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Twelve years ago Edward left Bella thinking she would be safe and happy away from the dangers of his world. She wasn't. How can he make it up to her?
Each chapter written from a different POV with some overlap as the same incident is seen from a different perspective. Some new characters of my own imagination.
You know, all the recognisable characters are not mine. They belong to Stephanie Meyer and I hope I've used them in the spirit in which she created them.
2. Bella - Died In The Forest
Word Count 2515
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I watched him leave, determined not to look at his oh so beautiful seventeen year old face. I didn’t want to think about his words, but I knew that I was going to.
I didn’t really believe he was speaking the whole truth, but even if it was true, did it even matter now? I was almost thirty, it was supposed to the prime of a woman’s life, but instead, I was a wreck – both physically and mentally.
He might well have loved the seventeen year old Bella. Thirty year old, going on fifty year old Isabelle was another matter. I looked like I was in my fifties. I felt like I was in my fifties. Twelve years of pain was reflected in every aspect of my appearance.
I shuffled towards the bathroom. I needed my steam to help me relax.
There was another knock on my door. ‘Who is it this time?’ I wondered. I knew it had to be another Cullen, I just didn’t know which one.
“Esme! I wasn’t expecting you!”
“I had to come now before Edward gets home and has a chance to hear my thoughts. He might have tried to talk me out of coming to see you, but I couldn’t not come. I know it’s late, and you’ve had a lot to deal with today but I wanted you to know that Carlisle and I don’t want to pretend that you’re a stranger. I know there is no reason for you to believe me but we both love you dearly and want very much for us to be friends.”
“Esme, I don’t know what to say. A lot of time has passed; lots of water under lots of bridges and I doubt very much that it will be possible for us to pick up anywhere near where we left off twelve years ago.”
“We know. That’s why Carlisle and I leave it for you to decide how you want to play it. It will pain us if you do want us to be strangers, but we acknowledge that it is your right to choose, we owe you that. Here is a list of our contact details if you want to speak with us at any time. ‘Bye, dear. Try to sleep well tonight.”
Esme squeezed my hand gently and left.
Although she hid it well, Esme had been very surprised at my appearance. I didn’t blame her. Once upon a time I thought that Esme was going to be the equivalent of a mother-in-law to me. Now, anyone being told that there any sort of mother/daughter relationship between us would assume that I was the mother. Still, it was nice to know that I could have some friends here if I wanted them, I just wasn’t sure if I did.
The steam helped me to relax, at least sufficiently for me to feel able to go to bed.
Of course I knew it was going to happen.
I was woken up by my nightmare alarm. As much as I blessed the invention that allowed me to wake up before I screamed the whole block awake, I hated the necessity for it.
As I expected I had dreamed the abandonment nightmare that I used to have every night when he first left me. It was only when I started sleeping in Jacob’s arms that I was able to shake it off. Seeing the Cullens brought it all back. But, it brought home to me that I hadn’t just felt abandoned by him, but by the whole family. I knew I would never fully get over it no matter what happened from here on in.
Luckily, for my second day at school I didn’t have a senior class so I didn’t have to worry about seeing Alice. She had said that she would treat me just as a teacher in school, but I was still worried that one or the other of us would slip up. I believed him when he said that he wouldn’t be in school so that was one concern that I didn’t need to have.
I made a deliberate policy decision to not think about the Cullens unless I had to. Unfortunately, I received a message that meant that I had to; or at least about Carlisle. Carlisle’s secretary ‘phoned to say that my records had arrived from New York and, as per Dr Cullen’s usual practice, could I make an appointment to see the doctor.
I was torn. Of course I should have realised as soon as I saw Alice that it would mean Carlisle would be my doctor, but I had put it out of my mind. I didn’t want Carlisle to be my doctor, but he would undoubtedly be the best for hundreds of miles. I gritted my teeth and called and made an appointment for the next day after school. I wouldn’t think of Carlisle as ‘Dr Cullen, but put him into two separate persons, Carlisle and the Doctor.
With no homework to mark until the following week I took advantage of the free time and went to bed to catch up with my missed sleep. I awoke feeling refreshed and began my exercises. At least I didn’t feel as stiff as I had the previous day so I ate my dinner feeling quite upbeat.
At exactly eight o’clock there was a knock at the door.
I felt the rhythm of my heart skip ahead before I forced it to calm down.
“Come in. Please sit down” I said without looking at his face, something that I am sure he would have noticed.
“Thank you. How are you feeling this evening? Have you given any thought about what I said last night at all?”
I ignored the first part of his question. “A little. I believed you when you said you wouldn’t be at school. I didn’t believe the rest, but decided that even if there was some truth in your words, they could have no relevance to our lives, more especially my life, today.”
I still didn’t look at his face to see the effect of my verdict.
“I see. I think you’re wrong. Well, I know they are relevant to my life. Now that I know you are not living the full happy life I wanted you to live, thought you were living, I don’t know how I am going to be able to stay away from you. My anxiety levels are going through the roof. It was very hard today waiting for Alice to get home so I could check that you had survived the day at school.”
“Why did you think I was living with Mom?” I reminded him of his misassumption.
“I went to Forks at the beginning of the April after I left. I was no longer trying to get through a week, or even a day at a time, but was at the stage where I couldn’t get through a single second without feeling the agony of the separation, wondering what you were doing, questioning if I had done the right thing. I hadn’t seen my family for months – I just couldn’t bear to see them as happy couples yet see the sorrow on their faces at our loss. So I decided to return to Forks and beg you to take me back. On the coffee table in Charlie’s living room was a postcard from you. It was a picture of a wetlands scene. You had written on the card: ‘This is the beauty you are missing: you should come for a visit. Mom says Hi and the present you sent is totally brilliant.’ I could tell by the smell that you were not living with Charlie. It sounded like you were living with Renee and asking Charlie to visit you so that you didn’t have to return to Forks. It sounded upbeat. I assumed you were happy and knew that I had no right to upset your life again.”
“I was living with Jake on the reservation for protection. Mom had announced that she was pregnant and I was visiting her. It turned out to be an error but Charlie had sent a rattle for the baby. To a degree I was trying to broaden Charlie’s horizons. I didn’t succeed. I sent a postcard so that I didn’t have to talk on the ‘phone. It was easier.” I still didn’t look at him to see how he took my explanation.
“So what would have happened if I had actually talked to you?”
“I have no idea and see no point in indulging in useless speculation. We can never know what would have happened if a certain path had been taken, we can only deal with what did happen. I don’t hold you responsible for anything that happened to me and Charlie: I never did. It was your right to leave me and anything that happened to me after that was not your responsibility or your business. The only thing I blamed, and still blame, you for is for persuading Alice to leave me so absolutely as well as yourself. Not being able to talk to anyone is what nearly destroyed me. There is no need for you to feel any guilt over anything else.”
“You’re wrong again. Everything Victoria did was my responsibility: I should have ensured that you were safe from her. Also, I conceitedly decided what was best for you. That was a big error on my part. I should have respected you enough to trust your judgement on what was best for you. I arrogantly thought that because you were a mere human your emotions could not be as deep as mine and that you would soon get over them and forget me: another thing for which I should be held to account.”
Of course he was right. No one should make decisions for another person, only for themselves. But it still didn’t change anything.
“What do you want me to do? Absolve you from the sin of being a chauvinistic jackass? It’s a fairly common trait for the men from your era.”
“That does not make it right.”
“No, but what do you want from me?”
“I want the two of us to go off somewhere and live together as a couple as we should have done years ago. I will go anywhere you want us to go and adjust my life accordingly. I will take anything that you will give me. I will do whatever you want, give you anything that you want. What do you want from me?”
A part of me heard what he was saying and thought that he must be speaking the truth or why would he say such an outrageous thing, another part of me thought that I must be imagining it all. It was just too surreal to be believable – unless it was guilt speaking.
“You don’t know me anymore. Even if you did love the old Bella Swann as much as you seem to be saying, you have to know that she died in the forest twelve years ago. Isabelle Swann is very, very different.” Even I heard the sadness in my voice.
“I know you’re right, just as a part of me died then too. But that doesn’t mean that we cannot find out if there is enough of us left to grasp some happiness together.”
“Of course it does. Middle aged teacher Miss Swann cannot have anything even remotely improper to do with young student Mr Cullen. Isabelle is a lot more conventional and cowardly than Bella was.” I actually found myself glancing towards Edward with a half smile on my face, but still making sure I didn’t look at his face.
I heard him gasp. “You’re still as beautiful as I remember.”
I hated that he would lie so blatantly. I tried to get up and demand that he leave but I couldn’t move. My back had seized.
“Damn, damn and double damn. I can’t move. Can you please go to my bedroom and bring the massager from my bed?”
“Bella, what’s wrong. What can I do to help?” There was no mistaking the real panic in his voice.
“There is no real problem. It would just be very helpful for me to have my back massaged. I generally sleep on a special heat and massage pad but I need it now so it would be helpful if you could go to my bedroom and bring the massager from my bed so that I can use it here for a while.”
“Would it not be better if I carried you to your bed? I can do so without jostling you.”
Even through the pain I half smiled at his assurance: as if I would ever be able to forget how strong he is. I closed my eyes and nodded my agreement.
I barely felt the movement as I was gently lifted and carried to my bed. These days I always left my bed with the covers pulled back for ease at bedtime and before I knew it I was lying down with a cover over me.
“There’s a control on the cabinet. Can you set it for programme two with the interval time set for twenty minutes, please?”
I sensed him looking at the control mechanism and thinking of the implications.
“How long will the programme last?”
“Would you like me to put some music on while it works away?”
“No.” I knew I was being abrupt. “I don’t listen to music anymore.”
I kept my eyes closed so that I wouldn’t be tempted to look to see how he took that news.
“Did you ever find the stuff of yours that I hid under the floor boards in your bedroom?”
I was almost surprised enough at the question to open my eyes, but I resisted.
“No. What a stupid place to leave a plane ticket. What a waste.” I deliberately didn’t say anything about the CD of his music that he had made for me. At the time he gave it to me I had loved it so much and couldn’t have imagined a more wonderful eighteenth birthday gift. Well I didn’t have it for very long before he took that away from me too.
“Thank you for your help. Would you mind dropping the latch on your way out, please?”
I could sense his frustration as he pondered my apparently simple request.
“I will wait until your therapy programme has finished in case I can offer further assistance. If you prefer, I will wait in the living room.”
He was being very formal, a sure sign that he was not best pleased.
“Thank you, I will feel more able to relax if I am alone.”
As always I couldn’t hear him move, but I could feel the release of tension as he left the room. Only then did I notice that I had clenched my fist. I relaxed and started my meditation exercises. I barely noticed when I started to drift off.