Chapter 35: Sweet, Sweet and more Sweet
I lean over and whisper. "You know this guy is full of shit, right?"
Edward's mouth smiles, but he keeps his eyes on the preacher. He places my hand into both of his. They are in his lap. We are in my church. The church I go to. Sometimes. When they have shit to eat. Or I feel the need to trash their stage with money and curse words. Esme was pissed at Edward for skipping out on church. He wanted me to go with him today. I suppose this is called compromise.
She called him when I was getting dressed. He was sitting on my bed. The bathroom door was open. Edward is a little weird. I like it. He watches me as I brush my teeth and my hair. I don't really get it, but I sort of get it. I like watching him tuck his shirt into his pants. Maybe I'm fucking weird too. Of course I am. It's black today. He's saving the blue.
Or maybe he hates it. I don't know. Black is fucking spectacular. It's not a color, but it's my favorite. Now. I could see him in the reflection of the mirror. He thought I was brushing my hair. Esme was on speaker-phone. The cell phone was in front of him on the bed. He was sitting Indian style. I stare at him way too much and have way too many details. Sick.
"Because my son has been a ghost lately and he hasn't attended church in almost three weeks. That's why. You're neglecting the Lord."
He laughs. "Mother, the Lord and I are just fine."
"Really? Edward, the Lord only asks for your time one time a week for about two hours. You haven't even given him that."
"I talk to God when I'm not in church, too. Matter of fact, I was speaking to him quite a lot last night." And he does see me watching him. He winks at me and I have to fake looking for something to hide my smile.
"Friday evening services aren't as good," she argues.
He palms his face.
"Mom, I'm sorry you feel that there is an issue between me and my Savior, but I assure you," He looks at me brushing her hair, "Everything is fine. I'm going to church with Bella, today."
"How lovely. I miss Bella."
"No, to her church. Not ours."
"Bella goes to church? Which church?"
"I don't know. I'll call you later. I love you. Tell Dad I said hello." He hangs up before she can say or ask anything else.
I look back to the preacher. Edward has a bible open on the back of the bench. There's a little ledge there. I never knew that's what it was for. Amazing what you miss when you're not sober.
We don't go to the cemetery. There was this book on his dresser. It had a piece of paper slid into the first chapter. I flipped back to the beginning and read a few pages while he was in the shower. I asked him to read it to me.
We are under my tree. It's quite nice out. I don't feel bad about Charlie. This is his tree too. But Tanya isn't here. There isn't a look of remorse or regret here. I would die where I stood if I saw it today. John, John and John's face would never matter. I wouldn't care if they looked at me sideways afterward. Edward looking at me today, like he fucked up, that would be the stake in my heart. I don't want to see it.
There's a blanket under us. His arms around me. My back to his chest. He's a good reader. He doesn't feel regretful. He never mentions her name. It's Sunday and when I glance over my shoulder, there is life in his eyes. I'm foolish for thinking I put it there. It must be God, but he's never looked this way on a Sunday before.
His back is pressing into where my initials are next to Charlie's. He doesn't know it. It's a secret I like having to myself. It's something I feel connects us and I would be an overly dramatic sissy to say something about it. I feel like he's touching my father. I feel like Charlie is touching him. I feel like if Charlie were here, he'd welcome him like the spanning branches on this tree. Our tree. How he could not?
Edward closes the book and rests it to his side. He kisses my temple. Cheek. "So…am I ever going to get to know what Bree told you, or are you planning on torturing my curious mind?"
I smile. "What are you willing to trade?"
His head rests against mine. He thinks. "Mmm….how about a massage?"
I roll my eyes. "You're an idiot, but fine." His fingers start rolling circles on my shoulders. "She said to take care of you."
His fingers slow a little and then resume. "You already do that."
"And to not let you be so grumpy."
He laughs and his massage is amazing. "It's nice here. I'm not really fan of this park, but its nice right here."
I nod. "It would be better if there weren't screaming kids. It was much prettier when it was all trees and flowers. That fucking soccer field is a tragedy."
"I wonder why they left this tree. It's sort of random, don't you think?"
No. And there's only one answer. I turn around and pull him forward until I see it. BS X CS. Edward looks. "They know better."
He brushes my hair back. "You wanted to see Charlie, today, didn't you?"
I relax back into him. "We are."
Blue. He wore the blue shirt. He didn't save it for Sunday. The day no one would see it. He is wearing to work. Where everyone will see it. I think he is purposely leaving his tie undone. My hands love it. He looks like he loves it when I'm done fixing it.
His lips touch my forehead. "I'll miss you, today, Bella."
And I wish I could return words like that. I would mean then if I could. But I can't. My mouth just won't say it. It knows other things. I tip up on my toes. His hands hold my hips. He bends his head to reach my mouth. I press my hands to his face. He's soft and smooth and freshly shaven. His face smells clean and just Edward. There is no other scent like it. It doesn't come from a bottle. His hands find the small of my back. I tip up higher so they go lower. His fingers brush the top of my ass. He laughs lightly against my lips.
"Are you trying to insure that I'll miss you?"
No. Yes. "Maybe."
He takes a step back. His hands go to my face. He makes me look at him. "I will."
And I have to wonder how Edward could be so sweet. How he could even look at me with such sincerity after so many lies. Not mine. Hers. He's strong. I close my eyes and just find him. His mouth is sweet. His touch is sweet and he gives me as much as I ask for. He is going to be extremely late.
I'm ridiculously nervous. I can't stop fidgeting with the fabric of my shirt. I feel like my hair is frizzy and my nails are not filed. There are invisible crinkles in my clothes and I feel like they are dirty. I washed them this morning. They smell like lavender. Edward. I wish he was here. A knock on the door. The lady looks nice. My heart is hammering. She sits and thanks me for the tea. If I keep chewing on my lip, I'll be seeing Edward before he gets home. I'm going to gnaw it off.
"This is a lovely home you have." She hands me some papers. "I always liked this neighborhood."
"Well, let's go over the basics." She sits down more papers on the table. "There are many different ways of adoption. It isn't as simple as it once was. Which is good. It gives the mother options."
She explains things that I don't really understand and I should have waited for Edward. Or Esme. Someone who understands what she is saying. I just keep nodding like I'm smart.
"Okay, so this is a handbook to help you and this is a compilation of profiles and these are the forms. Take some time, look them over." She hands them all to me. His table is littered with papers. I don't even know where to begin.
Nothing but. "Um…no."
She doesn't know when I'm lying. She talks for another thirty minutes and I am alone. I don't know what legal terms mean, but I know faces. The first ones are plain. They all have a list of things about them. Where they live. What they do. Why they want what I have. Sad stories. Can't have one. Want a family. Loves kids. Loves kids. Loves kids. These women look fit to be moms. They look like the type who chop down trees to watch them play soccer.
They look like the type who would never come home with a bottle, unless it was to feed them. They look like the type who would have an Edward. An Edward home. An Edward car. An Edward job. And yeah, one of them does.
They don't look like the type who would feel like their clothes are crinkled when they are fine. They don't look like the type who would sleep under a tree near a soccer field. They don't look like the type who would sell themselves for shelter or food or bottles.
They don't look like the type who clean an Edward house. Get rides from an Edward car. They could go and watch an Edward being honored for his work. They wouldn't bring shame to where there is pride.
They wouldn't have to break his heart someday when he realizes all of this.
They wouldn't have to give away their own child, who would someday, need an Edward.
Alice. "What do you think, Bella? Doesn't it look awesome?"
I nod. Edward rolls his eyes. She is cutting his hair outside. It's weird. She spent hundreds of dollars on herself and Bree the other day in a professional salon. Why would she cut his hair? Clearly, the man is not against spending money. He has nice things. He's not stingy. Whatever. It's not too short. It's just cleaned up. He still has a decent amount on top. I like it.
"So…we were thinking of having a picnic this weekend. The weather has been really nice. Will you guys come?"
Edward looks at me. I look away.
"Sure," he answers.
I get up and go back inside. I start messing around with the laundry I should have finished before Alice and her stupid Vidal Sassoon moment interrupted me. I wish she'd go back to be bitchy to be honest. This sweet talking niceness is a little absurd. I know it's not real. She's doing it to appease Edward.
That should make me happy. His happiness should make me happy. It's all false though. Alice. The idea that Edward and I can walk into public hand in hand. And family functions. Hilarious. I'd love to see the look on Emmett's face when Edward plants one of his sweet kisses to my face. No I wouldn't.
The damn towel won't fold right. I have tried three times now. There is always an edge sticking out. This is the most basic bullshit and I fuck it up. I try again. I am flawed. I try again. I am flawed. I try again. Again. I can't do it because I can't even see it. It's blurred in my water-filled eyes. I fall back into the wall and sink down. I toss it away and hide my face in my knees.
"Is this one of those private co-worker fights?" He's trying to be funny.
I turn my head to the other side and keep my cheek on my knees. "Go away, Edward."
Of course he won't. He sits down next to me. His arm goes over my shoulders. I shift to get him off. He scoots closer. He pulls my stiff, unwillingly, body towards him. I rest on his knees. He pets my hair. My face is turned away from his. Good. The tears are being stupid.
He's sweet. He's Edward. "What happened, Sweetheart?" See?
"I hate those fucking towels."
He laughs silently. "I have no attachment to them. We can buy new ones."
But we is you and there is no we. The tears know this.
"Bella." He wants truth.
I suck up my tears. "I started the adoption stuff." Silence. "I don't know what I'm doing."
The petting continues. "Esme knows how to do it. She'd help. It would make her happy to help."
But she can only do so much.
"I do want to know why it makes you cry, though. Not to sound ignorant. I know it's hard."
And I can't shut my mouth. He does this. "They have nice houses."
"So do you."
I shake my head. "You do."
"We both live here and I assure you, Bella, you're the one who makes it a home. I just pay for it."
"It's my job," I argue.
"You do more than clean and you do more than your job. You need to take more credit for yourself. I've never been happier to live here."
I want to vomit. I say it. "You lived here with Tanya."
Silence. Glaring, loud, silence. He lowers his knees and I have to sit up. Fear is balling up into my stomach. My head hangs. I know he's looking at me. I don't want to see his face. John, John and John's face would never matter. I wouldn't care if they look at me sideways afterward. Edward looking at me today, like he fucked up, that would be the stake in my heart. I don't want to see it.
"Bella, look at me."
I shake my head and traitor tears fall.
Sweet, sweet and more sweet. Hands on my face and he makes me. "This isn't a competition. There is no competition."
I hate that his eyes are always truth. I hate that he makes me look at him. Sweet hands roam over my hair. Sweet kisses place themselves on my forehead. And I have to look at him again. He makes me.
"I never stayed awake all night kissing Tanya…and I never made love with her all night either. No one." Sweet hands won't stop petting my head. Sweet words won't shut up from his stupid mouth.
Stupid tears won't stop flooding my eyes.
Stupid, stupid and more stupid. "And you probably never felt ashamed to say she was your wife either. You probably smiled your stupid smile every time you introduced her and you probably loved parading her and her stupid long legs and perfect stupid face around and watching other men envy you and probably loved that she could go with you to those stupid dinners and watch you get stupid pins and didn't wonder which one of those guys fucked her and…"
And I have to turn away. I can't stop the eruption of tears and sobs and weak bullshit. He tries to pull me back to him but I fight against it. He wins. I am imprisoned in his arms; face under his chin.
"She wasn't a saint, Bella. And you're wrong. You are so incredibly wrong. How could I not be? How could I not feel ashamed? How could I feel happy or proud to say my wife died because she was helping another man? How could I not wonder how far that hand extended to him? She was my wife, Bella. She was my goddamn wife and you don't think I feel ashamed to think and know that she stole from me and she lied to me and she ruined parts of my family's name?
"She could have been anything. She could have had anything. I would have given her everything. I did. I tried. She chose differently. She ruined her life. She threw it away. She didn't trust me enough to help her and she didn't care enough to share with me – the one person who she stood before God and swore a vow – that she was in trouble.
"Tanya let her weakness destroy her. Us. Me. I don't want you to be Tanya. I don't want you to be anything but Bella. I want you to be the girl who is scared and comes to me. I want you to be the girl who doesn't know something and asks. I want you to be the girl who fights to stay alive and the girl who smiles even though she is in pain and the girl who lays in my bed and lets me comfort her and who fixes all the shit in her life that's fucked up because she's better than that, even though she doesn't know it, yet."
He reaches for the towel I discarded. Sweet and gentle wipes away the wet from my face. He pulls his legs in and I am cradled. I am safe. I am kept. He puts the towel over me like it's a blanket.
He kisses my face. "We're going to the picnic this weekend. I don't give a shit if Emmett is there or not. We're going. Together."
Sweet, sweet and more sweet. And I'm surrounded by it.