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Paved With Good Intentions

Summary:
created by jace 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.


Notes:


8. Found

Rating 5/5   Word Count 4247   Review this Chapter

Edward’s handsome face was the first thing I saw when I opened my eyes. I raised my hand to my head as I struggled to get my bearings; I was with Edward, so I must have been sleeping. “I had the most horrible dream,” I murmured.

His worried eyes searched mine. “It’s all right; you’re safe now,” he promised.

It was so good to be with him again, to have escaped the terrible nightmare. It felt as if I hadn’t seen him in weeks, and so I told him the words that seemed as if they had become rusty with neglect. “I love you,” I whispered.

Pealing laughter interrupted my thoughts. “Fainting and falling in love before she’s even met you! Edward, I think it’s a new record!”

Gingerly I turned my head to look at the beautiful woman who was kneeling beside me, and in that moment all of my memories returned. It wasn’t a dream. It was most definitely a nightmare, but unfortunately it was of the waking variety. I had lost Edward; I had given him away, and the young woman smiling down at me was the recipient of the most selfless, most painful act I had ever performed. If she was marrying him, marrying my Edward, then why was she smiling at me? The answer was obvious: she knew I wasn’t a threat. She was so elegant, so beautiful, so perfectly matched with him; what could she possibly fear from someone like me?

Suddenly I noticed that Edward was scowling at her. “Knock it off, Liz,” he growled as he ran his hand through my hair. “She’s hurt; she doesn’t know what she’s saying.”

His skin was too warm; his voice, though pleasant, wasn’t the velvet melody of my fantasies. This wasn’t my Edward, and I couldn’t bear to stay here and meet my replacement. “I’m fine,” I said, trying to stand. Unfortunately I moved too quickly; pain shot through my head as the sky whirled above me.

“Easy,” he said gently, holding me close. “You took a hard fall; don’t try to get up yet.”

I should have protested, but it felt so good to be in his arms that all I could do was lean into his chest and take a deep breath. He smelled the same; it was muted, but his scent still intoxicated me.

The girl laughed again. “Now she’s trying to get away? I was wrong; maybe you’re losing your touch.” I glared at her, wondering if it were possible to kill her and make it look like an accident.

He rolled his eyes. “Elizabeth,” he said sternly. He looked at me, smiling ruefully. “I’m Edward Masen, and the comedian next to me is my sister, Elizabeth.”

His sister. I wondered if this was what it felt like for Edward when his dead heart beat for the first time in almost a hundred years. I gasped, feeling truly alive for the first time in so long...six weeks, five days, thirteen hours. Tears of joy filled my eyes as I replied, “It’s so good to meet you.”

He grinned, and – oh, God – it was still that familiar, crooked smile. “And you are?” he asked, his eyes teasing.

I blushed, but before I could respond, a voice called out. “Bella!”

It was Carolyn; my boss hurried across the street, her face frantic with worry.

Edward glanced at her and then smiled down at me. “Bella,” he murmured. “Beautiful.” His eyes were green, not gold, but still they captivated me, drawing me in as time stopped around us…

Then Carolyn was beside us, her hand clutching my arm as she repeated my name. Reluctantly I tore my eyes from Edward’s perfect face and turned to look at her. “I’m okay,” I said.

This time when I tried to stand Edward didn’t stop me, but he kept his arm around my waist. “She fainted and hit her head,” he countered, frowning.

I glared at him. Apparently regaining humanity and undergoing a memory wipe hadn’t been enough to remove his overprotective streak.

“I knew you shouldn’t have come to work today!” Carolyn fussed. She turned to Edward and his sister. “She wasn’t feeling well, but she refused to stay home.”

This was getting ridiculous. “I’m fine,” I repeated, my voice frustrated.

“You should go to the hospital,” Carolyn said, but she stopped when she saw the look on my face. “Well, you are going home. Give me a minute to tell John where I’ll be, and then I’ll drive you.”

“You can’t leave the store!” I protested.

“Bella, don’t be silly,” she began, but Edward interrupted her.

“I’ll escort her home,” he said smoothly.

My boss looked at him suspiciously; for a moment she looked so much like Charlie that I almost laughed. “How do you know Bella?” she asked, ferocious as a pit bull.

Elizabeth stepped forward and smiled. “I’m Elizabeth Masen, and this is my brother, Edward. We saw Bella faint and came over to help. We would be happy to drive Bella home.” Edward shot her a grateful look.

Carolyn studied her, then turned to me. “Bella?”

“It’s fine,” I said. “I’ll be back in the morning.”

“Only if you’re feeling better,” she said fiercely.

I nodded. “Okay. I’m sorry about work.”

She rolled her eyes as she hugged me. “I just want you to get better. I finally found a decent assistant; I can’t afford to lose you!” She fussed a little more before returning to the shop.

After she left, Edward turned to me. “Shall we?” he asked, gesturing to a gorgeous blue sports car. I should have known.

Elizabeth shook her head. “I don’t think so, Edward. The Maserati is a two-seater, remember?”

“I realize that,” he replied smoothly. “Listen Liz, why don’t you let me drive Bella home? I don’t want you to be late for work.”

She laughed. “No can do, little brother. I promised Bella’s boss that we would see her home, and I’m not about to fall down on my chaperone duties.”

I blushed to the roots of my hair. “It’s not necessary,” I mumbled.

“Of course it is!” she exclaimed, leading me to her car. “Besides, this way I get to show off my ring to a new audience.”

“Oh, Lord,” Edward groaned. “Don’t let her get started, Bella, or we’ll never hear the end of it.” The love in his eyes as he looked at his sister belied his harsh words.

I duly admired the glittering diamond. “Congratulations,” I said, genuinely thrilled that she was marrying someone other Edward.

“Thanks,” she replied, beaming. “Mark asked me last night, but Edward was asleep when I got home, and I rushed off to work this morning before he woke up. We met at lunch to celebrate, and that’s when you…fell…into our lives.”

It was obvious that she was related to Edward, now that I wasn’t looking at her through the eyes of a jealous lover. She had darker hair, but they shared the same elegant frame and sparkling green eyes. I sat in the front seat of her car and listened to her chatter, conscious all the while of Edward’s intense gaze behind me. The ride to my apartment was both too long and not long enough, as I struggled with emotions that threatened to engulf me. I had so many questions and things I wanted to say, but I knew I could never voice them.

When we pulled up in front of my building, Edward insisted on escorting me to my door. As we passed the stairwell, my backpack caught on a ragged edge of metal and ripped, spilling its contents all over the sidewalk. Mortified, I sank down to begin picking up my belongings.

“Here, let me help,” Edward said. He knelt beside me, his long, graceful hands easily gathering my books and wallet. One hand closed gently around the velvet pouch that I carried everywhere. “This is a pretty bag,” he commented.

Suddenly it was all too much. I had wanted to find him for so long, and now that he was with me, I was overwhelmed. To see him like this, to finally understand that my life was irrevocably changed…he was the same, and yet so intrinsically different. It was like looking at an Escher print and realizing that you had been viewing the image from the wrong angle. The focus had shifted, and the new perspective made me dizzy. I pulled the velvet pouch from his hand almost forcefully, agonized by all that must remain unspoken between us. “Thank you for the ride,” I said brusquely, shoving the rest of my things back into my torn backpack. “I have to go inside now.”

He looked confused. “Let me walk you the rest of the way to your door.”

“No, thank you.” I had to get away from him; I could feel my control slipping. “Really, thank you. You’ve been a great help. Tell your sister I’m happy for her.” I walked away quickly, feeling his puzzled stare burning into my back. I turned the corner and ran to my apartment, almost breaking my key as I slammed it into the lock. I rushed inside and slammed the door, falling to my knees as I burst into tears.

~~~~~~~~

The next few hours were frantic with grief and doubt. What had I done, finding him? What must he have thought of me, running away from him like that? And most importantly, what kind of idiot was I?

Crazy, impossible thoughts flowed through my mind. Obviously, we were meant to be together. I hadn’t even had to find him; he had found me! If that wasn’t proof of destiny, I didn’t know what was. So I would seek him out again; now that I knew he lived in Phoenix, it would be easy. We could go out, get to know each other…

I couldn’t do that to him. We couldn’t have any kind of relationship without honesty, and yet any attempt on my part to tell him of his past would just convince him I was crazy. What was I supposed to say? Hi Edward, sorry about freaking out like that earlier. You might not remember this, but just a few weeks ago you were a vampire. Yep, a card-carrying member of the undead. No, wait; it gets better! I was your fiancée. I know we’re too young, at least I am – you’re over 100 years old – but you insisted that we get married. I only went along with it for the sex. Oh, and because you agreed to change me into a vampire too. We’re going to live with your vampire family…maybe not live, I guess exist is a better word…and we’re all going to party until the universe implodes.

Yeah, that would go over well.

Immediately I shook my head. I could never tell him. If I tried to be with him again, I would have to be prepared to keep this secret forever. What kind of life could I offer him, with the truth always lying unspoken between us? It wouldn’t be fair to do that to him; all I could do was cause him grief. I had wanted to know that he was happy; it appeared that he was. The right thing to do now, the kind thing, would be to walk away. I had my answer; now all I had to do was find the courage to end my life.

My increasingly disjointed thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the door. Startled, I looked at my new clock – purchased so that the ticking could keep me company – and realized that it was past five o’clock. I stumbled to the entryway, wiping tears from my face. I opened the door, intending to tell whoever it was to leave me alone with my misery.

Edward stood in the hall, a bouquet of flowers in his hand and a worried smile on his lips. “Hello again,” he said softly.

“Hi,” I whispered, opening the door further.

He shook his head even as he walked in. “You really shouldn’t open your door without seeing who it is, and do you always let strange men into your apartment?”

Yep, the overprotective streak was definitely still intact. “If you try anything, I’ll take you down with my mad karate skills,” I said, rolling my eyes. I looked out into the breezeway before I shut the door. “How did you find me?”

He shrugged. “We had walked almost all the way to your apartment. I just started knocking on doors until I found someone who could tell me where you live.”

Maybe I wasn’t as cautious as I should be when opening my door, but it did bother me that people would just give out my apartment number. Of course, this was Edward we were talking about; apparently he hadn’t lost the ability to dazzle people, either. I took the flowers from him, inhaling their scent. “These are beautiful; thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” He gestured at the bouquet, an adorably shy look on his face. “It’s freesia and lavender. I couldn’t help but notice your perfume earlier; it reminded me of my mother’s garden.”

The memories were all around me; I buried my face in the flowers because I didn’t know how to respond.

He cleared his throat, obviously struggling with what to say next. “Actually, I brought the flowers as an apology.”

I looked up at that. Why would he possibly need to apologize? “For what?” I asked.

He searched my face, his jaw tightening as he noted the evidence of tears. “When we met earlier, I couldn’t help but feel that I had upset you somehow.”

Carlisle has a theory….our strongest human traits…He thinks that I must have already been very sensitive to the thoughts of those around me…

I shook my head to clear the memory. What could I tell him? It’s not about you would be a blatant lie. “It’s not your fault,” I said, choosing my words carefully.

The small twist of his lips told me that he heard what I didn’t say. Thankfully, he didn’t pursue it, although what he did say next was shocking enough in its own right. “Would you like to go out to dinner?”

My heart rate shot up as pleasure swept through me. Oh, it was tempting. We would be together again, almost like we were before. I tried to justify it in my mind: I still needed to ask him some questions, after all. How could I be sure he was happy if I didn’t know more about him? Immediately my conscience replied that I was only making things worse, both for me and for him. “I’m not sure…”

He held up his hand to stop me before I could finish speaking. “Wait, please. Just hear me out, and then if you want me to leave, I promise I will.” When I nodded, he looked away, reaching up to pinch the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger. The familiar gesture almost made me start crying again. Finally he sighed. “I don’t know how to do this! I’ve never had anything like this happen to me before.” Blazing green eyes studied my face. “I’ve never felt this type of…connection…with anyone. God, doesn’t that sound like the most pathetic pickup line in history? I swear it’s true, though. As soon as I saw you, I felt like I’d known you forever…like I’d waited my whole life for you.” He shook his head, turning away in frustration. “Like that could happen. If I’d met you, I’d definitely remember.”

“You’d be surprised,” I said, barely restraining a hysteria-tinged laugh. I would not feel hope. I would not.

He looked at me, startled at the edge in my voice. “Anyway, that’s it. I don’t have anything else to offer except that I really feel like I’m meant to know you, and I promise I’m not a stalker.”

I did laugh at that, and I was pleased that it sounded relatively normal. “I never thought you were.” You wanted to kill me once, but you had a really good reason…

He smiled. “So, having completely embarrassed myself…will you take pity on me and go to dinner?”

I lost my internal battle as I admitted to myself that I couldn’t refuse a human Edward any more than I could the vampire. Sighing, I held up the flowers. “Let me put these in some water first.” As I turned to go into the kitchen I saw him let out a relieved breath, and I had to grin. There was something almost impossibly cute about the fact that I made him nervous.

Not having a vase, instead I put the bouquet in a drinking glass and pulled out a sprig of lavender to carry with me to dinner. Moving back into the other room, I pulled my wallet out of my torn backpack. My hand brushed against the velvet bag, and I hesitated. I had kept the bag with me ever since the day I left Forks; it was my talisman, the reminder of who I was meant to be. I wasn’t sure I was brave enough to face this new Edward without it. Finally I put my wallet and the velvet pouch in my purse and turned to go.

Edward was watching me, his inquisitive eyes missing nothing, but all he said was, “Ready?”

I nodded. “Where are we going?”

“Wherever you’d like,” he replied as we left the apartment.

I hadn’t changed clothes, and I was too tired from my crying jag to have energy for anything fancy. “Maybe something simple,” I suggested, “and we split the cost.”

He frowned at that. “I wasn’t raised to let a lady pay for her meal.”

I shrugged. “Adjust.” I’d fought this battle with him before, and I could fight it again. Maybe this time I’d get better results.

He made a noise that was slightly reminiscent of a growl as he escorted me to his car. I looked at the shiny blue sports car and just couldn’t help myself. “Are you sure you wouldn’t rather take my truck?” I asked sweetly, waving my hand in the direction of my beloved Chevy.

He followed my gesture, and his face grew pale. “You mean it actually runs? I was surprised that the apartment manager hadn’t called a towing company to have it removed.”

“Hey!” I protested, but I wasn’t really offended. It felt so familiar to be arguing about this that I couldn’t keep my lips from turning up in a smile.

“It’s not safe for you to drive that thing,” he said sternly.

“Oh, please,” I replied. “If there was an accident, I’d have to drive us both home in my sturdy truck because your puny little car would be scattered all over the highway like so much scrap metal.”

He drew in a deep breath. “There is nothing puny about my car,” he said, his voice deeply offended.

I couldn’t help it; I burst out laughing.

He stayed silent for a few more moments, but finally he gave me a brilliant grin. “Just get in the car, Bella.”

Still laughing, I followed him to the parking lot. “Watch yourself, Edward Cu– Masen.” I wasn’t laughing anymore. Staring down at the pavement, I struggled with horror over what I had almost done. How could I have made such a slip? I could feel him watching me as he helped me into the car, but I didn’t look up. As he walked around to the driver’s side, I muttered “Masen, Masen, Masen, Masen…” under my breath as many times as I could.

I looked at him worriedly as he slid into his seat, but all he said was, “There’s a pizza parlor a few blocks from here. What do you think?”

I nodded, relieved. “Sounds good.” As he pulled out of the lot, I let out a quiet breath.

The pizza place was a typical college hangout with booths, beveled glass, and ambient lighting. The hostess seated us and brought drinks and menus. “What kind of pizza do you want?” I asked, suddenly curious about the human Edward’s eating habits.

He looked at me skeptically. “I like supreme, but it’s okay if you want something else. I know not everyone is up for the awesomeness that is supreme.”

It seemed right that he would enjoy as many types of food as he could. I met his gaze boldly. “I think I can handle it.”

Green eyes pierced me. “You sure about that?” he asked lazily, and the temperature in the room shot up about a hundred degrees.

Whoo boy. I took a sip of my drink, trying to cool down. Human Edward could be dangerous. Thankfully the waitress was approaching. “Place the order, please.”

This time it was his turn to laugh at me. I couldn’t help but notice that his eyes never left mine, even as the waitress did everything in her power to flirt with him. He was still a gentleman, my Edward.

The questions began as soon as the waitress left. “What flavor of milkshake do you like?” It wasn’t quite “What’s your favorite color”, but it was close.

“Chocolate,” I sighed, resigned.

He grinned. “Is there any other kind?” Then he began to grill me just as thoroughly as he had two years ago. I struggled with memories as questions flowed from his lips – some of them the same questions he’d asked the first time. I was determined not to let him dominate the conversation this time, however, because I had questions of my own. He was human now; he’d have to stop eventually to eat or breathe.

I got my chance when he asked about the scar on my forehead. Embarrassed, I pulled my hair over on that side, trying to cover the spot. “It’s nothing; I fell last month and hit my head.”

He was concerned. “You should have mentioned that earlier today. Hitting your head after a recent injury was definitely cause to go to the hospital.”

I scowled at him. “Thank you, Dr. Masen.”

He laughed. “Actually, that’s my mother.”

Here was my opportunity. “Your mom’s a doctor?” I asked.

He nodded. “She’s an anesthesiologist at the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor. My dad teaches Economics there.”

“So you live in Michigan?” I asked. The disappointment I felt was almost overwhelming. Would he have to leave soon?

“No, I don’t live with my parents.” A shadow crossed his face but faded quickly. “I moved down here a few months ago to live with my sister. She has my dad’s ability with numbers; she works at a bank.”

There was so much I wanted to know about him, but I had to take things slowly. “What about you? Are you planning on following in your mom’s footsteps?” It occurred to me that he was probably still in high school. I felt so old. I hated being nineteen.

He shook his head. “No. I’m studying music at Arizona State.”

I stared at him in surprise. “But you’re so young!”

He looked at me, puzzled. “I never told you how old I am.”

Oops. I was going to have to get better at this. “You look a little young for college, that’s all.”

That didn’t help; now he looked offended. “How old do you think I am?”

There wasn’t a good way out of this. I could lie and say I thought he was older than he was, but then he would wonder why I thought he was too young for college. “Never mind,” I mumbled.

He studied me for a few minutes but finally gave in. “You’re right; I’m only seventeen. I was homeschooled for the past few years, and I finished high school early.”

I wondered why he looked sad as he said it. “That’s interesting. What made you decide to move to Phoenix?”

He shrugged. “They offered me a scholarship, and it was easier to convince my parents because Elizabeth was already here.” Again that flash of pain entered his eyes. “Besides, I like the weather here. Up until now, it was like I’d lived my whole life in darkness.”

I looked down at the table and swallowed hard. I’m sorry, Edward.

He took a deep breath. “So, what about you? Tell me more about why you moved from…Forks, you said?”

I tried to smile. “Yeah. Sort of like Michigan, I would expect. Lots of clouds and rain. I’m probably going to start school in a few months.”

He was off again, asking questions as I struggled to keep up. Family, music, art…he was curious about everything. We continued to talk while he paid the bill, grumbling as I insisted on handing him some money. We were discussing literature when he parked in front of my apartment; I was doing my best not to mention anything that might bring up memories I couldn’t handle. He insisted that I wait until he came around to open my door, and he kept his hand on the small of my back as we walked. Moonlight shone against his pale skin, making him almost look like the Edward I knew. “I had a wonderful time tonight, Bella.”

“So did I,” I said quietly.

“Then may I see you again?” His voice was hopeful.

I stared into his eyes, struggling with what I wanted and what I knew was right. It was a futile effort. “I’d like that,” I admitted.

He smiled, and the glow in his eyes sent a burst of warmth to the base of my spine. “I’ll meet you at work tomorrow; what time are you finished?”

His perfection was too much for me; it always had been. I could feel myself shaking as I replied, “Seven.”

He reached out to stroke the back of his hand along my cheek. “I’ll be there.” With a final, mesmerizing glance, he walked away. I leaned against my door and watched until he was gone. Then I stared up at the moon and wondered what I was supposed to do now.