Title - Uneven

Pen Name - emilydmamaof3

Characters -

Rating - M

Word Count - 3617

Disclaimer - The characters do not belong to me. References to sex, alcohol, and abuse.

Summary - Some relationships aren't meant to last forever. Sometimes one person takes more than they give and is a poison to the relationship. What if you realize that you are that person? Entry for the Love Lost Anonymous Contest.

To see all entries in the "Love Lost" Contest, please visit the author profile: u/2458839/Love_Lost_Contest

I watch as Bella slams my car door and runs up to her front porch. I have faith that she'll turn around and walk back to me, but instead see her key sliding into the lock. She turns the knob and slips into the house. Not once does she look back.

The sunlight is warm on my face, but I resist the urge to open my eyes. She won't be here. My dad will be. I already know how the conversation is going to go. Charlie will have already called him to share whatever explanation Bella gave for the breakup. I wonder if Charlie is happy. He's treated me like a son for years, but lately he's looked at me like I'm the enemy.

Dad tells me I'm a fuck up, a nobody. He asks me over and over if I had ever hit Bella. I tell him the truth - I never hit her. He mumbles something about Charlie, and I know now for certain that Bella has told her father things that happened during our relationship. My sister glares at me as I retreat back to my room.

I see the lights in my rearview mirror. I know I'm screwed. Just my luck to be pulled over on my 21st birthday... in my brand new Camaro. Charlie smiles as he taps on the window and motions for me to get out of the car. I've avoided him for two months. I wonder if he's been waiting for me.

I finish my community service. I hadn't been over the legal limit and for some reason Charlie felt some compassion for me, so it will be wiped from my record. It could have been a lot worse. I won't do something stupid like that again despite what my dad says.

I call Bella to wish her a happy birthday. She tells me to leave her alone. She meant what she said about never wanting to talk to or see me ever again. Then she reminds me her birthday isn't until Saturday. My dad is right - I am a fuck up.

Bella walks out of the supermarket pushing a cart filled with a turkey and other Thanksgiving staples while I fill my gas tank across the street. She's talking with Angela, her other best friend from when we were young. Bella and I had grown so close during our time together that we shut out the rest of the world. Looks like she's opened herself back up. It's time I do the same.

Christmas shopping is a nightmare. Ring shopping during Christmastime with Sam is hell. He's decided to ask Leah to marry him. I agree to help him pick out a nice ring. I didn't anticipate bumping into Bella while I was there. I also didn't expect to see her with another guy. She doesn't say anything and neither do I even though I want to call her a whore and a bitch for hurting me so much.

Sam breaks up with Leah instead of proposing. Her cousin arrived on Christmas Eve while Leah was still at work. Sam said it was like love at first sight. It's a huge mess. I'm just happy he's the fuck up now. Even my dad says so.

I decide to go back to school and cut back my work hours to part-time. I apply for loans and grants. I've saved my money since the breakup. It's not like I go out anywhere. I have enough right now to cover two semesters at the community college. My dad grunts and rolls his eyes when I tell him.

The restaurant is small and dimly lit. I wonder why Charlotte has decided we need to work on our project for class here instead of at the library. She smiles and waves, but I barely register her presence in my mind. In the corner booth is my Bella with the same guy I got a glimpse of a few months ago. They can't take their eyes off each other. My rage builds.

He turns around and faces me after I yell at him. He asks me to repeat what I just said. Bella cowers behind him and I like seeing the fear in her eyes. I ask again how it feels to know that I was the first to be with her. He wants to hit me. Instead, he shrugs and asks how it feels to know he'll be the last. Now I'm the one who wants to hit something. They walk to his car, arms wrapped around each other while I'm left alone. Again.

My dad is downstairs arguing with Charlie. He insists over and over that I never hurt Bella. The only reason he is defending me is to save face. When I get to the bottom of the stairs, Charlie and my dad are glaring at me. I tell them both that I never hit her but that doesn't mean I didn't leave any bruises. Charlie lunges at me but my dad holds him back. I know I'm an asshole so him calling me that doesn't bother me. He tells me to stay away from her or he'll have me locked up. As if anything matters.

Charlotte tells me I need to get over Bella. She even offers her assistance. I don't know how talking to her is going to help me deal with my feelings for my ex-girlfriend. Charlotte laughs when I tell her that. She says when my dick is in her mouth, Bella will be the last thing on my mind.

Bella Bella Bella Bella Bella Bella Bella Bella Bella Bella Bella Bella Bella Bella Bella Bella Bella Bella Bella Bella Bella Bella Bella Bella Bella Bella Bella Bella

No matter what Charlotte says, right now Bella is the first thing on my mind. I want her to catch us. I want her to walk in and see my cock sliding in and out of Charlotte's mouth. I want her to wish she was the one kneeling before me. I wish she was the one kneeling before me.

I finish the semester with high marks. I celebrate by drinking too much and fucking Charlotte on the couch in her apartment. My advisor thinks I can get my associate's by the end of the year if I continue classes through the summer. Bella always told me I was smart and could do anything. Part of me still wants to make her proud. The rest of me wants her to see me thriving while she misses out on being there for the ride.

My dad laughs at me when I tell him I'll have my degree by the end of the year. Apparently he doesn't think there's much I can do with it. I try to tell him about my hopes to get into a university, but he laughs again as he moves to the kitchen to grab another beer. I don't move out of his way fast enough and he nudges me in the frame of the door. It hurts to be pushed aside. I start to understand how Bella felt.

Charlotte cries and calls me a sick fuck. She reminds me over and over that Bella doesn't want me. I wish I could give her an explanation. It just slipped out, a comfortable phrase. "Love you too," followed by her name. Only instead of saying, "Charlotte," I said, "Bella." Her clothes are strewn across the floor, so I gather them up for her and close the door behind me when I leave.

I focus on my coursework and finish the summer term on the right track. Sam and I stop by the Lodge for a beer and I run into Charlie in the men's room. I ask about Bella because she's all I think about when I see him. He tells me she's finishing up an internship out in Chicago for some company I've never heard of and won't be coming back home before returning to school at the end of the month. He hopes she'll come back for Thanksgiving. Charlie is a friendly drunk.

She's sitting on a swing at the elementary school playground. Angela is swinging next to her. They're smiling and laughing. I have the urge to go and say hi and get in on the joke like old times. Neither see me as I approach, both too wrapped up in their conversation to notice me. I'm by the slide when I see Bella bring her left hand up and wiggle her fingers in front of Angela's eyes. It sparkles.

My dad drops the Forks Newsletter on the table next to my bowl of cereal. The look in his eye tells me whatever it is he wants me to see isn't going to make me happy. He waits while I read. When I flip to the last page he can't hold back his grin. Glad someone is happy that Isabella Swan will someday soon become Isabella Cullen. I'm not.

He's throwing shit and cursing. I want to leave the house but it's too late to go anywhere in this podunk town. It's storming outside. I wonder if it'd be safer to go out there and pray for lightning to strike me. My dad is an angry drunk.

Christmas is late for me this year. The letter arrives without fanfare. I can go to Seattle and start over with my life next August. Until then, I'm stuck.

Mom has been gone for fifteen years. Usually I smoke and drink until I can't remember my name or hers. Dad is already half lit by the time I roll my ass out of bed. He roars at me. It's my fault she's gone. I stay sober.

I find Leah watching the activities of the day from her car across the street. She wipes a tear as she bitterly comments about Emily being a beautiful bride. She needs to leave. She looks pathetic. "You'll understand when your day comes," she announces.

A limo pulls up to the church and my breath stops when I see her. More fucking beautiful than I could have dreamed, I watch as Charlie kisses her cheek and leads her inside. What feels like hours but is far less passes by, and soon she and her husband appear at the top of the steps. He pulls her to him and kisses her. She never smiled like that at me.

It's dark when a tapping sound on the car window wakes me. Leah smirks. I understand.

I see Leah every Saturday until I leave for school. I don't kiss her. She doesn't kiss me. But there is sex and there is pain, although separate. She drags me down to new levels of nothingness. My dad says she's the one I'll marry. I end things with her that night.

I go to class. I go to work. I return to my apartment. My days are on repeat. My nights are lonely. But I am done with distractions. I will be the man she always told me I could be. With or without her.

He is sick. He is dying. He is angry. He is bitter. I will not become him.

The semester is done and I return home. The facility where he lives is adequate. The house is in shambles. Days are spent by his side. Nights are spent cleaning and repairing. Charlie stops by one Saturday to offer his assistance. Together, we repaint the bedroom where I lost my virginity and his daughter lost hers. Charlie shakes my hand when he leaves and tells me to try to get over it. He knows how it feels.

I return to school and to work. Charlie's words haunt me. Months pass and I still do not know how to get over it. How to get over her. I don't want to be fifty years old and alone.

Dad dies on a Wednesday. I bury him on a Saturday. The service is short; the building nearly empty. My sister doesn't show. Charlie nods when I turn and see him. Bella wipes a tear. I walk over to thank them for coming, for spending a hot summer day remembering the coldness of my dad. Part of me is angry she is here mourning for the man who rarely had a kind word to say.

She tells me about her life in Tacoma. She tells me about her life with him while looking over her shoulder to make sure Charlie is nearby. I give polite answers to the questions she asks. I cannot get it out of my mind that she will be with him tonight and not comforting me. Wherever my dad is, I know he's still laughing at my foolishness.

My apartment is stale. It is dark and damp. But there are no bad memories and so it is nice to be home. I need to get away from the bad. I need to move on. But I'm unsure how. I live on repeat again. I survive.

Bella agrees to meet me in a town halfway between Seattle and Tacoma. I smile as I approach but it vanishes when I notice him by her side. A kiss on the cheek and he is gone. I sit down in the booth across from her. She is proud of what I'm doing. She suggests I speak to a shrink. "Your childhood wasn't healthy," she reminds me. It's the truth, made even more painful by her acknowledgment of it. Her belly is swollen with child when she stands up. Yet another milestone she is passing without me.

She was right. Dealing with the misery of my life is painful but it helps. I start to do more than just live within my routine. I make friends with a guy down the hall. We go out, we meet women. I date instead of fuck.

I graduate on a cold, rainy May afternoon. There is no one waiting to hear my name called. It doesn't diminish my accomplishments. My need to make her proud and show her what she's missing is gone. For once, it's only about me and what I'm missing. I feel ready to live.

There is a 'For Sale' sign up in front of Charlie's house. I knock but no one answers. The backyard is still the same as I remember, a lone tire swing dangling from a branch. Charlie waves from his shed and motions for me to join him. He asks how I'm doing and it's more like fatherly concern than polite conversation. It's nice.

Half of me wants to sell the house. Half of me wants to prove my dad wrong and raise a family there. I want to create new memories to get rid of the old ones. I try to live there and find work. There is too much for me to overcome if I stay. I put the house up for sale. My dad would call me a failure. He would be wrong. I know myself now better than he ever did.

Charlie stops by on his way out of town. His new place in Tacoma is smaller and he brings a few things he thinks I may want. Normally a man of few words, he goes on and on about spending time with his grandson. I am reminded that Bella is mother to a child who is not mine.

The job is in Texas. I've never left the state of Washington. It takes me a week to give Peter an answer. The timing is right. My lease is up and an offer has been made on the house. Excited, I call Charlie.

The sale closes late in the day on a Tuesday. The van with my possessions is on its way to Texas, and I'm left with just a suitcase and my car. I drive to Tacoma. Charlie offers me a beer and shows me to a spare bedroom. It has a twin bed and nothing more. He apologizes but says he didn't think I'd want to sleep in the room decorated for his grandson. He's not sure whether he wants to paint this one pink or purple.

My GPS tells me to turn right but I see her and continue driving straight. She pushes the swing higher, stepping out of the swing's trajectory and rubbing her swollen belly. The boy is laughing as the wind rushes through his hair. Life has never been fair. With each step I take in my progress, in my life, she is always a step or two ahead. Things between us have never been even. When she left me, she moved on and I stood still. I thought my degree and my money would even the playing field, but she never cared about that anyway. She's found her life. I need to find mine. I wave a final goodbye.

Texas is hot. And humid. It is sunny, whereas Washington is dreary. I step into the diner and when I see her, I am able to finally breathe. It's taken a long time to get here, but I know I deserve happiness and love and I deserve the woman standing before me. My father can burn in hell. I will be happy despite my faults.

She takes my order and I settle in to watch her. This is my routine now. It was a week before I learned her name. Another week passed before I learned she was a student who worked nights to pay for school and her apartment. She smiles and blushes when she sets the plate before me. I return the smile and laugh quietly when she walks away. I'm too scared to make a move yet.

My job is more than just a job. It's a career. The decisions I make feel important. I feel important. I'll never run the company but can see the impact I make, and that is enough. I play the game. I go out for drinks when offered and hope no one asks why a club soda is all I order. No one notices and if they do, they don't care enough to ask.

She giggles as one of the older waitresses leans in and whispers in her ear. Her face turns red and when her eyes meet mine she quickly looks away. Tonight I'll ask her.

I kiss her cheek. She shakes her head and points to her lips. I lean in and she parts her lips slightly. We kiss until my head is spinning with possibilities. We tumble through the door. Her hands are in my hair. It's painful, but I stop before we go too far. I help her stand up and she kisses my nose. When she asks if I'll call her, I kiss her once more then nod my head. I can hear her laughter when her phone rings a moment after she closes the door. "I promised to call," I tell her.

She slides into the booth across from me and announces her shift is over. I finish my burger and listen as she tells me about her day. Before I realize it, our arms are stretched across the table and her hand is in mine.

I check the caller I.D. and smile seeing it is her. She's crying and I can't understand a word. I stay on the phone while I rush to her place. Her possessions are scattered across the floor. The laptop she uses for everything is missing. The cops take her statement and acknowledge it's not likely they'll find the guy. Inside I am raging that she is hurt, but I keep calm. Anger management and therapy apparently do help.

Ten days later she is still staying at my place. I share my bed and my life. I want her to know all of me before we decide to take things further. She talks about her first and only relationship, and I can hear there are no residual feelings. She listens to stories about my dad and my issues. I tell her about the women I've been with and then I tell her about Bella. It is then that I realize there are no residual feelings on my part either.

It's the middle of the night when I feel her hands and mouth all over me. The kisses are gentle but when she sees I am awake they grow more passionate. I flip her on her back and kiss her with all that I am. We make love for the first time and when we are done I hold on to her for the rest of the night.

We settle into a routine and I decide to ask her to stay with me. She hesitates and it is then I give her the last piece of me. She jumps into my arms and kisses me when I tell her. She says she'll stay because she loves me, too. I am happy and feel at peace.

She graduates and I meet her parents for the first time. Her mother hugs me and her father shakes my hand and pats me on the back. He thanks me for taking care of their baby girl. I ask him for his blessing to do that permanently.

She slides into the booth after working her last official shift at the diner where we met. She is next to me instead of across from me. I pull her close and whisper in her ear. She rolls her eyes, but when I slip the ring on her finger, they widen in disbelief. She promises not to cry and grabs my face to kiss me over and over chanting simply "Yes".

She looks beautiful in white. I wear the tan suit she picked out. We say our vows and the small crowd of friends and her family cheers as I kiss her. With my wife, I am home. Finally.

Thank you to teacupsNmints and Iwant2sparkle for your help and support. Please check out the other entries from the contest.