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A Litany at Dusk

Summary:
Thanks to hellacullen for the awesome banner! Edward’s rebellious period wasn't just a few years; it lasted seventy. Having spent his years hunting on the edges of society, he rejoins his family in Forks ready to abstain when he runs acorss a young woman praying. Can a choice be made between one's desires, one's heart and one's soul? Will Edward be willing to fight for her instead of fighting against her? A/U a bit OOC, rated for lemons and adult content, some violence


Notes:
Thanks to PTB for their assistance and to hellacullen, who is the wind beneath my wings! Her consistent and intelligent commentary, suggestions and cheerleading were incredible and I wish everyone a beta like hellacullen. I own nothing of Twilight. Let's see who could be the owner? Possibly SM?


4. Chapter 4 Before God

Rating 5/5   Word Count 2214   Review this Chapter

Bella

The knocking on the door woke me up. Groggily, I looked at the clock radio on the table next to me: 2:34 P.M. Scratching my head, I rose to a sitting position and dangled my feet off the bed as Darcy brushed against my ankles. The knocking came again. I didn't know who it could be; the rent wasn't due for another week. I grabbed my robe off the chair and slipped it on as I ventured to the front door. Again, more knocking. Whoever it was, they certainly were insistent. I checked the peephole at the door and my heart dropped to my feet.

Jake. Through the fish eye peephole, I could see the tall outlines of my former boyfriend. I backed away from the door.

"Bella, please. I know you're in there," his muffled voice came through the door. I hoped my neighbors couldn't hear him. I stayed quiet while my mind raced. How had he found me? Why did he want to talk? The last time I had seen him, he was dropping me home after the disastrous visit to the Women's Health Clinic. Months later, I was finally pulling myself together and now he wanted to talk?

"Bella, please..." His voice was lower now, more pleading. My whole chest started to ache. I thought I was at a point where I had begun healing from the upheaval in my life, but hearing his voice ripped that facade away from me. I had hoped he'd gotten to the point of giving up; he hadn't left a message on my phone in weeks, but now he was at my door.

I took a deep breath and asked the Virgin Mary for the strength to render forgiveness where it was needed and for the courage to deal with Jake in a Christian manner.

"Please, Bells."

I unlocked the deadbolt and pulled the door open. He looked absurdly happy to see me. There was that same goofy grin, the flashing dark eyes. A bolt of pain flew through me as I remembered those eyes and how beautiful they looked when closed in passion, wide with surprise, or crinkled with laughter.

"What do you want, Jake?" I asked him, resigned.

"Hi, Bella!" He smiled and took a step forward, like he was going to hug me or kiss me. The somber look on my face and my hand clenched on the doorknob barring his way made him rethink that particular move. "May I come in?" he asked submissively.

"What do you want?" I repeated, hoping he would say his piece and go. I always cried whether I was sad or angry, and I could feel both of those feelings swell up inside of me. I wasn't going to be able to keep my composure long.

He shuffled his feet as he stood at the top of the stoop and looked around. Two houses down, the Hansen kids were playing in the yard, but other than that no one was around. "I want to say I'm sorry," he said, his head hanging low. “Please, can we talk?” He raised his dark eyes to mine, searching my face, perhaps for the Bella I used to be.

Oh, if it were anything else, I would have gotten angry with him and slammed the door in his face. But here he was asking for forgiveness. I swallowed the lump in my throat and stood back so he could come in.

"Thank you," he said as he walked past me, ducking his head past the doorframe. I still couldn't get over how he had shot up in the past year or so. When I first moved to Forks, we were not that far apart in height. Now, it felt like he towered above me. If I didn't know Jake better, I would have thought he was on steroids. Between the height and the muscles, he seemed far from the gangly kid that had first asked me out.

He took a few steps into the living room and ran his hand through his short, bristly black hair. That's what was different; he'd cut his hair.

I stayed where I was, folding my arms across my midsection.

"Nice place," he said, glancing around. He looked at me and I could see the longing and pain on his face. "You look good, Bella."

I'd gotten up three minutes ago without brushing my hair or my teeth and he wanted to tell me I looked good? I put my hand back on the doorknob. "Say what you came to say and then please go."

He took a step towards me. "I should have come to visit you when you were in the hospital."

"Yes, you should have." I was trying to keep my face hard and angry. It wasn't that difficult to do.

He turned away. “I just was so ashamed and guilty. I couldn't ..." He trailed off. "And then there was so much going on with the tribe."

"Oh, a lot going on with the tribe?" I asked icily.

"Yeah," he said uncertainly, picking up on the edge in my voice.

"A lot going on with the tribe. For three months?" With this, I could feel the anger and hurt start to overwhelm me. My voice started to shake but I increased the volume to compensate for it. "I was on my back for three months in that hospital and you couldn't come visit me once?"

He winced at that. "I am so—"

I cut him off as the flames of my anger took hold. "Don't you dare tell me how sorry you are, Jacob Black. I was in that hospital for three months trying to get over a botched abortion, and you couldn't find an hour to spend with me? Did they tell you what happened, Jake? Did they?" I was really starting to rip now and he took a step back.

"Did they tell you about the punctured uterus and the infections? Did they tell you about the weeks of pain and grief? Did they mention that-" and with this I took a breath for it would be the first time I said it aloud-"I'll never be able to carry children?" Tears started to collect in my eyes, but I was trembling with the force of my anger.

"Oh, Bella," Jake whispered, stunned with this news.

"Oh, yes," I said, knowing this was going to hurt him and not really caring. He should know the nature of the penance exacted on me. "The child you said should never come into the world. You didn't want to pass on your genes for some mysterious reason. Why was that, Jake? Oh, that's right, you couldn't tell me." I hated how bitter I sounded, but I was nearly choking with my need to get the words out. "Well, that's been taken care of, with me at least."

Under his warm brown skin, I saw him blanch with shock. "I didn't know. No one told me."

"If you'd come, I would have told you," I said, turning away so he wouldn't see as the tears started to collect in my eyes.

"Oh, Bells," he whispered, taking a step closer.

"Don't come near me," I snapped over my shoulder, all Christian thoughts of charity having flown from me. I could feel my throat closing up, and I swallowed hard against the emotion rising within me.

His face became full of pity. I couldn't take what I knew was coming next. "I heard about Renee...”

With that, all pretense of control broke within me. I'd lost Renee within weeks of landing in the hospital. She'd fallen down a flight of stairs. Something so trivial and everyday and in a moment she was gone. I had been too sick to even attend her funeral. So much had been taken from me. In the space of three months, I had lost both of my best friends—my mother, to an unexpected and undeserved death, and my boyfriend, who had betrayed me with apathy, no less. And the last cruel stab was that I’d also lost the ability to ever bear children again. I began sobbing in earnest now, and Jake, like my father, was undone by women's tears.

I tried to regain enough control to speak. "Leave, Jake. Please."

I could see his pain on his face and a very un-Christian part of me reveled in it. His arms spread and his hands turned out as if he wanted to gather me in his arms. "I would have come if I could. But the tribe..."

The part of me that still remembered the shared laughter and the nights of intimacy longed for nothing more than to find my spot on his broad shoulders and to feel his sheltering arms around me. But we’d had so much, and he had devalued it all. He had hated the way we were together enough that a baby was the last thing he had wanted. Now a baby was something I would never have.

The anger flared again, getting the upper hand. The tribe and its supposed needs were the subject of frequent arguments in the last weeks of our relationship. The tribe had started sucking up all his time; he had gotten secretive and wary when we tried to talk, and a wall had been thrown up between us.

"The tribe! The tribe!" I hurled the words at him, fighting the tears. "So, tell me about the tribe. Why is it they need you so?" I took a step towards him but the tears were making it hard to see. "Why can't they get along for an hour without Jacob Black?"

He reared away from me, his eyes wide. "I would tell you if I could. Please believe me. We’re not supposed to talk about it."

That was the same old song I'd heard before. The same secrets. I collapsed into the chair by the window, holding my face in my hands, speechless with grief, sobbing hard enough that I was struggling to catch my breath. I missed Renee so much; it felt like my heart had been ripped from its place by the roots and smashed into a million pieces like a crystal vase. I was rocking in my chair like a heartsick child, trying to console itself. "Please, Jake," I moaned. "Leave, just leave."

I heard him take a step closer to me, and then he stopped. He was quiet for so long that I raised my head in curiosity, tears still streaming down my face. He was by the window, quivering with tension. I watched as his nostrils flared and a look of intense anger crossed his face. "What is it?" I asked. "What are you doing?"

He raised his face like he was sniffing the wind. It reminded me of just what a dog would do when it catches a trace smell and waves its head back and forth to try to track it. He strode into my bedroom while I sat, stunned by this odd behavior. He was back out in a flash.

"Have you noticed any odd strangers around?" he asked intensely.

"No," I said, shaking my head in bewilderment and sniffling. There was a tissue in the pocket of my robe and I used it gratefully.

"Keep you doors locked and your windows shut," he said crossly, peering out of the window.

"Jake, its ninety degrees out. I'm not going to sit in this hot apartment and cook while—"

He whirled and took a step towards me. "There are dangerous things in the world, Bella. Very dangerous things."

This was too much. I stood up and pulled the robe tighter around myself. "Well, thanks so much for caring, Jake," I said sarcastically. "I'll remember that." I walked pointedly to the front door and held it open.

His face fell again. Whatever he had hoped to accomplish by coming over had been quashed. "Bella..."

Without raising my eyes from the floor, I gave him what I could. "I'll pray for you, Jake."

He stopped in front of me as I held the door open. "I'm so sorry, Bella."

I wouldn't look him in the eyes. "I forgive you. Now get the hell out."

He passed by me and I had the small pleasure of slamming the door shut before I collapsed to the floor, sobbing so hard I thought I would be torn into two. For a few minutes, I let myself explore the huge hole in my chest where I once could love and feel. After some time, I lumbered over to the bathroom to splash water on my face. My hands were still trembling as I hurriedly got dressed.

I needed to go to the only place where I knew I could regain some calm and equilibrium. I needed the placid and soothing atmosphere of my church so badly; it was the only fix for the bad feelings and emotions that had gathered like a storm in my head. When the pain got this bad, only prayer would give me a reprieve from the torment of my own thoughts. I needed to forget for a little bit, get a little respite and distance. I needed to kneel and bow my head before God.