We have had such a fabulous response to our little charity effort, it seriously blows us away. In order to promote one last ditch effort to raise funds for Sexual Assault Awareness, we have asked our authors to provide us with teasers for their one shots, outtakes and original fictions. Boy did they deliver! Enjoy and don’t forget to donate a minimum of $5 to the sexual assault charity of your choice to get your copy of the completed compilation!
~22Blue ~ AgoodWitch ~ ajr818 ~ Awesomesauce76 ~ Aylah50 ~ BelleDean ~ ~BrattyVamp ~ coldplaywhore ~ dansgrl23 ~ DivineInspiration ~ ~Dragonmama26 ~ Edward5953 ~ FictionFreak95 ~ iHeartChucks ~ ~JamieArkin & phoebespromise ~ KitsuShel ~ LittleMissMionie ~ ~ Miya Kressin ~ MoonlightsofTwilight ~morethanmyself ~ mskathy ~ ~newmoonaholic ~ nostaglicmiss ~ saritadreaming & wrm1601 ~ ~shelikesthesound ~ Spanglemaker9 ~ SydneyAlice ~VeneziaK~
I sit next to you in our bed before we go to sleep. It’s our nightly routine: you read crap
fiction while I either make notes for tomorrow’s presentation or flip through a magazine. Our nights are typically quiet.
I watch the side of your mouth lift slightly and know you’ve just read something that’s amused you; you’re in your own world right now. Did you realize you tug at your earlobe when something puzzles you? I wonder. You’ve done this twice while reading tonight. I peek at the dark cover of the novel; it’s clearly a murder mystery. The picture of a smoking gun and splatter of blood on an ordinary brick wall have given that much away. You’re brilliant, yet you choose to get lost in simplicity. It’s a diversion, I know, but I love that this is your guilty pleasure. I’m not sure why I do because it’s irrelevant to anything really. Maybe it’s because I’m the only one on the planet who knows this about you and wouldn’t care what form of escapism you chose.
Still, you’re so involved in this book you’re reading you don’t notice me tapping my pen against my pad. I’m not doing it to gain your attention; it’s simply what I do when I try to get back to my train of thought. I wonder if you know this about me and choose to say nothing just as I do about your habits. Even after all this time together, it’s funny to me that I’ve never questioned these little things before.
I should tell you how happy you make me more often.
You shift, pulling the covers with you. “Sorry,” you say, barely glancing toward me and rest your arm above your head as you scoot further down in bed. I don’t take your action as being dismissive; you’re one of the kindest men I’ve ever known. But you worry too much.
The newly gray strands of hair and deep crinkles at the corners of your eyes stem from that incessant need of yours to blame yourself. I understand, I do… but I wish you wouldn’t be so hard on yourself. We’ve talked about Leah and Bella so many times, and how you think you’ve failed them both; you haven’t. But you’re not perfect either.
“My own flesh and blood, Jasper,” you had said. “Sure, she said she forgives me, but I just don’t know.” I’d told you to give it time, that you couldn’t see the way she looked at you like I could, and that yes, she loves you. And then poor Bella. Poor you. “How could I have been so stupid!” you had yelled that night. “How did I miss it? She was so happy; they were so happy, and I let myself get too close, too personally involved. All I saw was her happiness, and I missed it.” But then you had spoken to her after she’d left – she’d called you. Bella had explained her reasons for leaving, that she’d needed to figure out who she was on her own. In the end, you had known it was the right decision regardless
of the cause. It wasn’t your fault.
You are getting better at accepting, though. I silently laugh at the irony of the thought, considering you’re a shrink by trade. You’re not so cautious when we’re with Leah anymore. I see the way your eyes light up when she drops off Emily for us to babysit, and I wonder if it’s too late for us.
I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.
I drop my pad and pen to the floor beside me and turn to face you, propping my head up with my hand. You side-glance me then lay your book on your chest, and as you turn your head to face me, you give me one of those looks. It’s the one where you raise both eyebrows and purse your lips… You know I want to talk.
There’s never been a need to prompt me. I’ve never been afraid or wary to tell you what’s on my mind – it’s how it’s always been with us.
Except this time I am.
“I was thinking,” I say.
“Oh, that can’t be good.” You smile, teasing me, but you roll to your side to give me your full attention. I take your hand to hold between us, and I think I do this more for my sake than yours – security maybe? “Everything all right?”
“Yeah, yeah.” I take a deep breath, and hope to god you don’t freak out. “Gabriel… what do you think about us expanding our family?”
“What are you talking about?” There’s laughter in your voice. “Expand? Like how? An animal? Do you want to get a dog, Jasper?” you ask. “I don’t know… Our schedules. Maybe. Big or small?”
You’re so clueless sometimes it amazes me. But I laugh. You make me laugh.
“No, not a dog… I want a baby.”
“Edward, you’re being unreasonable.” I stomped my foot for good measure, but it didn’t register with him.
“Bella, the wolves are dangerous and I won’t risk something happening to you, I only just got you back.” The pain in his voice as he spoke about leaving me last fall, even in passing was hard to hear. I’d forgiven him, but he still hadn’t forgiven himself.
“Edward, it was you making decisions for me that got us into the mess that the past eight months have been. I’m not allowed to talk about my transformation with you, I’m not allowed to mention Jake, what am I allowed to discuss without you going all caveman on me?”
“If you want to be changed we can have that discussion at any time, all you have to do is agree to marry me. And as for Jacob, I will always be grateful to him for what he did for you while I wasn’t here. But the fact remains that he’s not someone I want you hanging around.”
He walked towards me, but I simply stepped back. “Charlie’s going to be home soon and I think it would be better if you weren’t here. He wants me to go to the carnival at La Push tonight and I’m going to go with him.”
“Bella, please, I can’t keep you safe there.”
“Then you’ll just have to trust me to take care of myself.” I pleaded with him to have faith in me.
“How can I when you keep making bad choices!”
The anger in his voice was well hidden, but I knew it was there as he spoke down to me and I lost it. “The entire town will be there, so don’t worry about it, what you should worry about is what you’re going to do from midnight to 8am.”
Edward’s face twisted in confusion as I opened the front door. “What are you saying?”
“I’m saying that I’m closing my window tonight.”
I knew I was being a little petulant, going to La Push and then not letting him see that I had returned home okay, but I was a little too mad to care. “I love you.” He spoke the words into my hair and then kissed the top of my head on the way out the front door.
Bella sat down across from Alice and took a sip of the water that was sitting there.
“Hey! That’s mine!” Alice grabbed the glass and held it against her chest as if it were her child she was protecting.
“Well, you should have told the waiter you were expecting someone, and then I wouldn’t have to drink from your glass.” Bella stuck her tongue out at Alice, and she gasped.
“I’m going to tell Angela on you!” Bella rolled her eyes yet again. Angela was Bella’s twin sister who was a few minutes older than her. Angela always rubbed that in her face and used it to her advantage. Of course, she loved her sister to death, and she was really close with her, but sometimes she could be a pain and knew how to push Bella’s buttons.
“Anyway, what have you been up to lately? I feel like I never see you at work.”
“Well, of course you don’t. You’re Miss I’m-my-own-boss-and-tell-people-what-to-do,” Alice said in a fake snooty voice.
“Oh, whatever. You never answered my question. What have you been up to lately?”
“Nothing much. Just hung out with Emmett and Rose last weekend. We went to that new club up on Varick. I think it’s called Greenfarm or Greenham. Maybe it’s Greenplant. I don’t know. It’s Green- something.”
“Greenhouse. It’s called Greenhouse. Was it nice? I’ve heard good things about it. Is it worth even taking my time to go to?”
There was a strange look that passed over Alice’s face quickly, but Bella caught it.
“What’s wrong, Alice?”
“Nothing. It’s just someone I saw at the nightclub. Actually, someone that’s working at the nightclub.”
“Who?” A million different options ran through Bella’s head, but she never anticipated the name that came out of Alice’s mouth.
“It was Edward. He’s working as a bartender there.”
When they were officially on their own, Edward smirked at Bella in the way that he knew made her week in the knees. “You’re mine now, Swan. For at least the next eight hours, you’re all mine. Are you sure you’re up to the challenge?”
Bella took a deep breath to settle the butterflies in her stomach before she arched an eyebrow at him. “It’s Mrs. Cullen, thank you very much, and I believe I can handle anything you give me,” she teased playfully.
“Ooh, you better watch that sassy tone, young lady, or else I’ll give you something to handle right now.”
She sighed in mock boredom. “Just keep your lame comments to yourself and drive the car. I don’t know how I let you talk me into this again.”
“I don’t exactly remember twisting your arm today, or any time before this for that matter. I think you like it. Matter of fact, I think it turns you on… almost as much as it turns me on.”
Bella smiled wickedly and leaned over the console, biting his earlobe quickly. “You know it turns me on.”
“Good,” he said abruptly, stomping on the gas and steering the car in a direction so familiar he could drive it with his eyes closed. He glanced down at her swollen belly and felt the tightness beginning in his chest again. “Because I really need this today.”
Her soft voice whispered against his cheek, the gentle breath fanning over his skin. “Me too.”
“What was your favorite letter in the countdown?” The bedroom was dark but cool, the air conditioner humming softly. I was lying on my back with Bella nestled against my chest, my fingers running idly through her hair.
“‘O’,” she replied without hesitation. “No contest.”
I chuckled, remembering my promise to give Bella several orgasms that day.
#23: Her countdown. Nothing in my life ever made me feel so wanted.
“You?” she asked.
“Hmm, it’s a toss-up between ‘M’ and ‘V’.”
Bella shifted so she could look up at me, twisting her body and resting her chin on my stomach. “‘Mirrors’ and ‘Videos’?”
I nodded, smiling wickedly, lifting strands of hair off her neck and letting them fall. We’d certainly had our share of kink when getting to the last words in the alphabet, that was for sure.
“Such a bad boy.”
“You love it,” I teased huskily, lowering my fingers to caress her lips. I looked at her pointedly, heatedly, and she licked her lips involuntarily, her soft, wet tongue brushing along my thumb.
#24: The reaction I can get from her with just a look.
“What about ‘I’?” she questioned, lowering her lashes as she began to crawl up my body.
“‘Icing’?” I asked. “Should I go to the kitchen and get you some?”
“No,” Bella murmured, placing a soft kiss on my lips. “I like the way you taste just fine.”
Her tongue slipped into my mouth, leaving me breathless as always. I rolled us over and kissed her deeply, taking us to a place where no letters or words mattered, just her body under mine in the darkness.
I’ve never done anything like this before. You see, nice girls, average girls, good girls – they never make the first move. Everybody knows that.
I finish my drink, straighten my shoulders and walk over to him.
“Hi,” I say, biting my lip because I read somewhere that guys find that sexy. I sure hope he does. I try to seem confident, though my heart’s beating a mile a minute and my hands are shaking. “I’m Bella.” I smile and reach out my hand.
Instead of smiling back at me and shaking my hand, he remains stiff and stares at me with an odd expression on his face.
Finally — after a minute that feels like forever — his shoulders relax ever so slightly, like he’s giving in, the warm breath of his exhale hits me and then I feel his fingers
reaching for mine. They’re cold and clammy, but I don’t care because I’ve thought he’s perfect right from the start, from the day he moved into our neighborhood.
“Hey, um … I’m Edward.” He furrows his brows, pulls his hand back and buries it quickly in the pocket of his jeans.
I paced the floor beside Isabella’s bed for perhaps the thousandth time, staring down at my feet and wondering how I’d managed to not create a rut there with my continuous back and forth stomping. Sometimes she lay as still as stone. Other times, her muscles tensed and her fingers clenched at the sheets beneath her as she struggled to contain the fire that I knew raged within her. Occasionally her body arched and trembled. She writhed, whimpered and groaned. It was times like those that I alternated between despairing for her pain and rejoicing in it.
Ignorant, fool-hardy, stubborn human. She had no idea how close I had actually came to killing her. How painful it was for me to stop drinking her blood and leave her heart beating just strong enough to carry my venom through her system. It was the most excruciating thing I had been forced to endure since my own change. So while I pitied what she was undoubtedly going through, I also smiled in delight knowing that she shared my pain. She deserved it for making me suffer so.
When the flight attendant passed by a little while later, I requested a pillow and decided that writing should take a back seat to sleeping. I wanted to try and rest so that I wasn’t exhausted when I got home to my wife. After being away from her for so long, the first thing I wanted to do was get her undressed and writhing under me. I had missed everything about Bella, but being without the intense physical connection we shared for three months was unbearable.
Sure, we had engaged in phone sex repeatedly, and even had one web cam session via Skype, but nothing I did to relieve the pressure felt as good as Bella did. For the rest of the flight to JFK, I slept restlessly, my mind planning all the things my body wanted to do with Bella when I landed in Seattle. I was anxiously awaiting seeing her again and knowing that she had four whole days away from the hospital to spend with me. It would be like a second honeymoon, minus the beach, pina coladas and hammock sex.
Our flight into New York was delayed slightly and I had to run across the terminal in order to make my connection to Seattle on time. There was nothing that was stopping me from making my flight. I didn’t even care when I landed in Seattle and they told me my baggage was still in New York. All I knew was that somewhere in the Seattle airport my wife was waiting for me and I couldn’t wait to see her.
When I came out of the ladies room, I saw our table was empty, I was thinking he took off since I didn’t open up to him. It was my business and not his, so why tell him, you know. I looked around for him. I saw that he was standing by the exit of the shop, so I started to walk toward him and then we walked out of the Pizzeria Shop. It was nice that he wanted to walk me back to the house. He’s right, I am here and safe. He is also wanted to hold my hand to confront me. At first I was scared to let anyone come close to me. Since the attack happened I didn’t trust anyone and be in a relationship. Who would blame me? I agreed to let him hold my hand, and walk with me. We did some small talk about everything that we wanted to do after we graduate from the program. It’s funny that we both wanted almost the same thing. I don’t know if I am was ready for a relationship after what happened to me. But at some point we all have to move and forget our past. But for me, I don’t think I will ever forget what happened to me.
When we arrived at the house,Edward walked me to the door. I loved his topaz eyes, I could stare at him all night. We talked for a little while longer before we said our goodbyes. He gave me a peek on the cheek. I wanted to return a kiss, but I was scared to, like I said earlier I don’t trust anyone right now. So I just smiled at him.“Edward, I had a nice time with you, even though, I didn’t open up for you,” I smiled.“I understand, we should do this again, but not talk about what you been through,” He winked at me.“Yeah, it would be nice,” I returned a wink at him.“Hope to see you around,” he said as he walked away from the door.
Rifle and machinegun fire hammered relentlessly into the building until the rebels inside the Mendicity thought their heads might explode. It began to quiet down by Tuesday night, but the lull was an ominous one – it only meant that the soldiers outside were creeping closer. Edward could see them in the dusk from his post on the highest floor of the institution.
“Ammunition is running low,” McCarty said as he came up behind Edward. “Some of the lads are talking about trying to catch the grenades that the Brits have started throwing and throw them back out before they explode. It’s madness.”
Edward shrugged. “It might work. I saw someone do it at the GPO earlier.”
“Well, desperate times call for desperate measures,” McCarty allowed with a sigh. “Good thing the shoulder I dislocated last week was not the one attached to my throwing arm.”
Edward had a snappy comeback ready on the tip of his tongue, but he never uttered it as an unearthly scream pierced the night.
“Sweet Jesus…” McCarty muttered. “What was that?”
I was kneeling by the door in my waiting position. It seemed like I was there for an hour when in reality, it was probably minutes. Suddenly, the door opened and I felt my body tense in anticipation.
“Very good pet. You look delicious kneeling there waiting for me.”
I kept my eyes on the floor, knowing that I should be silent at the praise.
“Crawl over here, pet.” I automatically got up on my hands and knees and made my way over to the bench. Once I got there I went back into my waiting position. I felt movement around me and then I was shrouded in blackness as the familiar feeling of a blindfold covered my eyes.
“Hands behind your back.”
I immediately complied and felt my wrists being bound behind my back.
“How does that feel, pet? Not too tight?”
I moved my wrists and felt a little give.
“It’s perfect, Mistress.”
Once in California we caught a cab to our hotel and went to check in. Luckily it was the same hotel as the conference so we didn’t have to walk too far. The hotel arrangements were adjoining rooms because they didn’t have 2 rooms close to one another besides these adjoining rooms.
I got the key to my room and told Edward I would see him tomorrow at the conference. I didn’t want to assume we would hang out today.
“Umm Bella would you like to eat dinner with me tonight? We could go to hotel restaurant or just order in and watch some TV.”
“Dinner would be good but would you mind ordering in. I am kind of tired so I thought I would get settled in and take a nap. What time were you thinking about?”
“How about 5pm that should give us enough time to settle in and relax. Ordering in is not a problem.”
“Thanks! See ya later!”
I was so excited to have dinner and watch movies with Edward but nervous too. I called Angela to let her know I got here ok and then hung up and put some stuff away. I decided to take a nap and set my phone for 4pm.
When I got up I took a shower and it woke me up and then I realized where I was going and started to get nervous again.
Edward text me and told me to just come over when I was ready. I text him back around 15 minutes.
Once I was dressed I went over through our adjoining doors and he was talking on his phone. I hung back a little so I wouldn’t interrupt and he looked like he was getting frustrated with whomever he was talking to. He finally hung up and was pulling on his hair. When he noticed I was there he smiled.
“Tanya” was all he said and I nodded and understood.
“What would you like to eat Bella?”
We looked at the menu, picked our selection and Edward called it up. We were sitting on the couch trying to find something good to watch. Before we knew it our food was here. We spread it out on coffee table and started to eat.
“Edward can I ask you a question and you can totally say it’s none of my business.”
“Hmm sure Bella go ahead.”
“What is with you and Tanya? I mean I get how beautiful she is and all but getting to know you a little I feel you are two totally different people. I just don’t see you as the type of guy that would go forth beautiful on the outside. You are the type that would want someone who is special on the inside and I am sorry but Tanya’s a bitch!”
He laughed and said,
“Tanya and me, it’s complicated. We have known each other like forever and we kind of just thought we were meant to be. Lately she has been doing things to piss me off and embarrass me that I am involved with her. That morning you heard us argue, I was telling her I was tired of her crap and needed a break. That is why I volunteered for this conference because I need to re-evaluate my life right now.”
“I am sorry you are going through a hard time now but maybe it’s what you need. Now I understand why she said what she did to me.
Edward looked angry and asked.
“What did she say to you about me?”
“Nothing really Edward except she trusted me to accompany you on this trip. She got very rude with me and said things that were hurtful but I did come back at her and eventually she apologized. She just really cares for you and she is scared.”
“Bella I am so sorry she hurt you and I would like to know one day what she said but I don’t want to ruin our evening. She just isn’t the person she used to be and I just don’t want to be around her anymore.”
“You will figure it out and maybe you will find someone else who is better for you.”
He looked at me odd and I couldn’t figure it out.
“Ok enough of this stuff. I think we need to find a comedy to watch.”
“I totally agree!”
We finished up our dinner and ended up watching some old comedy on TV. We talked about our likes and dislikes a little bit and were next to each other closely. I could tell I was getting sleepy but didn’t want to move. I just put my head on the back of the couch and closed my eyes. I felt myself move but didn’t seem to care, I was so comfortable.
Sometime in the middle of the night I woke up suddenly and realized I was leaning on Edward. We moved at the same time and our eyes opened and our faces were very close. I saw him getting closer and licking his lips.
We said at the same time and just laid there looking in each other eyes. It felt so good to be in his arms but I knew it was wrong.
“I should get to my room and get more sleep. I will see you at the conference.”
I said as I was getting up. I almost had tears in my eyes because I felt so strongly for him but knew it could never be.
He got up and ran after me yelling,” Bella wait!”
I turned around and he was right there and said,
“I had a really good time. I can’t remember when I enjoyed myself more. Sorry for the awkward position this morning but it felt good! You are a remarkable, beautiful woman. Thank you!”
Then he kissed me on my forehead and turned towards his bedroom.
I was completely blown away! Is there a chance he does like me. Tanya is my boss though and she would make my life miserable if she knew.
I turned around and went to my room for a little more sleep before all the lectures
I adjusted my tie because…it was suddenly feeling very tight…then I put my driver’s cap on my head and opened her door for her just as she arrived at the vehicle.
I nodded to her. “Good evening, Miss Swan.”
She smiled up at me.
And there it was.
Oh, how I love that smile.
That smile, to me, said, come hither, Edward, join me in the back won’t you? But those were never the words that came out of her mouth.
She was always polite.
“Good to see you, Edward, thank you.”
Her voice sent chills to the back of my neck, down my spine, curling around to my dick and it was saying, “follow her, follow her into that back seat Edward.”
But I knew better.
That was inappropriate and I reminded myself that it was a sure fire way to get…well, fired. Besides, who would drive us?
So I took her bags, watched her bend ever so slightly as she slipped into the back seat…there goes the skirt…then opened the trunk and threw her overnighter in.
I caught a glimpse of her, as she sat in the back seat.
She seemed quiet, sad almost, and I wondered what on Earth, or who, could possibly make such a beautiful woman feel that way.
She nearly caught me ogling when her head turned unexpectedly, and she looked out of the back window at me.
Pulling my eyes from her, I closed the trunk, took my seat behind the wheel again and we were off.
I peeked at her through the rear view mirror.
Her lips tilted upward as she noticed the drink I’d left for her.
“How do you always know just exactly what I need, Edward?”
Actually it wasn’t really like that… Outcast. Oh you’re the left out Stoner Bitch. Sorry this seat’s taken.
It begins—the brownbag lunches in my truck.
The change happens. Resident Stoner #1—otherwise known as Jasper—found me in my old man Chevy, eating. Said I was welcome to join him and company for lunch.
I was “responsible” enough not to trust Stoners, but they couldn’t be that bad.
They were so much worse than the potheads in Phoenix.
Jasper brought me to the back of the gym. Cigarette butts were littered all around and there were milk crates—to sit on?
Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club was sitting on one, Ray-Bans tangled in her short hair, with a joint—maybe it was a hand rolled cig?—in her mouth.
“Fuck! What the hell are you thinking Jazz?! She Chief’s daughter, she could rat us out.” She gave me an Ice Queen stare.
Jasper scratched his head and grabbed her smoke and said, “This is the ‘sad little hillybilly’ who eats lunch in the Chevy every day.”
James took the smoke and winked at me.
Inhale. Exhale. No cough. Mr. Experienced.
He passed it. To me. Not good. I tried to give it back to Ally Sheedy. She wouldn’t take it. Live a little, you pussy.
Inhale. Exhale. Sputtersputtercough.
“Why do you like her?” Came from Ally Sheedy’s mouth, directed at James—or is that St. Jimmy?
No reply. Whisperwhisper, prick, asshole.
Ally Sheedy wasn’t one for intros. “Name’s Alice, I’m Jazz’s girlfriend.” Ally Sheedy is Alice and a girlfiend.
Bella and Edward walked into the restaurant, their hands clasped tightly together. She was the picture of confidence, and he was desperately trying to be. She knew he was nervous. The whole drive his leg had bounced restlessly and she could see him gnawing on his lip. By the time they arrived, his entire body was tense. She knew this was going to be uncomfortable for him, but after a few minutes of tender touches, gentle reassurances, and searing hot kisses, he’d relaxed.
“They’re over there,” she said softly, tightening her grip around his fingers.
He didn’t say anything but nodded to let her know he’d heard her. He was determined to make this night go smoothly. These women were important to Bella. They were her best friends, and while Jane didn’t know him, Rosalie did. She knew their history, the sadness, and the aftermath of pain he’d left in his wake, and his and Bella’s relationship wasn’t going to be an easy sell.
“Hi guys,” Bella said as she walked up to the table.
Jane and Rosalie stopped talking and both of them smiled at her. Jane, a petite blonde, stood up and hugged Bella, as did Rosalie. As Rosalie wrapped her arms around Bella’s back, her eyes flickered over to Edward, and her lips pulled into a straight line. She wasn’t happy to see him, and he wasn’t surprised in the least.
Bella pulled back and reached behind her for Edward’s hand. “This is Edward,” she said sweetly. “Edward, this is Jane,” she said, pointing to the blonde, “and of course, you know Rose.”
Edward gave them his best smile. “Nice to meet you, Jane,” he said, extending his hand to shake hers.
I sighed and glanced out the window of my corner office. It’d been a long day and all I wanted to do was curl up in my favorite chair with a glass of wine and a good book. In just a few moments, all hope of that flew out the window.
My assistant, Emily, rushed into the room, out of breath and teary-eyed. I jumped up in concern and reached for her hands.
“Emily, sweetie, what’s wrong?”
“Oh, Bella,” she sobbed. “It’s terrible.”
At twenty-one, the girl was only three years younger than herself, with what seemed like unlimited optimism. To see her like this made Bella’s blood run cold. She reached across her desk and nabbed the box of tissues, handing them silently to the girl. She took the offering gratefully and composed herself.
She sniffed and glanced at her boss balefully, as Bella patiently waited for her to speak.
“It’s Mrs. Masen,” she whispered hoarsely. “There’s been an accident.”
Bella’s heart fell to her feet and tears sprung to her eyes. Elizabeth Masen was one of her partners in CMS Publishing. She and her sister, the silent partner in their business, Esme Cullen, were like family to Bella.
“What happened? Where is she?” she asked urgently.
Any hope she might’ve felt died in the instant when Emily could only respond with a sob.
“No,” Bella cried, tears dripping down her face. “Not Lizzie.”
She buried her face in her hands, sobbing deeply. A few minutes later, she composed herself and wiped her cheeks dry.
“Where’s Ed?” she asked. He’d just lost his wife, he’d need all the support he could get right now.
Emily shook her head, her bottom lip trembling. “They were on their way home from Ryan’s game when a drunk driver hit them head on. They were killed instantly.”
Bella’s hands shot to her mouth, covering the gut-wrenching sob that wanted to escape. She swallowed it back down, voicing the biggest fear she had at the moment. “Ryan?”
Emily wrung her hands, wanting nothing more than to go home to her husband and cry her heart out. “He’s at Seattle Children’s, in critical condition. They’re not sure if he’ll make it.”
Bella reached out and hit her hand on the desk, the enormity of the situation close to drowning her. She steeled her heart and vowed to keep herself together; to be strong for the little who was one of her best friends.
Leaning back against my desk, I felt Tanya’s lips were making their way down my bare chest as my phone started to chime with my assistant’s ringtone for the sixth time in the past hour.
“Dammit, Jane,” I muttered under my breath, before letting the sensation of a warm tongue against my hipbone sweep my thoughts away.
Tanya’s tinkling laugh echoed throughout my office. “I don’t know if I should be offended that you’re grumbling her name as I’m about to go down on you.”
I glared down at her for minute. Just long enough for her to get with the program and smirk, working my belt loose swiftly. All I wanted at the moment was to see her pretty strawberry blonde locks wrapped around my fists as her mouth sucked my cock.
Just as her hands wrapped around my hardness, the phone rang again.
“Mother fucker!” I growled as Tanya sat back and her heels, shaking her head.
“Answer her, Edward. Find out what the little shrew wants and then tell her to fuck off, so we can continue uninterrupted, baby.”
I reached over and violently opened my cell phone. “What the fuck is it now, Jane?” I spat venomously.
“Eh-Edward?” she stuttered out, her voice raw and scratchy. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew something was wrong with how she sounded, but I couldn’t bring myself to give a fuck.
“Who the fuck else would it be, woman?” I ground out.
“I-I’m so s-s-sorry,” she replied, sounding as if she’d been crying.
I sighed and softened my voice, hoping to catch more flies with honey.
“What’s wrong, Jane?”
“Edward, there’s b-b-been an accident,” she sobbed out.
My brow furrowed in confusion. “What’s going on?” I asked, dread settling in my stomach.
“It’s your parents. They were in a car accident.”
Panic started to well in my chest. This couldn’t be happening. I’d just talked to my mother on the phone yesterday. Wait, wasn’t it yesterday? I honestly couldn’t remember now that I thought about it. I hadn’t been back home to visit in almost three years, but I still talked to my family occasionally. Deciding that this wasn’t the type of conversation that one had with their now-flaccid dick hanging out, I pulled up my pants and sat in my chair.
Tanya gave me a confusion look, before slipping her dress back on. I shook my head and tried to focus on Jane’s words.
“What happened, Jane? Are they okay? Why didn’t anyone call me?”
“No one knows your number, sir. All of your calls go through me, remember?” she responded softly. “I’ve been trying to reach you for an hour.”
I swallowed painfully and ran my hand through my hair, guilt overtaking my senses.
“My parents, Jane. How are my parents?”
“They’re- They’re gone, Edward.”
I watch intently as Edward tells me that he’s going to teach me Fur Elise. Lately, my head and heart have been so caught up in the past that it’s been so easy for me to be distracted. But I force away the unbidden memories and focus as Edward begins flutter, delve and weave his fingers on the keys. He plays beautifully, his eyes widening comically at me when he accidentally hits the wrong note.
“Your turn,” he announces in a sing-song voice. Then, he slowly begins to teach me.
The tension between us nearly drives me insane.
His fingers are cold as they gently press against mine, showing me when to put my fingers on the black keys, and then the ivory. His breath is hot against the side of my neck, making my straggly, rain-frizzled hair tickle the delicate skin. I know he’s watching me intently. I can feel it. I intentionally avoid his gaze for the first couple of minutes as I finally get a short sequence of the song right – the first, infamous string of decadent notes. But after listening to Edward’s reassuring, soft voice patiently instructing me for a while, the urge is too great. I turn my gaze to him.
“I saw her with that red head, Maggie, I think you said her name was. They were certainly cozy looking. Siobhan seemed rather upset to notice me. What do you think it was about, Rosalie?” Felix’s voice was part-concern and part-amusement. He never had fully accepted my relationship with Siobhan.
I shrugged and went back to looking over the chapters he’d edited for me. “I trust her, Felix. I love her. That’s good enough for me. I know she’s not the woman the marketing team would like to see me with for scandals and ratings and all that other stuff you guys love to see, but when have I ever cared about that? I gave up second-guessing my choices when I left Royce. She’s it for me until the day she tells me otherwise.”
A girlish giggle interrupted my tirade as a very drunken Maggie and Siobhan climbed the stairs to the front porch. “Oh, Rosie-“ she paused to hiccup, “I didn’t know you were home.”
He’s gone, Bella. How many times do you have to remind yourself that before you give in and believe it?
But he felt so real… like as if he truly did exist as a human being. He may have been what kept me up at the night, but he always ended up making me fall asleep dreaming of good dreams. He’s what chased away all my worries of Bree… my mom… my dad…
My green-eyed angel.
Yes, I can’t even even fathom the fact that he’s gone and yet my mind can still say his name. How much more suffering do I have to take?
Great. Who would be at my house at seven in the night? Alice, this better not be one of your stupid blind dates again.
Sighing, I jumped out of bed and practically sleepwalked downstairs to the front door. However, when I turned the doorknob, my eyes came face-to-face to a pair of green ones.
Oh… my… god. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
My green-eyed angel was real.
By the time Alice had gone through the entire mall, she had left behind a trail of carnage — maxed out credit cards, a decimated bank account, and a wallet empty, save for a single hundred dollar bill staring mockingly up at her, begging to be traded for just one more piece of heaven. But she couldn’t find it in her to care about any of the consequences. She had managed to successfully erase all thoughts of real life and it’s real problems. Here, in this temple of mass-consumerism, Alice was a willing, joyful congregant. And if she only had one more chance to buy a glimpse at God, then she would spend it wisely.
“You wanna watch me make Alice come?” she whispered in my ear conspiratorially. “Or do you want to help?”
Arriving quickly, my breathing became shallow and my balance questionable as I took in the horrible sight before me. Bella was on the ground, twisted in an unnatural kind of way, her face swollen and discolored. Edward stood helplessly over her, a mess of confusion and panic, while Alice stood not too far in front of me. I couldn’t see her face, but her hands were balled in fists and her posture was rigid. Slowly, almost against my will, my eyes slid back to Bella. She was looking at each of us with a wild fear, but when she looked at me our eyes locked. I was paralyzed, transfixed in our gaze, while the world faded away until it was just me and Bella.
Inch by inch, a cold darkness spread through me as I looked into new eyes that returned the same look I had seen in my own twisted reflection for years. It was a hallow look that could only be caused by one thing, and I knew instantly that she had not just been severely beaten; she’d had her soul shattered in the cruelest of ways.
Hammering on the front door made me jump in place on the couch. The book I had been reading toppled to the floor with a quiet thud that seemed to echo that of the frantic beating. It wasn’t long until my heart joined in with the tempo and labored against my ribs with the same frenetic beat. I froze in place, wondering if the sound had been part of my subconscious. It wasn’t unusual for me to drift back to sleep after I woke up.
It wasn’t until the rhythm was repeated on the cheap, wooden door that I realized that it was, in fact, very real. The noise made my heart gallop ahead of me as the comprehension sunk in. My eyes didn’t move to the door for confirmation at first. Instead, they scanned the room for the carriage clock that had been a wedding gift from Grandma Swan. It was one in the morning.
Edward keeps bananas in the apartment. Although he’s promised to never eat them in front of me, sometimes I get a whiff. A whiff is almost worst than a real banana because then I must figure out where it’s coming from and destroy it before my gag reflex kicks in. I am the banana hunter with a really disgusting sound track.
Usually, it’s a peel in the garbage can, which can be easily disposed of in the dumpster outside. But every now and then it’s the tiniest fleck of banana on an unspecified dish in the sink. Edward always wonders why we go through so much dish soap. I drown the dishes in it before I can touch them. “Die banana, die!”. I’ve never failed at a hunt. If I do, it won’t be funky fruit I’ll be after, it’ll be an Edward.
I just don’t like bananas. I don’t like how they’re clustered together like swollen fingers, or how they bruise easier than my Great-Grandma. The smell is horrendous; even in candy form I can’t stomach it. But the worst part about them are their texture: sticky and mushy and tacky. Ugh, it gives me the heeby jeebies just thinking about it.
“Mike! How the hell are you, man?” he greets me.
“I’m all right, Tyler. How’s married life?”
“Great. That’s kind of what I wanted to talk to you about, actually.”
“I don’t understand. You called me in the middle of a workday to talk about married life?”
“Not exactly. I was just wondering if you and Bella were coming back for Edward and Tanya’s wedding. Jess and I will be there, and it would be awesome to see you again.”
My throat is instantly dry. “Edward and… Tanya… are getting married?”
“Yeah, next month.” He rattles on, giving me all the details, then concludes with, “Didn’t you get an invite?”
I consider lying to him, but the gig would be up when we didn’t show, so I opt for the truth instead.
“Er, no, actually.”
“Oh. Well, I’m sure you will soon. There’s no way Edward wouldn’t invite you to his wedding. It’s probably just taking longer to get to Florida than it did to get here.”
“Yeah, probably. Listen, Tyler, I’ve gotta run. I’ll call you in a few days, okay?”
“Sure, man. Talk to you later. And see you next month!”
“Right,” I mumble, pushing the ‘end’ button on my phone.
I’m not sure whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. It totally sucks that Bella and I didn’t get an invitation. I don’t buy for a second that it’s just taking longer to get to us; I know for a fact that Tanya excluded us—and there’s no doubt that it was Tanya and not Edward that made that particular decision.
I lean back in my office chair and drum my fingers on the desk. There are pros and cons to this. The biggest pro, of course, is that maybe if she knows that Edward is off the market permanently, Bella will relax and be happy with me again, like she used to be. The biggest con is obvious to me, too—Bella loves Edward. Tanya promised me that Bella would eventually forget about Edward, but it’s becoming more and more apparent that she’s not going to.
That is how I found myself on the edge of that cliff—at the precipice of my suicide. The only goodbyes I’d given were a hastily written note telling my bastard husband that he no longer had someone to boss around or cook his meals. I wished him farewell, placing it on the bed. I figured someone would take my place in no time, and surprisingly, it didn’t bother me. I was so tired, just wanting everything to be finished.
I looked up to the heavens, and prayed that I would be forgiven for the mortal sin I was about to commit.
Please forgive me. I cannot live without my son any longer. He was everything to me and if this is the only way we can be together, then I will do it. I beg you, just this once, to give a grieving mother clemency.
With a deep breath, I backed up and ran to the edge. As my foot touched the rim, I flung myself off and into the void. The air sped up and hit me in the face, making it hard to see the bottom. A sense of relief flooded me as my body shattered on the ground. There was no pain, sadness, or regret in me as I slipped into oblivion. Only peace.
Thank God I’m arrested on a weeknight. The holding cell is nearly empty. Just me and some guy brought in for drunken disorderly, but he’s passed out now, sleeping it off. I use my one phone call to call Jasper and then I just sit on the bench with my head in my hands, thinking.
I think a lot.
I think about everything I’ve done, every choice that I made since leaving school, that’s led me to this one, really low moment. Because let’s face it— cooling your heels in a jail cell is a giant wake-up call from the universe telling you that it’s time to re-evaluate your life choices.
“I’ll go,” he offered as he rose to his feet. “There are plenty of benches in the park. I’ll just find another place to eat.”
“But none of those benches have this view of the water,” I heard myself protest.
His handsome face was a blanket of confusion, and I felt sick to my stomach. I was giving this poor guy so many mixed signals; he’d probably never come back to this park for fear of running into the crazy girl.
“So…we can sit together?”
I sighed softly. “I can just go back to my office.”
“Then I’d really feel bad,” he said miserably as he threaded his fingers through his hair, making it stand on end. I was clearly frustrating him. “Look, my name is Edward. I’m twenty-four years old. I’m a musician, and I promise I’m the most polite man you’ll ever meet because my mother would beat me otherwise.”
I laughed in spite of my anxiety, but his speech was too sincere to doubt, so I cautiously took a step closer to the bench before taking a seat on the very edge.
“…A voice in my head. A leering, hissing voice. Go! Take! Go! Kill! Egotistical. Unethical. And so fabulously obsessive. The urge to snap my teeth together with force. To hunt, to flex my muscles like a panther that pounces on a bull and drives its claws into the hard skin. To feel the thrill of the most arousing combination of smell. Adrenaline and fear and death.
Death. A low growl escapes my throat at the thought. I don’t know, though, whether it is a growl of want or disgust. And every time I try to silence the monster, it always wakes up stronger than the last time. It fights me with every second I take away from its dinner time. And I hate myself every time I give in. Because the stone is stronger than the spirit.
I am a monster.
I inhale a huge gust of air, full of scents that make the demon in my head jump with excitement. I hear the voice again, this time laughing maniacally, menacingly. I see the glint in its eyes behind my closed eyelids. I see its hands rubbing with enthusiasm. I feel the tremor of its body’s need, shake my own. I inhale again. Blood. Fresh, sweet and in abundance. Blood. Blood. Blood. Red. Hot. Smooth, fragile skin. Blood. Exposed neck. Skin. Blood.
I don’t control anything anymore. My body is not my own anymore. It’s under the command of the demon…”
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