"No, I'm fine. Does your face hurt?"

"Nah, I'm all right. Do you want to go now? I can't really help…" She sat up, hoisting herself onto her feet using her good hand. It was little things like that that so many people took for granted. I should have been able to extend my hand out to her, but I couldn't do something as simple as that. She smoothed out the front of her dress, giving me a small shy grin as she caught me staring at her.

"You look pretty," I said quietly. I was very new at this and I wondered if that was okay to say.

Should I have said beautiful?

She smirked, flaring the hem of the dress. "Awww shucks, Edward…this old rag?" I just shook my head at her. Sometimes she was such a goof, but I really thought that was part of her charm. "Hey, did you clean my kitchen last night?"

My eyes widened. "Uh…no." I lied, looking away. "Must have been OCD cleaning fairies or something."

"Well, if you see them, thank them for me. It was a really sweet thing to do."

"Oh, I will. They swiped some Oreos, by the way. Nasty little thieves." I held the gate open for her and she slid past. "I figured I owed you for defending my heterosexuality. I was kind of lost last night. I never even thanked you." I smiled shyly, knowing that it was little moments like this where I should normally be touching her face or lacing her fingers in mine or doing something that people in newly formed relationships do.

This isn't going to be easy, is it?

A thick cottony cloud passed over the brightly shining sun, causing the yard to darken a bit.

"E… I'm so sorry. I had no idea about what happened to you and when they were saying that stuff, I just couldn't stop myself. I hope you understand. I only said it because I care about you."

"Don't apologize. I know you didn't know, and I'm sorry I never even gave you the chance to explain. You stood up for me, and no one has ever done that before. So thank you, seriously."

"Well, I don't like people talking shit. I've been through enough of that." Bella clipped her statement, shaking her head. Intrigued at her obvious frustration, I hedged.

"What have you been through?" I really wanted to know, if not for the fact that I told her my deal, so I thought it was only fair that she tell me hers.

She pursed her lips in thought. "I think it would be easier to show you. Come on inside." Bella waved me toward the front door where she ushered me in. I followed her up the stairs back into her room, now filled with bright morning sunlight. The sock was gone but the bed was still unmade, and everything else remained as it was when I left that morning. Bella sat on her desk chair, opening up the laptop. As she busied herself starting it up, I pulled her comforter tight up to the top of the bed, smoothing out the wrinkles before fluffing the pillows back to their appropriate spots and sat down on the bed behind her. Without looking back she said, "Did you just make my bed?"


She snickered. "Okay, so here. This is the reason I moved back to Forks." She waved her hand over the laptop with a flourish, game show host style then sat back in the chair. I looked at the screen, blinking a few times as overwhelming feelings of disgust, jealously, rage and unbridled lust waved over me. I brought my gaze back to hers, which was downcast.

"Bella, what the fuck is this?"

I loves me some cliffhangers.


I am not an attorney, judge, nor do I know jack shit about the law. When I wrote this eons ago, before I took creative liberties on the restraining order stuff, I did my research and spoke to a bunch of attorneys for authenticity. While this is an exceptionally uncommon punishment, it is a real thing used in extreme cases. Edward's story is not based on a real case, but I did have readers tell me about specific cases of kids they worked with who had such retraining orders in place so I took bits and pieces from those.


Date rape is not a joke. There are thousands of women who are assaulted and taken advantage by men all over the country every day. However, while I do not condone this behavior, I must say that falsely accusing a man of doing this is heinous. Three words, "He raped me," when they are not true can destroy families, friendships and entire lives. Please take this seriously, as it is a very real thing. I have several reviewers tell me they have heard of this before in real life and one who even married a man accused of this who, even years after the fact, he is still dealing with the emotional repercussions of being falsely accused and the stigma that follows it. It is a terrible thing to do to a person, and we must be reminded of the power we hold as woman and to never abuse that control.