Chapter 46: By the Grace
I hear nothing. I only see. A smile that could break your heart. Bring it to life. So much pride and adoration. From both of them. Her parents are off to the side. I was about to walk over, but then she saw him and I stopped. Her arms wrap around his neck and I know the feeling. The loving way he simply holds her and kisses her head. I know the feeling. And everything around me fades away. And all I see are the two of them. Lost, in their own little world.
She wiggles her wrist and I know the feeling. My hand touches my own. And my heart, that is fuller than it is has ever been, deflates and sees the truth. This is Edward. This is who he is. This is what he is supposed to be. It is the epicenter of his soul. His character. And me- I see myself clearly. I see myself in Bree's eyes. I see what he sees. A child. A child who is delighted and fascinated in such little things, because I am still a child. He is grown and in charge and I am just a child dependent upon him for my every need.
If Edward didn't exist, neither would I.
I stand here and I am seen. People regard my clothes. They see the earrings he has placed in my ears. They assume I have a family member or someone I am waiting for. A child maybe. But I am the child. And he is right. What he said in the tree house is right.
I stare out the window as we drive to the hotel. If he looks at me or smiles or says something that he would normally say to be thoughtful or charming or complimentary, I will break.
I should be thoughtful.
I should be charming him.
I should be complimentary.
Look at him. Listen to him. And what am I? A child. Nothing. I am nothing, especially by comparison. And it would break his heart if I said it right now. If I told him that this was all bullshit. If I turned my own inner anger at myself and Renee, on Edward. I won't hurt him. No, I won't hurt him.
He'd never do it to me.
I see him taking off his coat and sitting down and looking tired, but with a tinge of that same sparkle and life in his eye. And there is God. There is what I have wondered. There is what I have doubted. But it exists. His light is in seeing that little girl happy. Being the one who makes her happy. I sit on his lap and I see it when he looks at me. There is a light when he looks at me, too. In the honesty of his eyes.
"Bella, look at me when I'm asking you something."
And Charlie was a cop through and through. I couldn't lie to him. He could see it if I did. And I know when Edward is honest. I am a child, but I am Charlie's child. I know the difference and he is not a liar. He is not Mike Newton. He is not Emmett. He is not like any other man. And I have to look down before it's too much. And I fidget with his tie to learn the truth. And to find out that he was cheated. And maybe not. And I'm not sure. If he ended up having a child with her he might have never taken a chance on me.
He would have protected her from someone like me. Her. Why is it a her? Maybe it would have been a he. I tug at his tie in irritation and I am asking him shit to take away all of the other shit I see in his face. He's cowering back and not liking it. Good. Run. Push me away and run. But he doesn't. He answers me and continues being a good man. A good man who never even asked his wife for something good in bed. Outside of bed.
A good man who never got an office visit from a woman who should have put on a long coat with nothing underneath and fucked him senseless on his lunch hour for being that good man. My anger for this woman I never met is ridiculous and happy. I'm glad, but not for him. For me. I imagine this is how he felt between my legs, asking me if anyone ever put their mouth there and I said no. Sad. Happy. Excited. And I pity him something fierce. Her. I pity her.
Look at him.
Just look at him.
How could you not.
How could she not have?
She never wanted to climb on him and claim what was hers? She never wanted to lift her skirt and ask for something in a place that was wrong? She never wanted run her hands over him in the shower and if she did, she actually resisted doing anything about it? I couldn't make it through a shampooing. Maybe this woman was dead before she even was killed. Well fuck that. Fuck her. I'm fucking him.
This is what I know. This is what I can offer. This is how I can make it good for him. This is how I know the difference between an Edward a John. My body doesn't want to run away from Edward. It responds. It reacts. It comes to life. My heart beats rapidly and my skin heats. I could do the same acts and I am okay. I could do things that would seem degrading and feel the complete opposite. It lies in him. It's him. Not what were doing.
What we did.
We are invited to Church and then brunch with Bree's parents. We are only at the church part. I feel stupid. I fidget with my clothes. Edward tries to hold my hands still. The preacher is talking and I am annoying him. I am sure. It's hot in here. It's probably just me. What is with the moldy smell? Every church. I swear. Moldy. Do the sins stick to the walls or something?
Edward's expression is thoughtful as he looks at the man on the stage. He is really listening. I should listen. I should let him listen. I shouldn't be holding Cullen's hand and questioning everything this preacher says. It would be like a mark on him, right? I look forward and try to listen. I try to be better.
"…Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand…"
And I sit up straighter in my seat. Edward's fingers tighten around my hand. He glances at me and I, to him. I feel what I felt yesterday. The wave of knowing. The wave of recognizing what has been right in front of me and when I asked him if he believed in God, his plan, I already knew the answer.
I heard it in his words to Bree. In my father's words. And I am the child. And Edward….it clicks. It just clicks. Everything that I have been flipping pages in a book to find sits in front of me, next to me. I don't need a profile. I don't need any other type of divine intervention to know why it's alright with him.
It's twenty feet away from where I was sitting on the ground in the graveyard. And maybe, if I hadn't been so fucked up all of those other times, I would have seen him the day she was laid to rest. I would have know then. And if I had figured it out sooner, I would have been able to let go of this anger I harbor and replace it with the love in my heart for this person at my side. I would just let go of it and be thankful that when Charlie died, I was given Edward. And when this….baby…was created, Bree was once a girl who needed to be saved. And Edward was her Savior. And Tanya broke what was good in a man and left me the pieces. And by the grace of…God? Something….I knew how to fix it. But I am not saved. He is still right. I am still a child. And I am still honest. I do not want to be saved.
"Why so quiet?" He touches my face as we get in the car.
He pulls me under his arm. "About?"
I shake my head. "Later."
And he knows better than to push. Brunch is boring. I still know I am not welcome in this house. I feel it. Thankfully, there is a playground in the yard. The very large yard. Edward is playing basketball with her. His palm is on her forehead and she is laughing as she tries to grab the ball. I am sitting on the grass watching. I have his suit jacket on my shoulders. Just for the smell. It's fine outside. He shoots the last basket and he has won. I smile at him not letting her win. He is always honest.
She plops down next to me and then him. They are out of breath and a little sweaty. His head rests in my lap. His fingers touch my stomach. His eyes look at me.
"Do you feel alright?"
"You didn't eat much. Do you feel nauseous or something? I thought you'd be passed that stuff by now."
I hate eating in this house. "I'm fine."
Bree sits closer to him. "Maybe Bella hates stinky shrimp as much as I do."
He pushes her playfully. "Bella can't eat shrimp, so your theory is wrong."
She makes a face. "Why not?"
"Because it's not safe to eat raw seafood."
He is only confusing her more. "But you ate…"
"I am a man and I am not having a baby."
She looks at me. Then to Edward. Jesus.
She is excited. "I'm gonna be an aunt?"
He laughs and pushes her away again. "Didn't I just say I am not having baby? Bella is having a baby. Now change the subject, Brianna. For instance, let's talk about me kicking your butt just now."
"I don't understand. If Bella isn't having a baby with you, then who is she having a baby with?"
And she looks at me and I have no idea what to say. There is no answer. For anyone.
And I look down at him. He grins, looking at her.
Her eyes are big. "Who the heck is Fred?"
Now, he is a liar. "My twin."
She laughs and pushes against his chest. "Shut up. You are such a dork."
He laughs. "It's true. You didn't know?"
She rolls her eyes and looks at me. "Tell him he is a dork."
And I will do no such thing.
Inside Edward is forced to play something on their piano. She begged him. He has no ability to say no, just like Esme said. I am given a coffee and I simply hold it in my hand. I don't want to be rude, but I didn't eat very much and he said to eat if I drink this. They are in awe of his playing and I tip a little into the plant behind me. They see nothing.
I like how he looks at her. I like how she looks at him. I like how he plays. When the song is done, she sits in his lap and he tries to show her how to play something. The parents go on about how they should sign her up for lessons, but no one really pays attention. Once again, they are in their own world.
And I know. I know.
I lay with my head on his chest as he flips through the channels. He settles on a movie. I am supposed to be using my second day. I don't want to. I just need to lay here a little longer, while I can. My fingers hold on to his shirt. I see the silver of the charm rest against the fabric. A tear slides down my nose. I hold my breath and hope he won't notice. He laughs at something he watches and another tear falls. I can't help the noise I make when I have to suck in some air. I feel him shift. He's trying to see my face.
"Are you crying?" He shifts again when I don't answer. His fingers go under my chin and I have to look at him. "Sweetheart what's wrong? Why are you are crying?"
And I can't speak and I can't control what is happening and I never had control and I never a chance. With any of it. And it floods my mind and all of the locks and the doors and the bolts and walls crumble because I have allowed myself to care. I feel and I feel everything when I do. He cradles me against him and runs his hand over my hair like I am a child.
"Bella, please don't cry. You're way too pretty to cry."
And it just hurts more. And he just gives more. And I take more. I'm sobbing into his shirt and I am probably hurting him when my fingers scrape his scalp, but I just need to touch. I just need to show him that I need to hold on to him before I fall and can't get back up. Before I say things that could be the end and before I disappear back into a bottle or a lost child again. And on my first try no sound is made. I take a deeper breath and it should have been a scream, but it's only a mumbled whisper into his shoulder.
"I love you."
And I feel his body tense and his hold grow tight and it hurts but it all hurts. And I must have said that it does, because he is telling me that it's alright. That I'm alright. And his mouth is kissing the side of my face and he is pulling me closer. And I have never felt more like a child and closer to home. And my arms have never tried to hold on to anything so hard in my life, but it's not just my life anymore and I have to let go. I have to be better. For him. For her.
"I don't want you to save me."
He is holding on tightly. "I know."
"I want you save her. I want you to save her. Please. It's you. It's always been you, Edward."
He pulls back. He looks nervous. "What are you asking me?"
And my words come flooding out.
"Just because those people are rich - the people in the book - it doesn't mean they are any good. All of the people I have known, they were all rich and none of them were good. It doesn't mean anything. And everything that Esme told me to write on a list….it's all you. All of those things are you and I see it. I see you with Bree and I see you saying the things that my father would say and you are the only person I trust.
"And you want children and I don't. And you could give her what I can't. What I don't have. Not money, just you. The list. And if you really believe in God then you have to see it. It didn't happen by accident. People like you don't love people like me. It doesn't happen. And if I stay, I take away everything that could have been good. I fuck it up. But If I am selfless, if I let her have you and give up something that I love, then maybe it makes all of the other things okay. And maybe she'll be like you, instead of like me."
The panic is present in his eyes. He frames his hands to my face.
"And…where are you going to go, Bella?"
And this is where I only see the apple orchard. I only see the part where his mouth is kissing me and his arms are around me and his voice isn't scared or worried or hurt. It is loving and safe and stuck on a cloud of bliss and poetry and we are always here. We will always be here.
"To grow up."