Paved With Good Intentions
If you loved someone, how much would you be willing to sacrifice? Bella makes the most difficult decision of her life; now she has to live with the consequences. A Bella/Edward story.
Rating 5/5 Word Count 4445 Review this Chapter
“Hey pretty lady,” Edward greeted me as I left work one evening. “Would you like to go out with me?”
I grinned at him, peering into those lovely green eyes. “Thank you, kind sir, but I don’t think my boyfriend would like that. I’m supposed to go to his house tonight to watch baseball.” Yes, this was the depth to which I had descended in my love for Edward: I was willingly going to his house to watch the Major League Baseball playoffs.
He smirked. “Actually, I have it on good authority that he’s had a change of plans and wouldn’t mind if I accompanied you to your apartment instead.”
Continuing to play along, I exclaimed, “Sir! I’m deeply offended. I never allow strange men in my apartment.” I batted my eyelashes at him.
He laughed out loud at that one. “No, you just open the door for them without checking to see who it is first. Much safer.”
“Shut up.” I punched him in the arm. “So we’re not going to your house?”
He shook his head. “No. I hope you don’t mind. Mark and Elizabeth invited some friends over, but I didn’t want to share you with a crowd. We haven’t had a lot of alone time this week.”
It was true. He’d had a round of exams and busy projects, and I’d been tied up at the bookstore helping Carolyn with inventory. I’d even gone in to work on my days off. Carolyn needed the help, and the overtime pay was worth it. It had been several days since we’d had a full evening to spend together. Still, I knew he’d been looking forward to the game tonight. “You do remember that I don’t have a TV, right?” I asked.
“Liz is taping it,” he replied. As he helped me into the car, he said, “I picked up Chinese; I hope you like it.”
Inhaling deeply, I closed my eyes in appreciation as my stomach growled. “It smells fantastic. Thank you,” I said gratefully. It had been a long day at work, and I hadn’t really been looking forward to visiting Edward’s sister. Elizabeth and I got along fine, but it was still stressful having to make conversation with someone. The idea of Edward and I relaxing in my own home was heavenly.
I looked out at the night sky as we drove. September had given way to October, and hints of fall were upon us. The seasons don’t change as dramatically in Phoenix as they do in Forks, but the signs are there if you know where to look. It had been three weeks since Edward and I had made a tentative declaration to each other. Actually, Edward had practically shouted his intentions from a mountain top, while I had hesitantly agreed to move forward. We’d been on a few more dates, and I’d done my best to live in the moment. We’d finished A Tale of Two Cities last week, and I’d winced as Sydney Carton gave up his life so that Charles Darnay could find happiness. It hit too close to home. Memories still haunted me, but I tried to accept them and look to the future. I knew that at some point I was going to have to tell Edward the truth, and I had no idea how to do that. He would most likely think I was crazy, but we couldn’t form any kind of lasting relationship with a secret this big between us. Hopefully that conversation would take place a long time from now.
I was so involved in my thoughts that I didn’t notice the sheepish look on Edward’s face until we were standing outside my apartment. “Edward, what’s going on?” I asked suspiciously.
He grinned as he opened the door. “Surprise.”
At first glance my apartment looked exactly the same as it always did. Then I noticed the flat screen TV that hung on the wall in my living room. “Edward! You did not buy that for me.”
He put his arm around my shoulders. “I missed your birthday a few weeks ago, so consider it a late birthday present.”
“No,” I said firmly. “It’s too much.”
“I wanted to do something really nice for you,” he pleaded.
I glared at him. “You brought me Chinese food; that was nice.”
“It’s not even close to the same thing, and you know it!” he said, his voice rising with frustration. Sighing, he ran his hand through his hair, making it stand up on end. “I get it, okay? No fancy presents. I didn’t know that, or I would have thought before I did anything.”
Wincing, I admitted that he had a point. Human Edward hadn’t yet been exposed to my wrath concerning expensive gifts; I was reacting to something that had only ever occurred with my vampire love. I really needed to find a way to keep the two separate in my mind.
He continued arguing his case. “You needed a TV, and I wanted to do something special for you. Please don’t be angry because I was trying to make you happy.” Green eyes looked at me soulfully.
His eyes captivated me. I had an almost out-of-body experience as I considered the future. What if Edward and I somehow found a way to make this work? If he didn’t run away screaming when I told him the truth, we would continue our relationship down its natural path. For Edward, I had a strong suspicion that path would include marriage and someday – heaven help me – children. If Edward’s children had the same eyes as their father, I would be an absolute pushover as a parent.
I gave a firm shake of my head, trying to snap out of it. “I’ll accept it just this once and only because you didn’t know,” I said, pinning him with my gaze.
He held up his hands pleadingly. “I promise it will never happen again.”
Glaring at the offending television, I muttered, “It’s more a gift for you than it is for me, anyway.” The comment gave me an idea. “I like that! Why don’t we just say that the TV is yours, and you’re loaning it to me so that you have something to watch when you come visit.”
He frowned. “But I bought it for you!”
I folded my arms over my chest. “Take it or leave it.”
His jaw tightened. “Fine. You’re impossible; you know that?”
I grinned, suddenly feeling much better. Arguing with Edward because neither of us wanted to back down – this I knew how to do. “You love me anyway.”
His face softened and a rueful smile formed on his lips. “I do.”
And that was all it took for him to be forgiven. Sighing at my inner weakness, I gestured toward the set. “It might not do you any good tonight, though. I don’t have cable, and I’m not sure what kind of reception we’ll get without it.”
He gave me a guilty look. “I talked Elizabeth into calling the cable company and pretending to be you.”
Maybe not so forgiven after all. “I imagine you also charmed the apartment manager into letting you in so that you could set up the TV and wait for the cable guy?” It wouldn’t have been hard to do; my landlord was a single woman in her sixties who looked like she could use a good romance.
He grinned. “She was very accommodating.”
“I’ll bet,” I muttered. Sighing, I said, “Okay. Did you at least give the company my address for billing?” I wouldn’t put it past him to have sent the bills directly to his house.
Frowning, he replied, “Yes, but now we have a problem. If it’s my TV, then I should pay the cable bill.” He held up his hand to curtail my argument. “That’s the deal. If you really want to pay the bill, then you’ll have to accept the television as my gift.” He was smiling victoriously.
I glared at him. Forget making a future with him; I was going to kill him before the night was through. “Fine. I’ll let you know when the bill arrives in the mail.” I stomped into the kitchen and began setting up the food.
“Good,” he called after me cheerfully. “I’m going to look for the game now, okay?”
I snorted. “You know what, Edward? You may be romantic and emotionally deep, but underneath it all, you’re still just such a guy.” It was reassuring, in a way.
He turned to face me. “You think I’m romantic?” His chest puffed out with pride.
I pointed at the television. “Watch your game.”
He laughed and returned to the set. Once he’d found the right channel, he came over to help me. “Do you mind if we eat in the living room tonight?”
“That’s fine,” I agreed. We made our way over to the chair, where we carefully arranged ourselves so that the food didn’t make a mess. “Remind me who we’re watching?”
“Detroit and Oakland, the first game for the pennant. Since I’m a Michigan boy, we’re Detroit all the way.”
“Got it. The Detroit…Tigers, right?” I’d learned a thing or two, living with Charlie.
He nodded, pleased. “You know baseball?”
“My dad watches a lot. He’s a Mariner’s fan, of course,” I replied.
He winced. “Ouch. Well, tell him I’m sure they’ll have better luck next year.”
Laughing, I agreed. We watched for awhile, cheering as Detroit took the early lead. There was something comforting about sharing baseball with Edward; it was like the present had formed a bridge to the past. When Ivan Rodriguez homered in the fourth, I said, “I went to an amazing game once. It was the most impressive display of skill I’ve ever seen.”
“Yeah?” He turned to look at me. “Which teams?”
I smiled softly. “Nobody famous. I’ll tell you about it sometime.”
He studied me. “You have a lot of secrets, Isabella Marie Swan. I’m going to enjoy discovering them all.” He reached out to tuck a lock of hair behind my ear, and the touch of his hand burned my skin.
A couple of innings later, I teasingly tried to steal the last shrimp from his plate. He successfully fought me off, only to hold the captured prize with his chopsticks and offer it to me. “Here; let me feed you,” he whispered.
My eyes never left his as I pulled the succulent food into my mouth.
His face darkened with desire. His jaw tightened, and he carefully set the chopsticks down on his plate before reaching up to cup my cheek with his hand. He leaned in, bringing his lips to within inches of mine. “Bella,” he murmured. Then he kissed me.
It was so different from what I had known. There was warmth and softness where before I had always tasted cold strength. He was still cautious, however, and I had to remind myself that this Edward had probably never kissed someone before. I didn’t mind if we went slowly; I was still struggling with my own issues. Gently I pressed my lips against his and ran my hands through his soft hair – the one thing that hadn’t changed much in his transformation. He liked the feel of my fingers against his scalp, and his mouth became more insistent against mine. When he finally pulled away, we were both breathing hard.
He looked at me, and the joy I saw in his eyes almost made me weep. Smiling gently, he put his arm around me and pulled me close to his chest. We watched the rest of the game in easy companionship.
When the game had ended in a satisfactory win for Detroit, Edward gathered our plates and carried them into the kitchen. “I don’t want to leave,” he said quietly.
“Then don’t,” I replied, surprising myself. Taking a deep breath, I added, “Stay.” He looked at me, startled, and I suddenly realized how that must have sounded. “Not for that! I mean…just to sleep.” It had been too long since I’d last fallen asleep in his arms.
“I’d like that,” he replied, looking away from me bashfully. “Let me call my sister.”
I’d forgotten about the fact that as a seventeen-year-old human, he was still considered a minor. “I don’t want you to get into trouble,” I said, worried.
He touched my cheek gently. “I won’t. Just give me a minute.” Pulling his cell phone from his pocket, he stepped outside.
I used the time to get ready for bed, trying desperately not to think about what I had just agreed to do. It had been so long since I’d last spent the night with Edward, and I couldn’t help but be thrilled at the idea. At the same time, however, my heart was breaking. I pulled the covers back and realized that I wouldn’t need extra blankets tonight; Edward would be just as warm as I was. The single comforter on my bed was a silent testament to my betrayal. I shook my head, frustrated…frightened. He was still Edward. I had to find a way to live with that, because I loved him.
He came back into the room. “All set,” he said.
“Did Elizabeth object?” I asked.
He shook his head. “She just told me to have a good evening…and to behave.”
His eyes wouldn’t meet mine, so I studied his face instead. He was blushing! It was much more subtle than my usual flagrant display; he had just the slightest hint of red on his cheeks and the tips of his ears. Still, it was endearing. I laughed gently.
He looked up at me. “What?”
“You’re blushing,” I replied. “It’s cute.”
He scowled, walking over to pull me into his arms. “I am not cute, Bella. Masculine, sexy, devastatingly handsome…these are all appropriate adjectives which you may use to describe me. Not cute.”
I couldn’t help myself. Tilting my head back, I challenged, “Prove it.”
His lips found mine, and there was nothing tentative about his kiss this time. He caressed my lower lip, suckling and biting until I moaned, and then he took advantage of my open mouth to sweep inside with his tongue. He was overwhelming, and what he lacked in experience he made up for with enthusiasm and a willingness to learn. God, he was a fast learner. He explored every corner of my mouth, while his hands pressed me closer and closer to the strength of his chest. This is what we were; this was the passion we carried between us, always tightly bound by Edward’s fear of hurting me. Now the restraint was gone, and it felt like we would go up in flames. I felt myself start to unravel, and I pulled away before I could claim what I had wanted for so very long. Taking a few steps back, I looked at him.
He was staring at me, his chest heaving with effort. He clenched and unclenched his hands, obviously fighting the desire to pull me back into his arms. “I’m sorry,” he said roughly.
I’d had enough of his remorse to last me a lifetime. “Don’t you dare apologize,” I said fiercely. “It was perfect; everything you do to me is perfect.” He started toward me then, but I held up my hand to ward him off. “Just…a little too fast.”
He nodded and remained where he was. “Do you want me to go home?” he asked, and his face was the picture of agony.
I shook my head. “No. Hold me while we sleep?”
Looking at the bed uncertainly, he said, “I’m not sure that I can.”
His reluctant admission tore at my heart. “I trust you, Edward.” Walking to him, I took his hand in mine. “Everything will be fine. Go get ready for bed.”
Nodding, he made his way into the bathroom. I climbed into bed and stared up at the ceiling as I battled my emotions. I knew I wanted to be in his arms, but I was still so unsure of everything else.
He returned, wearing his jeans and T-shirt. “I don’t have anything else to wear,” he said apologetically.
“It’s fine,” I replied. “You can take off your shirt if you want.”
He shook his head. “Not yet.”
I nodded, relieved and disappointed at the same time. Moving over, I patted the mattress beside me. “Come to bed, Edward.”
Long, graceful fingers stroked the dark wood post by my pillow as he continued to study me. “I like your bed,” he said, his voice low and rough with hunger.
I shivered, suddenly very glad that I had taken the time to pick out something nice. “Edward,” I murmured, and I knew he could hear the longing in my voice.
He was in the bed before I could blink, pushing me down into the sheets as he kissed me again. His hands caressed my body, and I was glad that I’d worn a pair of sweats for sleeping. The temptation was just too strong tonight. Eventually he pulled away, his face hovering over mine as he studied every hint of my expression. “Goodnight,” he said softly.
“Goodnight,” I whispered.
He shifted to lie beside me, and I cuddled against his shoulder. I wouldn’t have thought it was possible to calm down, but the comfort of his arms greeted me like an old friend. As I drifted off to sleep, I heard him speak one more time. “I love you, Isabella.”
How perfect it was to wake up next to him the following morning! I woke first and studied him in the early morning light. He looked so young and peaceful, and it occurred to me that I had never seen Edward sleep before. I took in his flushed cheeks and lips that were stained with just a hint of red. Long eyelashes lay against pale skin, and russet hair fell every direction against the pillow. I felt something clench deep in my chest at the sight of him. Human Edward brought out protective instincts inside me that I’d never quite felt before. I’d always wanted Edward to be safe and happy, of course, but something about the fragile grace of his skin made me fiercely determined to shield him from harm. As I’d realized weeks before, I was his creator in a way, and he was my responsibility. Brushing his hair back from his forehead, I whispered, “I’ll take care of you. Nothing will ever hurt you again; I swear it.” Could I really promise him that? What would happen when he heard the truth about his past?
His eyes fluttered open, distracting me from my thoughts. “Good morning, beautiful,” he murmured, his voice gravelly with sleep. Moving his head ever so slightly, he pressed his lips to mine.
Could I wake up every morning of the rest of my life like this? It wasn’t so much to ask, was it? “Good morning,” I said softly.
He was doing his own inventory of my features, and I blushed when he grinned as he noticed my hair. “It’s always a mess in the morning,” I mumbled, and I tried to brush it with my hands.
He reached up stop me. “I love it like this,” he said quietly, slipping his fingers into my hair with a look of reverence on his face. “It makes me think things I have no business thinking, especially if I’m going to get out of this bed in time for class.”
“School is overrated,” I argued as I pulled him back to me.
He grinned. “Silly Bella.” Giving me another quick kiss, he rose from the bed. “I have to go home and change. Go back to sleep, love. You don’t have to be up for another hour.”
I didn’t sleep, but I wasted a good thirty minutes smiling up at the ceiling as I reviewed the events from the previous night. I floated through the day, ignoring Carolyn’s good-natured teasing about my absentmindedness. When Edward came to pick me up after work, I flew out of the building and wrapped my arms around him.
He pulled me close. “I should go away more often,” he chuckled.
“No.” I burrowed into his chest. “Don’t go away ever again.”
He leaned back and cupped my face with his hands. “Never,” he whispered, and it was a vow.
Tonight we were expected at Edward’s house, and attendance was not optional. Elizabeth had let us get away with it last night, but she’d made it clear that she wanted to spend time with us now. I had a sinking suspicion that she wanted to question me about my relationship with her brother. Edward drove to an upscale neighborhood and pulled up in front of a house.
“It’s beautiful,” I said, admiring the elegant front porch and colorful flower beds.
“Thank you,” he replied. “Liz has put a lot of work into it, but don’t let her claim the flowers. Those are all mine.”
“Like your mother,” I said.
He smiled at me. “You remembered.” Then he sighed. “It’s time to go in and face the crowd.”
It wasn’t as bad as he’d made it sound. Except for a few teasing comments, we were mostly left alone. I had almost relaxed when Edward went into the backyard to help Mark set up the grill, and I found myself alone with Elizabeth in the kitchen. Tension settled into my shoulders again.
“Hi, Bella,” Elizabeth said calmly. She took one look at my face and burst out laughing. “Would you please relax? I’m not going to attack you, even if you did keep my brother out all night and threaten his virtue.”
I laughed weakly and eyed the distance to the door. Not close enough, and I’d probably fall down if I tried to run. It was time to face the firing squad. “I really care about him,” I promised.
She smiled. “I’m glad. Edward’s had a rough time of it the past few years; we all have. He told you about Edmund.” It wasn’t a question, but I nodded anyway. She continued, “He doesn’t talk about that to just anyone. I want him to be happy, Bella, and he seems to be that way with you.”
“I know,” I said, mystified. What had I ever done that was good enough to warrant a man like Edward falling in love with me – not once, but twice?
She was watching my reaction. “That surprises you. It shouldn’t. In the short amount of time that I’ve known you, I’ve decided that you are exactly the kind of woman my brother needs. You don’t have to worry that it’s just infatuation for him, either. Edward has always been one to make up his mind and stick to it. If he cares for you, he’s in it for the long haul.” Her expression became just the slightest bit concerned. “I guess if anything worries me, that’s it. I don’t mind that you’re dating. I just want to make sure that you care for him as much as he does you. He’s suffered so much already; please don’t hurt him.”
I wasn’t sure what to say. I didn’t want to hurt him – it would kill me to cause him pain – but I knew that at some point we were going to have to deal with the past. How would he feel about me once he knew the truth? I chose my words carefully, borrowing from something Edward had once said to Jacob. “I’m here until he tells me to leave.”
She heard everything I did and did not say with that response, and her eyes measured me for a few minutes. Finally she nodded. “Okay.” Picking up a plate, she asked, “Could you help me bring these things out to the table?”
The rest of the evening was fairly relaxed. We cheered as the Tigers garnered another win, and I thanked Elizabeth for her hospitality before Edward escorted me out to his car. We were quiet on the ride home, content just to be together.
When we pulled up in front of my apartment, Edward cleared his throat. “I don’t want to seem presumptuous, but I brought an overnight bag with me, just in case.” He stared out the front window, refusing to meet my eyes.
I broke into a delighted smile. Bashful Edward was just the cutest thing I had ever seen, even if I wasn’t allowed to say so anymore. “I’m glad,” I said softly, and he graced me with a brilliant smile.
He waited in the living room while I got ready for bed, and when I returned, he was perusing the bookshelf yet again. Tapping the spine of a book, he snorted. “Romeo and Juliet. I’ve never understood the appeal. Romeo didn’t have a lot of sense, did he?”
I stared at the book, thinking of a pale-skinned God and a heartbreaking race against time. “He had his reasons,” I murmured.
“There are never good enough reasons for taking your own life,” he insisted. He turned to look at me, and his eyes widened in shock. “You…you’ve thought about it, haven’t you? Because of what happened with the man in Forks?”
I couldn’t hide the truth in my eyes.
“No!” He was instantly furious. “How could you even think of such a thing? Life is – life is everything.”
“You don’t know!” I protested. “You don’t know what it was like.”
“Because you won’t tell me!” he countered. “In any case, it doesn’t matter, because no explanation would be good enough.” Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out his wallet and flipped to a picture of a smiling young man. “Explain it to him,” he said harshly, holding the picture up. “You tell my brother that life isn’t worth it, every damn time.”
I was crying by this point. “Edward, I’m sorry. I just loved him so much, and it almost destroyed me when he was gone. I can’t – I don’t know how to tell you…”
His face softened when he saw my tears, and he put his wallet away. “I’m sorry, Bella,” he said, but he didn’t put his arms around me or dry my tears. His face was anguished as he looked at me. “Even if I don’t agree with your choices, we can work around that. But – if you loved him that much, how will what we have ever be enough? I just don’t see how I can compete with your memories, especially when you won’t even share them with me.”
He was going to leave. I was pushing him away, and he was going to give up if I didn’t tell him the truth. I struggled with words, knowing that I wasn’t ready for this. “Edward, there’s something I have to–”
The phone rang, interrupting my confession. Sighing, I crossed the room to answer it. “Hello?”
“May I speak with Bella Swan?”
I’d recognize that voice anywhere. “This is she,” I replied shakily.
“Bella, this is Dr. Carlisle Cullen. I’m calling from the hospital in Forks.” How could his voice both comfort and terrify me at the same time?
“Is something wrong?” I asked. “My father?”
He answered, and I felt my heart stop in my chest. “I’m afraid I have some bad news. Charlie’s been shot.”