Heart and Soul
Edward is nearly broken when he loses a dear friend in an accident. When he meets Bella at Forks High, not only is his heart healed, but his soul as well. However, Bella has a secret that could make or break them. AU/AH Twilight meets Return to Me!
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. I once said ‘what’s the point of an AH Twilight story? Wouldn’t it be better to change the names and make it original?’ Then I read a few that were pretty good. Then, I was bitten by this rabid plot bunny…it had sharp, pointy teeth! So, if you’ve ever seen Return to Me, you may recognize certain key story lines :) Read on, and let me know what you think! Rest assured; this is Edward/Bella :)
13. Chapter 13
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Edward knocked on Bella’s door promptly at nine AM the next morning. When she answered the door, he took one look and started laughing.
“What?! Do I have something on my face?” Bella asked indignantly.
“No…” Edward paused. “It’s just…now I know why Alice insisted I wear these clothes this morning…I swear her intuition is just scary sometimes…”
Once Edward mentioned his clothes, Bella took a good look at what he was wearing…he wasn’t wearing anything special, though on him it looked spectacular. ‘Maybe it’s designer…designer outdoor clothing…’ Bella rolled her eyes at her internal ramblings and then took another look at what she was wearing. Then, she started laughing too.
“We match…” Edward said with a grin. Bella shook her head and walked out onto the porch carrying a backpack, locking the knob as she went. When Edward raised his eyebrow in question, she simply explained, “Lunch.”
“Don’t you want to say goodbye to your Dad?” Edward asked. He grew worried when Bella just shook her head.
“Don’t worry…we’re fine; Charlie went fishing this morning. He invited me too, but then I reminded him about our little hike,” Bella said smiling. “I think he was hoping I’d forgotten so he could take me out on the boat and hook my worms like I was five again.”
“I’m sure you were cute; pigtails and life preservers. What an endearing combination,” Edward smirked.
“Shush you. Let’s get this show on the road,” Bella said before stomping off the porch. “For that, I’m driving…” Bella said over her shoulder. She was at her truck and starting it up before Edward could protest.
Edward directed Bella to the trailhead, making what conversation they could over the thunderous engine along the way. Bella was taken aback by the seemingly limitless trivial questions Edward had. He asked every question as though he were expecting life-altering answers. Bella laughed when he asked, ‘Are you cuckoo for CocoPuffs?’ in the same manner as ‘What kind of music do you like?’ all within ten minutes.
Edward argued with her as they got out of her truck; he wanted to carry the pack, she demanded that she would. Edward was unwilling to concede the point until Bella looked into his eyes and said, “Please…”
The hike was easy, for the most part. Bella watched her feet very carefully and only stumbled twice. Both times, Edward was there to catch her; apparently, he was watching her feet carefully as well. They stopped a couple of times to rest and drink some water. Edward pointed out a few things along the way; a small, hidden waterfall, the freshwater spring that supplied it, and a graffiti-covered rock that sat hidden among the sea of ferns. Bella shared what sparse knowledge she had of the surrounding trees that Charlie had taught her when she was very young.
“Why didn’t you visit Forks after you turned eight?” Edward asked, surprising her.
“Uh, well… I wasn’t much for traveling,” Bella hedged. Edward looked at her with his frustrated ‘I can’t read you, but I know you’re hiding something,’ look on his face. Bella quickly asked a loaded question of her own.
“Why did you run away when you were thirteen?” It was Edward’s turn to fumble for words.
“You remember that Carlisle and Esme aren’t my natural parents?” he finally started. Bella nodded her head.
“I was adopted when I was five…” Edward began. He paused as he climbed over a fallen log resting across the trail. He turned back to help Bella over the log. After she was over, Edward kept her hand in his.
“My parents died when our house burned to the ground,” Edward continued. “I didn’t really understand what had happened, not for a while anyways. I remember the smell of the smoke and wet ash when the firemen started dousing the burning rubble. They took me to the hospital; that’s where I met Carlisle.”
“Didn’t you have any other family?” Bella asked sadly.
“No…all of my grandparents had passed away before my parents had ever met. They were married late in life, and I was their only child. I have no aunts or uncles, so…” Edward trailed off.
“I’m sorry…” Bella murmured.
Edward shook his head, “You have nothing to be sorry for; it was a long time ago, and Carlisle and Esme are wonderful parents.” A thick silence settled between them.
“Where exactly does this trail lead? You said you wanted to show me something,” Bella asked to lighten the mood a moment later.
“Well the trail leads to a rather spectacular waterfall, but we’re not actually going there,” Edward said mysteriously.
“Where are we going then?” Bella asked, playing along.
“It’s a place I found a while back, just a few months after the accident actually.” Edward admitted.
“Was this on one of the infamous Cullen campouts that Jessica was telling me about a couple weeks ago?” Bella teased. Edward smiled at her.
“Actually, this is something I found by myself. You come to realize when you wake up suddenly hearing every mind within five miles that peace and quiet is rather hard to come by.” He admitted ruefully.
“That can’t be very enjoyable…” Bella grimaced, and appreciated Charlie’s quiet house for an altogether different reason than before.
“It was pretty overwhelming at first,” Edward admitted.
“What’s it like? Hearing thoughts I mean.”
“Well, Emmett thought it was the most awesome thing since sliced salami…” Edward chuckled.
“Uh…isn’t the phrase, ‘since sliced bread’?” Bella asked with a chuckle.
“Not to Emmett,” Edward explained.
“Oh…do I want to know why…”Bella questioned.
“No,” Edward interrupted quickly, laughing again.
“What do you think about it?” Bella asked after Edward had fallen silent.
“It’s been a blessing…and a curse. Carlisle and Esme learned very quickly that having a mind reader in the house put a big damper in the romance department. No one felt very amorous once they realized I could hear them. I would start pounding a song out on the piano or I would blast my stereo in an attempt to drown out the thoughts that were more embarrassing to overhear. Alice and Rosalie would lock themselves into their room every day, and declared that ‘Privacy was needed before any real kisses could be shared.’ I thought Jasper and Emmett were going to strangle me after they had three weeks of nothing but a peck on the cheek. Finally, Rosalie yelled at me to stop being such a nosey parker and just stop listening to them. So, I set up a little demonstration.”
“A demonstration?” Bella asked curiously.
“I gathered my family and turned on every alarm clock, radio, and television in the house at full volume. I even moved several old radios from the basement and set them up in the same room as my family. Then I set off all the car alarms in the garage. Then I told them all to stop listening without turning anything off. Rosalie never complained after that, and the next day Carlisle brought home a few books on meditation and concentration techniques,” Edward explained.
“Wow…I’d say that borders on a curse…” Bella agreed. Edward laughed at her honesty. “How is it a blessing? Other than being able to look into the girl’s locker room that is,” Bella said slyly.
Edward shook his head ruefully. “It has made school easier…not because I cheat,” Edward said quickly when Bella widened her eyes in disbelief. “It just makes it easier to understand what the teachers are trying to teach. You know how some people say, ‘I know what I want to say, just not how I want to say it? That’s exactly why mindreading can be a blessing,” Edward explained. They walked on in comfortable silence, listening to the sounds of the forest.
“Tell me about your family,” Edward said after a few minutes. Bella laughed.
“Renee is…eccentric…she always said that I was her middle-aged child, and it’s true…sometimes I was more of a mother to her than she was to me,” she said fondly.
“You miss her,” Edward said.
“Yes; she’s been my best friend for most of my life. She supported me through a lot…” Bella trailed off.
“Like what?” Edward asked when she didn’t say anything further. Bella hesitated, not wanting to answer his question, and hoping her face didn’t betray her discomfort.
“I’m sorry, I don’t mean to pry into painful subjects,” Edward said. He suddenly came to a stop, their joined hands causing Bella to halt as well.
“What?” Bella asked, confused by Edward’s actions.
“Here’s where we leave the trail,” Edward explained releasing her hand to drink some more water. He smiled at her disbelieving expression and gestured to a well-hidden stone marker, which Bella only noticed once Edward drew her attention to it. He left the trail before her, and paused when he realized she wasn’t right behind him. Bella looked beyond Edward; further into the trees. The vast sea of ferns swallowed his lower legs. Bella noted with dismay the higher concentration of roots, moss and fallen trees that obscured the ground off of the well-worn trail.
“Don’t worry; I won’t let you fall,” Edward promised in a low voice. Bella smiled at his honest and eager face before resolutely stepping off the path and following him into the forest. She followed Edward in silence for some time, carefully watching her feet and where she had to step next. As such, she hadn’t realized that Edward had stopped walking until she had run straight into his back.
“Edward,” Bella began, confused.
“We’re here,” he said in explanation. Bella stepped around Edward to see what exactly they had come to. She gasped in astonishment. Before her stood the most amazing meadow; it was nearly completely circular, as though it was part of a master-planned garden. It was covered in thick, luscious grass and wildly blooming flowers in blue, purple, yellow and white.
“It’s beautiful,” Bella whispered, stepping into the meadow and realizing for the first time, that the sun was shining beautifully. It was as though this moment was meant to be. She turned around to see Edward still standing in the cover of the trees; watching her in obvious fascination. ‘That’s better than frustration at any rate,’ Bella thought.
“Come here,” Bella asked, waving Edward over with her hands as well as her words. For a moment, his face was anxious, almost afraid. “Please,” Bella said, knowing that he could not resist her plea.
Edward took a deep breath; he seemed to be steeling himself for something. With one last look towards the heavens, he stepped out and followed Bella to the center of the meadow.
“What is it?” Bella asked.
“It’s just…I’ve never brought anybody else here…I guess I just want you to like it here…” said Edward as he smiled in obvious relief.
Bella was overwhelmed by the intense emotion suddenly radiating from Edward’s face. It was as though his very skin were alight with his joy. She could feel the magnetic draw between them as he moved closer and stopped within a foot of her. He had such a look in his eyes that Bella felt like she was witnessing something amazing; something special. Tenderly, almost timidly, Edward raised his arm and brushed the back of his hand across her cheekbone. His fingers curled as his hand moved towards her ear, where he turned his hand over and then ran the back of his fingers down her throat. He rested his hand on her shoulder and his thumb caressed the side of her neck. Bella could see the jade color of his eyes darken. They were a deep green; nearly the same shade of the evergreen trees surrounding the meadow they stood in.
Bella closed her eyes and felt Edward’s other hand cup her cheek; the hand now resting at the nape of her neck moved back up into her hair. Once again, Bella could feel his electric presence magnifying into a high voltage current. Her breath was quick and shallow as she waited for him to relieve her from the torment they had felt ever since the morning they had nearly kissed in her father’s kitchen.
Gently, almost tentatively, his lips brushed hers; causing the current to arc into a powerful surge. Quickly, before Bella was ready for it, his lips pulled away. Bella opened her eyes in confusion, her mind clouded by her desire to keep kissing him. She was surprised to see Edward looking at her with an anxious expression, as though he were afraid that he had overstepped his boundaries. Bella raised her eyebrow, and said, “Let’s try that again, shall we?”
Edward let out a breath that she hadn’t realized he’d been holding and smiled his crooked smile. Bella smiled in return before she pulled them together and kissed his lips firmly, passionately, and with abandon.
It was sometime later that they broke apart; the sun had definitely moved further across the sky.
“That’s not exactly the reason that I wanted to bring you out here…but I’m glad you’ve wanted to do that as much as I have,” Edward said breathlessly. Bella laughed and pressed her forehead into Edward’s chest, waiting for their breathing and heart rates to settle down.
“How’s lunch sound?” Bella asked.
“Wonderful,” Edward responded earnestly. Bella wasted no time pulling a thin but sturdy blanket and several containers from the bag she carried. Edward watched in amusement as she got things organized after he had spread the blanket. They spoke animatedly as they ate; Bella told him about her childhood in Phoenix. She even told him about the dance lessons that Renee had drug her to, hoping to instill into her a sense of coordination, or at the very least, balance. Edward told her more about his life before he met her and of happier times with his family.
“Emmett and Alice are really like my brother and sister; it’s been a little interesting with Rose and Jasper. They’re Esme’s sister’s kids, so they’ve never wanted to be officially adopted. I think it’s more that they liked their foster siblings too much to make it illegal to date them,” Edward laughed.
“That’s terrible!” Bella laughed. “They’re not even here to defend themselves!” she teased.
“They really are great siblings. Better than any I could have asked for…” Edward paused. “Well, I sort of did ask for Emmett and Alice,” Edward laughed again. Bella was suddenly reminded of a question she had thought of earlier.
“I understand how Rosalie developed her fashion sense; but, how did Alice go from a homeless pickpocket, to a fashion clothes horse?” Bella asked. Edward laughed and explained.
“Even when we were on the streets, Alice made sure she was presentable. She would go through the bins at the shelters until she found the best clothes. Not just for her, either; she would torture Emmett and me as well. He and I couldn’t really care at the time, I mean we showered maybe once every other week, cleaned up in fast food restrooms, that sort of thing, but Alice…” Edward laughed. “She said it was her duty to know the designer from the knock offs because,” Edward paused and raised his voice to imitate his sister, “It wouldn’t do to pick the faker’s pocket and come up with credit card receipts and gum wrappers instead of cash.” Bella smiled at his jovial mood, though she still felt anguished by his lighthearted acceptance of his difficult past.
“You’ve heard all about me now; what about you? Will you tell me about why you’re so close to your mother?” Edward asked, suddenly growing very serious. Bella realized that she could hide things no longer; not when Edward had been so open with her.
“I’m afraid…” she began. Edward’s brow creased, and his lips pursed in frustration.
“Are you afraid of…me?” he asked in a tremulous voice.
“No…” Bella said quickly. “I’m afraid of losing you,” she said honestly. “I’m afraid that once I tell you, that you won’t think of me the same; that you won’t want to be with me anymore…” Bella trailed off.
“Nothing could make me stay away from you,” Edward said earnestly. Bella closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She started, “When I was younger…I was sick…” Bella admitted, recalling the fatigue and breathlessness that she had written off as allergies.
“I collapsed at school in junior high; during gym…”Bella gave a mirthless laugh. “Yet another reason I despise it, apart from my debilitating clumsiness.” Edward was riveted by her every word, his eyes growing more anguished as she told him of her diagnosis, the medications that didn’t work, the missed school, the pitying looks that she got from all of her classmates.
“But you’re fine now, right?” Edward asked desperately, grasping her shoulders and examining her eyes carefully for any sign of illness. “Did they find a medication for you? How did you recover?”
“Well…when I collapsed at school, I was put on the list for a heart transplant. It took a little bit; I was very fortunate…lots of people never get a donor,” Bella trailed off, her eyes threatened to overflow with the tears gathered there.
“You had a heart transplant?” Edward asked in amazement.
“Yes…” Bella looked at her hands, unsure of what she would see if she continued to meet Edward’s gaze. “I understand if you’d rather not get involved. I know I’m…damaged,” Bella finally forced out. She had yet to look at Edward since she had admitted her most deeply held secret.
“Bella…” Edward’s voice was anguished; he spoke to her in a near whisper. Still, Bella studied her hands in her lap.
“Bella… please…look at me…”
Finally, Bella released all the air in her lungs in one long breath and raised her face to meet his.
“Bella…you are not…” Edward broke off with a strangled sound. “You are a miracle, one that I can scarcely begin to deserve. If anything, I’m the damaged one here, not you.”
“No, never…you’re beautiful,” Bella whispered. Edward scoffed at her words and ran both of his hands through his hair. Bella reached out and stilled his hands, grasping both of them in hers and pulling their now joined hands into her lap. “I’ve got an enormous scar down my chest…and a medicine cabinet full of pills,” Bella couldn’t help it; her insecurities came tumbling through her tears.
“You’re afraid that I’ll leave you because…you…have a scar?” Edward asked incredulously. Bella didn’t respond. When Edward pulled his hands from hers, she resigned herself to her undoubtedly permanent single status. Edward rose onto his feet and Bella wrapped her arms around her middle and studied the design of the stitching on the blanket.
“Bella, please look at me…”Edward firmly repeated his words from only minutes before. The strength in his voice contrasted greatly with the way he had nearly whispered it previously. Bella was startled; she couldn’t resist anymore. She wiped her tears away and raised her head to meet Edward’s eyes.
What she saw startled her. Edward had stood up and his long-sleeved shirt was in his hands. Bella’s eyes widened as she took in the long scar running down his stomach from just below his sternum to just below his navel. Edward’s arms also had a multitude of scars, though they were smaller, more irregular, and scattered. It was as though he had broken a plate glass window with his bare arms. ‘Or a car window or a windshield…’Bella thought as she realized how Edward must have received his scars.
“You are no more damaged than I am, Bella.” Edward said assertively. He sank down onto the blanket and moved slowly towards her, his eyes locked on hers as he walked on his knees. The scars traversing his arms and his abdomen stood out more prominently than if he had been indoors; the rarely seen sun gave them more contrast to his bare skin which was pale under the bright light of noon.
Bella held her breath, reaching a timid hand towards his waiting arms. She exhaled quickly when her fingers touched his arm and traced the port wine and silver colored scars. Edward let out his breath as well; Bella hadn’t noticed him holding it. Her fingertips tingled with the now familiar electricity that was generated when she touched Edward. His arms turned over beneath her exploring hands. She looked up to see his eyes were closed, his face turned upward as Bella continued to trace every line etched into his skin. Edward flinched slightly when she moved to trace the line on his stomach.
“Sorry…” Bella said as she jerked her hand back from his stomach.
“No…you’re fine…I was just so relaxed…it’s so easy to be myself when I’m with you…I’ve never felt so close, so connected with another person. Not even Alice or Emmett has really seen my scars, not since I got out of the hospital,” Edward admitted.
Bella was speechless. She couldn’t believe the trust she and Edward had for one another; the depth of their connection was surprising to her. They had barely known each other long enough to feel what she thought was love, and yet it was there; growing, binding and unceasing. She could only think of one way to express her overwhelming emotions. To show him what he meant to her. Slowly, with fierce determination, she reached to the buttons on her shirt.
“Bella…” Edward trailed off, though his nervousness was plainly displayed on his face. Bella said nothing; she merely unbuttoned her first three buttons. She wore a camisole beneath her shirt, though it wasn’t cut high enough to cover the top four inches of her scar. Edward’s eyes brightened in understanding. Hesitantly, he lifted his hand from his lap and traced the line in the center of her chest from its highest point, down to the edge of her camisole. When Edward leaned towards her; Bella expected him to kiss her. She moved to meet him in the middle but she was surprised when he held up his hand, indicating that he wanted her to hold still. Confused, she opened her mouth to ask what he was doing.
“Shh…” Edward whispered as he momentarily pressed his fingers to her lips. He trailed his hand from her mouth and down her neck to finally rest, open-palmed, over the visible portion of her scar. Bella could feel her heart accelerate beneath his warm touch. Edward’s crooked grin made her believe he knew exactly why her heart was racing. Bella held still; attempting to lower her heart rate by closing her eyes and breathing deeply. She was slightly disappointed when his hand moved; though not a second later, the feel of his silky-soft hair grazed her chest. Then his ear pressed against her as he gathered her into a hug and listened to her heart beating within her chest. Bella smiled and instantly buried her hands in his hair, enjoying the texture of it as she held Edward to her chest. They sat embraced for an indeterminate amount of time; Bella was startled when Edward finally started speaking.
“The night of the accident, Tanya told me that she loved me…I couldn’t understand how she was so sure…how she knew that what she felt was really love. I thought that we were too young to understand those kinds of feelings…I wanted to think about it…” Edward’s voice broke as he uttered the last, and Bella wrapped her hands more tightly around him, rubbing small circles into his bare shoulders. After a moment, he moved to sit up. “I’m not going to make that mistake twice,” Edward said determined.
“Edward?” Bella questioned, though she was sure she knew what he meant. She had thought it herself as she opened her shirt…her heart…to him.
“I know we’re young, but we’ve both been through things that most people our age would never imagine, even in their nightmares…I know now; I can say it with truth from every fiber of my being Bella. I…love…you.” Edward enunciated the last three words. Bella blinked; she was shocked to discover that she had tears in her eyes.
“I know…” for a moment, she was too choked up to say anything else. At Edward’s incredulous look, she smiled reassuringly. “I understand what you mean…I don’t care how old we are…I love you, too.” she finished in a whisper.
For a second, they sat frozen, staring at one another, trying to absorb the implications of what they had just declared. Finally, neither of them could tolerate the still silence any longer. Edward leaned forward at the exact moment as Bella; their lips met this time with eager confidence.
Once again, time moved outside their notice. When they finally broke apart, they realized that the sun had moved further west than they had anticipated. Bella remembered that they still had a five mile hike back to Bella’s truck. She groaned.
“What?” Edward asked, alarmed.
“Five miles…roots…fallen logs…” Bella mumbled. Edward laughed and Bella scowled at him, causing him to purse his lips together in order to stifle his mirth.
“Don’t worry, love; I’ll carry you the whole way,” Edward said reassuringly as he pulled his shirt over his head. Bella scoffed, but she was grateful for every last mile that she rode on Edward’s back.
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- 13 Jan 09
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