Chapter 31: the Break Through
"What's all of that?" He's asking about the plastic bag on my lap.
"It's just stuff." I fold my hands over it. He continues to drive and says nothing else. We arrive at the cemetery and get out of the car. It's not as cold today. All of the snow is gone. We are at the fork in the path were he goes his way and I go mine. Left. Right. Cool fingers unexpectedly wrap around mine. I look at him.
"What do you usually say?" He's not looking at me. He's looking…over there. His voice is quiet. "I never know what to say."
And my heart is a puddle. "Um…sometimes I don't say anything. It depends."
I shrug. "Whatever is going on. I don't know. Some days I feel like saying something, some days I don't."
"Are you saying something today?"
I look down to the bag in my hand. I don't really want to….but fuck it. I hook my fingers to his and pull him with me. I reach Charlie's grave and let go. I feel stupid, but I start unloading the contents. A bracelet. A shirt. That skirt. A letter. I stuff the plastic bag inside of my shoulder bag and stand. Edward is watching. I can feel it.
My jaw is tight. "It's all the shit I stole. Well…not all of it…but the stuff I still have. It's not like I can return it to the people I stole it from…so…."
"And the paper?" He asks.
I look at him. I'm not mad, but I just don't like the vulnerable shit. "My way of saying sorry for doing it. Alright?"
Edward nods. His hands are in his pockets. His tie looks good today. He looks a little pale, though. He's still a little sick. I hear it in his voice. His nose. Is he going to stay here the whole time?
"Um…that's all I was going to do." It's a lie, but I'm not going to stand here and 'talk' to Charlie while Edward is here. He's looking at my Dad's grave. He's reading the words. His fingers find mine, again.
"I didn't have anything written. Nothing inscribed. It's just her name and the dates and stuff."
I shake my head. "I didn't write that. It's true, but I didn't write it."
"The people he worked with. The other cops, I guess."
"It's nice," he whispers.
His eyes are stuck on the plaque. I don't know what to do. A swollen throb is lurking under my chest. He's far away. Right next to me - his fingers around mine - but so, so far away. I slide my fingers through his and squeeze.
His eyes blink and he turns to look at me. "Sorry."
He looks toward where Tanya's grave is, then back to me. "I don't feel like doing this today."
"That's okay, too."
"I don't feel like going to church, either."
I shove him with my shoulder. "You're becoming a heathen hanging around me."
He smiles, but it's in his eyes, not on his lips. "There's a place a few miles from here. They make a wonderful breakfast. Would you like to go?"
"You're seriously asking a pregnant woman if she'd like to eat?"
He smiles and we are back in the car. The diner is small and I shove the memories of Charlie aside. The waitresses still wear those little dresses with the aprons. White sneakers. The chairs are wooden and the tables are kind of sticky. I like it, but I find it funny that Edward does. Whatever, they have French toast. I'm not arguing. His phone goes off and he doesn't answer it. I assume it's his parents. I was kidding, but for real, I am changing him. I'm not sure if that's good or bad. Fuck it. At least he's not in a comatose state on his couch. Alone. The waitress comes over. She's older. A little chubby. I like her fake nails. Hot pink. Classy.
"What can I get you, Sir?" Of course she'd ask him first.
He thinks for a minute. "Orange juice is fine."
She turns to me. "And for the Mrs.?" And I am still in my seat. He seriously needs to ditch that goddamn wedding band.
I sigh. "Same."
She scribbles on her pad. "Need a few minutes or are we ready to order now?"
I peek over the menu. "Go ahead," Edward says. He's still looking.
"Three slices of French toast, a side of bacon and two eggs scrambled." She reaches for my menu. "And a side of those potatoes…not hash browns, I hate those flimsy damn things…I want the square ones."
"Country potatoes?" She makes sure.
"Yeah those. A side of sausage gravy, too." I hand her my menu. Edward is staring at me. His lips are pressed together.
"Don't even. I have this thing making all of my eating decisions for me, Edward. You think I enjoy being fat? I don't."
He smiles and it's good to see on a Sunday. "You're not fat." He looks back down to his menu. "I'll just have the poached eggs on olive toast please."
"Is the artichoke spread alright on that, Sir?"
"Yeah, that's the best part." He hands her back the menu and she smiles. I look at him once she's gone. "What?"
"Seriously? You ordered poached eggs and toast with vegetables spread on it for breakfast? What planet are you from, Freak?"
He shrugs. The corner of his mouth lifts. "It tastes good."
"Pfft. You need to live a little, Cullen. I mean, for someone who preaches it…" I wave my hand towards him and he laughs.
The waitress sets down our drinks. I tap my straw and unravel the paper. Edward doesn't use a straw. "Why do you like this place?" I slide the straw into my cup and sip.
"No one I know comes here." The orange juice stops mid-pull. He shakes his head. "I mean, it's just drama free. I don't care about being seen with you, Bella."
I shrug. "It doesn't matter."
"Yes it does and I promise that's not why I chose here." His eyes are being truthful. I let it go. He changes the subject. "May I ask something?"
"It's sort of…personal."
I grin. "Let's have it."
"Not that kind of personal, Pervert."
I laugh at him. "I can't believe you just called me a pervert. I'm definitely ruining you, Cullen."
He smiles, but sighs. "Can I ask or not?"
"Sure, but it doesn't mean I'm going to answer you."
"Fair enough." He takes a sip of his drink and then clasps his hands. "When was the first time you went to Charlie's grave?"
Yeah, wish it was a sex question. "Um…well I was there when he was buried, and I used to go Sunday after church with Renee…but then she stopped going and we didn't go to church anymore. It was kind of far for me to go by myself from our house, so…I had to stop going, too."
"Why did your mom stop going?"
I shrug. "It made her unhappy, I guess."
His eyes are curious. "And it doesn't make you unhappy?"
I grab the paper to the straw. I make a ball with my fingers. My eyes stare at it. "It's the only place I can see him and he doesn't deserve to see me sad or angry. I mean, I know he can't see me… I'm not that fucking crazy, but I just don't bring it there."
When I look up he nods. Our food is dropped off. Edward eyes my breakfast bounty. I stab a piece of French toast and chuck it on his plate. "Live a little."
I'm about to start covering eggs with sausage gravy when a piece of his breakfast is slid on my plate. I glance up.
He shrugs. "What's fair is fair, Bella." He cuts off a piece of French toast and eats.
"Fine. If we're going toe-to-toe, tit-for-tat, whatever the hell you'd like to call it…then when was the first time you went to Tanya's grave?"
His chewing slows. He keeps his eyes on his plate as he finishes. A gulp of juice. "The first time you saw me there." My mind is running laps. I'm trying to piece it all together. The dates. He notices. "She died a year ago, yeah. I know."
"Why did you wait so long?" Stupid question. Look at his face. Shit, look at his finger.
"I just couldn't. It was too final."
Let him eat. Just let the poor bastard eat. "Why Sundays?" I have a stupid goddamn mouth.
His fork rest on his plate. He wipes his mouth. His fingers curl around the glass of juice, but he doesn't drink. "I thought it would be easier if I went to church afterward."
"But it's not." Thank you, Captain Obvious. I'm a genius.
His eyes meet mine. "I think its worse."
He sighs. "We used to go to church…Tanya and I used to go to church on Sunday together. So, it's like doing something routine…but its not. Like…forgetting something you meant to bring with you and you don't realize it until you've already left the house and it's too late to go back and get it."
And I understand. That's why we are here. Not for the food. And sticky tables don't matter. It's just a break in the cycle. My mouth finally shuts up. I pick up the hideous shit he has put on my plate and take a bite. I chew and I must be getting used to easting this rabbit food, because this actually tastes pretty damn good. Edward's eyes are expectant.
"Alright, fine, it's pretty good. Jesus."
He smiles - laughs even – and yeah it's Sunday and Edward is happy. Imagine that.
"Would you like more?" He offers.
"Is this your way of asking for more French toast, Edward?"
His eyes are playful. "Maybe."
And he's pretty cute when he doesn't have a stick up his ass. "Sure."
I share my food and he shares his. I barely make it half way through my food by the time the check arrives. He reaches for his wallet and counts out dollar bills. I reach for my bag, but while I'm rummaging, he has already handed the ticket back to her.
"What do I owe you?"
He puts his wallet away. "It's alright."
"Cullen, what do I owe you?"
"I said it's alright, Bella."
I huff. "Don't make this more difficult than it needs to be."
"I'm not. There was a bill. It's paid for. Enjoy your mini buffet you have working there." He nods to my plate.
He laughs. "Me too."
I count out what I think must be the right amount and lay it on the table. "Either you're taking what I owe you, or that chubby woman with the hot pink nails is getting a really nice tip."
He rolls his eyes and picks up the money. He counts out what I assume is a proper tip and then keeps the rest. "You're a real pain in the ass, Bella."
I stab my fork into the potatoes. "Well at least we're still even."
It's warmer outside. Carlisle finally found a replacement for Edward at the hospital. He's home by four. I complain about my jiggly thighs. We are walking the path in his yard to fix that shit.
"You'd think with the amount of times I go up and down the stairs everyday, I'd have thighs strong enough to crack nuts."
Edward is a ball of laughs.
"I'm not even going touch that one, Bella." I roll my eyes and keep walking. "This is why I want to have an addition added onto the house in the spring, though. It'd be nice to have a gym at home. Maybe an indoor pool or something."
And Casa De Cullen sounds like a much more fun place to live now.
"Course, I'd have to charge you to use it," He teases. I shove him. He grabs my hand and we walk this way.
"I wish it were spring," I admit.
"Why is that?" His arm goes around my shoulder. Its okay, but I don't know what's up with the touchy feely.
I shrug. "It would be nice to enjoy being outside, again."
"We're outside right now. Are you not enjoying it?"
"It could be warmer. Sunnier."
His arm drops. "Well, I can't bring out the sun, but here." He shrugs out of his coat.
I shake my head. "I don't want your coat."
"You said you were cold."
"I said it could be warmer. I'm alright, Cullen. You don't have to fix everything, you know."
And his face is a little hurt. Maybe embarrassed. He puts his coat back on. His feet stop. I pause and look back.
"You don't have to make everything so difficult. It's just a stupid jacket, Bella."
"No…it's a jacket and arm on my shoulder and your hands…." I rake my fingers through my hair. "You're always touching me."
His face grows sadder. But hurt turns to anger. "It's called being nice. You should try it sometime."
"I took care of you all week when you were sick," I retort. "I even made your mother's stupid soup."
"And why did you do that, Bella? I didn't ask you to."
I say nothing. He does. "If you don't want me touch you, then that's fine. I won't touch you. But enough of the back and forth shit, Bella. You either want to be friends, or you don't. Pick one."
And he walks back to the house. I'm all alone and he isn't looking back for me.
I am a housekeeper. I'm not joked around with, though I make jokes. I'm not flirted back with, though I flirt. I'm not offered his breakfast, though I am eating sugary cereal with additives and fake colors.
I'm just….another. The help. He's not being rude. He's just being what he should have been all along. My boss. He doesn't share his thoughts with me. I don't know why there is a crease in his forehead when he comes down in the morning. He made sure to tie his tie properly. He's twenty minutes earlier than usual.
There's nothing I can say to break him. He's not budging and he's not laughing at any of my stupid things. I feel like Ebenezer Scrooge when he's trapped on the outside looking in and even though he's shouting at the people's he's wronged, they can't hear him. I bite my lip so I don't cry. He leaves and I get no, "I'll see you later, Bella." He doesn't wish me a good day and I have nothing but an empty house to serve.
This sucks. What is my damn problem? Why do I always say shit like that? Seriously, I need to get myself checked out. There must be a fucked up wire in my brain. He's right…it was just a damn coat. A simple gesture. Fuck, I am so far gone that I can suck a guy's dick but not accept a damn coat around my shoulders. There needs to be a special place in mental conditions for my kind. Maybe a mental condition with my name. The Bella Swan Syndrome.
I'm a twat. That's all there is to it. I'm a twat.
Edward is eating dinner in the kitchen with Alice. He's back to his normal life. He's spending his time with other people. People who don't treat him like shit. I sit on the steps, hidden in the shadows and listen. They talk about their week. I didn't know Bree was coming this weekend. He didn't say anything to me. Alice talks about Jasper. Edward teases her. Teases her. It is me.
"How's Bella?" She asks. Fucking horrible.
There's a pause. I don't dare breathe.
"Fine, I suppose." Wrong. So wrong.
"I'm not her keeper, Alice." I hear the stool slide and then dishes clank. The water runs and there is no more questions. He doesn't even want to talk about me.
I stand up and quietly make my way to my room. I lay on top of the covers in the fetal position. I hear the front door close and a car start. The house falls completely silent. A hiccup bubbles from my chest. Tears stream. I don't feel, but I feel. I hold a fistful of the blanket to my mouth when I hear him climbing the stairs. Chills run over my skin when I see the shadow of his feet under the door. They pause, but no knock comes. The shadow fades and his door closes.
It burns like hell.
I'm eating a bowl of cereal. My chewing slows when he comes in. He takes a seat and opens his lap top. "Bree is coming tomorrow afternoon. I need her room ready, please." He types and doesn't look at me.
And then there is nothing else. Again, the chills. I look down to my bowl and beg my eyes not to show how I feel about him ignoring me. I'm right here and I'm not. I could be the other stool or the coffee maker or the magnet on the fridge. It wouldn't matter.
"Aren't you eating breakfast, today?" Please talk to me.
"No, I don't have time." His eyes stay on the screen, reading.
And I can't do this. I need to leave or I'm gonna lose it. I stand and take my bowl to the sink. I wash it and when I'm drying he gets up. An envelope is left on the counter beside me and he says nothing. Payday, but it's not 'happy Friday, Bella.' It's just pay day. I finish drying and pick it up. I walk towards the steps and count it out, but pause halfway. I turn around and go back to the kitchen. He is putting on his coat.
"Um…there's too much."
He looks at me. "Too much what?"
I hold up the envelope. "You paid me too much. Like a hundred dollars too much."
He shakes his head. "No, I think that's right."
I look down to the envelope, then to him. "No, you usually pay me two-fifty."
His expression doesn't change. He nods. "So then there should be three-fifty this week. Two-fifty plus one hundred is three-fifty, Bella."
Am I dumb or is this not making sense? "But you pay me two-fifty, not three-fifty."
He sighs. "I raised it. It's called a raise, Bella."
He shakes his head and starts gathering his things. "Only you would wonder why. Anyone else would just thank me and get over it."
"Well I'm sorry I'm not everyone else, Edward." I wish.
He looks at me. "When people do good work, they get a raise. It's how things work. Understand now?"
"I didn't do anything except what you hired me for."
His hand goes to his face. "Jesus Christ, Bella. Why is everything like an up hill climb with you?"
And this time, I can't help the tears or prevent them. "I just want to be treated the same, why can't you understand that, Edward?"
"Because you're not the same. If you were the same, you would have been fired by now and I would be looking for a new person to hire."
"Just because they fucked up doesn't mean I deserve a raise for doing what they couldn't or wouldn't do. It's not fair."
"You're right, it's not fair. It's not fair at all. I try so hard with you, Bella and it's not fair that you just don't get it. You just don't see it." He rips the envelope from my hand. The extra money is taken away and he shoves it back at me. He turns like he's going to leave, but he drops his things back on the counter and faces me.
"You know I get it, Bella. I do. It's not easy for you to accept someone, anyone, giving a shit about you. I get it. But what you don't get is that as hard as it is for you to accept it, it's even harder for me to do it. I let my guard down with you and I was honest and open and I don't fucking touch anyone the way I touch you….not since her…and when you take it and slap me in the face with it or ban me from doing so, simply because it just fucking scares you, it hurts me. It really fucking hurts me."
And my mouth that always has something to say is speechless. And he's picking up his things. And he's angry. And hurt. And I did that. I made it this way. He leaves and a person who never slams the door, slams the door. And my heart dies a little more. And he's gone. I didn't want him to leave, yet my hands did the pushing. I didn't want to hurt him, but mouth just couldn't behave.
My pride just couldn't be silent.
He's with Bree in the yard. It's nice out today. I'm watching from the kitchen as I dry the dishes. She's chasing him with something. I don't know what. It's in her hand. He's laughing. She's laughing. Together, they're happy. Her parents aren't here. It's just her. I don't know why. I haven't spoken to him since yesterday.
She falls and he stops running. He walks back over to her and kneels down. She isn't crying, but he still looks concerned. He talks to her. I can imagine his words. He wants to know if she's okay. She nods. He sits her in his lap and hugs her. His hand rubs her shoulder. His lips kiss her forehead. He's beautiful this way. There is nothing more precious and the tears are back.
She springs from his lap and starts telling him something. A story. Her arms wave about dramatically and she laughs. He lays back on the grass and listens to her. There is a smile on his face that cannot be touched. He watches her adoringly and I know that expression. I used to cause it. For two people.
They go out for dinner. Where, I cannot tell you. They just leave. I sit at the counter in the kitchen and eat the noodles he hates. I'm not sure who I'm punishing. Myself. Him. Does it matter? I clean up and there's nothing to do. The silence is eerie. Loud. It shouts at me. It's a friend I didn't want.
I go to my room and lay in bed. I'm clean and showered. My hair is dry and straight. I hear them come in and there is more laughter. She's going on about how much she loves his mother's food and they must have went to his parent's house. Of course. Thirty minutes pass before everything falls silent, again. I hear him come upstairs. I hear his door close. This weight on my heart needs freeing. This avoidance needs attention.
I'm selfish and I should stay right where I am. He's having a good weekend. He's happy. My nerves won't allow me to move for twenty minutes. I can't take it. I climb from the bed and open my door. The house is dark, except for the fire place. Bree is downstairs, sleeping on the couch. I listen by his door. All is quiet. I give the knob a turn. My hand slowly pushes the door open.
It's dark, but the nightlight in his bathroom leaves enough light to see. His back is bare. He's facing away from me, on his side. I close the door behind me. My knees sink into the mattress as I climb on his bed. My hand touches his shoulder. My lips whisper.
He rolls towards me. He sits up, slightly. He's a little sleepy. "Bella? What's wrong?"
And that is why I'm here. After all I've done, his first words are that of concern. For me.
I shake my head. I cannot vocalize what I want. He rolls to his back, propped up on his elbows. His voice is softer. "What's wrong?"
One leg straddles over him. He looks confused. Good, we're still even. I lower my face to his. "Hold me like you did that day when you were sick."
His eyes are trying to read mine. Slowly, he lowers down to his back. His arms wrap around me the same way as last week. It feels just as good. Just as perfect. The goose-bumps show themselves. I press my forehead to his and close my eyes. He won't do it. I have to. He already went out on a limb and I shook him down from it. It takes all of my will, even though I want it.
I press once into his lips and its okay. Nothing ends. Nothing hurts. Nothing bad happens. It's okay. I do it again and then again. He finally relaxes. I feel the tension and surprise leave and he meets my desire.
It's not all lust. It's not all the feeling between my legs. I'm not trying to seduce him. I'm not trying to be that girl. I don't know who this girl is. She doesn't kiss men. She doesn't let her body speak what's in her heart. Her body hides what lies there. Only for him. I only find this girl when she's with him. Or, he finds her. I'm not sure.
He holds me to him and his hands are gentle, but firm. Our lips press harder as he sits up. His hands move to my hair and he's being just as sweet as he always is. I kiss him harder and he meets me. My lips move faster and he meets me. He doesn't just kiss my mouth. He kisses my face. My chin. I tip my head back and he kisses where ever I let him. Under my ear. Along my neck. He slows down and he pulls away. He looks at me. His hands continue coursing through my hair.
My breath is coming in shallow pants, trying to catch up as our lips part. His is the same. I'm trying to figure out what he's looking for. I'm trying to read what's hidden in his mind. He leans forward. His arms tighten around me and a soft kiss is planted on my chest. He leans away again. He moves so we are side by side, lying down. His palm cups my cheek.
He kisses me slowly. Pecks, until I press for more. I open my mouth and hope I'm doing this right. It feels right when his tongue touches mine. He's soft and slow and it's never felt like this between my legs. His hand stays on my face. I find myself against him and I want everything I feel. The smoothness of his body. The hard pressing against where I'm wet. I hum and let him know it when I touch him there. He takes my hand away and lifts it to his face. His lips move there. My palm is peppered with his kisses. I pull Edward towards me and hold his face against mine.
And I can't stop the tears. The air is shallow. His breath against my face. The warmth of his skin on my skin and I just want to fall in. I want it all over me. I rub my face along his and I just feel. I just feel what he's like. My nose against his cheek, against his nose, forehead to forehead and he lets me.
My fingers are curled into his hair. There's lavender and gentle and nothing hurts here. There's no time. It doesn't exist. There's nothing scandalous. It's safe and I'm safe and he's why. And it bubbles over. All of the faces and the mistakes bubble over. All of the hiding and the agony bubbles over. All of the truth and want and desire bubble over. All of it.
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." And I don't know who I'm saying it to, but the words are whispered against his lips. I'm held tighter. My tears are tasted and gone by the grace of his mouth kissing along my face. I'm framed in his hands and adored. It's slow and I relax against him. He calms me and holds me and it's alright. Right here, it's alright.
It's hours. It feels like minutes. But there is light against the window. Soft and blue and dim. My lips are still against his. I'm tired and he must be too. We don't sleep. His face nuzzles against mine. His mouth finds its way into the crook of my neck. Any sign of being sleepy disappears. I'm alive and I feel and it feels so, so good. He trails down to my shoulder, then back up to my mouth. His hand pushes on my hip.
"Roll over, Bella."
And I do. My back is against his chest. He brings the blanket over me and I snuggle further into him. It's warm and like nothing I've ever known. I'm held to him; imprisoned by his arms. So safe here. He's obsessed with my shoulder. His mouth never leaves there.
Until we fall asleep.