Edward never came back. Seven years later, Bella is a tough, heartless corporate girl in New York City. She has taken down many businesses and never lost. Now, she is about to take down C-CORP. Who is the mysterious owner? Who is "C"? She will find out, and she will destroy him. Who is the monster now? Can she be saved? The story is done. I will update everyday! THIS IS IT GUYS! THE LAST CHAPTER AND EPILOGUE! (SNIFF)
13. THE GIFT
Rating 5/5 Word Count 2806 Review this Chapter
I was pacing around the hotel room. Jasper had left hours earlier. He'd had enough of my torment. It was driving him mad. My mind kept switching back and forth between everything that had happened that day. My emotions changed from fury, to disbelief, to sorrow, to frustration and back to fury again. There was just too much to take in.
The words reverberated through me. "I set you free." Free. I would never be free of her. Long after this world continued spinning I would be somewhere . . . existing . . . still tied to Bella.
Apparently I had completely misread everything. I was so sure after I had stayed the night with her by the fireplace and listened to her call my name over and over that it was only a matter of time before we were reunited. To lay by her through the night was more than I ever thought I would have again. It was exhilarating, thrilling, and beautiful. It was my heaven. Being that close to Bella now that she was no longer a child sent such stronger feelings of passion coursing through me than I thought I was capable of. Now, I was losing her.
The way we danced Friday night was the most amazing feeling I had ever experienced. I wanted her in every imaginable way. She had put her arm so tightly around my neck and her fingers had wrapped so firmly around my own. Her heart was absolutely flying. I was so sure that she was feeling the same intensity, the same yearning. Instead she tricked me, stole my company from me, and told me to get lost.
Bella and werewolves. No. It was absolutely inconceivable. I had left to keep Bella safe, and she had become best friends with a pack of werewolves? No. No. NO. Dirty, unpredictable DOGS! My muscles seized every time I thought of it. I was grunting my disgust. In that picture Bella had been holding Jacob's hand. I clenched my teeth uncontrollably.
Now, here I had been so worried about Bella and Thomas Vaughn. Was there a chance Bella was in love with a werewolf? They had spent everyday together for a year and a half. That was longer than I had with her. Maybe she had pulled away from Thomas' kiss not because of me, but because of Jacob. She never would have turned to him if I hadn't . . . I never would have let her out of my sight if I had known. . . They could have killed her . . .
I was a complete, absolute, unadulterated idiot. What had I done?
My hours of pacing had done nothing to alleviate my desperation.
In her office, I had been so angry at her actions in the Conference room. I felt justified fury at her betrayal. And then I had seen that picture of her and Jake. I once again saw the Bella I knew. I remembered how she had been so sweet, warm and trusting. The look in her eyes in the picture was a stark reminder of how much Bella had changed. I looked at her now and knew this was all my fault. It was not her, but myself, I should be angry at. It was my choices that had set this all in motion.
Even though I was sure Alice had already told him, I had to make the call to Carlisle and talk to him about what had transpired in the conference room that day. He was disheartened at the turn of events. But, true to his nature he ended up making me feel better about everything. He said we could start over somehow and make the family even closer through our efforts. He was in Belgium and offered to come and take over, but I emphatically declined. I would see this through. None of this would be happening if it weren't for my stupidity.
I thought about what she had said to me about everything concerning us being in the past. She told me she didn't need me to check up on her or worry about her, or feel the need to fix the situation. She told me I didn't have to be kind to her out of guilt. What in the hell did she think I was doing? She truly had no idea how I really felt.
In the middle of the night, after hours of pacing, I finally resolved to go see her. I didn't know if it was the right decision after all she had said to me today, but it certainly couldn't get any worse. It didn't matter now. I had to make her understand. I took the stairs and easily got into her apartment.
She wasn't there.
It was the middle of the night. I stared out her large window at the cityscape. Where could she be? Please don't be withThomas or Jake, I begged. I felt so heavy. So dejected and alone.
As I sat there in the silence, I was afraid. I had maybe two days left in the conference room before my authority as acting CEO was stripped from me. Yesterday had hurt me in so many ways, and I was beginning to feel my days with Bella were numbered. It was as if I wanted to store up every moment I could with her so that I would have as many memories as possible after she sent me away. I needed all the time with her I could get, these memories were going to have to last a long, long time.
As I looked at Bella's apartment, I could see that she had not brought one part of her past life with her. Everything I saw in this place was new and modern and hard. She seemed to have thoroughly turned her back on her past life. She had tried to forget it all.
I sat down and looked out at the night. Everything about Bella seemed tenuous and uncertain, but there was one thing of which I was absolutely sure. Even after all she had done, after all the manipulations and contemptible things she had subjected me to, I still loved her completely. I loved her fully and totally.
I waited for her all night, she never came home.
The next morning, Jasper and I sat in the conference room as I anxiously waited for Bella. Through all the weeks of meetings, she never came until we were all seated. I had no reason to believe today would be any different. It was almost as if she wanted to make a grand entrance. No matter what, I had to tell her how I felt. If I had to stand on the table and declare my feelings for her in front of everyone in this room, I would do it. She could do whatever she wanted to with that knowledge.
Michael Simmons abruptly came in to the conference room and stood in front of us and announced that he was in charge of the meeting. Anxiety clouded my judgment as I blurted out, "Where is Ms. Swan?"
He looked around nonchalantly as he said, "She is involved in some pressing matters of business. She sends her regrets, but I am sure that we will have a productive meeting today regardless of Ms. Swan's absence."
My eyes narrowed suspiciously. Bella hadn't let herself be out of the loop on one minuscule detail, and all of the sudden she was going to miss a whole meeting? Something was wrong. I pressed through his mind for more, but he had become very good these last weeks at keeping me out.
My lawyers, Harry especially, seemed quite relieved to have her gone. Jasper glanced at me with surprise. My mind went through possible reasons for her not being here. Perhaps she wasn't feeling well or there was an emergency of some kind. Perhaps Hathaway had demanded she be on another assignment. Perhaps she had gone somewhere with Thomas. Maybe she had gone to be with Jake. My insides tightened painfully at that possibility.
The meeting was underway and I sat up and forced myself to pay attention to the proceedings. Simmons proved to be a very astute and intelligent man. I could see why Bella had him lead her team. At the rate it was going, I would have one more day in the conference room.
We had been going at it for hours and we were close to finishing. Harry was in the middle of a lengthy speech. In the middle of his droning on, I suddenly heard my name.
Mr. Cullen, if you can hear me, touch the side of your face.
It was Simmons. I made no indication that I had heard him. Was this another trick? I decided to play along for the moment. I was extremely uncomfortable with a human knowing I could read minds. I casually ran my fingers lightly over the side of my face.
Good, I don't have much time, and if Bella finds out about this, I am worse than fired. I will be dead in a dumpster somewhere.
I grinned at his accurate interpretation of Bella's anger.
Look, this is none of my business, but could you please tell me if you have feelings for Bella? Just touch your face again if you do, and you want to continue this conversation.
I took a moment to ponder what my next move should be. This very well could just be another trick. But then, there wasn't much more that I could lose at this point. Besides my family, Bella and C- CORP were all that mattered to me, and I had already lost those. There really wasn't much else he could take away from me.
I looked straight at him so as to leave no doubt in his mind. I bored into him with my stare as I leaned forward in my chair and put my hand up to the side of my face. He took a deep breath and swallowed as if he was gaining courage. His next words threw me.
Bella loves you!
I almost winced. His words were screaming in my ear.
She is in love with you and from what I can see she has been in love with you for the last seven years.
I was sitting up in my seat looking directly at him, not daring to believe what he had to say, but still urging him with my eyes to keep speaking.
You really hurt her. She is terrified of getting close to you. She believes that after this is all over, that you plan on leaving. She is very certain that you do not love her and that you will leave her, just like before.
My body was tingling. It felt almost as if something was coursing through my veins again. I wanted to stand up and demand Simmons tell me everything. If fear of my leaving her was the only thing making Bella push me away, then this whole mess was over. I just wanted to find her and tell her everything. I was never so grateful for long winded Harry Banks. He was however, beginning his concluding remarks.
"Bella will be at a party this Sunday night and you have an invitation. You are being given this one opportunity to talk to her, and work this out."
Could this really be true? I was having a hard time putting my thoughts together. I looked straight at him and nodded a faint yes. He nodded back and continued.
"I will have the invitation delivered, and Mr. Cullen, she went out with Thomas Vaughn because I tricked and coerced her. I thought it would help her, but nothing has. Before Thomas, the last guy she was with, well . . . was you."
I could feel elation surge through me and Jasper spun in his chair to stare at me. I was faintly aware that Harry had finished his elongated dissertation. The meeting went on for an excruciating 30 more minutes. His mind gave me nothing else. Simmons adjourned the meeting and I bolted up to him straining to use human speed.
"Where is she? I quietly demanded. "I don't want to wait until Sunday to talk to her."
He stuttered and stammered and I could read perfectly where Bella was.
"She is already in Forks?" I said through barely disguised anger.
Simmons eyes widened. "Man, you're good," he muttered.
"Look," he said. His eyes were darting around the room looking for anyone who would see us talking and inform Bella. "She needs some time to be alone. This has all taken quite a toll on her."
A brief image of her sitting under her desk crying came to me. I winced at the scene.
"I need to see her now," I insisted.
He put out a hand to calm me down. "I know Bella pretty well, at least I thought I did until you came along. But she is pretty upset right now. So upset that she didn't care about missing this meeting today. That is definitely a first for her. If you follow her to Washington, she may just turn and run. Give her a few days to calm down. Trust me, she needs a break in the worst way." I started to protest and he put his hand out to stop me.
"She gets back Sunday afternoon. She will not miss this party."
The thought of her alone on that reservation with a pack of werewolves was eating away at my insides. But, what if I really did blow any chance of getting Bella back? Could I risk it? What if something happened to her? I laughed in scorn at myself. She had apparently done well enough keeping herself alive for seven years without my help. But the plane ride alone. . . with her luck, not even the black box would survive. It went against everything for me to leave her there. I would never let her get so far away from me again.
Finally I looked up at him. "Very well. I will be waiting for that invitation. Thank you."
He nodded his head and smiled. "You'll have the invitation before the end of the day."
I turned and walked to Jasper. A faint smile on my face. Bella loved me. She loved me.
"What is going on?" Jasper muttered under his breath.
I slapped him on the back and said brightly, "It looks like I'm going to another party."
He looked at me quizzically as we walked towards the elevators when I heard another message in my head.
"Don't hurt her again. She'll never love anyone else."
I turned around and squared my shoulders. Simmons was standing in the doorway to the conference room.
I walked back and said with complete conviction. "Don't worry. I won't make the same mistake twice. I love her more than anything. I always have." He nodded once and turned down another hallway.
Years ago, Bella had given me a gift.
When I became a vampire, I'd had no choice in the matter. I could have taken Carlisle's road, but I didn't. For 10 years I chose to be a monster. The images of what I did still haunt me, they always will. Even though I eventually found my way back to Carlisle and lived his life, I knew deep inside what I really was, the instincts I constantly fought against reminded me of that daily. But then one night in the tiny town of Forks a beautiful, trusting, innocent girl called my name in her sleep, and I was changed forever.
She saw something in me that I couldn't see. I was lost. And Bella found me.
When I said good-bye to Bella, she'd had no choice in the matter. It was all me, taking her destiny into my hands and changing it. Just like me, she had found a way to survive. To go on. I had killed and drank the blood of humans, all she had done was become a cut throat business woman. I saw who she really was. I knew what was inside her heart. I knew it's every beat and flutter. No one knew her heart better than I did.
So now, I would do all I could to save Bella, just as I was saved by her. I would tell Bella everything. I would leave absolutely no doubt in her mind how fiercely I loved and lived for her. And I would somehow convince her that I was not capable of ever leaving her again. I would then spend the rest of my days trying to make it up to her.
Bella and I for eternity. It was all I was fighting for now.
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- 13 Oct 07
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