Thursday, August 4, 2011

Massage Therapy, Chapter 16 - Confession, part 1

From the Desktop of Bella Swan
Saturday, August 26

I held the oversized mug of peppermint tea close to my face, deeply inhaling its contents. The warm, menthol vapors helped clear my head. I stared into the placid amber sea for a moment, then studied the tiny waves that broke its calm when I blew lightly across the surface. Just holding the cup of tea was soothing beyond measure. It was much easier to look at than Edward’s eyes; those anxious, sad, baffled eyes whose questions I now needed to find the courage to answer.

I sat rigidly in the middle of his couch, wrapped in a beautiful heirloom patchwork quilt, though it wasn’t cold. He probably thought I was in shock, since his first instinct was to wrap me up like a mummy as soon as he managed to get me indoors. I wondered if his grandmother or great-grandmother had made this quilt. I would have to remember to ask him about that later.

“I’m sorry if I scared you,” I said at last. My voice was thick and nasal from crying. I could imagine how awful I must look; how puffy and bloodshot my eyes must be. I couldn’t think about that or I wouldn’t be able to face his flawless beauty and continue.

He shook his head. “Don’t worry about me,” he murmured in that amazing velvet tone of his. “I’m only worried about you. I just want to make sure you’re okay.”

He sat close to me, his body turned toward me, one hand rhythmically stroking my hair. Petting me like he would the cat. I glanced across the room and felt another wave of relief wash over me at the sight of Lucky devouring some smelly tuna out of his bowl. If I had hit him-- if I had so much as given him a scratch….

No, I definitely couldn’t think about that. I had escaped the unthinkable this time. I hung onto that knowledge, let it buoy me, so that I’d have the strength to keep paddling. I was amazed at how quickly the abyss had reappeared, ready to swallow me whole, the minute my truck spun out on the wet pavement. I knew that if I could just get the words out now, that undertow of futile terror would lose its pull, and Edward would be my lifesaver.

I looked into his eyes then. Looked past the worry and confusion to find my anchor. Whatever anger he must have felt when he found out I’d recorded him seemed to have been forgotten, at least for now. I knew his arms would be my safe harbor when my difficult journey was done.

“I will be okay,” I told him. I wasn’t sure if I was trying to convince him or convince myself. But once I said the words aloud, I began to believe them. His fingers warmed my scalp as he ran them through my hair; slow, soothing strokes. I took a sip of the tea and enjoyed the heat that bathed my mouth and cleared my throat.

“I was driving the car that day,” I began. I glanced up at Edward to make sure he understood what day I was talking about. Of course, he did. He remembered my story about the accident, I was sure. At least, the vague, blameless version I’d told him the day we first got to know each other. Now it was time for the unvarnished truth.

“I had just turned sixteen and gotten my license. Renee--my mom--was as excited about it as I was, I think. She was like a little kid that way. She would get so wound up and giddy over things. She had so much joy in life.” I took another sip of tea to dissolve the lump forming in my throat.

“Anyway, she always teased me about having to haul me everywhere, and said she would be so glad when I got my license. She was just kidding around, of course. She liked to do things for me whenever she could. She wasn’t much of a cook or housekeeper, so I usually picked up the slack there. But she was great at other things--creative things. She built me a big doll house when I was little, with furniture made out of old spools and margarine containers and stuff. She used to sew little outfits for my dolls, too. She took me to dance lessons, and taught me how to ride a bike.”

I paused for another sip of tea; another hit of courage. Edward sat patiently, fingers still combing my hair, until I continued. “She had just started to teach me to play her old guitar. She wasn’t all that great at it, but she knew the basics and showed them to me. So, for my sixteenth birthday, she bought me lessons with a professional guitarist. And, of course, she was as excited about them as I was. In fact, she had decided that she wanted to sit in on my first lesson. Maybe pick up a few pointers from ‘the master,’ she said.” I stopped and made the quote marks with my fingers, and tried to utter the words with your flair for the dramatic. I let out a faint laugh at the memory; I could hear your voice as clear as day in my head, like it was yesterday.

Edward’s smile was even more faint than my laugh. He sensed where this was headed. I’m sure he had already figured it out. The curl of his lips was bordering on grim, like he was bracing himself. I felt myself doing the same.

“My first lesson was scheduled the day after my sixteenth birthday, at the biggest guitar shop in the city. Mom had decided that I should drive… put my new license to the test. That’s exactly how she put it, too. ‘Let’s put that license to the test, baby!’” I shuddered involuntarily. “She had no way of knowing how horribly I would fail.”

Edward’s brows furrowed, and I knew he wanted to correct me; to assure me I had done nothing wrong. But he let me continue, and I was grateful. My mouth was on a strange sort of autopilot now, the truth emerging from my depths like a long-submerged submarine hell-bent on reaching the surface. It felt almost as alien and separate from me as a submarine, too, the words echoing distantly in my ears as if someone far away was saying them. I watched myself set the mug of tea on the coffee table in front of the sofa before sitting back to continue.

“It was a Saturday afternoon. It was cloudy and looked like rain, which was really unusual for Phoenix. We laughed and said we’d have to write it down in our diaries: ‘today was the first day in three years that we didn’t need to wear sunglasses.’ I wore them anyway, because of the glare. But maybe I shouldn’t have. Maybe I would have been able to see better without them. Maybe they messed up my peripheral vision. Because how could I not see a delivery truck coming right at us? How is that possible? I mean, it wasn’t as big as a semi, but it was definitely bigger than a pick-up or a van. Big enough to fold our little Focus into an accordion when it hit the passenger door.”

Edward’s hand had stilled. His fingers were frozen in the hair behind my ear. I looked up at him, and the tinge of his skin was reminiscent of his eyes. His head shook ever so slightly from side to side, as if to refute what I was saying. But there was no denying the truth. I knew it with absolute certainty in that moment. It gave me strength, somehow; knowing that the inevitable would have its day, yet I would still be standing afterward.

“Mom was talking and laughing right before it happened. Telling me some funny story about my step-dad Phil when he was trying out for the minors. I was trying to listen to her and laugh in all the right places, but still pay attention to the road. Even though I had practiced driving plenty of times with Mom and Phil before, this was my first real trip half-way across the city. I was paying such close attention, I thought. We came up to the intersection, and the light was green. I thought it had been green for a long time, but I wasn’t sure. I didn’t have that much experience. I should have slowed down. Why didn’t I slow down? Because green means ‘go,’ that’s why. Even children know that.”

I shook my head, feeling as confused now as I ever had at the memory. “I’ve never been able to figure out exactly what happened then. No matter how much I slow it down in my mind and try to recall all the details, at some point it just becomes flashes, like still frames from a movie. Green light. I keep going. Mom talking and laughing. Me looking at mom and seeing the truck looming behind her window, coming fast. Unbelievably fast, like he has a green light too. Brakes screaming far too late. Mom screaming.”

Edward looked ill. His eyes were wet at the corners. I was cried out now; bone dry, weary and matter-of-fact.

“Her scream was blessedly short; cut off almost instantly. But the screech of the tires seemed to go on and on, even after the crash was over. The impact of it was impossibly loud, like a bomb going off; and then nothing but those damned tires. It took a minute or two before I realized it wasn’t the tires I was hearing… it was me. I couldn’t stop screaming her name. Screaming ‘no.’ Because I knew she was gone. One look and I knew.”

I closed my eyes, trying to block out the memory of all the blood. I didn’t want the nightmares to come back. They had become fewer and further between with each passing year, and for that I was grateful. So was Angela, who had soothed my night terrors more times than I could count.

The movement of Edward’s fingers behind my ear again alerted me to the fact that I’d been staring, unseeing, at the collar of his shirt. I didn’t remember opening my eyes. And yet I suddenly realized I’d been studying the beard stubble growing down his neck, so virulent and full of life, always threatening to claim victory over his Adam’s apple. I reached out tentative fingers to touch it, and sighed at the comfort I found in its prickly persistence.

Edward’s own fingers made their way out of my hair to cup my face, lifting it gently so that my eyes would follow.

“The traffic lights were broken, Bella,” he reminded me softly. His eyes said all the other things his lips did not. It’s not your fault. You had just gotten your license. An experienced driver wouldn’t have fared any better. It was an accident. You were in the wrong place at the wrong time. You can’t blame yourself. All the things I knew; all the things that counselors and relatives and friends had told me over and over. Assurances that didn’t ease the loss or guilt one damned bit, no matter how hard I tried to let them.

“I know they were broken,” I replied. “It doesn’t change anything.”

Edward’s eyes closed for a moment, forcing one tear to make its escape down his cheek. “I know,” was all he said.

The look in his eyes once again told me that he did know, all too well. I wondered who he had lost. Was it Tanya? I wanted to ask him; yet perversely, I didn’t want to know. Not now. I couldn’t handle any inkling of his love for her at a time when I needed every ounce that he could muster for me.

He pulled me close, and I knew he was now the one whose eyes could not meet mine. “Bella,” he sighed into my ear. The sigh was broken, almost a sob. It eked out more tears of my own, for even though I was finally surmounting my own pain, I could not bear his. His arms were tight around me, hands buried in my hair; I mimicked him with arms encircling his neck as I hung on for dear life. The feel of his chest expanding and contracting against mine was my lifeline. I clung to him, needing his warmth and breath and life with an acute desperation. I’ll never have the chance to ask for your forgiveness, Mom; but I could ask for Edward’s.

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you I was keeping recordings of your singing,” I blurted shakily against the scruff of his neck. The words of this new confession bubbled to the surface and overflowed in a torrent of emotion; new insecurities now replacing old hurts. “At first I was afraid that if I told you, you’d be angry with me and tell me not to do it anymore. And I needed those songs, Edward. I needed to hear your voice. Before we got together, I was borderline obsessed with listening to you. You haunted me. I was so desperate for more of you. I just wanted to be near you, get to know you; get inside your head and your heart and your soul and figure out where all those powerful words and music came from.”

I pulled back and gripped his face in my hands, eyes begging his for understanding. “Those songs mean everything to me. I never would have given them willingly to Rosalie. You have to believe that. I never dreamed she would go through my desk and rifle through my private things. I’m so sorry, Edward. Please, please forgive me.”

His expression was bewildered. He shook his head and let out a wry, disbelieving laugh. “I can’t believe you’re even thinking about any of that right now. It’s water under the bridge…so unimportant in light of everything you just told me.”

“Not to me, it’s not,” I told him, quickly wiping the tears from my cheeks. “I can’t stand the thought of you being mad at me, or not trusting me. I would walk on broken glass before I would willingly betray you like that. That’s why I followed you here, to make sure you know that. The minute Rosalie told me she confronted you about signing with us, I literally ran after you, hoping to catch you before you left. I still had my purse and my keys in my hand, so I jumped in the truck and drove here, hoping that you were coming straight home like you said you were. I was so relieved to see you at the door that I didn’t even notice Lucky until he was right there, practically under my wheel well. Edward, if I had hit him, I don’t know what I would’ve done. I never would have forgiven myself.”

Edward was shaking his head through half of my tirade, apparently anxious to make a rebuttal. When I paused to get my breath, he took advantage of the opening.

“Lucky’s fine. And even if he wasn’t, it wouldn’t have been your fault. None of this--today, or that horrible day six years ago, was your fault. And I’ll tell you so every day for the rest of your life if that will make you believe it. You can’t keep walking around with the weight of that guilt on your shoulders when it’s not yours to bear. It kills me to see you doing it. I would do anything to take that burden from you.”

I looked into his impassioned green eyes and believed him. I wondered if I could believe him enough to actually do what he asked of me and let go of this, once and for all.

“I truly thought I had let go of a lot of the guilt. The feeling that I was at fault; that I could have reacted differently--better, faster, smarter. I really thought I was past it until Lucky ran in front of my car. As soon as I lost control, it all came rushing back. Every bit of it.” I sighed heavily and took Edward’s hands in mine. He quickly slid his fingers between mine and squeezed them tightly. I loved how big and masculine and capable his hands felt.

“I know I can’t go back and change anything,” I continued. “I used to imagine all the ‘what if’s’ when I was younger. What if we had left just one minute sooner or one minute later? What if Mom had been driving instead? What if she had stayed home? God, you have no idea how many times I wished and dreamed and cried myself to sleep imagining that she hadn’t gotten in the car with me that day. Praying with all my might that when I woke up, she’d be there, apologizing for giving me cold cereal for breakfast again.”

Edward’s hands tightened their grip on mine. “You know your mother wouldn’t want you to do this to yourself,” he said softly.

“Of course I know that. But it’s always been easier said than done.”

He nodded. We both stared at our entwined hands for a moment. His thumbs gently stroked the backs of my hands. Even his tiniest, most subtle caresses had the soothing authority of a masseur. I looked up at his face; his expression was perplexed, brows knitted in thought.

“Did you ever find out what the hell happened to make those traffic lights get stuck? I mean, honestly, you should have been blaming someone in the Phoenix DOT or Public Works Department for gross negligence. You and your step-father should have sued the hell out of them,” Edward said bitterly.

I let out a short, humorless laugh. “Funny you should mention that. We did sue them for exactly that--gross negligence, and wrongful death. Well, Phil sued them, really. I was a minor and wasn’t really involved in the proceedings that much. I had moved to Forks by the time the suit went to court. I had to fly back to Phoenix during my summer break to testify. I think I’ve kind of blocked most of it out. All I remember is that repeating all the details of the accident to the judge was one of the most painful things I’ve ever had to do. I didn’t have near enough distance from it at the time. Having to relive it was… excruciating. But I guess my obvious pain and suffering worked in our favor, because we won. Isn’t that an awful word to use? ‘Winning?’ I felt like I had lost everything when my mother died. Monetary compensation was almost a slap in the face. Like I was being rewarded for driving the person I loved most in the world into the path of an oncoming truck.”

“Bella,” Edward chastised me gently. “Don’t.”

I relented with a sigh. “Let’s just say that we received a very generous settlement from the city of Phoenix, and most of it went to me. I refused to touch it for years. But when I realized how hard it would be for a small-town cop like my dad to put me through college on his salary, I decided to use the settlement money for tuition. The rest of it is still sitting in some money market accounts, accruing interest.”

Edward searched my eyes, then studied our hands for a moment. “I think your mom would be glad that something good came out of your worst nightmare,” he said at last. “You know that wherever she is, she’s watching over you, and she’s got to be happy that you went to school and pursued your dream. She’d never begrudge you that.”

I gave him a half-hearted smile and nodded in acknowledgement. “You know what would really make her happy, though?”

“What’s that?”

“The fact that you gave me the strength to play the guitar again,” I told him, my smile growing. “I never did take those lessons, you know. Never made it to the biggest guitar shop in Phoenix, to learn from ‘the master,’ whoever he was. I couldn’t do it. I always hated myself for it, because I knew how much it would disappoint Mom that I let the accident keep me from pursuing something I loved; something she wanted for me so badly. But now I know why I couldn’t do it until now.” I squeezed Edward’s hands so tightly that the damp sweat of my palms became indistinguishable from his. “I was waiting for you.”

I watched as Edward’s features twisted with emotion, his eyes brimming with tears. I could see his struggle to keep them from falling.

“You give me too much credit,” he muttered hoarsely.

“You don’t give yourself enough,” I corrected him. “You don’t know how much you’ve helped me just by being here for me, listening to me, letting me tell my story. Letting me dump on you after I almost ran over your cat.” My attempt at levity fell short for both of us, but he gave me a half-hearted grin anyway, because that was his way. That was what he did for me, over and over.

“You know something? I just realized I lied to you again. And I’m not going to lie to you anymore, I swear to you.” His forehead creased in concern again at my words. I tried to stifle a smile as I continued. “I lied when I told you I only spent my settlement money on school. I actually spent some of it a couple of weeks ago, when I went shopping for the Black and Red Ball.”

His clouded eyes cleared as he figured out my meaning. “The dress?” he asked, giving me a subdued version of his patented crooked grin.

I nodded, my own grin spreading. “After I tried it on, I had to have it. I knew Mom would approve. I didn’t even look at the price tag. I just wanted to look beautiful for you.”

His expression hovered somewhere between exasperated and pleased. “You always look beautiful to me.”

I rolled my eyes slightly. “I’m sure I’m a real treat right now.” I cut off his imminent protest with, “I wanted to look especially beautiful that night. I wanted you to want me, the way I did you.”

“How could you not have known how much I wanted you? I think you did know,” he accused. “You just wanted to make me crazy. And you succeeded.”

“Yes, but you like it when I make you crazy,” I said, throwing one of his chief arguments back at him.

His grin was full-fledged this time. “I do like it.” He paused a moment, letting his eyes languidly sweep the length of my face. “I like you.”

I let out a laugh at that high school sentiment. I let go of his hands in favor of grasping his hair instead. “Really? I’m so glad, because I like you, too. I might even let you hold my hand behind the bleachers after the big game tomorrow night.”

“I don’t know. That’s a pretty big step there--bleacher action,” he teased, his arms snaking around me. “Are you sure you’re ready for that?”

I nodded and pressed my nose to his. “If you play your cards right, I might even let you kiss me.”

“Now you’re really flirting with danger. I might get the wrong idea and think you’re serious about me. I might ask you to go steady.”

“There you go with the commitment talk again. Freak,” I giggled into his mouth before I kissed him. I was glad for the return of our light banter, a welcome counterpoint to the heaviness our hearts had just shared. Our kisses were gentle, careful not to upset the delicate balance we were striking between past pain and present pleasure.

We made out like tentative teenagers for awhile, kissing and caressing and snuggling through our layers of clothes, content with the simple nearness of one another. We only stopped when Lucky came and jumped on our laps, nearly sending me through the roof with surprise at his stealth attack.

“Damn it, cat, stop scaring my girlfriend to death,” Edward scolded. I wondered if I would ever stop feeling giddy when he called me his girlfriend. He tried to give Lucky a swat, but I blocked him with a protective arm around the cat’s fluffy body.

“It’s not his fault I’m so jumpy,” I said, stroking Lucky’s soft fur.

“Just remember it’s not yours, either,” Edward reminded me. He chose to stroke me instead of Lucky; and, like the cat, I leaned my head into the warmth of his hand. “There’s one thing I need to say to you, Bella. Something you need to understand.”

That piqued my curiosity. “What’s that?”

His eyes were sober and piercing as he ran his thumb along my jaw. “As sorry as I am that you lost your mother that day, you need to know how grateful I am that Fate, or God, or whoever’s in charge of what goes on in this world, spared you. And how grateful I am that He sent you to me. So if you’re ever tempted to feel guilty for surviving when she didn’t… please, don’t. I love you and need you far too much for you to ever feel unworthy of still being alive.”

I stared at him, stunned. No one had ever said anything like that to me before, not even Charlie. Of course, Charlie is a man of few words; but when he speaks, he has an uncanny way of getting to the heart of the matter. Even so, I’d never heard a declaration like Edward had just made. Never had anyone spelled out in such stark, absolute terms what my existence, even in the absence of my mother’s, was worth.

His thumb reached up to catch the tear that rolled down my cheek at his words. I could think of nothing to say. At least, nothing as profound and moving as what he had just uttered. My tears spoke for me, falling unfettered in response to the emotions that flooded me. But the overwhelming feelings that caused the floodgates to open were so different this time: love and grateful adoration instead of guilt and self-recrimination.

“Edward,” was all I could sob as I threw my arms around him. He held me close in another emotional embrace, the scent of his neck a heady drug tempered only by the scratch of his beard stubble on my cheek.

Lucky, nonplussed at this display of affection that did not include him, padded up and down our legs, trying to soften us up, before plopping his body down in the vicinity of our laps. I couldn‘t help but laugh at his antics. I welcomed another bit of comic relief from the intensity of my emotions, even if they were good ones.

Even Edward was chuckling as he pulled away from me slightly. “Just like a little kid--you always have to be the center of attention, don’t you,” he admonished his pet. He gave Lucky a scratch or two behind the ears, then let his fingers comb through the thick orange fur of the animal’s back. The cat purred contentedly.

“That’s the sound I would make right now, if I could,” I told Edward.

He shot me a devilish grin. “I can make your pussy purr right now, if you’d like. I’ve done it before.”

“And I can make your cock crow,” I shot back. “What’s your point?”

Edward’s laugh was free and easy then. “I guess my point is that we sure have one happy barnyard going on here, for a third-story loft.”

I chuckled along with him for a moment. “I know I’m happy,” I told him.

He smiled at me, shaking his head slightly. “Considering where we started out this afternoon, I’d say that’s a very good place to be.”

I thought back to the faint dread I’d felt at Edward’s aloofness in the Java Noise lobby; then to the panic that had seized me at Rosalie’s confession. I frowned as I tried to imagine what had gone on between them while I was at lunch.

“Edward, what did Rosalie say to you earlier? How did she get you to come see her without telling me about it?”

Edward frowned as well and looked away. “She didn’t say much, really. She was very cryptic about why she wanted me to stop by. I just assumed it was about Jasper’s band; that maybe she wanted to find out more about them before she made a decision.”

He tried to keep his voice smooth and unruffled, but I detected a cool undercurrent--a cousin of the frosty tone he’d used with me earlier when he was trying to keep the truth from me. My eyes narrowed as I looked up at him.

“So what did she do when you got there? How did you know she’d found my memory stick with your music on it?” I questioned him.

He took a deep breath, his face a mask of discomfort. “She basically indicated that after hearing the rehearsal last night, she was hoping that I would be a more permanent part of Jasper’s band. When I denied having the kind of talent that would make me a desirable addition to Java Noise, she decided to play me a snippet of my own music, just to prove me wrong.”

My eyes were round with shock as I envisioned Rosalie’s surprise attack. Worse yet, I could just picture Edward’s response at hearing his own music fill the room, realizing that I must have been the one who had obtained it. I was horrified at the thought of how betrayed he must have felt. How he must have questioned my integrity and my loyalty, not to mention my love.

“Oh my God,” I murmured at last, feeling sick at my stomach. “I can’t believe she did that. I was always so careful not to leave any of your music lying around where she might come across it. I never dreamed she would dig in my desk drawers, though. I can’t believe she’d stoop so low. But I knew that once she heard you, she’d want you as a client. I’m not surprised she went after you. But I’m completely shocked at how she went about it. I’m so sorry, Edward.”

“Don’t apologize for her,” he said bitterly. “I can’t listen to you trying to take the rap for anyone else’s failings today.”

“But I have to take responsibility for my own,” I argued. “I recorded you the first night I saw you. I record everyone at open mic nights, but I rarely keep any of them for long. You were so different. I was shocked at how deeply you touched me. I tried to tell you that night, but you were so… abrupt with me. And then when you explained how distasteful you found the idea of selling your music, I couldn’t admit what I had just done. But I couldn’t stop doing it, either. I recorded you the next weekend, and again when the four of us went out together and you played with Jasper. You have to let me own up to my part in this, and apologize to you. I’m sorry, Edward.”

He sighed and stroked my cheek gently. “I don’t want to hear any more of your apologies today, Bella. No more blame. I performed in a public place, and a hundred people at every show could have sent a tape of me to your boss, or posted it on the internet. It doesn’t matter if Rosalie tries every trick in the book to get me on your label’s roster. All I have to do is say, ‘no.’” He smiled, then leaned in and gave me a soft kiss.

I looked up into his understanding eyes and knew without question that I was the luckiest girl on earth.

“Have I told you today that I love you, Edward?”

“Yes. But you can tell me again.”

And so I did. Several times, in fact, throughout the rest of the day and night. We barely moved from the couch. At one point, I dozed off with Lucky purring like a motorboat on my stomach. Edward ordered Chinese take-out, and we ate it from the sofa, wordlessly watching the evening news. We lounged in front of the TV afterwards, talking, not talking, zoning, snoozing. We couldn’t seem to muster the energy for anything more after our draining afternoon, and we headed for bed early.

Still, just to be sure we were on the same page, I demurely whispered a request to Edward as he began to undress me.

“Can you just hold me tonight?”

His half-grin was reassuring. “Of course,” was all he said.

Minutes later we lay in the center of his enormous bed, entwined from head to toe in Egyptian cotton and silken skin. The drumbeat of his heart was slow and steady under my ear, and I let its rhythm lull me. I was half-asleep when I vaguely heard his words.

“It means a lot to me that my music touched you so deeply,” he murmured. The sound was small; vulnerable. “I knew that you saw inside me that night. Saw the real me.”

I ran my hand reassuringly up and down his shoulder. “Did that scare you?”

His chest swelled with oxygen beneath me; its release stirred my hair. “Yes.”

I frowned sleepily, but didn’t raise my head from his chest. I didn’t want my eyes to demand too much from his. “Are you still afraid?”

He was quiet for a moment, but his heart had quickened. “A little,” he admitted.

It was my turn to sigh now. I couldn’t blame him. After all, look what it had taken for me to finally open up completely and reveal my deepest pain to him.

“Don’t be afraid,” I told him. “It’s not so bad, letting go. Not when you have someone to catch you.”

I felt him nod slightly, his chin gently bobbing against the top of my head. I prayed to God for the strength to be his safety net, his safe harbor, as he had been mine.

Encircled in his arms, I slipped into a deep and dreamless sleep.


  1. *wiping tears* You're so good at writing all this emotional stuff, Leann. What a wonderful and beautiful chapter, as always. I wonder when Edward's going to come cean with his past with Tanya... He should just do it already, I think he's worrying way too much what Bella's reaction will be. If I have guessed even remotely right what happened with Tanya, Edward really has nothing to worry about. Right? ;)

    Thanks for the update! *hugs*

  2. Thanks honey! So glad you liked it, even if it was a bit of a tear-jerker. Don't worry, Edward's time is coming soon enough... the repercussions of his waiting so long remain to be seen. *cryptic, I know!* ;)

    Blogger (or my computer?) hasn't been letting me stay signed in to answer my own blog comments, so if this is signed "Anonymous," you'll know why! ;p