September 5, 2011

Chapter Eighteen


Songs I rocked to write:

'Rubiks Cube' by Athlete


'Rockerbye' by Helen Jane Long (instrumental)


'Get Free' by The Vines






BPOV



I stare down at the back of his head... his hairline. How it runs down both sides of his head and meets at a point on the back of his neck. How his hair is dampened with sweat, not unlike the early mornings that I see him. Only now, I know it's from a different type of exertion. For several moments, I just stand frozen in place, drowning in uselessness. Twin feelings of frustration and confusion attack my nerves with a vengeance.

What do I do? Jesus.....

An idea occurs to me and the palm I've flattened to my forehead slides down the side of my face.

Water! On TV and in movies, they always bring people water, right?

It's probably a terrible idea, but it's all I've got, so I hurry into the kitchen and come back with a short tumbler of cold water. I stop a couple of feet in front of him, unsure how I should approach him.

"Edward?"

Nothing. I hold the water out in front of me even though he can't see it.

"Here. I...I brought you some water."

He didn't seem very happy about our hands touching earlier. I'm in agreement with him, but how the hell am I supposed to give him the water? Condensation builds on the outside of the glass and I tighten my hold on it. A chill that has nothing to do with the temperature of the water travels up my arm, creating goose bumps across my flesh. The sensation sets me on edge. I don't like how this feels.

Inadequacy slithers its way under my skin, antagonizing my pride. It's the press of a finger on a day old bruise. Memories from years ago thrash against their confines, breaking free and pooling beneath my already tenuous composure. They flank me on both sides, faint whispers of bitter words spat loudly from the mouth of a man who I could never placate.

Worthless...ungrateful...waste of time...useless...

As my patience rapidly evaporates, my teeth clench together. I stare at the back of his head and give in to my indignation.

How dare he come here and make me feel this way? Who does he think he is, boxing me in and forcing my hand?

I eye both of his hands clenched around each of his knees. Letting my ire lead the way, I take two steps forward and brush the glass against the knuckles of his left hand.

"Here. Take the fuck-"

It all happens in less than a second...or so it feels like. His entire body startles and his hand forcefully swats at the glass, sending it flying from my hand. I jump back and watch as glass shatters, mingling with the water and coating the expanse of wood flooring in front of the fireplace. My breathing deepens and I look back at him. His eyes jump from the mess across the room to my face.

"I'm...I didn't..."

He's still struggling to calm down and it dominates his speech, leaving his words to trail off and die. We're locked in a stare down and the only sound in the room is a heavy, harsh breathing. Not his...not mine.

Ours.

It's the look on his face that sends me two steps back and onto my ass. My back leans against the coffee table and I let my legs flop out in front of me. The impact of his expression is at once sobering and disorienting. I've seen this face before. It's the same now as it was then, save for blue lights flashing across his features and his forehead pressed to glass. He's not speaking a word, yet I can hear him as if he's shouting them at me.

I'm sorry.

Help me.

Make it stop.

I want to laugh at whatever cruel fate would lead him to my doorstep in search of help. I'm pretty sure that this is all about the bracelet, but his coming here leaves him at my mercy. That's the laughable part. What could I possibly offer him?

He'd be better off alone.

Barely registering his still frantic breathing, I drop my eyes from his face, fixing my stare instead on a scar on my right knee. I got it when I was six and fell on the playground at school. It was pretty bad. I remember the scarlet color that the blood and dirt made together. And the teacher's face when I calmly told her I preferred to clean and bandage the scrape myself. No tears, no fuss. She didn't ask any questions and I didn't volunteer any explanations. It was neither the first nor last time I'd practice self-reliance.

What happens next...I can't really explain. Exhaustion fogs up my mind, rousing all of the things that have been weighing on my mind the last several weeks.

My slip-ups at work.

Renee.

Kate's words of warning.

Edward.

The gnawing voice in the back of my head and how its questions are gaining volume. Is this it? Is this all?

I stare down at the scar on my knee, not even blinking, until everything in my periphery fades away and I'm somewhere else. I take a deep breath and admit to myself why I'm really angry. And that it isn't at Edward...but at the memory of a time in my life that he's unknowingly dredging up for me. Seeing him hunched over, shaking and sweating and clamoring for his breath...it's all so familiar. I remember my chest feeling like it was being crushed. Like my lungs weren't expanding enough to get air. I couldn't breathe in deeply enough to stop the panic. I remember everything moving in slow motion. The unfamiliar face of the EMT as he leveled his eyes with mine and spoke, but hearing no words come from his mouth. He kept talking though...words on top of words. He kept speaking to me until sounds filtered back into my ears and my lungs expanded just a little bit more with each gulp of air I took. I have no idea what he said, but I latched on to the sound of his voice and followed it out of the darkness.

Could I do the same? Would it work for Edward?

I don't remember making the decision...

I don't remember choosing the words...

I don't even remember opening my mouth to speak them...

"I was eighteen years old. It was my senior year of high school and I was trying to save as much money as I could for college. I had an after school job at this little video rental store a few blocks from my school. When I got there, my manager told me business was slow and I could take the day off. I wasn't supposed to be home as early as I was. It...it should have been Renee. She would have gotten off of work before me. I saw Charlie's car there and figured I could just ignore him until dinner. I could make a beeline for my room and pretend to be doing homework or something. I kept my eyes down coming in the front door and all the way up the stairs. And I almost made it to my room. Almost. He was...still swaying back and forth...otherwise I probably would have missed it. But their bedroom door was open and I...I remember seeing the tiniest movement from the corner of my eye. He was...he was just...hanging there. "

I close my eyes and hold my breath...not wanting to relive it, but powerless to stop it.

The overturned chair.

The slight swaying of his bare feet mid-air.

The blue tint of lips tucked under his trademark mustache.

Scribbled ink across crumpled white paper...the gold wedding band pinning it to the top of the dresser.

Screaming...

Sirens...

Voices...

A stretcher...a thick, black bag...

"They told me our next door neighbor called 911. Heard screaming coming from the house. It took them over half an hour to calm me down. I wouldn't know. I don't even remember screaming. I just remember trying...trying so hard not to see him. But I couldn't. I just...couldn't look away."

My body slumps as the memory retracts its talons and releases me from the past, dropping me back into the present. I open my eyes again and stare down at my lap. I barely register the edge of the coffee table digging into my back. I feel heavy and limp, devoured by remembrance and left to decay. Conjuring that day...delving into the abyss of the past...is agonizing. It extinguishes every ounce of energy I have, leaving me limp with exhaustion...and the task of banishing everything back to where it belongs...behind me.

Only the silence of the room causes me to look up. Edward is still hunched over his legs, but his elbows now rest on his knees and his hands are buried in the hair on top of his head. His face is tilted up, his dark brows pinched together and his mouth frowning. Though his breathing has evened out and his hands have stopped shaking, I can see the aftermath. I can see where consumption took place, reducing this man...this powerful, imperious force of a man...to his knees. I could see he was no match for it. I could see he hadn't had a chance.

I can see him.

And as hard as I may otherwise have tried to fight, I'm in no such position now.

His eyes unnerve me. They're roaming my face...searching...exploring. I'm too exhausted, too numb to look away. Or so I tell myself.

Neither of us makes a move...or a sound.

The silence feels thunderous in my ears as the reality of what I've just done...what I've just said sinks in. My chest begins to ache with the realization of what I've told him. I can almost see it there between us, lying at our feet on display.

An exposed nerve.

My stomach rolls and I brace my palms on the floor, standing and slapping a hand over my mouth. I sprint down the all, bypassing the guest bathroom and taking the stairs two at a time. I want to be as far from him as I can for what's coming. The coolness of the tiles and the pain as my knees collide with them is the last thing I feel before I expel my breakfast. Even when I've emptied my stomach, it continues to convulse. I dry heave and gag, my eyes tearing and my head pounding.

When I sag against the tub afterward, there is no relief. Only confusion...and panic...and fear.

What's happening to me?

After brushing my teeth, rinsing with mouthwash, splashing my face with cold water and nervously pacing my bedroom a few dozen times, I stand up as straight as I can manage and make my way back downstairs.

A check of the entire first floor turns up no sign of him.

I peek through the blinds of the front window and his car is gone.

My head whips around to the front of the fireplace and the floor is clear of any glass or water. I look around the living room. It's as if nothing happened at all. I know better though. The tremble in my hands and the drag of my feet tell me so.

I walk into the kitchen in a state of confusion. Lifting the lid on the trash can, I see wet, wadded paper towels balled up around broken glass. I should feel relieved to have avoided the awkward conversation that would have waited for me had he stayed. I do feel relief, but it's diluted with a trace of something else. Something I can't put a name to.

There's a little voice in the back of my head whispering the answer to my riddle...

Disappointment.





~o~





Thursday, Friday and Saturday are uneventful. I don't hear from Edward...at all. And uneventful is good. It's how I prefer it. It's how things should be. Business as usual. Back to normal.

That's the mantra I chant to myself anyway.

Over and over and over.

Each day.

It doesn't work.

My days are spent at work on auto-pilot. My nights are spent lying awake in bed, or in my window seat. Sunday afternoon plays on a loop in my mind. Sights, sounds and words...all projected behind my eyes. On repeat.

A marathon I can't turn off.





~o~





He doesn't show the next Sunday morning.

It doesn't stop my eyes from searching out that spot on the sidewalk before I crank up my music and take off.

Four hours later, I'm settled into my window seat reading when the doorbell rings. Considering the lack of company I keep, I know exactly who it is before I even stand up. It doesn't stop me from taking small, hesitant steps toward the door.

When I open the door, he's wearing a pair of dark jeans, white T-shirt, and a brown leather jacket. His shoulders are stuck somewhere between tense and slouched. It's bright out today, but I suspect that the sunglasses he wears aren't for that reason alone. He clears his throat and runs a hand over the back of his hair.

"Hi."

"Hi."

We're both quiet then, and he's looking anywhere but at me. He watches the toe of his shoe scrape across the welcome mat and shakes his head back and forth.

"What is it about your porch that makes me feel like a fucking idiot?"

There's no smile. No humor. Just a weary fatigue that adheres to every inch of him, even his voice. And when I respond, it's as much to the burdensome veil he wears as it is to his question.

"Believe me, it doesn't feel much different on this side of the threshold."

He meant it rhetorically, most likely assuming I wouldn't answer him. Because his face is giving nothing away, I watch his eyes react instead. He seems surprised...but leery. I don't blame him. While my knee jerk reaction was not to engage in this conversation anymore than necessary, I didn't listen. I did the opposite.

I'm off my game.

I'm lost.

He speaks with a husk to his voice. It sounds raw and low. Spent.

"Would you like to go somewhere with me?"

No.

Yes.

No.

"Just for coffee or something. There's a place not far from here. I, uh, I want to talk to you. To really talk to you, Isabella. About the other day...among other things."

Stiffness slinks up his back and over his shoulders. It coats the features of his face, weighing down his brows until they're wrinkled over the bridge of his nose. His eyes retreat from mine, lowering to the porch and the foot that's resumed it's nervous scraping. A tight line of lips rests centered above his hardened jaw line.

"Okay."

I can tell he expected my answer to be much different. He's quiet...still...for a beat before he snaps out of it and nods.

Unease settles over me at the thought of riding in his car with him again.

"Can you just, um...I'll follow you there, alright? Just give me a minute."

I know he sees it. My hesitance. It's in his eyes. They jump between both of my own a couple of times. He doesn't call me out on it.

"Yeah, sure. I'll just wait for you then?"

He motions behind him and begins to back away. I nod and close the door. My body moves slowly up the stairs, in the same state of disbelief that my mind is. I just agreed to coffee with...Edward Cullen. My stomach clenches and my feet freeze. One foot rests on a step higher than the other and I feel a tightening in the muscles of my legs. Fear slinks an arm around my shoulder, lulling me into its embrace and breathing a word into my ear. One word...

Run.

I could. I could run. I could just run up the stairs and pretend he isn't out there.

I glance behind me at the front door and then up the staircase, as if one of the two could decide for me. It's ridiculous and futile.

I finish the climb of the stairs and bypass my bedroom door in favor of the guest room across the hall. I open the door and walk to the window, pulling the curtain aside and looking down over the driveway.

He's leaning against the passenger side of his car with his eyes closed and his head tilted back. His hands are in the pockets of his jacket and he begins rolling his head back and forth on his shoulders. The gesture triggers a flicker of a memory. My eyelids flutter as I recall our first meeting in the hotel penthouse. The way he'd looked as he'd stalked toward me. Even his gait was arrogant. His eyes bored into my own. Into every inch of me, rooting out my weaknesses and tempting them into betraying me.

Arousal...intimidation...insecurity...need.

My thoughts are pulled back into focus as he pulls his sunglasses from his face and rubs at his eyes. I take a moment to recall the Edward I've seen in the last several weeks. I compare him to the Edward that I experienced five years ago. The differences are there, but murky. It's like he's blurred around the edges. I can't get a clear read on him.

Have you ever actually tried to?

My subconscious voice is getting harder to ignore these days. It took some practice, with time, I'd managed to beat it down to a near inaudible murmur. It's fighting back now. I can hear it climbing in decibels, contending with my avoidance...matching it blow for blow.

I stare down at the man waiting for me in my driveway.

The conjurer of the past. A walking representation of a time in my life I have no use for. That I've forgotten. That is over.

Liar. You've never forgotten...

I try and, for once, fail to deny my curiosity where he's concerned.

Sunday hovers over me like a cloud. I still couldn't comprehend the things I'd said. The information I'd voluntarily armed him with. It was as if I was hovering over myself, unable to intervene. Helpless to stop my mouth from speaking words that I'd never said aloud. Ever. All I could think is that maybe it would make him stop. Maybe it would make him go away. Maybe it would cease the hysteria that having to deal with his panic attack was causing me.

Maybe it would help him.

I jolt back and away from the window at the thought.

Is that why I did it?

Feeling exhausted with the introspection, I give in to the curiosity, crossing the hall to my room and grabbing a pair of shoes and my purse.

Ten minutes later, I'm parking on the curb in front of a small café not far from my house. Though I recognize the place, I've never been inside. I kill the ignition and look up at him through the windshield. He parks just in front of me and I watch as he unfolds himself from his car, tucking his hands into his jacket pockets. He stops just between our cars as I get out of mine. When we get to the entrance, he holds the door open for me and motions for me to go ahead of him."

"You don't need to do that. I can hold my own door."

"I'm sure you can. You'll have to show me some time."

I raise an eyebrow at his sarcasm. Even through the sunglasses I can see him roll his eyes.

"I'm being polite, Isabella. Please, after you."

He sweeps his arm dramatically toward the door just as a couple step up behind us. I drop the issue and move inside the shop. It smells of coffee and cookies, and my stomach reminds me that I missed lunch. It'll have to wait. No way am I scarfing down a flatbread sandwich across from him while we discuss our dysfunctions. An older woman approaches the counter and smiles politely at us.

"Hi, welcome to Stickybuns. What can I get for you?"

Edward beats me to answering. It's strange to see him in a public setting this way. He has a distinct dominance about him all the time, but it's different in this moment. The man who showed up on my porch twenty minutes ago isn't here right now. You'd never guess that something plagues him. That it lives inside of his well-groomed, confident exterior. There's an inarguable control in his mannerisms. He stands tall and speaks assuredly as he pulls his wallet from his back pocket.

"I'll have a large half-caf soy macchiato, two shots of vanilla, no foam."

Dear God, Edward Cullen is a fluffy coffee drinker.

I nearly snort at the realization. Nearly.

"And for you, ma'am?"

"Um, just a medium black coffee, please."

Edward offers to pay for me and I decline, pulling out my own wallet.

He mumbles an 'I didn't think so' just as the barista slides my coffee across the counter, letting Edward know that his would be brought to the table in a few minutes. We both turn toward the seating area of the café. We look to the left towards the large cluster of two-seater tables. And then to the right, where there is a full wall of...booths.

We glance at one another and head to the left in unison.

I'm relieved when he doesn't try to pull my chair out for me. Opening doors, pulling out chairs, removing & putting on your coat for you? I've never really understood those particular chivalries. My hands aren't painted on. I can do it myself.

Once we're both seated at a table in the back corner, I can feel some of the turbulence settle back over him. It's just the two of us now...and a multitude of unspoken words. It isn't until I look around the quaint interior of the café that I come to appreciate the setting.

It's neutral territory for both of us and I wonder if it's what he intended.

I look over and he's leveling me with a calm, steady stare. Not knowing what to say, I stay quiet.

"I'm sorry."

He runs his palm over his face and laughs, only without the humor. When he speaks, it's down at his fingers on the table top.

"Jesus, I feel like that's all I say to you."

He looks up at me then, and I fidget.

"I...I don't know what you want me to say. You keep saying you're sorry. And I keep telling you it isn't necessary."

He stares at me contemplatively for a long moment.

"Let's agree to disagree."

"What?"

"I think I owe you the apologies, you don't. I'm not backing down on that. You?"

I narrow my eyes at him as he arches an eyebrow. I shake my head at him, not needing any time to think that one over.

"No."

"Alright then. Just one last one, though."

He launches into his speech before I can object.

"The other day...it was..."

He pauses and clears his throat.

"I haven't had one that bad in...a long time. The last time was years ago...in therapy. And before that..."

He swallows and watches my eyes carefully. The next nine words he speaks pin my focus into place.

"...I was in the back of a police car."

He doesn't elaborate...we both know he doesn't need to. I look down and take a sip of my coffee. It's an inadequate distraction from the memory of his tear-stained face that night. I can feel the pieces of the puzzle slide into place.

Of course. The worn, desperate look on his face when he saw me. He must have had it just before...

"Anyway, I know that it couldn't have been easy to see. To be there for it. So I wanted to say thank you and I'm sorry it happened. And that I left the way I did. I could tell you were...upset afterward. I just figured it would be easier if I...if I wasn't there when you came back downstairs."

If I had to put a name to his facial expression, it would be embarrassment. His cheeks are pink and he can't meet my eyes. It's sort of...fascinating. So much so that I ask a question without a thought.

"It was because of the bracelet?"

He seems stunned for a moment, but nods. His eyes roam the table top, wandering from left to right across the wood surface in front of him, but it's not where his head is. He takes a deep breath and lifts his head to look at me. There's a determination in the set of his eyes.

Like he's made a decision.

Or is taking a chance...

"It was...Josie's"

He speaks her name hesitantly, like his mouth is out of practice with saying it.

"I had it made for her when she turned two. It was always on her wrist. All day...even when she slept. She would cry when it was bath time and she had to take it off..."

He shakes his head and trails off. He seems self-conscious, shifting in his chair and avoiding eye contact. His jaw clenches and his brows furrow, as all other emotions evaporate from his face and anger settles in.

"Don't look at me like that. I don't want your pity."

I don't know if I'm more put out by his rapid change of mood, or the fact that he could interpret pity from me. What had my face looked like? Was I looking at him with pity? In an instant, a thought strikes me. How difficult must it have been for someone like him to be in such a vulnerable position. So exposed and on display. At the mercy of someone else.

At the mercy of me.

I recall the way I handled the situation. How everything I did or said was just to get rid of him. Just to relieve myself of the burden of having to deal with his panic attack. I don't need any time to identify this emotion. We're old friends.

Shame.

"I wasn't pitying you. I just-"

I'm interrupted when a young woman approaches our table. She places a small square napkin down on the table and sets his coffee on top of it.

"Here you are, sir. One large half-caf soy macchiato, two shots of vanilla." When she pauses, we both look up at her. She tucks her blonde hair behind her ear and smiles down at Edward. "No foam."

Oh.

"Is there anything else I can get for you?"

She's got one hand on her hip and is biting her lip while twirling a lock of hair around a finger on her other hand. She's smiling at him still, completely oblivious to my presence at the table. I watch as she hits on him without shame. I feel beyond awkward. For her. For him. I glance at Edward and my eyes widen at the sight of him.

And then...then I just feel sorry.

For her.

The muscles of his jaw line are pulsing as he clenches and releases them. His hands are fisted on either side of his coffee and his eyes are closed. His nostrils flare as he breathes slow and heavy through his nose. He opens his eyes, but keeps them leveled on the table top and speaks through clenched teeth.

"No thank you."

Completely oblivious to the total lack of reception or reciprocation on Edward's part, the waitress taps the nail of her index finger down on his napkin and continues to smile at him. It's then that I notice the seven numbers and the name Kellie scribbled onto the corner of it. Edward's eyes land on the blue ink and he purses his lips, looking in the opposite direction of her. He gives a snort of disgust through his nose and shakes his head.

"Well, let me know if you change your mind."

My gaze ping pongs between the two of them, astounded by her ignorance and perplexed by the sudden tension that has seized Edward without warning. When she saunters away from the table, the slow, exaggerated sway of her hips and the little peek back at the table that she takes over her shoulder are wasted.

Edward hasn't moved an inch.

After a long minute of silence, one hand lifts his coffee cup while the other balls the napkin up and tosses it into a trash can a few feet from the table. I'm somewhat shocked. I was sure that he was going to lose it on her.

"Are...are you okay?"

He doesn't look at me, but nods his head. He rubs a hand across his forehead.

"Yeah. I just...I'm fine. I just...it doesn't matter."

He shakes his head back and forth, dismissing the events of the past few minutes. I let it go, not knowing how to even begin to react to all of it anyway. But it doesn't stop me from pondering.

What the hell was that?

His voice is tighter, but loosens...softens as he finds the words he's looking for.

"I just wanted to say that I know you didn't have to...do what you did Sunday. I get it, Isabella, I do. The things you said. What they meant to you. My leaving wasn't me taking that for granted. I appreciate what you did...how you helped me. And that's all I did with it."

His eye contact is purposeful. He wants me to hear what he's not saying. What is left unsaid for my benefit. Without words, he's telling me that he won't hold mine against me. Won't pity me, in the same way he's asking not to be pitied.

Looking at him across this table in a corner of this dinky coffee shop, it feels like some kind of new ground is breaking. Something totally outside the norm for us.

"Thank you."

We don't talk anymore and when he asks if I'm ready, I nod and stand. I beat him to the door and open it, glancing at him when he comes to stand between our cars again.

He tilts his chin toward the coffee shop entrance.

"Impressive."

I shrug.

"Told you so."

It's the lightest moment we've ever shared. It doesn't feel wrong, but it doesn't feel right either. It's like we're moving against the grain. I'm not sure what it means.

I'm terrified of finding out.

"Thank you for coming, Isabella. I'll see you."

I nod and he gives a single wave of his hand just before he ducks into his car.



~o~





It's Tuesday.

I see him out of the corner of my eye as I tuck my house key into my shoe. He's standing there, in the same spot on the sidewalk like always. I haven't spoken to him since Sunday. The random, unplanned appearances are oddly preferable. I know he'll show up eventually, I just don't know when. There's a strange sense of order to it, for me anyway. I tuck my earbuds into my ears and make sure the volume is cranked up before looking over at him and hitting the pavement.

It's about fifteen minutes into the run and I'm lost in the beat of the music when it happens.

Usually, we keep a pretty fast pace...side by side with a few feet between us. But just as we take the sharp curve at the top of the hill on Karin Lane, Edward speeds up and to the left, crossing into the path of my feet and cutting me off. My pace falters as I stare at the back of his head. He continues running as if nothing has happened, so I move from behind him and propel myself forward. When we're side by side once again, he surprises me by repeating his actions again. He picks up his pace and darts to the left, cutting me off again.

Annoyed with his odd behavior, and the fact that he's throwing off my stride, I jump to the left and push off the pavement harder. Just as I advance a few feet ahead of him, he takes off again. I huff and push myself harder, gaining speed but losing the opportunity to stay parallel with him when we reach the corner of Amber Drive and he cuts across it. And me.

What the hell is he doing?

I launch myself, matching his speed and coming up next to him. When I glance over at him, he doesn't even try to hide his smirk.

Son of a bitch.

A smirk turns into a smile just before he strikes again, pushing off and running directly in front of me and blocking my way.

That's it.

The song changes then. It begins mercilessly. Loud and hard, the guitar rifts and drums beat thunder so hard that they tickle my ear drums. I lose myself in the music, running as fast as I can. Just when we're toe to toe again, I shoot to the right and cut him off. The victory lasts mere seconds before he's got the jump on me again. I scowl at his back and take off, darting back in front of him.

We continue on like this for several minutes, until we round the last curve of road before the lake. When the water comes into view, we glance at the other.

An unspoken challenge.

I launch myself, pushing as hard and fast as I can go down the side of the embankment toward the willow tree. I throw my arms out to the side for balance, just like the first time we came here. I can see him gaining on me in my periphery and adrenaline pulses through me. With one final burst of effort, my feet skid across the ground and I slap both palms on the trunk of the willow, bringing myself to a halt.The beat of the song is sonorous in my ears. It's all I can hear.

My chest heaves with the effort to catch my breath and I turn around, dropping my arms from the tree trunk as I do. My arm snags on the cord of my headphones and the buds are suddenly yanked from my ears...replaced by laughter.

Strange, unfamiliar laughter.

My laughter.

I stop abruptly as I look at Edward. He's hunched over with his hands on his knees and I freeze. He's staring at me with a small smile on his face, but it's careful. Guarded. He doesn't say anything and neither do I. Still trying to catch my breath, I move back and sit against the willow.

Edward sits down facing me several feet away with his feet flat on the ground and his knees bent. He leans his elbows on them and folds his arms.

I feel...dazed. My thoughts are muddled. It was nothing. Just a laugh. It shouldn't be this big of a deal, but it is. I could pretend I don't know why, but I do.

I can't remember the last time I laughed.

The thought makes me feel abnormal...and pathetic. Debilitated.

I don't say anything.

He doesn't push.

I stare out at the water for a long time. Breathing. Thinking.

When I stand up and make my way back to the roadside, he follows beside me silently.

It doesn't feel strained.

It doesn't feel awkward.

It feels...okay.





~o~












~fywfywfywfywfywfywfywfyw~



The song they run to at the end is 'Get Free' by The Vines. I've been dying to write that scene. And to that exact song ;) Hope you liked it.

77 comments:

KlrTwiLuver said...

Great chapter. I felt the sea change at the end between the two of them.
I love how you've had these two progress. Such pain has to be peeled away slowly.
xoxo,
Kellie

p.s. Still recovering from Roughie's rejection. LOL

Ambaro said...

Progress finally! Or what I deem as progress. I really felt for Bella with her past, but I'm glad Edward didn't pity her. The are so many things which are unspoken between them but taken for granted, especially their understanding. As much as I would like them to have normal conversation I'm glad they don't. I've probably said this loads of times before but I just love the way you write. The syntax and everything. Is is it obvious that I'm an English student, probably. I wish we could know what he was thinking when the girl was hitting on him and why he was so angry.
Can't wait for the next update, onwards and upwards for them now I think. :)

latuacantante4him said...

They are making progress. I just wish I knew what was going on in Edward's head. This is a very slow and strange dance they are doing. It would seem that Edward now has some kind of plan. He made Bella laugh. Good for him. She helped him during his panic attack. Sad that she found her father dead like that. Great chapter!!!!

Nim said...

PROGRESSSSSSSSSSS! <--- I love typing that word. It feels damn good.

So, I loved this chapter. I was glad to hear more about Josie, even though it was just a little bit. You're such a tease with how you offer information little by little. Like feeding us tiny bites of cake when we just want the whole damn thing and are left wanting more every single time. It totally works with the story, though.

Super shocking about Charlie, too. That was so awful. I guess they have some common ground now, both having been through something traumatic.

I love how they're just a teeny bit more playful with each other now. The door thing was hilarious. Again, it's the little bites of cake you're giving us.

You know your life has too much angst when your own laughter sounds strange. Poor B. Hopefully that can change for her soon, via Edward. A girl can dream, right?

Loved the sense of - comfort? - at the end there. Things have changed by a lot now. I am excited to see where else this goes, how they progress some more.

God, abandoning my shitload of homework was SO worth it. I will do anything for these tiny bites of cake. *sigh*

Amazing chapter! :)

weedstert said...

I loved the last scene the most...I felt like I was racing along side them. I don't know if he Edward meant to make her laugh but I'm so glad he did. Maybe their time together will begin to be happy memories instead of painful. They both deserve some smiles.
I laughed out loud at the name of the cafe btw..haha! Your pal Stickybuns must be smiling big over that.
Such an excellent chapter.
Thank you :):)

SnowyHedwig said...

I don't know why you were worried about this chapter, darlin'. I love the slow exposition of your characters. I didn't realize Charlie was dead, but thinking back, Bella is always calling Renee, and Charlie is rarely mentioned. You did a very good job at hiding his death.

Their run at the end was very indicative of their relationship thus far. Nicely done, I can't wait to see where they go from here.

Fierce Pixie said...

Very informative chapter with a small bit of progress. Now we are getting somewhere with the complex world that is Bella. E has been giving us pieces but she has stayed pretty stubborn. What was with the reaction to the silly Batista? Please tell me he's not feeling objectified, cuz that would just be ironic! Maybe that little confession about her dad to E helped relieve some of that pent up sadness to allow her to have some playfulness and laughter with E during their run. He was initiating and she was enjoying...baby steps! Great chapter, thanks!

Safak said...

Absolutely loved this chapter, I am awed how you are masterfully weaving different aspects of this story, past, present, his pain, her pain, their secrets, all to present a vivid tapestry. You have taken E successfully from being a grade A asshole, to someone we can feel for and like as a person while maintaining his roughie exterior. Only trouble is, as addicted as I am to this story, I want more every day. Greedy me.
Thank you,
Dawn

Credorosa said...

OMG your killing me! Their pain is palpable. How in the world do you write such angst?? It is amazing how you continue to pull us along with the tiniest scrap of hope. When Bella laughed in the end, I actually smiled. Amazing tale you are weaving. Have absolutely no idea where or how this will end, and I love it!

Gabriela said...

They are making progress! Yes! You know, you had me smiling for most of the chapter because from the beginning it was a whole different dynamic for them. She wasn't hiding and he was completely exposed. When she evened the planes by telling her story, it made so many things click into place. There was definitely no going back after that and they are acknowledging that. It just makes me so happy.

BTW, I'm totally pissed at that waitress 'cause he was definitely going to tell her something else :S Oh, well...I know you just like being evil with us :P LOL Great chapter. Please update soon ;)

lfcpam said...

Wow, so much going on but I have to say that their run at the end actually put a smile on my face as I read it, totally involuntary and when I realized that I was smiling I kind of understood how they felt at that moment. Brilliant as always

Nix said...

I didn't expect that Charlie hung himself. It seems uncharacteristic. Can't wait to find out more about that...

Also, I love the way Bella observes every, little, thing. Like she's a completely detached outsider watching life, ordinary things, happen to other people. I guess that's actually how she feels.

beaculen said...

Who would think that laughter could mean so much, but with these two it definately does. They are both so broken, now we have a glimpse at Bella's past, horrible. I can't imagine what haunts him, geez you need to put an angst level warning on this story lol. thanks

Cote de Texas said...

For a minute there I thought this was it, the reunion. but not this week. so now we know for sure the bracelet was Josie. She must be at least 7 by now. Where is she? I thought he was going to say more at the coffee house. love how he isn't interested in other women. that should have made bella feel better about herself. she hasn't laughed in five years? wow. she needs to get on antidepressants. for sure. that's horrible. except antidepressants tend to dull your emotions. catch 22.
as usual, can't wait for the update!
love you girl.

Cote de Texas said...

one thing i dont understand about him is this - he was so into sex before, he had to have it so much that he paid for it. now, its been five years - where did that lust go to? seems a little hard to believe that he hasn't or doesn't want her again. like before.

dra said...

mmmmm...just cannot wait for the next chapter..please hurry!

nkubie said...

Don't look now, Bella, but your humanity is showing.

I'm glad we finally know what happened to Charlie.

That Bella finally made some sort of move to help Edward, even if it was self-serving. But that she even recognized that was a huge step forward.

Edward made Bella laugh. She laughed. It's sad that she couldn't even remember when she'd last laughed, but he brought that out in her, which is fantastic!

I agree w/latua, too. It's a strange dance they're doing. But at least they're on the dance floor together and I think they recognize that the music started.

sallyhop1 said...

Finally some progress (albiet small). God, poor Bella. Can't believe that little piece of her past that she shared. Getting intpo these tow is like peeling onions- so many layers.

Fork Head said...

Great chapter! When I saw the update, I hurried away from the fam in the living room to go somewhere private to read. You never know when tears might be involved in this fabulous story or yours!
I loved the run at the end and for Bella to finally feel free enough to laugh!

EricsPlayToy said...

It seems like they're taking baby steps. But to people as messed up as they are, it's huge steps they're taking.

I loved how they joked about opening doors, talked about their past (as little as it was) and laughed during their run (my favorite part).

I didn't think I could hate Charlie more than I already did, but you got me to do it. Hanging himself where his daughter could come in as see his lifeless body is the ultimate act of selfishness.

Great chapter!

EricsPlayToy

j johnson said...

Amazing, amazing chapter, Jada.
So many observations to be made. Many obvious, some not so obvious.
Bella finally gives a bit of herself to Edward ... to help him ... even if she's not sure that she did it for that reason. And we now know what happened her senior year.
Bella also agrees to have coffee and conversation with Edward. Huge fucking step for her. (I hate, though, that she had a fit about him holding the door for her. Just a little bit ridiculous, and petty, Bella). I love how they both chose to avoid the booths.
Edward's reaction to the flirtatious waitress tells me that he still holds a lot of disdain for women in general. He still feels that they are greedy and self-serving and generally sluts all around. And it also tells me that he doesn't feel that way about Bella. Not anymore.
I love the light moments. Probably the most amazing parts of the chapter. So rare, so unexpected. Bella's laughter was practically a miracle. And Edward's small smile as a result of this was just as wonderful.
"Get Free" was the perfect song for Bella to be running to when she was racing Edward to the willow tree. And judging by her unexpected laughter, for just a moment in time, she embraced what The Vines were singing about.

Side note ... I don't usually focus on things like this, but I'm a little confused about the timing in this chapter. I'm pretty sure that Edward's panic attack after losing the bracelet takes place on Sunday. But then, it is mentioned that "Thursday, Friday, and Saturday are uneventful." As if those are the days following.
And later, Bella refers to the incident as happening on Wednesday. Then on Sunday at the coffee shop, Edward refers to the incident happening 'yesterday' and then, Wednesday.
Sorry Jada, I'm just a bit confused.

Some sweet progress in this chapter. I'm very excited to see this continue. We still have so much to learn about Edward's story. Can't wait.
Thank you, Jada.

MarchHare5 said...

I feel like a broken record, so just pretend I've said it all again, how you blow me away. Shit, I just said it anyway, didn't I? lol

LOVE that you called the cafe Stickybuns. You kinda had to, didn't you? ;)

And, uh, JFC, Jada. Charlie. Shit. Obviously I knew he was dead, but... shit.

FanFicCrazy said...

Jada, Jada, Jada.. It's such a ssslllooowww burn! Well, after such a fast start anyway! But there was real progress here. B opened up and told Roughie (and us) something about herself. I was dying to know something, anything about her that would tell us why SHE was messed up! I mean, even though we don't know what all went on with his daughter, we know he's not with her, and that's what drives his pain. Now we know something about what drives hers. Sigh...

I'm very excited about the next chapter!!!

Much love.. Lisa

flyrbrd said...

Great chapter! I see the steps forward they are making. Maybe they need to step backwards and have a heavy make-out session ;)

LIZ said...

Great chapter, not sure why you were nervous. They're taking "baby steps". Glad to know a little about Bella's past, am very anxious to learn more about Edward's past. Hope they'll gradually get closer.

88pippi said...

Hey, Loved this chapter. Ditto to all the other comments, I love reading them, even the readers of your story amaze me with their detailed opinions of your ever intriguing fic. They have said it all, and more. Hope the next update reveals a little more. I want so badly to know what happened to Josie!!

Luxie said...

Wow.

My favorite ch thus far.

Pivotal. Ground-breaking. I felt the proverbial, tectonic plates shift. And w/ this shift I am drunk... on hope. ;) New found beginnings for them. Dude, I am fucking giddy!!!

Their run. The intentional cutting her off -- his attempt at playfulness.. omg, love that! And her cutting him off!...Then laughing?!! ::holds hand to heart:: I might just be an overly emotionally sap, but I teared up. FFS, Roughie made her laugh! The (formerly?) emotionally comatose girl that didn't recognize her own laugh... laughed. *tear* That whole scene is just so bright and vivid in my mind and then accompanied by that song? ---- Perfect.

Charlie was not a father, just a sperm donor who treated her like the shit on his shoe. But my heart broke for Bella at the thought of her finding him like that. What a horrific image to have burned into her memory. To find anyone in that state is scarring experience.

And going for coffee!!!!! Such an ordinary thing, but so out of the ordinary for them. LOVE that Bella ordered black coffee, while Roughie ordered a frou frou coffee. LMAO!

Another feeling of ease and playfulness that made me grin was their banter about her being able to open the door herself. It was simple and wouldn't be a big deal b/w two 'normal' ppl, but a moment like that shared b/w these two is most definitely one to be cherished.

Flying high on hope. Hope w/ out stretched wings. Yep. :)

Keye Cullen said...

Good sentence:

It's the press of a finger on a day old bruise.

That is some flashback of Bella's.....coming home and finding Charlie dead....swaying back and forth? *shudders*

I didn't know what to expect Edward's response to be once Bella shared that with him....after she became sick but I guess I didn't imagine him cleaning up the water and glass then leaving. Edward is definitely an enigma.

*dies laughing at this*:

"I'll have a large half-caf soy macchiato, two shots of vanilla, no foam."

Dear God, Edward Cullen is a fluffy coffee drinker.

I could never work at a Starbuck's....I mean, seriously?? The way some order their coffee? Cracks me up!

This cat -n- mouse game they seem to keep playing is un-nerving. Their lack of communication is hard to read for a communicator like me. I just want to smack their heads together and yell, "talk to each other"!!!! LOL!!!

Enjoyed reading this and can't wait to see what happens next. Great song selection too!

IyLouMarie said...

Always a pleasure. Thank you for sharing your words. ~J

twifanmom said...

Just Wow!! I don't think I have been breathing for the last 10 minutes!!! You have truly outdone yourself!!! The way you worked in letting us know what happened to her dad by helping him thru his panic attack was so emotional. And then her reaction to realizing what she had done then her brief disappointment to his not being there when she came downstairs. Then the coffee shop scene...great name btw, js ;)...I'm so glad they had an actual conversation! She found out more about his daughter and the time in the police car and he told her he wouldn't abuse the info she told him to help his panic attack. Plus, her being able to see his reaction to women, from an outsiders view was interesting. I loved her reaction to her laughing at the end and their looks at each other! So much truly raw emotions between these two!! Phenomenal chapter...you are such a fantastic writer and a very cool chic, not to mention all time gif Queen!!! :)

Heather said...

Great chapter. I love the progress their making. I really think that they might start becomming friends.

Mildred Dempsey said...

I did not see Charlie's suicide coming at all. Wow that was horrific.

This story really reminds me of a scene in the Chronicles of Narnia - when Aslan is peeling the scales off Eustice. The scene is symbolic of peeling away all the sine the boy has done by being a grade A bully. However, in this story it's that Bella and Edward are peeling the sins of others off each other.

Love the chapter : D

Olena said...

So Charlie killed himself... I wonder whether Bella blames herself. Or maybe Renee does...

Edward said the bracelet WAS Josie's but he said she was alive... I'm so confused! Can't wait to find out what happened with her.

Olena

Gemgirl65 said...

Ah...I knew it would be something bad, but Charlie's suicide I did not expect! I was afraid he had abused Bella in some way. But enduring what she did was certainly just as horrific.

I love how much you convey with what is left unsaid between Edward and Bella. You've created the perfect portrait of two isolated souls so desperate to communicate that they keep finding ways to do it despite every obstacle they've created to prevent it from happening. That palpable need is what gets me every time.

Paragraphs like the one that begins "Stiffness slinks up his back and over his shoulders..." are pure money. Keep up the good work!

Amy Fontaine said...

Every time I sit down to read the latest FYW chapter there is this tightening in my chest that I really can't explain. I guess it might have something to do with the fact that I never know what is going to happen next - it scares me. Roughie scares me sometimes....but it a good way. It's a really weird feeling to describe.

I really enjoyed this chapter. It was great to get a better glimpse of both Bella and Edward. I was shocked by what Bella went through when she was younger, but I'm glad that neither Bella nor Edward pity each other. It's not what they want or need. I think it has more to do with understanding.

Edward's coffee order made me laugh. Who knew the guy would order something like that. I thought I was a fluffy coffee drinking, but I guess not. The scene with the barista was very interesting. I really was waiting for Edward to blow up in her face but I'm glad that he kept his cool (some what). Clearly he was affected by her and her actions, which were rude. But I guess we'll never know why because we can't get inside his head.

The run was great. When Bella laughed my first thought was "well that hasn't happened in a while" it was really great for it finally happen. I hope that both Bella and Edward can start to move on now that they've gotten so much out. While there's much more for them to talk about I think that this chapter really showed that they're willing to take that next step forward.

Can't wait for the next one!

rk_ash said...

wow!! I finally feel like they are getting somewhere. I loved this chapter! As every your writing is flawless and so engrossing! I will be waiting as patiently as possible for the next update <3

Mirgru said...

Una sonrisa... la más esperada.
Amé cada parte del capítulo.

Nonita said...

Loved it! Thanks!

Obsmama said...

great update. Thank you. Loved the final scene.

Mona said...

I'm so curious to know what's Edwards story. I think she helped him a lot if playful Edward made an appearance at the end of the chapter.

PAW'sPeaches said...

i never want your updates to end!

reading this made me want to go back and start from thr beginning and read it all over again. ugh idie!

i cannot wait until they both swallow their pride and come to terms with the fact that they both need a good therapeutic fucking from one another to purge all of their greivances with each other, and with everything in general.

i'll be here...waiting for Roughie.

MoniNP said...

Oh Jada...

First... I had to smile at 'Stickybuns'... nice tribute bb!

Such progress.. so Josie.. that is a biggie for him, but he had to give her at least that after what she gave him.. wow.. such hurt souls..

The run at the end... the laughter... the smile... even if they don't realize it, they are starting to heal each other, in their own way...

Dying for more Jada.. as usual..
Thank you darling.. xx

Mónica (@MoniNP)

cah said...

What a great chapter! I think there was progress between these two. I was a little worried when Edward left Bella after she shared that horrible story about Charlie. However, he definitely redeemed himself with the run! That was such a great scene to see these two with so much on their minds and shoulders to act so freely and laugh together. EXCELLENT chapter and song for Bella to run to!

Lulu said...

Sticky Buns? LMAO! The irony is too much...

Puzzled by his reaction to the waitress, but I guess if I was trying to gave a serious talk then I would be mad, too. Especially if it happened a lot. Maybe he still hates women?

So sad that Bella doesn't know when the last time she laughed was. So sad. Awful about Charlie. Thank goodness Edward understands what she was doing and told her he knew it.

Great chapter!

Roshambo

Rory said...

That was a horrible memory Bella had of her father, I wonder was it locked away in her subconscious and it just came back to her in that situation, or was it that she just hadn't thought of it in a long time? I'm thinking the latter. So many questions she must have that will never be answered. She never was able to win his approval, was told repeatedly that she was a disappointment and doesn't know why and then he killed himself for what reason? Again she doesn't know why, and probably wonders if she is the reason. She said Renee was supposed to be the one to find him and he left a suicide note with his wedding ring; this makes it sound like Charlie was mad at Renee and killed himself because of her, but who knows. I guess Renee does, and Bella needs to find out.

Anyway, there was a shift at the end, however there was once before too when Bella started feeling comfortable running with him and then confusion and unresolved feelings clowded over the progress. I hope they have more enlightening moments of opening up, talking together and light ones like the laughter. I think they could both use it. Did Edward listen to the same music as Bella? You said they did in your author's note. Is it that her music is turned up so loud that he hears it too?

fran.richards50 said...

Finally some peogress! Slow but progress nonetheless! Still more painful history to deal with, but they can obviously help each other. Hope things move along a bit quicker though.

joli cullen said...

when upgrading my heart jumps too
Edward is doing with Bella?
He wants
just want your forgiveness?
or do not know what you are doing
maybe they feel peace when they are together
many demons within them

good girl}
intense chapter thanks many thanks

Elysita said...

Jada, Hello!
Your chapter has been amazing.
Knowing the history of Bella's heartbreaking. poor girl having to go through something like that marks you for life.
But she overcomes her pain only to relieve him
that was great.
The end of Chapter I loved, which little by little they start to relax I like it.

Thanks for the chapter, I hope to read another soon.
Kisses for you.
Greets from Chile
Ely.


(I follow you on twitter Ely_sita)

NinaFromSweden said...

This chapter was so so good! As usual it was intense, just the way I like it. And the way you put your "stickybuns" and "kellie" in there was fun, loved it!
It feels like something's starting to happening between E and B now, I do really hope so cause they both deserve some happiness in their life now.
Thanks for the story xo :)

~Elli~Iris~ said...

Ch 18
So, lots of intense discussion from the last chapter. O-O
She is trying to help him but now we know she has been through a panic attack herself. It doesn’t make you any more aware of how to help someone through it, it can be different for everyone. She tries talking him out of it by baring her tragic past experience. Shock him out of it? And how tragic it was. Her father’s suicide, and being the one to find him hanging. Suicide is one of the most selfish acts there is, but it isn’t easy being trapped in despair feeling there is no way out either.

I have had a cliff moment, but it was having people that care even though they were not with me at the time that kept me from jumping. Both Edward and Bella have precious few that make them feel supported and loved. They both have isolated themselves in protection and have pushed others away because of previous rejection. This comes at a time where I have experience this with others in my life. A friend who is bipolar and suicidal who I confronted and encouraged to seek help. She has. She has a psych and they are trying a new med for her. I sure hope she sticks with it, otherwise she drinks. A co-workers son is suicidal and he tried to cut himself 2 weeks ago. A few day later a mentor of his shot himself in the closet following 4 years of grieving his own son who hung himself from a tree only to be found by his little brother. It just happens too often. Mental Health care sucks where I am from. It is so frustrating to see and to experience for the individual and their family and friends. Those are the ones who suffer the most. The ones that have to live or try to live once their loved one is tragically taken whether or not it is self-inflicted or not. *tears for Bella*

At any rate it worked for Bella to tell her story. He came out of his panic attack. She became sick as the bile of her memory and literally overcame her. He cleaned up after himself. But he left. Neither of them were at a place to comfort the other even though they both wanted to and wanted to be helped by the other, they are just lost and don’t know how to do it. She was left disappointed even though she told herself it was better that he left. Protecting herself again.

I am so glad he came back to try to talk. She is going but has reservations. Understandable. Her instinct tells her to run. Don’t Bella. Time to face it. You can still walk away if it doesn’t feel right, but something in her wants this too. Otherwise she would be searching for something and wouldn’t be disappointed when he left. “I can't get a clear read on him. Have you ever actually tried to” that’s the question isn’t it. That is the question a lot of fellow readers have had. Try Bella. Her subconscious is awake for the first time in a long time. Listen.


They do listen, they smile and even laugh a little. He apologizes both standing their ground on their feelings about that. She stands her ground on being an independent woman that doesn’t need him to hold her door or pull out her chair. The whole flirting waitress thing was interesting. Like to canon in the restaurant, he isn’t interested, and perhaps even a little annoyed. He is only interested in one person. He throws away the number as a show of how he has changed.

Edward Cullen made Bella Swan laugh. A girl who hasn’t laughed in a long time. Who knew? We hoped but there is progress here. Their playful fun during running was new and fun. A challenge. Not just the running, but in engaging with the other. It said “I’m here and I’m not going anywhere.” Progress. Friends. Maybe there is a chance to be more.

Iris~Elli

kat said...

With every sentence I grew more and more dismayed...because I knew it would be ending soon and I would be left with more questions than answers. And. I. Love. It.

Seriously, I almost died during his panic attack. I was screaming at her to react like a normal human and DO something. But I guess she doesn't know how and now we understand why a bit more. Charlie...dang. Blew me out of the water.

My theory on why Edward was so pissed at the waitress was her obvious disregard of Bella. By now he knows how she disregards her self and he feels protective of her and insulted on her behalf. The waitress didn't know they weren't together. It's pretty ironic how he went from her oppressor (willingly on her part) to her silent champion. That's my take on it anyway. Maybe I'm way off.

Loved the playful run more than my life. It was nice to see him tease her and her take the bait and even laugh. I wasn't aware she could co that. Apparently, neither did she. Sad.

Love the progress. I try not to stalk your site everyday just incase I accidently didn't get the update...but I do. Relentlessly. I was stoked beyond words to get the update on my phone this morning. My whole day stopped until it was read and absorbed. Clients? What clients? They can wait.

Dying until your next update. Maybe they will have a real convo...maybe not. I don't care. I'll read it anyway.

bikechick3 said...

Arch! Blogger ate my review and I'm too lazy to retype it on my phone so, short version is, I love you.

fr_larsson said...

Love the chapter, =) as always, love the bonding, the talking and the lovely laugh at the end =D

best wishes, Linda xoxo

meadowgirl552 said...

What a thought provoking chapter... Bella finally lets Edward and us in in a small way to see a glimpse of the depth of pain she carries. She did it in order to stop Edwards panic attack as it seemed she was on the verge of one as well. She however has found a way to handle pain, by handling it alone. I loved the mutual respect for no pity for one another and the unspoken understanding that that entails. I loved the silent communication, they "get" one another because they are both broken. Loved the levity of the running game Edward started, it was almost like trying to find the real girl who came in and found her dad hanging there that day. WHY did Charlie kill himself? I note that Bella indicated she was home before Renee and was going to keep out of his way. Was there some kind of sexual abuse, which might answer the question of why Bella let Edward treat her the way he did sexually... Can't wait to find out more.

EnamoredHeart said...

Dear Jada, I must confess that as much as I hated the way these two related to each other at the beginning of this story, because of its darkness and cruelty, I love the way they do it now. There's light to be found in it, and hope! Bella has done the only thing she could think of, to help him overcome his panic: she talked through it, showing through her words compassion, because she was revealing her own misery through them. I so hoped she will be able to help him and they would finally talk and try to open up to each other more, and so they did. It was so bitter sweet to see Bella laughing after so many years, and Edward smiling, probably for the first time, in just as many.
I feel like this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship!

DebbieCDC said...

The ice is breaking...well, not breaking, but a small thin crack is appearing. B sharing her deepest hurt with E has opened the door, just a teeny bit but it IS opened. Him challenging her in the running, her laughing at beating him to the tree, all these little cracks in both of their carefully maintained facades. (So sad, she never laughs. I'll be E never laughs either.) Once the ice breaks here for real...and all his secrets come out, OMG, it will be epic.

Was soooo surprised by how Charlie died! Wow girl you threw me a real curve ball with that one, never saw it coming (I figured car accident or something). Just total shocker. Sure tells us a LOT about B and her own problems though.

God, how can I love this story more with each new chap? Well, I do. I love the way you a letting the story take its own pace, not rushing things because these two have so much to deal with that it has to be in stages. *GAH* love it, love you BB!!!

SweetLovinCullen said...

I have one word for you Jada: PROGRESS!

It's such a relief to finally be able to type that one word. So much progress was made with just a conversation. I really thought he was going to say more at the coffee house and I have a feeling if that waitress hadn't come over he would of.

Amazing chapter as always :)

Ketyane said...

Given up making theories, you can always amaze me, the only thing I know is I loved this chapter!


What a strange Edward's reaction to pass from waitress!

I think now the things start to get more light between them, now think they will start building a relationship. I loved Bella's smile at the end.

Thank you for this wonderful story!

Ketyane said...

I said I was gave up on making theories, but .... I can not!! LOL So ....

I loved this chapter, I like how you slowly revealing the past and yet how the progress of the relationship Beward walks to a snail's pace, although just want to know everything, I think you writes in a sensational and even poetic, really would be meaningless if things were easy between them, because besides damage relationship they had in the past, still have the trauma and the events that led each of them being what they are today, with its problems and conflicts.

In this chapter I saw a light at the end of the tunnel, Bella began to talk about the past, to unearth what she tried so hard to leave hidden in the basement, now it starts leaving the problems to surface, so can debug them and helping herself shes also was able to help Edward too. And very clear how they are alike, so they can understand the feelings of each other even without words, just with the look and silence they can communicate.

I was thinking that Charlie is not Bella's father, because this he despised her so much and also explain the relationship of Renee with her, she may be the result of the betrayal of Renee, and knowing that Charlie killed himself.

Great Bella accepted an invitation to coffee, this was something big, it was as if she was willing to listen to Edward and accept having even just a friendship with him.

Very strange Edward's reaction to the flirt of bartender, several possibilities, it can still be angry at all women, changing a bit in it about Bella, or might have been irritated by the way the waitress dismissed Bella.

Edward is also more comfortable talking about his daughter and even to make jokes, which is a huge step for them.

I loved that Bella laughed, she lives in a very tense, or did not remember the last time you heard himself laugh! I loved that Edward made her feel happy, I do not know if it was intentional or not from him, but the way he laughter to Bella too, even if it is contained has been a big step, the barriers among them are starting to fall apart, although I do not know what to expect from you!

girly613 said...

Omfg!loved it.e is so different now.I am anxious to see how he and b will be behind closed doors again.I mean I can feel the chemistry coming off the page with these two. I see e already breaking her down,and she him as well.I think they will be good for one another.just hoping e still has a bit of his roughward side left for b,cause I think she kinda likes it..lol.great chapter!

Sessahhh said...

OMG!!! The part about Charlie! Ho-ly fuuuuck. That's got to be frightening. Your Renee seems like a wretched woman in general, but your Bella is a ridiculously strong one, especially having witnessed that.

I love the fact that she finally laughs. She deserves to have happiness, even if it is just because they were being childish and silly.

Great job!! I look forward to the next one (now that I know it was the evil Mr.Jada messing with us earlier about you leaving for good. I hope you dealt with him appropriately and it involved a crop and NO happy ending. Lol).

Ciaobellainga said...

What a relief to finally see where Bella's darkness comes from. Giant step for her to actually share it with Edward, AND all to help him overcome his panic attack. Really quite a breakthrough. As difficult, and frightening, and revealing this was for her, I hope she can eventually see that it is a step towards her own healing. I think that goes for Edward as well. I hope that they can find strength in each other, and that it helps lead them to understanding, acceptance, and forgiveness.

Then, we can have more sweet, funny moments like at the end. Because we all know that laughter really is the best medicine!!

Thanks for an awesome story. Hurry back! xo

Soni'sAngel said...

Hey Jada, awesome update;) I love how they are finally making some sort of progress in their relationship. Hearing Bella's dark past was heartbreaking, but by talking about it, even if it was just to help Edward get over his panic attack has put her on her personal road to recovery. Damn, can Renee be any more heartless, it would seem as if she is holding Bella responsible for something. What the hell could have happened for Charlie to kill himself?
Edward's reaction to the waitress flirting was odd and made me wonder if his life was not changed in part because of him always been hit on. I love that Bella is finally finding her carefree side and that Edward is the one responsible for it.
As always Jada, you have me intrigued and waiting for more;)

kelly said...

Ohmygod I need MORE!

So they're kinda starting to meet on even ground. That's good.

HopeStreet said...

That really explains a lot about Renee and her behavior towards Bella. Maybe if she stays detached from Bella, Bella won't suffer the same fate that Charlie did. Her love won't kill Bella too.

Thank you so much for the update. There's so much to ponder here. Can't wait for the next update!

Lily said...

Where r u ? I can hardly wait for u to update daily I check. I can't get over that Edward named his dog Paul,that still makes me laugh. Lily

HeartRob said...

Neeeeed Moooooore FYW <3

somanywards said...

No pressure BB*
Only L<3VE and dropping by to say missing your Ward xo
When he comes we'll be ready ;)

** Happy Halloween **

Midnight Raven said...

Finally a breakthrough...
Can't wait for an update!

RMacaroni said...

OK this might be long, but hopefully you will read it until the end.
First of all, I have a confession to make: I have tried to read this story many times, but couldn't get past the prologue. Edward was just a bit to "rough" and mean for me. I don't know exactly what made me change my mind; maybe it was following you on twitter and all that rob-porn :-) But in any case I decided to read FYW. And Oh am I happy I did! I've been hooked to the story for two days in a row. Just the way you end each chapter makes it nearly impossible to not clik on to the next chapter. And to my husband's dispair, reading FYW was ALL I did for the past two nights. ;-)
Secondly, I find your writing impeccable. I am no expert (being a non-native English speaker myself), but I usually get bored with the excessive description some FF stories have, I end up skimming through for dialog. But I have read every article, every preposition, every comma that you have written, and to me, that says a lot.
Finally, I love the plot of your story, as messed up as it is. I have read some of the comments of people that don't like or understand the 5 year jump. But I feel it was completely necessary. I remember reading the first few chapters and thinking, man how is she (you) going to make them(ExB) work. But now, after chapter 18, I can see them working it out to a HEA (hey a girl can dream...). It sort of reminds me of how I feel about ExB from Company loves misery by angstgoddes003, not that your stories are anywhere similar, but just how messed up it was between ExB and how it slowly progresses to making it better. No closure with that story yet, but hopefully there will be with yours...
Anyways, I will stop my rambling now with saying that all and all I LOVE your story and can't wait for an update.
Hhugs and kisses,
Ronnie

PAW'sPeaches said...

i had to read this chapter again. oh you turn me out.
i love you.

cricrilà said...

where are you??? still waiting ....

lisazj said...

Wow. You can almost hear the noise as the thick layer of denial/suppression cracks on Bella. Holy shit man.

Funny how when Bella was hearing these words in her mind, "Worthless...ungrateful...waste of time...useless...", I knew who was saying them. That fucktard, Charlie. I didn't know how he died before, but I was right. He did get off too easy, by getting to die and leaving everybody else, meaning Bella, to deal with the fallout. Renee probably doesn't feel enough emotion to have had any fallout. That was such a selfish thing to do, one more way to beat her down. He could have at least went somewhere else, where strangers would have been the ones to find him.

I know Bella has been...shifting, for want of a better word, in her perceptions or maybe her reactions, for quite a while. She's been allowing herself thoughts and emotions that she always ruthlessly stomped down til they were silent. But damn, there's SO MUCH here.

Disappointment that Edward left, even just a little bit? Going anywhere with him, for any reason? Excluding their runs, that's a little different.

I had to laugh at this: "You don't need to do that. I can hold my own door." "I'm sure you can. You'll have to show me some time." I raise an eyebrow at his sarcasm. Even through the sunglasses I can see him roll his eyes. "I'm being polite, Isabella. Please, after you." He sweeps his arm dramatically toward the door just as a couple step up behind us. LOLOLOL! Damn, Edward's got snark! I like it. :) And also this: "Dear God, Edward Cullen is a fluffy coffee drinker." *Snicker*

And then Edward. He talked to her about Josie, even if just a little. On top of the fact that Bella even asked. I wonder if Edward has ever talked to ANYBODY about Josie?? Like I said, I don't count therapists. Then for him to choose to talk to Bella about it...I read most of this chapter with my mouth hanging open. Just....wow.

I really, really liked this: "I recall the way I handled the situation. How everything I did or said was just to get rid of him. Just to relieve myself of the burden of having to deal with his panic attack. I don't need any time to identify this emotion. We're old friends. Shame." I find myself wondering if, eventually, we'll get to see the Bella she was meant to be. If she hadn't been dealt that sorry excuse of a set of parents that crushed the life force right out of her. Who that person might be is an interesting prospect.

I'm gonna guess that Miss Incredibly Clueless Flirt looked a lot like or reminded Edward of Josie's mom, maybe by the way she acted. Or maybe both. I think that's who has her. Or even if I'm wrong, I think that whoever has her is who Edward hates so badly, the one that owns all that misplaced rage he was taking out on Bella, in the years before.

Edward's little dig at Bella for being able to open her own door on the way out made me grin. :)

While I loved seeing them playing a bit during the run, this sure broke my heart: "I feel...dazed. My thoughts are muddled. It was nothing. Just a laugh. It shouldn't be this big of a deal, but it is. I could pretend I don't know why, but I do. I can't remember the last time I laughed." That is just so wrong. :(

So...all of this is good, but...all of these things that are coming out, for both Edward & Bella, are things that have been buried for YEARS. For Bella, shoot, for most of her life her emotions have been shut down so she could survive. Neither of them are going to be able to even come close to dealing with themselves, much less each other.

I just hope they can find a way to help hold each other up while they learn.

Damn Jada. I really love your writing. Not what I thought would happen, at least not yet. I dunno, I'm kinda dizzy, lol. :)

seymourblogger said...

FF is a bitch isn't it. Not a question. After E. L. James who are they kidding. I think they are still smarting from her complete disassociation with them. No thanks for what they helped her do, no thanks for all the feedback that guided her lousy writing. Enuf.

Not necessary to keep dragging out Bella's reluctance to say anything. I suspect you are feeling your way as to where to go next. Hard to imagine why she doesn't really catch on and say it. Or him, although it would be harder for him to initiate it. They both know that each of them loved it. And why such a reluctance to acknowledge sado-masochism between consenting adults. She certainly was primed for it by her father and mother and everyone in between as she sought out those people to do it to her.You know a little assertive therapy would have helped or analysis but not pop psychotherapy. The dog was unnecessary. You need a good editor to red line out the fluff you keep putting in for no reason. You have a good story, a great sense of plot and intensity so be true to that part.

seymourblogger said...

The flirty waitress does not need to be interpreted psychologically. She is structurally a referent to Twilight and that scene in the restaurant. FF has cookie crumbs of Twilight all through each one. All FF is a referent to all the other FF. FF is about "floating signs", a simulacrum.

seymourblogger said...

chapt 20. Am having trouble with comment part of this. Change to Disqus.

I don't think you need these irrelevant surprises like "biological father" as a distraction. It is just a plot point that is unnecessary, and made only for shock value. I think these things are what is making you wait so long before posting the next chapter. Sit down and just think it until you see the whole structure, where you are and where you are going, then let the characters take you there. I know many fangirls like this stuff but most of them are not used to good writing. Catering to their feedback doesn't help.

seymourblogger said...

A little rough. Needs editing. Just go there.