Under the Apple Tree
Chapter 56: Moving a Mountain
When I reach the bottom of my bag, I feel cold hard metal. My fingers know what it is. I pull my hand out from the bag. One key. One square and one engraving. One letter. B.
The sound of the doorbell interrupts. I stand up and move towards it. There is a man in a brown uniform with a hat.
I nod and take the box he holds out. He punches some buttons on this thing and hands it over.
I do and then he is gone. I close the door. I know what it is without looking at the sender's address. The shape of the box and Edward's words. I set the lap top on the counter and ignore it. The key from my bag grabs my attention. It sits on the counter, too. Next to the other one I have. 224. I am just 224. My neighbor is 225 and 226 and 227. We are building A.
I'd rather be a B.
Soft and warm and deep. Edward's voice and my eyes fall closed. He is all I dream about.
They are blabbing on and on. My feet move in place. I want to just run. It's not that they aren't nice.
"Earth to Bella." A hand waves in my face. Garrett. He is in one of my classes. He is also very short and way too nice. "Are you coming?"
He smiles and I roll my eyes. It's the way he does it. Like an imitation Cullen. The bacon bits of the bacon world. Yup. "To the party this weekend, Doll. Man, you have been studying too hard." He knocks my shoulder with his fist and I guess it is supposed to be friendly, but I don't like that shit.
I pull away. Take a step back. "Uhh…no. My…my boyfriend is picking me up, today." I don't look him in the eye.
His faces scrunches like I am lying. "I didn't know you were seeing anyone. What's his major?"
I want to be truthful, but my mouth is a smartass. "Being amazing and a sex God."
Garrett laughs, but it is forced. Yeah. Eye rolling; I am the queen. "He is a doctor. He doesn't go here. He has his own practice."
Now his face is really not believing me. "A doctor? Come on, Bella. If you don't want to go, then just say so. No need for lies. I'm a big boy, I can take rejection." His hand extends to my shoulder again, but I dodge it this time, pretending to adjust my bag.
"I'm not lying. He's a pediatrician. Plus, you didn't ask me to go with you, just if I was going."
His mouth goes to do just that, but I look away, towards Eric and his girl. It's not that I don't like them. Their just not…and then Eric's face is blurry. His girlfriend's voice is just noise. And everything over his shoulder, is clear. I don't say goodbye. I don't tell them where I am going. I don't even think about them. All I see is him.
All I see is him.
My arms interrupt my view from being able to fully appreciate the smile I see forming on his face. I don't care. I wrap them around Edward's neck and hold on like my life requires it. I dig my fingers into the hair I've missed. I flex them repeatedly against it and treat them to the feeling of it. The soft. I nuzzle my face into his neck and treat my nose to how he smells. I press my body into his and treat all of me to all of him.
"You're upsetting your boyfriend," he teases.
I pull back just enough to see his face. He is looking towards the group I left behind. Garrett. I face him again. I read his expression. I note his bright eyes.
"He looks pretty happy, actually."
And that's all it takes to earn me his mouth. And fuck yeah, I definitely treat myself to that. I get lost in it. We aren't at school. There is anyone else around. There is just that mouth. There is just the thumping of my heart mirroring his and there is just this. Just us. I feel his reservation for our display fading away as his hands press firmer to my face; the hum of appreciation in his throat.
And I am practically climbing him. And I must have taught him something, because Edward - the doctor - the 'good boy' who is responsible and previously living a boring life of safety and reservation - helps me out.
His fingers curl around the back pockets of my jeans and his arms pull up to where I want to go. And my legs are around his waist. And his head is tipped back and letting me do whatever I want with my tongue is his mouth. And I fucking love him.
I just fucking love him.
"Take me home." And that's all I need to say.
The car ride is quiet, except for my lips finding pleasure on the side of his neck. He is telling me about the seatbelt and the laws and safety. His pulse is saying something completely different and I choose to have a conversation with it, instead.
When we get to the house, I expect movement and noises and things. I expect to see Angela. I expect to see…her. But, there is nothing. I look over my shoulder as we enter the kitchen. He has his hands in his pockets and waits.
My fingers fidget with my clothes. "Um….where is everyone?"
"Grace?" He guesses, correctly. Who gives a shit where Angela is. I nod. "Esme took her for the afternoon. While I picked you up."
"Oh." College girl, right here.
"She'll be back in a little while, or…we could go over there?" He pulls out his phone, but I step forward and put my hand over it.
"Can we just….can we just like sit or something." I'm not asking. I'm grabbing his hand and pulling him to the living room. We sit on the couch and it is old, but new. It is nice, but a little weird. There is a light layer of dust on the coffee table. The sunlight shows Angela's inability to perform. I touch my finger to the glass and point it at him.
He smiles and rests back into the cushions. "I have rubber gloves upstairs. Want to do a full inspection?"
"We still talking about the furniture?"
A bigger smile and he makes me lean against him; his arm around my shoulders and all of a sudden, shoulder touching is fine. I just rest. I just focus on the way his fingers glide through the strands of my hair. How the tips of them feel when they brush against my temple. How he doesn't reach for the remote and how just being here - just this - is enough.
His voice interrupts the silence. "So, it looks like you made more friends."
Garrett. Freaking Garret. "Not friends, just…classmates."
"Oh. They looked friendly." He is laughing a little.
I turn my face towards his. "He is short and stumpy and on Fridays, he brings cabbage and potatoes for lunch with fish. It makes me want to vomit and he sits in front of me in class afterwards. He asks five million questions and every time, I get a waft of fish right in my goddamn face, Edward. I don't want to fuck him. Trust me."
His hand and eyes focus on my hair. "I didn't say you did."
But I know Cullen and I don't need him to spell that shit out. "And yeah, he wants to fuck me, but I'm not fucking him, so just relax."
His eyes drift to mine. "Who are the others?"
"Eric and his girlfriend."
"Oh, right. The girl with the boobs."
I nod. "Huge, right?"
And because he is perfect, "Couldn't tell you."
My fingers grab his shirt and my mouth finds his. I only get five minutes before the doorbell rings and then the handle is being unlocked. Edward clears his throat and fixes his messed up clothes before he stands up. I sigh and then tense, as I hear Esme.
When I feel a little brave, I glance over my shoulder. I see her face over his shoulder. She is looking right at me. She looks different. Bigger. Stronger. I feel weaker. Smaller. The same.
"There she is!" Esme sings as she makes her way towards me. Her arms go around me and I force a smile, but not really. "How are you, Dear? Oh, tell me all about school. Have you made friends? Do you like your classes? Are they…"
"Mom." Edward is my favorite person in the whole world.
Esme waves him off. "Oh, hush. And change that baby. She had an oops on the way here. She is gonna get a rash." She smiles and waits for all my answers.
I shrug. "Um…it's good."
"And your teachers? You like them?"
Shrugging. I do it well. "I guess."
Edward exits, I assume to change Grace. Esme lowers her voice. "He misses you. Grace too. I am glad you are in school though. It will get easier as you go on, Dear. Promise. And the balancing, it will get easier, too." Her hand pats my shoulder and that shit is okay.
I'm not sure if she can really answer this, but fuck it. "Is he…is he alright?"
She nods and scoots closer. "He is doing well. I was scared, I won't lie. But I think…I think it's Grace. I think she brings out something in him. A…strength? If that makes sense."
I nod and say nothing.
His voice interrupts the silence, again. "All better."
I look towards him. He is looking as Esme. Her face understand her son and my stupidity. "Well, I better get going." She hugs me and says more nice things. She kisses Edward's face and then gives the same to Grace. The same. Same look. Same love. Same tenderness.
He sits down next to me after the door closes behind her. "She likes Esme's sun-catchers."
He looks to me. "My mother has sun-catchers in the kitchen window. In her house. When she gives grace a bath, she just stares at them the whole time." His lips smile. "I think it pisses off my mom."
I smile. "Why?"
"You haven't been a witness to how ridiculous Esme is, yet. All the sounds and faces she makes." He looks back to Grace. "She's just like you. Completely un-amused and I am sure if she could tell my mother to go…you know…she would." And I love the way the corner of his mouth twitches.
I watch him and her for a while. I don't ask to hold her and he doesn't offer. I know he would hand her over, I just don't ask. I know he is dying to offer, but he won't ask. She cries after a while and it is time to feed her. Cullen does it and I love watching. It is almost as gratifying, maybe even more, than doing it myself. The look on his face and the way he is gentle. It makes my heart hurt less. It makes it beat more.
I go through the cabinets while he is tending to her and pull out some things to cook. He has her in the baby seat on the counter top. He is talking to me, but watching her.
"It's nice outside. We could eat out there, if you'd like."
I stir the food. "Yeah. Sure." I tap the spoon and cover the lid to the pot. I find dishes and napkins and bring them outside. He has bought a new patio set. I like it. Dark wood and the chairs look comfortable. An umbrella shields some of the sun and I adjust it some. The wind is picking up a little. I am not quick enough to catch the door as I re-enter the house. It slams hard. I cringe, seeing Grace is asleep on the counter, in her seat.
Edward glances towards me and then her. Then me, then her…longer this time. Back to me. He waits and I swallow, thinking he is pissed.
"Sorry," I repeat.
His face doesn't seem like he heard me. "Do it again."
Is he crazy? That is what my face asks. "No."
"Just do it again, please."
He nods. "I am aware of this."
And there is too much calm and Doctor in those eyes. Not enough Edward and my heart is seeing it. He sees it.
"Just do it again, please," he repeats and then faces her.
My hand extends for the doorknob. My heart thumps painfully. The door opens. I hold my breath. Loud rings through the peaceful and nothing. Nothing.
His voice is lower. "Again."
Loud and nothing. Peaceful.
Is he trying to kill me? "Cullen."
Loud and nothing. Peaceful.
Lower. "Fuck." And not Doctor. Edward.
He is silent, watching her.
"Goddamn it- what?" He is killing me. He fucking killing me.
"I thought…I mean it could be, but it doesn't mean…" he shakes his head and makes no damn sense. Doctor returns when he takes a deep breath and faces me. "We tested her after she was born, but she was still so little, it is never certain. I wanted to give her time, but…"
"But what? What is wrong with her?"
His eyes look like my heart. "I don't think she has full hearing."
He shakes his head. "I'm not sure. If it's one hundred percent, anyhow. But…if I had to place a wager…I'd say yes."
I nod because I know it had to happen. Nothing is perfect and while I am out pretending it could be, it is not. "I fucked her up. I told you. I fucked her up."
"Don't say that."
My bitterness takes over my mouth. "You don't have to protect me, Cullen. I know what I did. You don't have to protect me."
His eyes could burn holes through me with the heat they hold. "I'm not protecting you, Bella."
And it burns. It fucking feels amazing and burns.
"She isn't fucked up. She's perfect. So, go find somewhere else to have your pity party." And he turns away from me and when he does, I want to hug him and yell at him and love him more and hate him so much.
And now the sun has settled. And dinner, like everything else I touch, is fucking ruined.
The laundry room door closes. Angela. She smiles and walks into the Lion's Den. Oblivious. She has grocery bags and she and Edward discussing where to put them is all that fills that room. She is being quiet, seeing Grace, but it is useless.
It is all fucking useless.
And my feet find my way back to my bag. And my hands lift it on to my shoulder. And I have no truck here. I have nothing. I am back to walking down the sidewalk like that first day. And my head is down and just as shameful. But there is no Edward chasing me down and telling giving me options. There is no Edward reminding me of how much nothing I had. But he doesn't have to. It speaks for itself. The nothing. It is all around me.
Bus A goes to drop station H. Letters. Fucking letters. Stupid letters. I sit on the bench and wait. You're a lair, you know. Fuck off. When he sees you have left, he's gonna be hurt. Fuck off. He might not look for you this time. He has her. Grace. And Angela. She is a shitty fucking goddamn housekeeper. Fuck off. Just fuck off. Liar, Bella. Liar.
I grab my bag and drop all the contest on the ground until I find that goddamn key. B. B. B. Fuck yourself. I pick it up and toss it into the place where a bus needs to be. It clanks against the metal rails. You're ruining it. Too late. Bus A.
I am on Bus A.
He smiles up at me, drink in hand. Garrett scoots over on the couch. "For you, Doll, plenty."
I take his drink without asking. I don't think as the plastic hits my lips. I don't see her face. I don't see his face. I just tip my head back and swallow down the flat beer. I swallow. I swallow. I swallow. I have no air and it is not from swallowing.
"Damn, Bella." Garrett takes the empty cup I extend to him. "Be right back."
I reach out and grab him as gets up. "Something stronger. None of that girly shit."
And Garrett, who fucking stinks and is too short and not Cullen, is at least good at obeying orders. He returns with shots. I take them down and Bella - the girl who no one paid attention to - who everyone walked past and ignored and only said shit behind my back and wondered what my goddamn problem and silence was all about these last few weeks - thinks I am the fucking shit as I drink them all stupid.
You're a liar.
Yeah, I'm a fucking liar.
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud."
"Try it for sixty days for FREE!"
"Love is never tired of waiting; love is kind; love has no envy; love has no high opinion of itself, love has no pride."
I bury my head into the pillow. Thud. Thud. Thud. I am so out of practice.
Thud. Thud. Thud. I try to bury my face deeper, but it keeps getting louder.
Can't tell God to go away, dummy.
Thud. Thud. Thud. It is not God. It's fucking cheep ass beer and Tequila.
Thud. Thud. "Bella! I know you're in there. I see your truck." And Cullen.
It's fucking Cullen. Of course. I stay where I am. "Go away," but it's too soft for him to hear.
Thud. Thud. Thud.
Thud. Thud. Thud.
Thud. Thud. Thud.
And then…no more thuds. I smile and curl myself into a ball. Keys. My door. Fuck.
"Co-signers have keys, Bella. Did you forget?" The door closes and I lay like I feel. Dead.
"You aren't invited to my party, Edward."
I feel the couch sink from where he sits. My head stays under the pillow.
"Looks like you already went to the party, Bella," he quips and I knew I should have ditched the fucking bottles I brought home with me. "But I assume you were referring to your pity party."
I pull the pillow away and sit up. Bad idea and I fall backwards. Jesus, this place needs blinds. I shield my eyes from the light.
"Don't you have a baby to save or something, Freak?"
He nods and I know I burned him. The evil in me smiles.
"Yeah…yeah I do." He tugs my arm and yanks me from the couch. I am smacking and pushing him away, but he is too strong. And I am over his shoulder and fuck if the world isn't spinning out of control.
I feel the water before I see it. I scream and try to slap him as he makes me stand under the cold spray. He holds my hands and all the movement and having been turned upside down has caught up with me. I lose whatever I drank last night to the shower drain. And his shoes.
I hate him and I hate him and I hate him. He holds me and I hate him. He tries to wash my face and I hate him. He is being Edward and I hate him.
"I might have fucked him last night."
He doesn't say anything. He is getting soaked trying to help me and he says nothing.
"I could fucked all of them. I was trashed. I might fucked all of them."
He says nothing. He is rinsing my hair that has puke in it and he says nothing.
"I wonder…how many times did you do this with Tanya, Edward? How many times she came home with another man's cum inside of her and you did this."
And he pushes my back into the wall. It scares the fuck out of me. The evil smiles.
"Do you feel better now, Bella? Hurting me? Does it feel better?" And he is. It's in his eyes and his finger' s tightness around my arms. "Would it feel better if I just told you to go fuck yourself?" He shakes me angrily. "Would it?"
I nod. I lean my face towards his. I challenge him. "Do it. Say it."
He pushes his face towards mine and grips firmer to my arms. "Go fuck yourself, Bella." He lets go of me and I smile as I wait for him to walk away. "Now, shut up, and turn the fuck around before I make you."
He waits and I hate him. There's no use in fighting. He is too strong to fight off. Goddamn it I hate him. My back leans off the wall and I turn around. I feel hands and smell soap.
"While you're just standing there doing nothing, let me explain something to you, Bella." His voice is pissed off. His hands are a little rough, but he is in control. "You want to go and throw away your life, fine. You want to go and throw away 'us', fine. But you're not going to hurt Grace…"
My head whips to the side. "I already hurt Grace, Freak."
His hands face me forward again. "Shut up. I wasn't having a discussion. I'm telling you how it is." He resumes his washing. "You will not hurt her. You will not bring destructive behavior around her. You will not abuse my help. You will not abuse my generosity or take advantage of having school paid for by going out and getting fucked up…"
I shrug his hands off me. I turn around. "This is exactly why the fuck I didn't want your help. Give it so you can throw in my face? Take it all. I don't give a shit. Take it all. I don't want it. And while you're at it, go fuck yourself."
His face doesn't flinch. I try harder.
"And double fuck yourself and your rules. She isn't even your kid."
He pulls me towards him, same force as before, different direction. To his face.
"You made sure she was. Or did you forget that?" And I hate him. I wiggle, but go nowhere in his grasp. "This is how it is, so either get with the program, or let us go, Bella."
His fingers slide off my skin. He moves from the shower. He leaves wet shoe prints on the tile floor. I bang my fist to the wall until it hurts and throbs. I slam my other fist to the knob, turning off the water. I do not look at myself in the mirror when I step out.
I do not.
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