December 1, 2011

Chapter Nineteen


(Just to refresh your memory a bit...)


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 hand son 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 yo 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.





Chapter Nineteen





Songs I rocked to write:

'Faded' by Barcelona

'Blood' by The Middle East







BPOV







The 'okay.' It doesn't last long.

At all.

It feels like the run back to the house takes hours. Every one of my steps is like thunder in my ears, while his echo every boom. It never even occurs to me to replace my earbuds.

My head pounds with the sound of my laughter and Edward's smile is splayed across my vision, applying itself on top of every image I try to see. It was nothing. Nothing at all. Just a laugh. Just a harmless fucking laugh. People do it everywhere...everyday, but giving this to him subtracts from me until I can barely breathe. I feel exposed. Susceptible. I've scraped off a part of myself.

I want it back.

The sweat that beads and slides down my temples has nothing to do with physical exertion and everything to do with the knot in my stomach...in my chest...in my throat. My whole body follows suit, tension wringing line of my spine until I feel like I'm splitting down the middle.

When we finally part ways on the sidewalk, I pretend I don't see him hesitate in my periphery before walking toward his car. I stare straight ahead at my front door as my skin crawls with an urgency to be enclosed.

There's not an inch of my naked flesh that he hasn't seen, yet Sunday's confession and now this leave me stripped. I've never felt as bared to him as I do at this moment.

I want those four walls around me. I need them between the two of us. I want them to block his view of every tick and shift and movement that I make. His eyes brand me with expectations that I don't want. That I can't meet. It burns and I writhe, but I will not let him see it happen. I want inside, where I can rupture without his judgment.

He didn't judge you after you told him about Charlie...

The thought gives me pause before I climb the steps of the porch. Maybe he hasn't judged me, but he's still here and it doesn't make sense. None of it makes sense. He doesn't make sense to me. 

The only thing that could possibly keep him coming back here is...

Turning in place, I watch him. His steps aren't hurried and his eyes are on his feet. He rounds the driver's side door and the beeping sound and flash of the car's tail lights snaps me into action. He's just opened his car door when I speak up.

“Edward?”

His eyes fly up to mine in surprise. He angles himself toward me, one hand on the top of the car door and the other palm down on the roof. His hair is windblown and wild and his cheeks are a faint pink. His breathing is still heavy from the run and he's watching me, expectant but wary.

I have his ear.

“I just, uh...”

I cross my arms over my chest and clear my throat, trying and failing to control my nerves. I'm determined to fake it until I can. If I can. I wonder if he can see it.

I walk the several steps it takes to put me just on the outside the passenger side door. Glancing down at my reflection in the window, I bristle at how timid I look. My shoulders are slumped and my eyes are downcast. The thought of how he must see me right now makes my teeth clench. I raise my chin and settle my eyes on his.

I'm not that girl anymore.

“I meant what I said before. About you being here...why you keep coming back. I'm not your charity case, Edward. So if this is some plan for, I don't know, atonement...if you're just here to pay penance to the poor, lonely girl you did wrong, then don't bother. I'm a grown woman and I'm fully capable of coping with...what happened. I already have. So I don't need your guilt. And I don't want your pity. Can you understand that?”

I can tell by the way his eyebrow subtly lifts that he understands the reference to our conversation at the coffee shop. He doesn't want my pity, and I'll be damned if he's going to heft his onto me.

Dipping his head in acknowledgment, his voice is quiet and calm.

“I can.”

I nod, but don't turn away to leave. Not yet. I don't realize how thoroughly I mean the words until my tongue is thick with them.

“This is your out, Edward. No hard feelings, no strings. You came, you saw, you apologized. Repeatedly. You and I seem to have drastically different ideas of what happened back then. Whatever it is you think you owe me...you don't.

I raise my hands, palms up, in frustration.

“If it's what you need to hear, then fine. You're absolved, okay? I don't need your friendship as some convoluted compensation for what you think you did to me. If that's what you're doing here, then just go, okay? Just...just walk away now, Edward. And don't come back. I'm not your obligation. I don't need you.”

And then we both just...stare. It should be unnerving, but it isn't. I'm not trying to provoke him, I just need him to understand. I don't need salvation, least of all from him.

Edward's eyes narrow and scan my face. I don't know what he's looking for, but the fingers of both of my hands curl tightly into the fabric of my jacket. My knuckles dig into my ribcage with every rigid breath I take. Just as my calves and thighs flex to lead me away from his car, I see something ghost across his face. He almost seems...disappointed.

I blink and it's gone.

His cheeks sink in slightly and his lips purse as he looks to the ground and shakes his head. There's a forced acceptance in the gesture. He looks me in the eye and simply nods before ducking into his car and driving away.





~o~





Work consumes my attention span all day. Or it probably seems that way from the outside. My list of tasks only multiplies with every confirmation of participation we receive. Companies throughout Seattle, and some beyond, are signing up to sponsor and host charity events for The Hurley Foundation. It's great publicity for said companies and fantastic advertisement for Windsor.

It's nothing but a distraction for me.

I should feel satisfied with having gotten my point across to Edward. I should feel vindicated by the lack of fight he gave. I should be celebrating having finally convinced him of how unnecessary his presence is to me. Instead, all I can think about is everything that lead up to his compliant departure. The longer I have to dwell on it, the heavier it feels on my conscience.

Was it really that bad? Was it really that big of deal?

Hours later, after I slide into bed for the night, my mind is swollen with contemplation. My legs tangle in the sheets as my mind restlessly recalls and analyzes every detail of our run and the moment under the willow.

What Edward did was intentional. He was being...playful, goading me as we ran. He pushed and provoked until he'd elicited a reaction from me. From the look on his face, it had been the exact one he'd been trying for.

And still, it's a reaction I can't find a place for in my mind. I can't stop myself from finding shame in it.

I fall asleep to the sound of my own laughter in my ears, the sight of him smiling and the bright red glow of his taillights behind my eyelids.





~o~





The next morning, my feet feel weighted to the floor. While I'm no stranger to functioning on only a few hours of sleep, I'm not used to them being as fitful as last night's. I might as well have never fallen asleep.

Trudging down the stairs, I toy with the idea of skipping my run, but then I glance around the living room and into the dining room and kitchen. Everything is so still...so quiet. It's always been this way, but the silence screams louder in my ears today and it bats at my nerves. I can't sit here. Not alone with my thoughts this way.

With my mind made up, I open the door and swing it behind me, letting go of the knob before it shuts. When I glance up, my feet lock in place on the welcome mat. The door slams, bumping me in the ass and causing me to stumble forward. I recover my balance and stare out at the sidewalk.

Edward leans against a brick post at the end of the walkway that runs down the center of the yard.


 I descend the porch steps slowly, my eyes never leaving his. He pushes off of the post and straightens up, hands in his pockets. I don't miss the rise and fall of his chest as he takes a long, deep breath in. His face is casual, but there's an obstinate set to his shoulders.

I come to a stop a few feet away from him, narrowing my eyes on him and trying to get a read.

Nothing.

I wait for him to speak.

Nothing.

I don't know where it comes from, but swift and without warning, images of him flit through my mind and behind my eyes. I'm bombarded with them as they swoop in and immobilize my opposition.

I can feel his playfulness yesterday morning before I sent him away.

I remember him standing pink cheeked in my office confessing a weakness to me.

I recall five years ago and the man he was then, harsh and angry and cruel.

I revive the sight of him on my sofa, fractured and pleading and desperate.

I think about the first time I saw him on my porch, nervous and jumpy and apologetic.

I can hear him through his penthouse door, wounded and sobbing.

I imagine him joyful and radiant and carefree on a beach with a child in his arms.

I remember him in my kitchen, persistent and frustrated and impatient.

I can still see him in the backseat of a squad car, despondent and broken and hurt.

I think back to him at the coffee shop, exhausted and angry and...trying.


Trying.

I'm overcome by the affect the memories have on me. Despite my effort to remain indifferent to this man, somewhere along the way...I failed. And while the fear I feel as a result is skin tight, there's something else there. A pull toward the unknown.

My long stifled curiosity begins to rival my fear of learning. Learning the whys. Learning his reasons. Learning him.

At this hour, the sun isn't shining yet, but the night has only just taken its leave. With a black hood covering his hair, Edward's eyes are a dark blue. A smooth navy, almost black. They're still and patiently focused on mine with a calm challenge.

I bite.

“This is really what you want?”

“Yes, it is.”

It's early and his voice is rough and husky. Unused.

“You know this is a terrible idea, right?”

“Maybe.”

Don't ignore this, Edward. Listen.

“I don't know what I'm doing.”

“Neither do I.”

Hear me.

“I'm not making you any promises here.”

“I'm not asking for any.”

“We have nothing in common.”

“I disagree, Isabella.”

I swallow down my desire to know what he thinks our similarities are. I can't hear that right now.

“And no more apologies.”

He hesitates and I arch my eyebrow at him.

“Fair enough.”

“You're just wasting your time on me.”

He shrugs casually, unbothered by the flippant way I scoff at him. At this whole crazy thing.

“My problem, not yours.”

We stare quietly at one another. I pop my earbuds in and walk around him and onto the sidewalk.

“Suit yourself.”

.

.

.

.


We haven't spoken a word to each other since we stopped under the willow. We resume our usual spots, me against the tree trunk and Edward a few feet away in the grass. The silence isn't completely comfortable, but it isn't as loaded as it's been in the past either. Something has shifted, and it plucks at my insecurity.

What am I doing? I'm just going to be his friend now? 

His silence isn't helping my nerves and I fidget against the trunk of the tree before tilting my head back against it. The branches of the willow sway above our heads, thin and leafless. I watch the slender brown wood against the now bright whites and yellows of the morning sky and am startled by Edward's voice.

“I was seventeen years old when I found out I was gonna be a father. Eighteen when she was born.”

I pull my head away from the tree to look at him. He shakes his head, reaching down to the ground between his feet and picking up a fallen willow leaf. He twirls it between his fingers and watches the water as he continues.

“I was a dumb ass kid. When Jane told me she was pregnant, I sat staring at the wall for an hour straight, just...”

He speaks with a placid, almost detached tone of voice...until now.

“...smiling like a fucking moron.”

A pleasant remembrance and a fond smile color his face before he corrects himself, clearing his throat and looking back down at the leaf in his hands.

Jane. Hearing this woman's name for the first time causes questions to form. I haven't allowed myself to wonder about Edward's past for so long, insistent that none of it mattered. That the less I knew, the better. After all, what good would knowing do me? It would change absolutely nothing. If anything, it would hurt me. In ways I refuse to think on.

But despite my practiced indifference, I cannot deny the small thrill I feel at the possibility of answers. Even the slightest of gaps being filled in is tempting to me. I should stop him. I should cut him off...change the subject. Get up and run. But I don't do any of it.

I hold my breath and listen to the words I don't have the willpower to deflect right now.

I always did well in school, got good grades and stayed out of trouble, but everything...meant more once I knew about the baby. I wanted to do it on my own...to be a man and handle my responsibilities. I got into U-Dub and found a dinky ass apartment off campus for the three of us.”

An image of the Cullen home pops into my head. I'm struck with a strange sense of...respect to learn that he insisted on making his own way even though he clearly comes from such wealth.

“By the time she was born, I was in school and working a full time job trying to keep our heads above water. I was always so goddamned exhausted. I could barely keep my eyes open half the time and I still don't know how the hell I got through that first semester. I just remember...”

His eyes lower and one hand slides out of sight and into his pocket, pulling out a closed fist. I snatch my eyes away from him, knowing what he's holding and suddenly feeling like an intruder. Like I'm trespassing on his memory. On a part of him I'm not entitled to. Receiving what he gives is one thing. Seeking it out is another. 

I just remember coming home at night and seeing her there, asleep in the crib. I'd watch her breathing and I just knew that every ache in my body, every missed meal, every crammed study session on a fifteen minute work break, every night that I'd fall into bed just to get up two hours later for her morning feeding...it was all so fucking worth it. Because I was doing it. I was keeping the promise I made to my baby girl the second I met her.”

My mind reaches back into the past and snatches out a moving image, dragging it into the present and throwing it at my feet. Edward, exhausted and weary, against a background lavender and pink. His voice soothing and melodious as he cradles his daughter to his chest and sings his love to her.

I wonder if he's thinking of that night, too. Does he remember Esme's proud face behind the camera the way that I've imagined it before, despite knowing that I shouldn't? That it isn't any of my business.

But he's here...making it your business now.

I'm adrift in Edward's revelation about his past and it causes me to lose track of everything, including my tongue. I'm caught up and the question slips right between my teeth and through my lips before I can think better of myself.

“What did you promise her?”

I don't look at him yet, but at his hand. The leaf is crushed and falling in pieces from his fingers now. When my eyes find his face, he's still staring in the direction of the water, but he's far from here.

His voice plummets low, flat and deflated of any emotion.

“It doesn't matter now, does it?”

He shakes his head and clears his throat. I want to ask him what he promised her and why it doesn't matter now. I want to ask him where she is. I want to ask him what terrible thing he's carrying inside that keeps him this way. But I don't. I don't say anything and I don't budge. It feels like any movement I make would draw attention to me when all I want is to disappear. I want answers and it feels wrong to.

It feels wrong to want to know.

“I don't know why my regret bothers you, but that won't ever change. It won't go away because you can't handle it.”

He swivels his head toward me, slow and purposefully. I follow suit, staring him right in the eye. I narrow my eyes at him, offended by the accusation in his voice. He's dead on, but it doesn't mean I want to hear it.

“I hate thinking of that time in my life, Isabella. I hate how fucking weak I was. Josie... she was the only good thing that came out of it.”

The casual way he says his daughter's name surprises me. He's never gone out of his way to speak about his past the way he is right now.

You've never let him get a word in edge wise.

I shake off the thought, refusing to acknowledge the truth in it.

Edward rubs a hand over his eyes and pinches them together on the bridge of his nose before turning to face me. I begin to breathe harder, feeling pinned between the willow and his stare. My eyes flit back and forth between him and the road, anxious and afraid of what he'll say next. Things have shifted drastically in a very short amount of time. I need time. I need distance.

But I'm paralyzed and somewhere deep inside, I know that if I run right now...I won't be chased.

This is it.

My hands begin to shake and I loathe myself for wanting to stay right here in this spot. My legs twitch against the ground with the need to retreat, but my stomach hollows out at the thought of closing the door on this. On him. And being left standing alone on the other side of it.

Two separate voices erupt inside of me and the dilemma burns through my chest. The voices rage at one another, tugging me back and forth over the threshold of decision.

What the hell is wrong with you, Bella? Get out of here. Go now!

Stay. What's the worst that could happen?

This won't end well. Run.

Grow up and listen to him. Think of someone other than yourself for once!

If you stay, he'll fuck you over. Again. Of what use could you possibly be to him?

He's apologized. He seems different...

He's not different. They're all the same. 

His timing is immaculate. My palms flatten to the ground on either side of me and dead leaves crunch beneath them. I'm seconds from bolting when the deep, grating timbre of his voice stops me. 


His words are like quicksand. The harder I fight them, the deeper I sink.

“What she...what happened to me then, and who I was...I never wanted to be him again. I never wanted to be that powerless ever again. And I wasn't. Then that morning, when I heard you talking in the bar, I just...lost it. The things you were saying...work and school and being tired and broke. I just...it set something off. You reminded me so much...too much...of who I'd been. Of what I'd just let happen to me. I'd been so fucking angry for so goddamned long and I just...snapped.”

His jaw clenches hard and his lips press together tightly before he exhales hard through his mouth.

“I hated you in that moment. To me, you were pathetic and weak and it didn't matter that I didn't know you or anything else about you. What I'd hear was enough. I just wanted to punish you for everything that had happened to me. Things you had no way of knowing. Things that didn't have shit to do with you.”

I flinch at his words. I'm angry about his eavesdropping. I'm embarrassed for the girl I was then. I'm reluctant to acknowledge how my words that day in the booth could spark something in him. I can understand how they would and again, I feel shame for it.

“I'm so fucking tired.”

The words aren't for me. They're said with barely any breath as he rolls his head back on his shoulders a couple of times and rubs a hand over his face. He looks at me through heavy eyes and I try to ignore how liable I feel for his weariness. I fidget again, hating how self-conscious I suddenly feel about fighting this...him...so hard.

I'm not responsible for this. I didn't ask him to come here.

He takes another deep breath, like he's mustering up the energy to cross the finish line.

“I decided to make you suffer. I abused you in a way that I never can atone for. I'm not here for forgiveness from you. You think I'm waiting for absolution, but that's where you're wrong. There is no redemption for what I've done to you.”

I swallow and blink at him, but say nothing. He shakes his head at me and he's staring at me again...rummaging and rooting and it makes my stomach knot.

“I don't want your out, Isabella.”

This time, it's him that walks away.

I sit motionless under the willow for so long that by the time I jog back to the house, Edward's car is gone.





~o~





Edward doesn't show up for the next two days. When I do see him again, on Friday, it isn't for our morning run.

The hurried click of my heels as I walk through the entrance resonates in my ears and grates on my nerves. I'm late. Stepping into the stifling warmth of the restaurant is suffocating. The only comfort I find is the hum of conversation, the clanking of silverware and the generic piano melody being played. The sounds combine to form a cloak of obscurity, however false it may be. With the cacophony of noises filling the air, it's easier to feel invisible. To blend into the scenery until it's time to leave.

I'm escorted by a waitress and smile at Kate as I'm seated several chairs down from her at the long, rectangular table. I recognize and politely acknowledge several coworkers with nods and practiced smiles before ordering a glass of wine and flipping through the menu. It's been a long day at work and the last thing I want to do is make small talk with a group of people I barely know, so I keep my eyes down and pretend to peruse the dinner entrees.

The only reason I came tonight is because it's Kate's birthday and I didn't want to seem disrespectful to her. It's glaringly obvious that tonight's dinner is nothing more than an orchestrated attempt at sucking up to the boss. Judging by the way everyone is hanging on every word Kate says, things are going as planned. I try not to roll my eyes as I check my watch. It hasn't even been fifteen minutes.

I arrive too late for dinner, but after everyone places their dessert orders, conversation resumes at the table. I'm sip my wine and glance around the restaurant. It's a beautiful space, all clean lines and decorated in dark browns and creams. The mahogany bar has a mirrored and lit back wall, creating the illusion of being a larger space than it is. Massive, spherical chandeliers hover above the dining area, casting a warm glow over its patrons. I can smell the fresh flowers in the table's centerpiece and balsamic vinegar in the air.

The minutes drag. I've long poked at and discarded my dessert and am still nursing the same glass of wine, spinning it in place on the table in between sips. As I glance to my far left, my thumb and forefinger freeze on the stem of my wine glass. Seated at a small, square table are three men and a woman. I only recognize one person, his profile unmistakable in any setting. I remain motionless, my previous aversion to my surroundings taking a backseat to the shock I feel at seeing him so unexpectedly.

I have a perfect view of Edward's right side. I'm familiar with watching him from this angle, but his clothes are all wrong and the sound of lapping water is missing. He's wearing a light grey suit and black dress shirt. A stark white cloth napkin is draped over his right thigh and his right hand is busy spinning a short tumbler of dark liquid in place on the table. A plate of food sits in front of him, but his silverware is untouched on the table.

The two older gentleman at the table are speaking heartily, seemingly sharing the duty of telling a story. One of the men's arms waves animatedly in front of him and he leans toward the table to say something just before everyone at it bursts into laughter.

Everyone except Edward.

He's leaning back casually in his chair, watching the scene with a small, stiff smile on his face. It's enough to feign attentiveness, but his eyes are disconnected...blank. I can see it from where I sit.

I've been wearing the same expression since I sat down.

A high-pitched, feminine peal of laughter snatches my attention to Edward's left. The woman is smiling widely, an obvious reaction to whatever anecdote is being regaled. She's younger than the other two men...closer to Edward's age. Her red stained lips part as she laughs and tosses her straight blonde hair over her shoulder. I wonder how she can stand the attention it attracts. People from surrounding tables turn to look at her and I can see by the straightening of her posture that she revels in it. She wants the eyes on her. Her hand moves to cup over the top of Edward's left forearm.

A voice in my head scoffs at her, thick and bitter with experience in the matter.

Stupid woman. No touching...

His reaction is immediate.

His right hand abandons the spinning of his glass and the bored smile evaporates from his face. A severe rigidity seizes his body and he swiftly slides his arm from beneath her hand. The surprise on her face belies her casual behavior, exposing how intentional the contact was on her part. Edward recovers quickly, reaching into the inside pocket of his jacket and holding up his cell phone as an explanation for already being on his feet. He drops his napkin to the table and speaks a few words I can't make out before leaving the table and heading toward the exit.

I watch as the blonde woman leans over and whispers in the ear of the man next to her, her eyes never leaving Edward's form. She gathers her purse, stands and walks around the table.

I'm out of my seat and grabbing my coat off the back of my chair without thought.

What are you doing, Bella?

I slide my arms into the sleeves of my coat and tuck my hair behind my ear, muttering an 'excuse me' to several people I rush past. Fortunately for me, I am closer to the exit than the blonde is and my feet move faster when I see that she is slowed down by a dessert tray.

What the hell are you doing, Bella?

I feel transparent and obvious, as if these strangers know how I'm associated with the man I'm following. As if my past with him is visible on my flesh. I avoid eye contact with anyone and the door doesn't have time to close behind him before I'm pushing through it.

I spot him immediately, his phone nowhere to be seen. His back is to me, and I stay hidden in the shadow of the restaurant entrance. He sits down on a wrought iron bench that faces the street and is situated between two small trees. The trees are strung with tiny white lights and the skin of his neck and the side of his face appear golden under the glow. I lean my shoulder against the cold brick of the building and watch as he runs his hand through his hair and exhales. A white puff of air forms in front of him and he tilts his head back. I wonder if he's watching it evaporate against the dark night sky like I am. 


The hair at the base of his neck forms a thick 'V' and overlaps the collar of his jacket as he leans back. Aside from the occasional car or pedestrian, the street remains calm and quiet.

I don't know what keeps me rooted to this spot, watching him, but whatever it is doesn't last long.

The steady, muted hum of noise from the restaurant explodes loudly behind me as the restaurant doors burst open. The blonde from Edward's table doesn't even spare me a glance, but zeros in on him instead. She smoothes her hair down and then the front of her skirt before sauntering toward him purposefully.

My legs move with long, swift strides until I'm beside her and then past her, calling out to Edward. 

“Edward, is that you?”

The blonde stops in place. Edward startles and turns, standing as I round the front of the bench. He looks from me to the blonde and back again. My knees are like rubber and my hands are clenched into fists inside my coat pockets.

What is wrong with you, Bella? Why are you doing this?

“Isabella. Hi.”

He says my name slowly, using each syllable to catch up on what's happening. His eyes dart between the blonde and I. I smile at him, small and unsure. I don't mean it, and I instantly feel stupid for doing it. When the blonde starts talking, we both look back at her.

“Edward, I was just coming out to make sure you were okay.”

Her voice is confident, but her eyes aren't. They jerk back and forth between Edward and I, finally settling on me and giving me the once over.

“I'm fine, Victoria, thank you.”

I can hear the strain in his words and wonder if she can, too.

“Okay, then...if you're sure...?”

Her eyes are jumping back and forth between us again and I can feel Edward's patience shriveling. He takes a deep breath and nods at her, his voice tight.

“I'm sure.”

She only nods at him and turns, walking back to the restaurant. She drags her feet now, her confident saunter forgotten. Only when she's tucked back inside the door, does Edward drop back down onto the bench.

“Jesus fuck, you'd think she'd learn already.”

It seems, like my actions, my speech has veered off on its own as well. It is unconcerned with what I want. Indifferent to the caution I'm failing to operate with tonight.

“Who is she?”

“Just a colleague. A dense, thick-headed pain in the ass of a colleague who doesn't know when to quit.”

The relevance to our particular situation is just too obvious and the words are out of my mouth as fast as I think them.

“Some people just can't take a hint.”

He narrows his eyes and tilts his head in question.

“Did...did you just make a joke?”

He looks genuinely confused by the possibility that I have a sense of humor. I pinch my lips together and shuffle my feet, not exactly comfortable with him, but feeling myself shedding a layer of hesitance. Silence settles over us and I shift, looking around at anything but him.

“Here. Do you wanna...?”

I look down and he's slid to the far end of the bench, motioning to the empty space between us. I stare down at it in contemplation. Why does everything, even the simplest of actions, feel so loaded around him? Just agreeing to sit with him feels like a compliance somehow.

“It's a bench seat, Isabella, not a bed.”

I snap at him, defensive and embarrassed about being called out, but also bothered somehow by his choice of comparison. 

A bed.

“I know that.”

He takes a deep breath and looks away from me, shaking his head slightly. The tension, which moments ago seemed slight, has thickened in the air around us. He exhales through his nose and turns his head in my direction, but doesn't look up at me.

“I'm sor-”

“Don't.”

We had a deal. No more apologizing.

“Right.”

I roll my eyes and drop down onto the bench next to him. He wisely chooses not to comment on it, but changes the subject.

“How about a thank you instead, then?”

“What?”

“Thank you. For running interception with Victoria.”

I nod at him, but stay quiet, almost wishing the tension would thicken again. I don't know what to do with the civility that he's trying so hard to create between us. He's predictable when he's frustrated or angry. I know that Edward. This Edward...five years later Edward...is completely disarming. He's the same man in so many ways, but a different one in just as many.

An older couple walks past the front of the bench, arms wrapped around one another and smiling politely at us. I wonder what we look like to them. We're strangers, but not in every sense of the word. I know things about him that no stranger ever would. He knows at least one very private, personal thing about me. I've never willingly talked to anyone else about Charlie before, and thinking about the way I purged it all in front of him makes my skin crawl with shame and vulnerability. I close my eyes against the sensations as they entomb my composure, willing it to give in and give up.

“You changed your hair.”

“What?”

My hand instinctively cups the back of my hair, the strands laying thick and cold against my neck. He's right. After graduation, I got it trimmed, layered and highlighted with subtle reds. I needed to look the part. Long, dull and brown wasn't good enough anymore.

It was all a part of the costume.

“Uh, yeah, I did.”

It's a lame response, but what else am I going to say? He's commenting on my hair of all things and I wonder if it's for my benefit or his own. Maybe both? I don't know, but I'm grateful he's steering away from heavier subjects. Hair isn't so personal. I look up at his and it's just like I remember it.

“You didn't.”

Jesus, Bella, really?

He grins at me, but it's just there to restrain the laughter I suspect he's holding back. My awkwardness could not be more obvious. He looks down at his hands, sniffing and nodding and clearing his throat. Yeah, he's definitely holding back a laugh.

“No, I didn't.”

It's painful how bad I am at this. How in the hell are we ever going to be 'friends'? 


I'm struck with a sudden defiance.

I can do this. It can't be that hard. I'm a mature, educated adult. Making conversation shouldn't be this big of a deal. My job requires me to do it everyday and I manage just fine.

That's just it. It's your job. And required. You discuss flowers and venues and budgets all day. You punch numbers and avoid face time as much as you can. This is unscripted.

A voice in my head shouts at me to choose my words carefully.

Keep him out.

Hide what could arm him.

Give him nothing.

It's loud and demanding. And it wins.

“How's Paul?”

Though I'd been aiming for an inconsequential, safe topic to discuss, inferiority still billows like smoke inside my chest. It leaks out in hot wisps between the two of us and I burn with inadequacy.

“Uh...he's good, I guess. Like I said, he fucking hates me. Just sleeps all day and...yeah.”

He trails off awkwardly, looking down and scratching his jaw. I watch as he licks his bottom lip and tucks his top one over it. Slowly, his bottom lip slides from between his teeth, white from the pressure. When finally released, it's slightly swollen and a darker shade of red than the top one. A small space appears between his lips, revealing just the tip of his tongue. I look up at him. His eyelids are heavy and his jaw flexes. Conversation is forgotten, his eyes are on my eyes...my mouth...back to my eyes. When he blinks, it's weighted and unhurried.

He swallows and the bob of his adams apple tempts my focus, but I resist.

I will not look away.

I inhale and hold the air in my lungs as an unforeseen, inexplicably powerful appetite for control takes hold of me. I am not this weak. And I am not the same pathetic, desperate girl he found five years ago in that booth.

“Bella?”

My name startles us both and I turn around to see Kate and several coworkers filing out of the restaurant. She's regarding Edward and I carefully, and I'm already dreading the inevitable conversation she'll want to have about this. I look back to Edward and we both stand and I motion over my shoulder.

“It's my boss' birthday. I guess I'd better go say goodbye.”

It's a trivial detail, but I chose to share it. I can do this.

“Right. Goodnight, Isabella.”

“Goodnight.”

I'm several feet away from the bench when he calls out to me.

“I'll see you in the morning?”

I turn and he's standing with his hands in his pockets, watching me leave. I nod and manage a small smile, but wipe it from my face before I turn back around to Kate and her concerned eyes.





~o~





The next morning, we don't speak much. When we stop to rest by the lake, the silence is thick, but not as uncomfortable as it's been in the past. It's almost as if the heaviness of the last time we were here is still lingering. As if the echo of his confession is still under the willow. We jog back to the house and silently wave at one another before he leaves.

After I shower and eat, I pick up the phone for my customary weekly call to Renee. She picks up after four rings, her tone flat and colorless.

“Hello?”

“Hi, Mama.”

“Bella.”

I push through the pang that her indifference to me causes in my chest. Every time.

One day. Some day soon...

“How are you?”

“Fine, Bella. Just fine.”

“Good. I'm glad to hear it.”

Silence.

“So...Thanksgiving is coming soon.”

“Mm.”

“I was thinking that maybe I could come up this year-”

“No.”

I close my eyes and breathe deeply.

“No?”

“We've been over this, Bella. It just...isn't a good idea.”

She sighs and I swallow, taking more deep breaths and reminding myself to be patient.

She just has to see. You just have to show her. She'll see.

“Right. Okay. Well, there's always Christmas.”

I feign a cheerfulness I damn well don't feel and am not surprised when I'm met with more silence. I say a goodbye that isn't returned before hanging up, still unaccustomed to how depleted I feel afterwards.





~o~





I can feel that something has changed between us. An anomalous shift in our dynamic. And while I am cognizant of it, I don't know what it means...or what to do with it.

How to act.

How to stay.

How not to flee.

There are moments when he's nearby that my feet squirm inside my shoes and my eyes scan for an exit.

For escape.

I'm not naïve about the last time I lost control around him. I remember what happened as a result. What happened when I abandoned my instincts in favor of a momentary release.

Yet somewhere inside of me, tucked away too far to override my practiced defenses, there is a growing curiosity. A splinter of intrigue embedded in the thick skin of the very isolation I had depended on. It doesn't call attention to itself, lying in wait and giving no cause for removal. But as time passes and he moves closer, I know that it will begin to irritate me. To fester and infect everything around it and soon, I will have no other choice but to tend to it. To inspect and analyze this hunkering part of myself that isn't happy in the shadows.

The part that wonders what the sunlight would feel like on my skin.

The part that imagines how the world would look if I surrendered the death grip I keep on my armor.

The very part that, for the time being, causes me to forget to wish Edward Cullen away.





~fywfywfywfywfywfywfywfyw~




So......I'm extremely curious to know what your interpretation of this chapter is :)

Also I just wanted to let you guys know that things are back on track now and half of the next chapter is already written! I actually had that part finished before this chapter! See you soon!


~jada~

97 comments:

KlrTwiLuver said...

Bravo, Jada. As a reader I can see the characters interacting in my mind even feel their emotions or pains.

The words you use so crisp and defining. They leave nothing undone.

xoxo,
Kellie

Joy said...

Intense and incredible.
As Kellie said, "Bravo, Jada." Bravo, indeed.

xx
Joy
(runtagua)

Nico said...

Loved it! I love how she got to step in the middle of Victoria and just kill her move :)

So excited these two are finally making some progress! :))) Can't wait to see who breaks first ;)

CEJSMom said...

You really have perfected the characterization of these two broken souls. They need each other soo desperately. I hope their walls tumble soon so that they can both start living their lives again.

FanFicCrazy said...

Oh Jada.. I'm not sure I can really put into words what I feel. First, I'm a sucker for a broken man, always. The fact that it's E, only makes it worse. Then B.. I want to hug her and kill her mother. How could you be so cold to your child?!?!?! They tug at my heart something awful.

I love how they're drawn to each other but don't want to be. Well, we assume that's how E feels too. They're two lonely, somewhat broken souls drawn to each other. Got to believe no matter what happened before, maybe it was fate that brought them together. I can't wait for more. So, so, good!!!

Much love!

jac said...

oh, my dear Lulu. your words leave me aching everytime... yet i can't stay away. heartbreakingly beautiful. xo

Cote de Texas said...

Wow! this was so much more than I even hoped for! Thanks Jada. It was great.

MoniNP said...

Thank you Jada.... There is a definite shift in their dynamic... love it...

Love,
Mónica (@MoniNP)

Mina Rivera said...

Holy god, I feel like I have been holding my breath through the whole chapter! The way you write this Bella... it leaves me literally breathless. Bravo.
I can't wait to find out more about Roughie and Bella, both are so damaged and with so much unresolved issues.
Thank you for the update, until next time. xoxo. ~Mina

b.krumova said...

I'm too lazy to write what I wrote in The Lemonade Stand again, so I'll just copy and paste :D

Wow. Here's something I never thought I'd see again. (for the update)
and
I liked the way [you] wrote the restaurant scene. It was very ... "published-novel-worthy"
Overall good chapter. I think I enjoyed the interaction between the characters the most. Usually the chapters are full with Bella's thoughts and just a few dialogue sentences, but this one, I liked.
Good job.

HopeStreet said...

Loved it! It's interesting that even in the silence, things are shifting for both of them. They most certainly are not friends yet, but maybe because of that it's easy to say things that are deeply personal. It probably feels great to have an understanding ear hear these confessions. It's personal and impersonal at the same time.

Bella's conversations with her mother kill me time and time again.

Spread These Wings said...

Loved it Jada! So glad Bellas giving herself a chance to have something, even a friend in Edward. The thought of her in her silent house makes my heart hurt. She deserves the world. You have an incredible ability to make me feel every emotion she's feeling. Cant wait to read more =D xoxo

Ortolan's Tears said...

First- thanks for continuing to share your work. I can never understand those who complain about the wait for this gift you share so freely. Those who love and appreciate your talent will wait as long as it takes. Forever.
I second the sentiment above... I felt as though I held my breath the entire chapter. Progress is so welcome, and yet the burn of angst is exquisite- if we didn't love that, we would never have come so far.
Xo
Jen

lfcpam said...

WOW that was amazing...I know you hear a lot of junk about your update schedule but you know what? I would wait six months to read an update as great as that. Im glad you take your time to write the perfection that is on the page. Thank you

Roxy said...

wow finally hon!! was amazing great job i love that they finally speak they're are so sad so broken i'm glad they progressed a little i can't wait for more:)

Kim said...

Wow. Just amazing words. These characters are heartbreakingly broken and you write them perfectly. I don't think I took a breath the entire chapter. Loved getting inside B's head a bit more. So so intriguing. Think we are getting somewhere with these two. They both deserve happiness and laughter. You are pure Awesomesauce, my love. Thanks for sharing it was more than worth the wait as always, you don't disappoint. Xoxo Kim

MarchHare5 said...

Nicely done.

twilover76 said...

You really have a gift for words. I always feel like I'm going through what Bella feels as I read your writing.

These two are so broken, yet beautiful...and it seems so close to actually depending on each other. I love the progress even if I want to cry and plead with Bella at times to just give another inch.

I am going to go back and re-read from the beginning soon. I really enjoyed this update. Thank you!!

Keye Cullen said...

Holy crap! Is it Christmas already?? Because there is an update of Roughie! *Squeeeeeeeeee*

Love this:

my mind is swollen with contemplation.

So descriptive.

The rest of the chapter is much the same. I am immediately sucked into the story and the characters as well. It is an all consuming story and I riveted to the small amount of information about Edward's past that you dole out to us like we were on an Edward diet and we are not allowed many calories! LOL!

Bella continues to surprise me in that she continues to call Renee. Why? Yes, she is her mother but that does not give her the right to treat her in the manner and I find myself wondering why Bella puts up with it. Makes me also wonder if Renee thinks that Bella is somehow the blame for Charlie's death but then again I think that she probably doesn't really give a crap one way or another.

All these heavy thoughts at 6:44am!! LOL!!

Well once is never enough to read one of your updates and I look forward to reading it again savoring every word!!!!

Not to mention I cannot wait to read what happens next. I truly think that if you updated even every day that I would never get bored with this story!!!

Keye

Livindol said...

As always you never disappoint...my heart broke for Bella when she called her mother. Edward has a long way to go to stop blaming himself for what happened to his daughter and for what he did to Bella.

I'm so glad you are continuing this story...you are extremely talented and you make me laugh every day with your twitter comments! *hugs*
Michelle
(livindol)

Lady Kalenaa said...

Great update! I love the way you write her inner monologue. It shows how complex her emotions really are.

Kelly said...

Such a long wait, but everytime you make it soooo worth it.
Its amazing and poetic. The emotions and situations...the way your words explain them are exactly how they are in real life.
Its hard to say what I am trying to write. lol!
Just know that this story is amazing!

Thanks!

iloveed said...

GRACIAS POR LA ACTUALIZACIÓN, JADA. REVISÉ EL CORREO A LAS 03:15 HRS. Y MI ÚNICO PENSAMIENTO FUE: ¡ALELUYA!,¡GRACIAS DIOS, POR DEJAR QUE ESTA MARAVILLA DE CHICA TUVIERA COMPASIÓN DE NOSOTRAS, SUS DEVOTAS LECTORAS Y SEGUIDORAS!!!
AHORA, A SUFRIR EN LA ESPERA DEL PRÓXIMO CAPÍTULO...

LOVE YOU,

ANAMATUS

Carol said...

So glad you've brought them back to us! Intense and moving, maybe moving a bit forward? Feels like breaking open the hard shell to let the magic out. I want to see that baby girl again. Will we? Pounding pounding pounding that track is good, but moving forward? Just enticing, entrancing. I can only plead--more, more more!

lee21761 said...

Wow! I just loved the progress that they made and thanks so much for the long chapter. You know we waited very patiently and wanted to reward us right? thanks. If they can just break down their walls a little more and let eachother in.. They're working in the right direction but just can't do anything big to cause the other to close down again even though I want to rush them into it...thank you thank you.It was a nice addition to FridaYYY

RMacaroni said...

I never thought I'd say this but I am falling for Roughie!!!! And I think B is too!!!! Oh my you can feel the desire between these two when they were sitting on that bench! JEsus Jada you had my mouth watering the whole time! seriously! You are brilliant! I simply cannot!!! And you went with Jane instead of Tanya! LOVED IT! I just know Jane is sooo evil! I think that explains E's blonde-phobia.
I am so happy I jumped on the FYW train right before you started updating again!
Can't wait for more Roughie! Gimme Gimme!
Ronnie

~Elli~Iris~ said...

Ch 19

Long time coming but worth it ;-)
So she sends him packin again? Of course he is disappointed. Trying to free him of obligation. Does she not see that he wants more than his apology to be accepted? Does she not see how alone he is, just like her? I can see why she would push him away, but there is and was always desire there. Will he come again?
Yes.
He is stubborn that way. And this time it is like she is seeing him, all of him, for the first time. She sees images of him throughout the time she has known him and before from the stories and pictures. ‘Learning him.’ She thinks they have nothing in common but he feels they do. Acceptance. They run. Finally he speaks. About his little girl. A teen dad, the mother, Jane. Still not knowing how it all fell apart. “There is no redemption for what I've done to you.” He is trying. Slowly.

Victoria, She saves him from her but outs herself with Kate. They have actual small talk.
Another run.
Routine
Calling Renee/ Always hoping for a relationship with her. Returned affection. Never getting it.
And then thinking about Edward. She talks of her armor. Is she protecting herself from him or from connecting with anyone? She keeps trying with her mother. Doesn’t give up. When will she give up shielding herself from how Edward has changed? They can both help each other heal like no one else can. Each run is a shared release. She has stepped out of her protected shield this chapter. He has too. He shares more. She is compelled to help him when in need. Wondering what kind of lecture she will get from Kate…
Iris~Elli

fr_larsson said...

Love the chapter and the (baby steps) progress. Nice save from Victoria, =) and love the understanding they´re beginning to develop.

Best wishes, Linda xo

Lulu said...

Good lord woman. Thank you. And thank you. You would have thought my kids were committing a capital crime this morning each time they asked me something through my locked bathroom door as they were getting ready for school. They are probably wondering why I was in such a mood but I don't like Roughie being interrupted. KWIM? Lol

After your teaser, I feel better now. He drove away, but he came back. Whew. Some emotional progress. Yes! Still a mystery about Josie though.

He remembered her hair. She was looking at his lips. He saw her. Gulp...

I wonder if he said 'Ill see you tomorrow' on purpose. Hmmmm. What will Kate say. And Renee. That is torture.

Thank you again,


Roshambo

SUNFLOWER3759 said...

Thanks you so much for this chapter.
The beautifully written thoughts that are inside the minds of these two tortured souls are a gift in and of itself. The way you describe to us what they are feeling is just heartbreaking. They have both been through so, so much. And now to be at some sort crossroads where there is a chance to go in any direction...which road will they take? Bella is so torn in her commitment to stay strong and not let her guard down. We know Edward wants more, he is the one who came back into her life. But is he capable of more?
One sentence in the last paragraph says a lot to me:
‘A splinter of intrigue embedded in the thick skin of the very isolation I had depended on.’ Maybe she is cracking a little, maybe Bella will let laughter in, and that could be a beginning….
Need more Jada, so much more.

PAW'sPeaches said...

I looked at my scrollbar on the right the entire time I read this, thinking "please don't be near the end, please don't be near the end"

I want to read FYW all day jada. all day. I want to take a bath in FYW and lather up with its intensity.

when the top of this chapter said "last chapter" I mistook that as you saying "last chapter" not hey-guys-here's-a-look-back-at-chptr-18 JESUS. fml.

and i love you.

flyrbrd said...

Love this chapter! Beautiful. I feel the shift and can't wait for more ;)

Nonita said...

Loved it! Thanks!

LetRobstenLuv4ever said...

Welcome back! You were really missed. Now for the story, Wow I loved it. Yes they are broken but I believe it was fate that brought them together the first time. I literally can not wait until they take their walls down and really start to have a relationship. Sometimes I wish that Edward would just kiss her already, very slowly. I know you dont want to rush them, but it doesn't make me want it less. lol. They are so hot together. I wish he would let her touch him. I could just picture them on her couch watching a movie and she is snuggled up against him with his arm around her. Ahhhh I know we have to wait. lol. Loved that she stepped in when Victoria was trying to get her claws in him. Hmmm I wonder how Edward would act if it was a guy trying to come on to Bella????? Great Chapter.

misty said...

Great chapter! A shift in dynamic that I have been waiting for. I feel bad for both B and E. They are so fucked up from their past relationships be it parents, prev lovers, or their own.
I want tuck them both in a nice warm bed, give them hot cocoa, and tell them things will get better. It's the mother in me to want to comfort.

iloveed said...

desafortunadamente, en este momento no puedo entretenerme en tener la paciencia para descubrir cual es la URL que tengo que anotar para que me permitan agregar un comentario en el blog de THE LEMONADE STAND o en el de lynzylee526; pero al leer el comentario sobre la maravillosa actualización de hoy, no comprendo porqué dice que espera que no sea el último capítulo al iniciar con "LAST CHAPTER". lo que SI entiendo es que JADA nos refiere un poco del capítulo 18 que fue el anterior... para meternos de lleno al nuevo. NO ES TAN COMPLICADO ENTENDER ESO... y estoy MUY SEGURA de que JADA tiene todavía MUUUUUUUCHA HISTORIA por contarnos.
AFORTUNADAMENTE...

FFReader said...

I always get really comfortable when I read this story, you know all kicked back and relaxed...but by mid chapter my face is less than a foot away from the screen. I love this story.

I cry every time Bella, calls her mom.

I can't wait to read more, that was a long wait for this chapter but definitely worth it.

none said...

wow, he was young, very young.

thanks for the update.

Courtney said...

God! how is it that I just want to punch her mom in the face? stupid woman! but Edward and Bella getting along, well, well enough for Edward to be spilling his guts to her or some of his guts. lol I'm glad tho. they need each other. they'll eventually see that. :D can't wait to read more. thanks again bye for now

sncmom said...

When those walls finally come down, and I hope they do, it will be explosive.

Thanks for a great chapter. It is worth the wait.

CherylSab said...

Your Bella just breaks my heart. So much pain and loneliness. She allowed Edward to do that to her in the past, she needs to realize she IS holding it against him in a way and let it go. The tension is so thick between them I'm excited to see what happens when they cut through it.
Such intense writing...you are truly amazing.

Dreary London said...

Jada, you truly have a gift. This chapter was so good! I am glad that they are making some progress with each other but their both still in so much pain, I'm not sure if they can ever find a way to make this work. I love reading your words and can't wait to see what else you have in store for us! Again, fantastic job!

Tati said...

"As a reader I can see the characters interacting in my mind even feel their emotions or pains. "
agreed. loved the chapter, it's so, so good ! I can feel the tension in the air, her fears and hesitation as I read it, and god, I missed fyw so much. Intense chapter.
x

Rory said...

I must be losing my mind, because it now says, 'Previous Chapter' at the top of your update, but when I first read it I thought it said, 'Last Chapter', which could mean previous chapter, but it usually means this is the 'Last Chapter' - the 'Final Chapter'. As pleased as I was to see this new update, I sure did not want it to be the last one.

So thanks for writing, and I take it this is not the last (final) chapter. I so want them to touch, to hold on, to open up... more, and to fall... in-love, before this story ends.

I am so enjoying seeing the slow but steady progress in their relationship. Bella compartmentalizes her feelings so much that it is like she doesn't even remember what she has shoved away, like a shoebox full of keepsakes under the bed. She is so skiddish about every attempt to engage her in human interaction, I'm so glad he can see that and is patient with her. It makes sense for Edward not to push, and not to run, but just to be. Such realism. I love the fact that there has been a shift, subtle as it may be, in her achnoledging to him and also to herself that she has feelings for him both unresolved and undefined and is willing to try having something with him that is new and not based on his guilt from their past.

Sharkjumper said...

JANE????? dun dun dun....

Dandelion said...

I can only reiterate all the thank yous above and add some of my own. I absolutely love your E&B... and how REAL they feel. As well as the slow development between them. I can suspend my disbelief for all kinds of fantasy garbage, but not the sudden hate(or ambivalence) to love shift that happens at the drop of a hat, without any genuine progression. Your writing is haunting, this story has the most original premise... and is so believably executed. I am so excited about how you will guide them back together.

Much love to you... your twitter makes me laff, your tumblr makes me squirm, your ExB-via-FYW makes my heart jump into my throat. Thanks for running me through every emotion possible. Rock on Jada!

ljilled said...

I was so thrilled to see "Roughie is live" again in my TL. We all patiently wait for you to give us the next one and then drop everything for the update.

Firstly, this: "giving this to him subtracts from me until I can barely breathe. I feel exposed. Susceptible. I've scraped off a part of myself and armed him with it." Just...wow. Your words and imagery are always so compelling and heart wrenching but this really cut to the core of the issue. Beautiful.

I'm not going to do this review justice but I'll give it a try. I love the progress they've made. I think they've finally shifted from the push and pull inherent in their fledgling relationship. It's no longer a matter of "why are you here? What do you want?" Now it's acceptance of the presence and moving forward, as challenging as that may be.

I am thrilled Thrilled THRILLED that Bella didn't run away during Edward's confession. She let him speak and it really moved them forward.

The restaurant scene was wonderful. They're both trying so hard to be someone else, meet their obligations, but emotions will always override. Edward had to run out and Bella followed him. She's already more tied to him than she realizes. She's the only one who understands. Oooh, and the moment on the bench. Mouth, eyes, sigh. A little glimpse into feelings that are still there. Different now. True feelings, not feelings for debasement, punishment, anger.

I'm going to stop now and just tell you again how wonderful this was.

Thanks as always for sharing.

Babsie said...

I loved this chapter. thank you for writing such complex characters, really good to see them interacting again and so good to see Roughie not giving up on Bella. She's broken too. Very well written, you're a very talented story teller

honeycrunch said...

Dear Jada,

Thank you so so so so much for this chapter. So much worth the wait. I love this story, I truly do. Thank you so much for sharing it with us!

Lux123 said...

Gahhh....The slow burn is delicious, but dude, it's keeeeling meeee! And as per usual leaving me ravenous for MOAR!!!....::CREYS:: (<<YW, lol)

Bella's musings...::sigh::...they are so heartrendingly melancholy, but so beautifully descriptive and poetic; conjuring up vivid images and evoking raw emotion. I'm still pulling for Bella. Still hoping she follows through in the task of shedding that heavy-weighted, debilitating armor. Not only for the purpose of letting Edward in, but hell, letting LIFE in. Besides, that armor's no good to her anymore; it’s defective, there's already a chink it…thanks to Roughie and his incessant visits.

I lovelovelove that Bella acted on impulse to rescue Roughie from the handsy hussy, Victoria, lol. And loved their moment on the bench; Bella making a joke, Roughie commenting on her hair (good to know he notices these things, lol), her eyes fixed on his mouth (O.O), and their small talk -- an immensely huge thing shared between these two.

And wow – so he loathed her and wanted to punish because she reminded him of himself. For being “weak and pathetic.” His self hate is deep and imbedded. And finally he explained that he’s not trying to atone for his transgressions against her....That’s not possible for him, since his sins aren’t pardonable in his eyes. He's not there to seek forgiveness. So why is he there? -- For some reason he's drawn to her. They BOTH are drawn to each other. And it doesn’t make a lick of sense to either one of them. But hopefully they’re going to explore it further.

xoxo

divalicious408 said...

WoW!!! gets better and better. love your writing!! and rec songs ... very anticipatiing and very intense :)

Amy Fontaine said...

Oh my...you have such a way with words, it's unbelievable. I feel like I know exactly what Edward and Bella are thinking based off of their actions alone. Especially Edward, he was once so difficult to read, and still is, but there are moments when you can see who he really is. Like when he genuinely smiled in the last chapter, or in this chapter when he told Bella he would see her in the morning. He's come a long way.

I really liked what Bella had to say to Edward after their run. I thought for sure that he wouldn't be back to see her. Clearly I was wrong. At first I thought that the only reason he was doing this was because it was his form of atonement but it's not, he's made it blatantly obvious that he wants to be there with her.

I've always enjoyed the internal conflict Bella has when she's around Edward. I think she's kidding herself when she tries to convince herself to leave because deep down she wants to stay.

For a moment I thought Edward and Bella were going to kiss when they were sitting on the bench...and then Kate had to come along and ruin it. Damn her. I can only imagine what she'll have to say to Bella.

I really enjoyed this chapter (obviously) I'm so happy to see that you've gotten back into the writing groove. I can't wait for the next chapter :)

Errontrisha said...

'His words are like quicksand The harder I fight them, the deeper I sink'
How so very true these words are - not just for the moment but the whole story!
The pull between them - Jada you really know how to capture the moment and the feeling so purposefully that I get sucked right in EVERY time!
I cant wait to see how further these two can go. Theres so much more to it than just redemption.
Thank you for the update you amazing lady you- you really made my day xxx

PullMyDaisy2 said...

Jadalulu, I've missed Roughie SO SO SO MUCH. I almost felt like a jilted friend left behind to lick my wounds without a word of what I did wrong. LOL Dumb, I know, but I get so involved in these stories and I feel left hanging with WIP never finish. THANK YOU SO MUCH for coming back and giving us a REALLY GOOD, LONG CHAPTER that begins to open the gates to her letting him back into her life. I really needed that. He needs to be loved and she needs to find a home in someone's arms so badly as she has nothing else. Even Paul the dog needs some good loving. HAHHAHAHHAHA I bet you make PAUL the dog love her company as well. LOVED the last part where he bites his lip, gets heavy lidded and his tongue darts out.....a sign that Edward still wants her, but is trying to control that urge. UNF. Her staring back unblinkingly,.....GOOD FOR HER. I hope she gets to order his sweet ass around in bed sometime soon. LIE DOWN EDWARD....HANDS ON THE HEADBOARD.....it's my turn now....(spoken in a playful, but not cruel way). hehhehhehee Shutting up now. PLEASEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE update often. I need my Roughie fix. I had almost given up on you.....thanks for feeding the need. :)

buffbronze said...

So I'm finally caught up. I've been saving the last few chapters cos this story is INTENSE and it's easy to lose the flow of a story like that when you have a shite memory like I have. Anyway..I have to tell you that if you're worried even in a teeny tiny way about the pacing...don't. It's perfect. I can see the progression in each chapter. Bella has so much to overcome and it's clear also that Edward is far from healed. They are strangers with huge issues...it can't happen too fast. It's also clear that apart, they can live their lives in their anticeptic bubble and feel as little as possible. Together they bring out all these feelings and it's painful but it's good for them. Maybe Edward realised this quite early on...and now Bella might be starting to see it.
It took me about 5 lines of your beautiful prose to get back into the flow of this amazing story. I've said it a lot...but I'll say it again...I'm still really excited about it and although some mysteries are solved...there are still so many to look forward to uncovering and I can't wait to read what you write next.

Buffbronze
x
ps trying this again cos I have no idea what I'm doing

Tara said...

I saw that there was an update while I was at work and had to suffer the whole day to wait to read it! The tension and anxiety between these two makes me chew my nails and I can't look away. And like another reviewer, I kept eyeballing the scroll bar to see how much was left, thrilled that it was such a long chapter. I love reading Bella's inner dialogue and want to lock them both in a room till they come completely clean with each other. Thanks for writing!

1redsock said...

My emotions are instantly flayed as I pick up the threads of this magnificent story. Bella Bella, I can't help but taste your fear as your white knuckled attempts to keep control are slowly eroded. Edward tempts you in a novel way now, quietly beseeching you to accept a shift in your shared paradigm of dominance and submission... to accept his remorse for the depravity of his past behavior and to consider that he is drawn to you in a wholly different manner. You tense, I tense. You yearn, I yearn...


Both Bella's and Edward's emotions are so powerfully crafted I read slowly to safely absorb what each is feeling and trying to express [or hide] from the other. As I read I stealthily watch my document cursor fall down the right margin and measure its progress: only a 1/3 down, there's a long way to go; 1/2 now, still a lot left, 2/3's gone, oh God this is so good, and so on.

I feel that while the end is not yet in sight, the beginning of end arrived when Bella drew her line in the sand and told Edward to walk away if his motive was only pity... Following Edward out of the restaurant was HUGE and your choice of jealousy as a motivator was perfect... anything short of such a powerful emotion would have felt insincere [or weak] structurally. She WANTS him, but she's terrified to trust him. [Edward knows this and accepts his responsibility for it. The symbiosis is excellent.]

LOVELOVELOVE how far they have come and ache for that moment when they connect. The anticipation is painfully delicious and I'm grateful your muse is smiling on you...

As ever, with thanks,
red
xx

Lizde said...

So glad to see them interacting in a totally different setting. It's interesting seeing Bella try to figure out how to deal with this whole situation.
As a side note, why oh why doesn't Edward bring Paul on runs with him? I feel bad for the poor dog, cooped up at home alone while he's out running. Really he should give him to Bella, but I can't see her accepting a gift from Edward readily at this point. So bringing him on a run would be the next best thing and maybe he can act as a way to bring them together.

redchris said...

Holy dildos! One day without my phone and i miss a FYW update! Damn. Nevertheless, this was sooo good I had to go back and read past chapters. Absolutely loved Bella thinking back to all the Edward moments. Thankyou. Thankyou Jada. This was such a satisfying update and completely worth the wait.

ContentedTwiCow said...

Great chapter! Was giving the little scroll bar the evil eye as it got closer and loser to the bottom of the screen. I'm so anxious for them to be together again but so enjoying the ride! Hope RL lets you update again soon <3

roglows said...

good stuff. this story feels like a study and exploration in characterization, and it's fascinating to be along for the ride.

RocknElixir said...

Doooood, I left a really long, rambling and unabashedly fawning review for you earlier today but I don't see it with the other comments. A technical issue on my part perhaps. I can't possibly reproduce it, but I couldn't let this chapter pass without a review (my first ever for any fanfic, uh-huh).

Your story, Jada, is freaking lovely. So wonderfully written and emotionally honest. I love your characters and root for them as if I personally know and care about them. I have so many thoughts about them and their motivations/actions that I feel I could write a long essay simply about that (I'll spare you). Your pacing is real and strengthens your story - don't let anyone ever tell you differently. Your dialogue? Damn, so good. And don't even get me started on your detailed yet concise descriptions. You breath life into a scene. The reader can see it, feel it. I feel like I'm in the room with the characters - a fly on the wall.

Confession: I totally stalk your twitter. I don't think you mind, right? I mean, why would you be so damned entertaining if you didn't want little creepers like me hanging around. Also, you are kind and drama-free and that gives me the warm fuzzies.

Thank you so much for writing and sharing FYW. It's fantastic to be on this wild ride with you.

PNW Luna said...

Oh yes, they're still both attracted to each other. Of course they both have hot bodies with all that running they do. One can only imagine how running benefits sexual stamina and endurance. I wouldn't know because I'm a certifiable couch potato.

He confesses he projected his self loathing on to her and by punishing her, he was punishing himself.

He's telling her it's not your fault. There is nothing wrong with you. I only hope she can take this knowledge and apply to the dysfunctional relationship's she has/had with her parents as well.

She needs to cut that dumb bitch of a mother loose. Why does she keep trying? Obviously Rene doesn't want anything to do with her. The reason for that is because seeing Bella reminds her of what an effing failure of a mother she is. She can't deal with the guilt. She can't deal with any of her emotions, that's why she's so shut down. She just can't cope, cut her loose. She is dead inside.

Don't let her drag Bella down with her. Bella needs to learn how to live. I'm so happy she laughed. She needs more of that.

jmmcfall said...

That was fantastic it's is so moving forward now. They absolutely need each other . Your gift with words is amazing . Please hurry back to us ASAP . And thank you so much you. Fucking rock !!!!!!

seeker said...

as always awesome chapter thanks

jmaiolae said...

You never fail to move and impress me. Thank you!

joli cullen said...

I'm not a great commentator
not where they go to this pair but what if I tell you I love how it's written
Needless to say please do not forget us want more

LIZ said...

Jsda, there's not a lot I can say that hasn't already been said here. This chapter was amazing, the slowness of their relationship just has us all on pins and needles.

I also must say that your betas are doing an exceptional job with this.

I really believe that this story has captured those of us reading the way Icy did with MOTU. When I got the update on Friday morning, I squealed and immediately called my friend to tell her and she was already reading!!!

You WILL get this published, no question in my mind.

Thanks for writing and this chapter was well worth the wait.

durtyrob4ever said...

Oh Jada, I can't express how excited I was to see FYW updated! Was cruising the FF recomm. FB page and someone posted that it was updated. As you can tell from the other readers' comments just how important this fic has become to all of us! This chapter pains my heart to see these two so broken...and when Rioughie tells her about Jane and their child...tears were welling up in my eyes. Dying to know what happened to her. And how Roughie keeps coming back to Bella, and finally when Bella tells him they can be friends...so touching. And don't get me started on the "bitch" who gave birth to Bella. What in the hell is her problem that she can just shut Bella out and doesn't want to see her? Can not wait for an update! Finding this update made my day!

Cullenboyz said...

This story proves beyond doubt that I am a masochist. The tension while reading is nearly unbearable, but I just can't. fucking. stop.
Word verification is making me type "gutips" WTF?

Sunfleur said...

Started reading Prologue Friday night. All caught up and dying for more!

Nix said...

I love the way they're taking their time about this. Inch by inch, step by careful step, they are cautiously moving towards..... More.

Marta said...

Thank you!

EnamoredHeart said...

Glad to see Bella trying to interact with him, to be more present and to open up, even if she's just taking baby steps in this direction.

And Edward's right: he could never apologize or make right the way he's treated her in the past.

Sorry to see that Bella's mom shows such an aversion toward her. Maybe she has mental problems...

I felt dumbfounded to see that Edward wanted to punish his old self by treating Bella so miserably. Of course, we still don't know what happened to Jane and Josie, but something tells me he can't stand Jane now...whatever happened made him feel like his sacrifices were in vain.

I really missed this story and I hope life treats you better, dear Jada, so that you may have time to update sooner.

All the best! :)

kat said...

So worth the wait. I literally checked every day, not trusting my email alert! I love how at one point she says she saw him on "our" morning run. It's more telling than it looks.

So many wonderful things in here. Everything has alredy been said. Well done and I'll anxiously await to see how they work out thier next steps. It will be interesting to watch them beome friends and then (I hope) lovers. How your going to do that is such a mystery!!!!!!!

Smitten said...

Damn girl, ur gonna kill me with their pain!!! You have such a gift for making the reader really feel with and for ur characters!

Is heartening to see E&B making progress, even if it's slow and sometimes heart wrenching. I love how they are really starting to talk and learning to understand each other. They both have a lot of issues, both separately and together, and I hope they discover a way to help each other heal. Hopefully sooner rather than later, tho I understand that it cannot happen quickly.

I love how Bella just reacted without thinking of the consequences at the restaurant!

Another great chapter Jada!!

May said...

Feliz navidad Jada, un capítulo intenso como siempre.

Olena said...

Well worth the wait!

Ketyane said...

Jaaaada! You left me eager for all this time, waiting for a new chapter of FYW! But as always it was worth the wait!

I do not know what to say or what to think, but I think the relationship between Bella and Edward reached a point of no turning back, and Bella begins to open up to him and accept what she feels for Edward, since he seems to really be open to a friendship, or it cuts off that relationship once (this is not what we want!) but it came at a crucial point where it changes direction and no longer has to look like . All though she has no way to accept all this easily, but it happened a long time and almost everything has changed, though she was the victim in the relationship between them, and it is normal to stay on the defensive, it's time she started have faith in Edward, to trust him anymore, though I think she's been a while so even if unconsciously.

Edward was chose Bella because he wanted to punish himself and he saw himself in Bella behavior? Why was she in the same situation as him a while ago? He wanted to punish himself, and he made this punish Bella, was it?

What Edward did in the past? What happened to Jane and the baby? Jane appeared not have accepted the pregnancy the same way that Edward accepted.

I loved the restaurant scene and how Bella somehow felt the need to protect Edward, how she "knows" Edward, and how she reacted without thinking at that time.

"I look up at hin. His eyelids are heavy and flexes his jaw. Conversation is forgotten, his eyes are on my eyes ... my mouth ... back to my eyes. "OMG!
Edward still desire Bella?? Damn Kate, it was time to appear?

I know that life is a real problem, but please do not take as long to post, eager to more and need an Edward's POV!

Sarita Dreaming said...

Yeah, so I'm way behind on this one. Great update! I can definitely see things changing between them. It's probably going to get harder before it gets easier, but at least they're making some kind of progress.

So curious about Edward's past. I'm not the most patient reader, LOL. Looking forward to the next update.

Sarita

naturu said...

Nail bittingly good as always, this is such an edge of your seat story, ah they gotta get together again soon :)

rk_ash said...

That was great! You are sooo good with words Jada! I couldn't look away from it while reading! I love these character's a lot! Even if they infuriate me at times ;P

Savage said...

"Slowly, his bottom lip slides from between his teeth, white from the pressure. When finally released, it's slightly swollen and a darker shade of red than the top one. A small space appears between his lips, revealing just the tip of his tongue." <---VERY nicely done.

I'm all caught up again, so you better be writing! ;)

alba dolores gutierrez said...

Omg i got my christmas gift earlier hehe, and so intnse,i was so sad without your updates jada i hope all is fine with you. but we need our Roughie, oh god i fel like i'm reading a book ,your characters are so well defined, and you explain their feelings so well ,i bet as soon your finish it , someone will be asking for you to publish it, ..ok i'll be waiting for the next chapter.

paammee said...

Each chapter is a delicious treat without the calories!
I am hungry for more ...(yeah watching way to much Bourdain)
Love everything about your writing and this story has me by the balls...if I had any ;)
xoxox

vivalamarz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vivalamarz said...

I just started reading FYW the other day, and I absolutely love this story.
This is the most frustrating story I have read. Oh and don't forget hottest story as well.
And I mean that in the best way.
I want to slap and hug both, Edward and Bella. Then maybe pick into their brains to see what the hell is going on.
Thank you for the story and can't wait for the next chapter.
Mariah

mermaidsong said...

I love this story!!! I adore the way you put words to awkward and painful emotions. I feel just as vulnerable as your characters while reading it. its like facing my own demons with someone who knows and still cares.

Mildred Dempsey said...

Bella, it's time to shit or get off the pot. Decide to do this or don't, but no more of this back and forth.

Jada dear, I just found this update. For some reason it didn't come through the RSS Feed I have for it. MORE NOW! ; )

that'snotmyname said...

It has been two months, two long months without an update. Please have mercy on my and update your addicting story before I go crazy! Thanks so much.

lisazj said...

Oooohhh, now it's out there in the open: "This is really what you want?" "Yes, it is." But do either of them really know what that means? I sure don't, lol.

I can't blame Bella for being a little bit leery though. Friends? Is that even possible? I can't see that. There's been too much for friends. Just..support for each other? Like I said before, makes my head swim!

Jane is Josie's mom. *Shiver* I sort of hope that Josie isn't with her, if she's a fucked up psycho looney-bitch like she typically is. What the hell did she do? How does his family come into it?

It's kind of weird to see a glimpse of the person he was. How tender & loving he is when he talks about his baby girl. Did he promise to always be there for her, to always protect her? That's what most all parents promise. Stop yanking my heartstrings, demmit!

You know that voice that Bella always hears in her head, telling her to run, that she can't handle it, that she's worthless, that she'll get screwed? I wish that fucker would DIAF. You know who that sounds like to me? That damn voice sounds like Charlie to me.

Yeah, he had no right and no reason for treating Bella like he did then. But I kinda liked him telling her he didn't want her "out". She's trying to make what happened then "nothing". And it wasn't nothing. Edward's not willing to let her make him pretend that it was.

This was very interesting to me, that Bella would run interference with a clearly unwanted slutbag for Edward. That's not exactly something you would do for a...not-friend? And: "Some people just can't take a hint." LOLOLOL! Personality! Bella has it in there, I knew it. Not just a mask that she wears to deal with people.

Uuhhhh. What's Edward doing? And what's Bella doing? Holy shit. No. Stop staring at each other! No UST. Jesus, with everything else going on with them, UST right now would make someone's head explode. I dunno, maybe mine, lol. Probably mine.

Fucking Renee. I want to climb in this fic and kick her ass til I have to scrape her off my shoe. J/S

This last part, this has to be what Bella's thinking underneath everything. I can't see her acknowledging that to herself.

Such a good chapter bb. Love your words!

legendary_mei said...

Really enjoyed the story from start to finish so far. You made Bella's acceptance of Edward's offer so believable. They both have their issues and I think together they will find a way to work them out. I'm curious to see how that goes. Anyway, love it so far!! - Dani

JOEL said...

Since I am following this story from the very beginning .. I am simply wondering ... are you going to finish this or not?? Thank you!

Melissa Evers said...

I've been following since you started this story so I too am wondering if you will be finishing it or at least updating it any time soon?.. I love it. It's passionate in some ways but I also think it's very intelligently written. You need to keep writing girl coz your words are good!

Mel

tigger1 said...

Highly intense and beautifully, vividly painful.
So much between them. Can they ever move past it and go forward? Can they somehow help heal each other?
So amazing Jada...
~Edward's Eternal

kneon said...

I have to say that you are showing a true process of forgiveness of not only of each other, but for their pasts too.

Its not a ok I'm sorry let's jump into bed and live happily ever after, that is not real world. Your story is real world.

ejgillean said...

I really love this story. I check back every so often to see if you've written anymore on it. I would love for you to finish it! It's so beautifully written.