My eyes dart around the foyer, weighing my options.
It's either up the stairs or out the front door...
I run out of time to decide when the front door flies open, the door knob slamming into the wall behind it with a cracking sound.
I quickly dart to my left, just under the shadow of the staircase.
No one notices my panic.
No, their attention is on the fuming figure standing just inside the doorway.
His chest is heaving and his eyes are wild as they scan the crowd.
He's wearing black slacks and dress shoes and a burgundy dress shirt. But everything, from head to toe, is rumpled. His shirt is untucked, save for one flap in the front. His hair is a wild mess on his head and his jaw is covered in stubble.
He looks nothing...and everything like the Edward Cullen I knew.
The booming of his voice as he yells out again makes me jump and curl farther into the curve of the staircase.
The band has stopped playing and even more people are crowding into the front of the house, taking in the show.
Whispering to each other.
Hands clasped to chests in disgust.
He seems to notice it, too.
"What the fuck are you all looking at, huh?"
With the flick of his hand, he slaps the underside of a tray that a member of the wait staff is holding. Flutes of champagne fly into the air and crash down on the marble floor of the foyer, smashing into pieces.
Gasps and cries of surprise sound throughout the space.
His fists are balled so tightly, that I can see how white his fingers and knuckles are, even from here. I also notice what looks like wadded up paper in his right hand.
My head, along with everyone else's it seems, turns to see Esme and Carlisle breaking through to the front of the crowd of bodies. Her face is a mixture of disbelief and wonder, while Carlisle's seems to house nothing but anger. It's startling to see the emotion on his face, someone who has been nothing but kind and soft spoken since I've met him.
Esme takes a step forward.
And that's as far as he lets her get.
"Did you know?"
And his voice...
It scares me more than the shouting.
Because it's calm.
I feel myself shudder.
His eyes are boring into Esme's and her brow furrows in confusion.
"Know what? Edward, I don't-"
He tosses the ball of paper at her feet and fists at his hair with both hands as he yells out again, even louder this time.
"Did you know?"
As Esme bends to pick up the paper, I see Carlisle make eye contact with someone above me, on the stairs, and nod to them. My head shoots up and I see Alice and Jasper standing on the top step.
Side by side, hand in hand.
Alice is staring down, her eyes boring into Edward.
Jasper nods back to Carlisle and whispers something in Alice's ear before climbing the stairs and disappearing from sight.
And still she stares, unblinking, at Edward.
And her face and body language communicate a single word to me.
I glance back at him, as he watches Esme reading whatever he's thrown to her.
Her face morphs from confusion to realization. I can actually see the color leave her as she looks back up at him.
"Edward, I didn't want you to-"
I don't know if he expected the answer, but he seems surprised.
He says it again, as if he's trying the words out...trying to comprehend their meaning.
I startle at the anger in his voice then.
"Don't! You don't get to call me that! Not anymore! Do you...do you have any idea what I've done...what I..."
And for just a sliver of time, I see something that looks totally out of place on his face.
But he straightens up and shakes it off, steeling his face and spewing more words.
"You lied to me my whole fucking life!"
Carlisle erupts then.
"You WILL NOT speak to your mother that way."
At this, Edward scoffs.
"Mother? Right. Is that what you call yourself? Hmm? Esme?"
His face twists with revulsion as he looks upon her.
Esme whimpers and covers her mouth with her hand, shaking her head back and forth at him.
Not as a reply, but as a plea.
Turning to glance around the room, his eyes land on Alice and he stops. They lock eyes and a wicked smile plays out on his face.
"Well, well. If it isn't the lucky bride."
Alice's nose flares and her hands ball at her sides.
Walking over to another server, who stands frozen in place, he snatches a flute of champagne from the tray he holds and raises it up toward Alice.
"To the bride, ladies and gentlemen. Allison, isn't it? Congratulations! I bet you fit right in around here, don't you, Allison? Got yourself a nice little set up going, huh? I bet you're glad they pulled you out of whatever dingy little shit hole they found you in-"
And it's Edward's turn to be cut off. Faster than anyone has time to stop her, Alice is flying down the stairs, one hand sliding along the railing and one hand holding up the train of her dress.
"You son of a bitch!"
A streak of white and she's there.
A tiny fist flies and shock registers on Edward's face before he masks it with a sarcastic smile. He turns his head and spits blood from his split lip onto the foyer floor.
She punched him.
"Well, hello to you too, little sis."
Alice is fuming now, fisting both sides of her dress and screaming at him.
"You're so fucking selfish! I don't even know you and I hate you! Why did you have to come here? Why didn't you just stay the fuck away?"
She's screaming at the top of her lungs and Jasper comes out of nowhere, grabbing her up in a hug and shushing her. She buries her head in his chest and wails.
Edward gulps down the last of his champagne and tosses the flute at the wall, shattering it.
He eyes Jasper and Alice and shakes his head.
Jasper's head snaps up.
"What did you just say?"
Carlisle tries to diffuse.
"Jasper, why don't you take Alice upstairs?"
Jasper and Edward continue their stare down of one another, until Carlisle speaks again, firmer this time.
With an arm around Alice, he glares once more at Edward and starts up the stairs.
"Please, everyone, if you'd make your way through the back, we'll get your coats and valet tickets taken care of."
Edward pipes in again.
"Yeah, folks. Show's over now. Nothing to see here anymore. So fuck off."
"Edward, please. Don't. Stop this now. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. About everything. About Jo-"
"Don't you dare speak her name to me! Don't you ever say her name again! You think sorry makes it okay?"
He stretches his arms out wide in question.
"You think sorry makes it all go away? You think it matters?"
More tears from Esme as Carlisle continues to rally the crowd of guests to the other side of the house, faster now. I notice Kate has stepped up to help him.
It's all escalating so fast...
I feel my nerves spike as the crowd thins out. But I don't dare move. I grasp the stair railing tighter, praying I stay unnoticed by him.
"Please, Edward. Please!"
He continues his tangent undaunted.
"Please? Begging doesn't make it go away! I begged. I hit my fucking knees and begged, Esme!"
Louder and louder.
I can almost see the control shedding off of him as he rants.
"I begged and pleaded and cried like a little bitch! And what happened? Nothing! NOTHING! I still lost her!"
It feels like slow motion.
He grabs the tall vase of flowers on the table in the center of the room, and with a growl he hurls it.
Up and over.
"No!" Esme screams out as the mess of glass and water collides...with the painting.
The space needle.
The force he puts behind it causes the canvas to shred and tear, right down the middle.
A shower of water and glass...roses and lilies rains down on the floor.
The painting is destroyed and Esme is sobbing now.
Edward looks exhausted, weary beyond his age as he slumps down to the floor. He digs the heels of his hands into his eyes and is mumbling under his breath.
I'm shocked when I'm actually able to make out his words from across the room.
Over Esme's crying and...sirens?
"My baby...my baby girl."
Two police officers appear in the front doorway and take in the scene with caution, their hands resting over their holstered weapons.
One of them speaks.
Carlisle, who is trying to console Esme, answers. Quietly.
"Yes, that's me." He nods his head toward where Edward is still crumpled on the floor, his hands still covering his eyes. The officer nods back and they begin to approach Edward.
Esme's lifts her head from his chest and look between him and the officers.
"Carlisle, no. No!"
"I'm sorry, Ezzie."
And you can see it.
All over Carlisle's face.
He is sorry.
It's the only crack in the anger, but I can see it there.
He's given up.
"Get your fucking hands off me!"
Edward struggles against the hands of the officers as they try to lift him from the floor.
In the blink of an eye, they have him on his feet and against the wall, cuffing his hands behind his back.
He breathes hard and fast through his nose as they guide him out the front door.
"I hate you! I fucking hate you both!" Edward yells as he's being forced to move down the stairs of the porch.
Carlisle is restraining Esme from running after Edward. She's struggling against him and he's talking lowly to her, trying to soothe her. She's yelling out Edward's name and sobbing.
I see my chance and slip out the front door. I try to stay close to the house and in the shadows, making my way toward my car.
And then I feel it.
Creeping up my spine and wrapping itself around my heart.
Squeezing it like a vice.
I stop in my tracks and turn slowly.
The officers are standing on the walkway speaking to the valet attendant
I notice a sporty looking black car set up and onto the lawn, the driver's side door still ajar.
Guests are pointing and gawking and gossiping amongst themselves.
But it all falls to the wayside when my eyes land on him.
Cuffed and seated in the back of the police cruiser.
The side of his forehead is pressed to the glass and his eyes are closed.
He almost seems asleep.
And then his eyes are open.
Open and blue and staring.
He looks genuinely...shocked.
I can't look away.
The reality of the situation...of what just happened in that house dawns on me viciously.
'My baby...my baby girl.'
My eyes tear.
I feel the strangest stinging sensation behind them and then there it is.
My vision of his haggard, confused face becomes blurry.
And when I blink, a single tear falls.
And then his face isn't blurry anymore.
I can see him.
He's just a man.
No cocky stance.
No hurtful words.
Just a man...in pain.
His face tilts to the side in question.
And I watch the words form on his lips.
He says it as a question, I can tell, even though he doesn't ask it.
What are you doing here?
I shake my head back and forth, wipe my cheek and spare one more glance at him.
One last glance.
And then I turn.
And I run like hell.