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Frommel 2. Decision Altitude -3- .Table of Contents Summary 1.
Note: Contains SPOILERS -4- . Sometimes the term refers to skydivers whose egos are bigger than their canopies.Summary Skygod: A person of noted freefall ability. as told by Edward. Hydraulic Level 5 vignettes.
book: Edward's greatest fear: falling out of a high-rise window. Skygod: A person of noted freefall ability. If she'd wanted to. as told by Edward) ooo Frommel What happens when a skydive formation self destructs. Copyright 2010 by Gondolier. I fell in love with a girl. 1 & 2 was written for Support Stacie Auction winners Revrag and Peyotemusic. If you haven't read HL5. knowing when to push and when to back away. Skygod Ch. and when to make me laugh. No copying or reproduction of this work is permitted without my express written authorization. Reading my moods. She was a neighbor girl with large brown eyes who studied me in singular fascination. (Hydraulic Level 5 vignettes. so be sure to thank them—without their generosity. When I was eight years old. Edward's most embarrassing moment: wetting his bed and hiding the sheets in his -5- . the vignettes wouldn't have been written. And through her intense study she became an expert of me.) ). song. They chose several key HL5 outtakes from Edward's point-of-view. Sometimes the term refers to skydivers whose egos are bigger than their canopies. The remainder is my original work. she could have rattled off secrets about me as if she were listing my favorite food. color. I recommend putting this story on hold (unless you don't mind spoilers…you've been warned . as if I were a moth breaking free from a chrysalis. Disclaimer: Skygod contains SPOILERS for Hydraulic Level 5 (HL5).Frommel Stephenie Meyer owns any Twilight characters that may appear in this story.
But my hatred of discussing anything at all about my parents did not. in fact. I'd missed this kitchen. And because I despised talking about my parents. been broken and splattered across the sidewalk of the historic Beld With time came the knowledge that my mother's death was not accidental. glancing up with concern from a chopping board piled with celery and carrots. Because. So I loved this girl…and I left her. I knew I'd find them just like this when I returned. I believed in fate…Rota Fortunae had spun my family to suffer. one of his countless medical journals open beneath his hand. in a couple of hours." I cast a rueful look as she mumbled about some things never changing. this room would be perfect because she'd be here. yes. Medieval. One single step into the kitchen and my mother hissed. ooo Two years earlier. But because I despised even thinking about my parents. And soon.closet. -6- . I never told her how my mother—my real mother—had. My father sat on a stool across from her. Somehow. tucked away in a kitchen fragrant with Thanksgiving pies cooling on counters. with its warm oak and tall walls my mother had since painted a rusty red." I shook drops of rain from my coat and hung it on a peg in the mud room. but I truly thought the course of my life was set the moment I was born. the day before Thanksgiving… "How are the roads?" my mother asked. I left her because I was fated to fall from a high-rise window. when I whipped around the outskirts of rainy Forks roads after my trip to Port Angeles for guitar strings. her innocent body wrapped in my arms. and discarded my muddy shoes. I never told her that I wet the bed after having a nightmare about tumbling from our high-rise window in Chicago. Edward's most despised pastime: talking about his parents. struggling against my mother's arms as wind whipped our hair and clothing and skin. for the longest time. "Shoes! I just mopped. and my fear of tumbling from high-rise windows subsided. Affectionate and content. and gray pavement loomed closer…closer…closer. "Just wet—no sleet.
"About that. "What's wrong?" Dad cleared his throat. A coward." -7- ." Sort itself out? Not likely. This wasn't Bella willing to accept my olive branch after five years. and she was about to be blindsided by my mere presence. My heart bottomed out as I processed my mother's confession. turning to my mother for an explanation. This was a set-up. She sighed. "No!" I said quickly. "Oh Edward. In fact." she said as she started on a pile of red potatoes for the vegetable soup she was brewing. I groaned and reached for the phone. in the first place. "Look—the temperatures are rising. my finger hovering over the next button." my mother said sheepishly. "I'm calling her. I dropped the receiver and buried my face in aggravated hands. This was not going to be the heartfelt reunion I was anticipating." She wiped her hands and reached for the phone. along with the hope that had climbed to stellar heights. It's just…Bella is so leery of you these days. I don't want to jinx it. And it's a fairly big deal that she even agreed to come over while I'm here. she'd be furious." he stressed. "thought it unnecessary to actually inform Bella you'd be here. everything else would sort itself out. "Perhaps she should wait to visit until the rain stops. I couldn't do it. embarrassed. She might not even take her coat off before she was sprinting back to her car. And then it drifted to the 'end' button. I ruffled my hair. especially after your books caused such a storm. Is she at Charlie's or Renee's?" "Renee's. But their worry was not lost on me. I punched in half the number then paused."I hope Bella doesn't have any difficulty on the back roads." I frowned. so the roads won't freeze. I thought if we could actually get her through the door. "Damn it. Both parents froze. Your mother." My father and mother exchanged a meaningful look before they returned to medical journal and potatoes.
as if I didn't already live with my reality every morning I swallowed my meds. either. "If you plan to let Bella back into your life. knew the mental battle raging in my brain. It isn't like you. Or when you fall out of one. Given all outward appearances. are fallible. please. and I certainly haven't had any debilitating moods. my voice biting." He gazed at my face with those sharp doctor's eyes." he'd insisted yesterday evening while I plunked on my guitar. save for my parents and Charlotte. still on edge after our argument last night. I wasn't entirely ready to forgive him. I knew better than anyone—my -8- .K. Don't forget what hypomania is. It wouldn't happen overnight. If I'd been a flighty person. this illness would literally have been the death of me. But even you. Our confrontation had been a long time coming." I said. If that's debilitating. and I thanked God for my natural inclinations toward logic and reason. you aren't even aware you're in a hypomanic state. Half the time." I fired back." "My life is as normal as the next person's." I pursed my lips. Dad. and we had layers of hostility to chip through. and built up a fan base that rivals J. holding back an even angrier retort that would simply add credence to his assertions—my moods were not quite under control. then I'd hate to see your idea of normal. Dad. By now." "The fact that you're willing to deny your behavior was a hypomanic episode tells me you aren't being realistic. "And your little arrest last year—that wasn't disruptive?" "That wasn't my illness. what it does. You've always been brilliant and savvy. son. Christ's sake. "I've had no moods that haven't been manageable since I started the meds. as if he could see straight into my head to examine every single malfunctioning synapse. and definitely nothing so extreme it disrupts my life." "Watch your language. long ago. I've published five books. how it makes you feel. "I'm just asking you to be realistic.Dad tentatively patted my shoulder. I was an expert war strategist when it came to battling funks and highs. Rowling. you need to at least tell her what that life will be like." He crossed his arms. I'd been functioning normally for five years and no one. I'd fought long and hard to keep my mind grounded. "Edward. I know you've dealt with this remarkably—you have the greatest resilience I've ever seen." "I haven't been hypomanic since I was in Raleigh. staged two plays. "That was…a relapse.
and it's time to stop hiding. she was waiting for the other shoe to drop. so confident in recent years. after all. Mom. One is what one is. my father. "Bella wants to see me. "for what it's worth. trying to forget that he'd read every single one of my books five times over. Perhaps I was deluding myself as he'd hinted. except when it comes to you. But. Now I knew where my father's piteous looks were coming from. Both were suddenly very keen on hitting Bella with every sordid aspect of my mental struggles before she had a chance to wish them "Happy Thanksgiving. God help me. She deserved that much." I grumbled. my therapist—what I was and wasn't capable of. period. I knew she had a tendency toward rashness. I think she'll be happy to see you again. Am I clear?" My father only stared me down with a mix of sadness and regret. long before my illness struck. It's something Bella needs to hear.mother. You and Mom will refrain from interfering in this matter. thinking I could ever be to her what I once was." "You were sick—you couldn't help it. She could handle…everything." I said darkly." she urged. In fact. I looked away and refocused on the song I'd been writing for Bella since noon. If she's upset. She'll understand why I had to do it. and fear of commitment. then my father. and mistrust. Bella has such bravery in everything she does. clinging to my bizarre words in my absence… My mother's steady potato chopping broke through my thoughts. not an excuse. I think." "Can you really blame her. "She doesn't hate you. at last I could offer her a healthy mind. wondering if they had organized this joint plan of attack before I'd set foot in Washington. The entire time we were together." But I knew Bella better than either of them." "My illness is not an acceptable excuse for abandoning and cheating on my wife. "I am done having this discussion with you. And after five long years of sparing Bella the enslavement which comes with loving someone like me. Bella didn't want to see me." she said quietly. I had to try. she expected me to leave -9- . let me take the fall for tricking her. "Edward." "It's an explanation. She's grown so much stronger. sweet child. after what I did? I left her in a horribly cruel way. I glared at my mother." "Because she hates the sight of me. She's afraid to see you again.
little white pills. No. given I was already an oddity. And because I was different and knew about these things. discarded in my closet like a toy whose novelty had worn off. I swirled the amber whiskey in my glass. I wasn't supposed to touch alcohol." Some day. Today. it wasn't really possible to be in love—even though I was certain I loved Bella. I informed Esme I was meant to be in love with the neighbor girl. it occurred that my problem was not a child's inability to be in love. blades and cutting. we have one word— . philia. I simply need to convince her to spend more than five minutes in my presence. And I was certain." my father said. The Greeks have four separate words for 'love'—agape. She went on to explain that at my age. hugged me and told me what a sweet boy I was to believe myself in love. "I'll tell her. And yet. a little at a time was best when it came to a skittish Bella. watching as the crystal caught the dim light above my parents' basement bar and colors fractured against my hand.someday…perhaps she had a bit of the Rota Fortunae fear in her." "But you will tell her. smiled. Just not today. I was the brainy boy who corrected teachers. I knew Esme was wrong—that I could be in love with the neighbor girl. I knew it was possible—entirely possible.10 - . In English. a statement rather than a question. when I became a wordsmith. the idea was forgotten as some other fancy took hold. With the meds I was taking. sex and death ended up in the office of a pompous prep-school shrink. I squeezed the bridge of my nose and relented a bit. My adopted mother cooed. It wasn't until years later. vodka. eros. ooo When I was eight. I learned quickly that five-year-old boys who spoke about things like night clubs. "Yes. too. I was the quiet boy who knew things that no child should know. But with every other fleeting childhood fancy. Yet here it was. I'll tell her. Mom gazed at me with hopeful. There would be no sleep…not tonight. the feeling remained. she'd panic and run. shining eyes. And if I spilled everything at her feet. and storgē—each with a slightly different connotation. warm and ready and numbing. from the drugs to the moods to my parents. My problem was the English language.
" I rolled the glass between my fingers again and snorted. Emmett immediately snatched the glass from my hand and sniffed." . is my judgment. I love cars. what was in my heart. Get it over with. or see the hallway light flick on. "I thought Big Daddy C locked up the liquor cabinet. a master of words. Healthy indeed. There was nothing I could say that she would believe. "How much have you drank?" "Not a single…fucking…drop. All I could say was "I love you. I'm older. And I didn't hear the heavy footsteps of my friend as he tromped down the stairs. And so. his nose crinkling. I couldn't explain to Esme. I love my family. apparently. and gladly. English is sadly lacking. after all these years. And because I was a child as well as a frail being. I was so wrapped in my wallowing. I love music.love—that can mean a thousand different things: I love the ocean. Just down the damned drink. wiser. But why was I still unable to make her understand how I loved her? Me. into the dark basement. The kind of love I could destroy myself over." "He still thinks I don't know where he hides the key. in my arms. But there was no one word. I wish there was a word in the English language to describe the love that is pain and ceaseless in devotion. you coward." He sighed. She was here this afternoon. it is impossible for us to describe the strength of love we can hold in our hearts for another. now. Because we are frail beings who only use a small percentage of our brain capacity. Bella. my broken mind mocked. I didn't hear the back door open and close. not returning my glass. I love you. or the neighbor girl.11 - .
We still had so many things to worry about." "She really hates me. Dude. in spite of everything. But Rose said she's pretty messed up. I played the overconfident golden boy. It didn't fool her for a minute. Never again would I consider dragging . A fucking disaster. easier time. It's only because she's still so hung up on you. Never again would she sacrifice herself. "No. then.12 - . and look where it got her. And after cleaning up Renee's messes and caring for Charlie for so long." "Yeah. maybe things would have been different. She resisted every step. And because she did love me. loud and clear. If we'd waited." I may have poor judgment. "You've talked to her? How is she? What did she say?" He plopped into an armchair across from me. Edward. She fucking sacrificed herself for my happiness. I understood the irreparable damage I'd caused better than him or Rose. I hear you and the parental units pulled a fast one on Bella today. Why hadn't I listened to her concerns all those years ago? She thought we were too young. It was all I could do to keep your sister from storming over here and clawing out your eyes. I tried to walk her back to an earlier. I could have warned you that making nice with Bella will take more than a pretty song and vegetable soup. But in every excuse. If I'd once stopped to consider what she was really saying—she didn't want to marry me yet—I would have heard her. I haven't talked to her. Today had been a disaster."Could have fooled me. but I wasn't a fool. But the words that hurt the most…Bella never wanted to marry me. bro. she just wanted a chance to be a kid." I sat up sharply. or my parents. like college and finances." "No. she gave in. And she let me have it. Emmett. I don't think she is. I should have known better. Her parents screwed up their lives by getting married. all I ever heard was I don't love you enough. I pretended we were still best friends and the past five years hadn't happened.
It's better for Bella if she's not around me. always dying. "What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Emmett scowled. it's insane. I'm not normal. Whatever went down can be fixed—" "You don't get it. that we're always decaying. "Does this always happen when you go to the grocery store?" "Only sometimes.13 - . you don't want your friend around a sick lunatic. "I can't be fixed. have you been drinking? Let me smell your breath." I repeated. like toe tags and body bags. it's the way it should be. I felt him sit across from me.'" "Seriously man. "I see a row of steaks and from the blackest cave of my mind. so I only heard him dump the whiskey down the drain and the soft clink of the glass as he left it in the bar sink. his clear eyes heavy on mine. I kept my head down." He was quiet for a long moment. . Emmett. Strange images. "Anyway. you always did have some major self-loathing issues. It's…not pleasant. "You're just giving up?" "Trust me. and carcasses—just a reminder that life ends at the charnel house. thoughts escape." Emmett looked thoroughly confused." I said firmly. Normal people pass the meat counter in the grocery store and think 'those steaks would be great on the grill' or 'we need a pound of hamburger for spaghetti tonight. Carlisle's right—it always will exist." I cut in harshly." "Are you depressed?" "Only sometimes. "Man. There's a reason I stayed away and that reason still exists. And I certainly don't want Bella hanging out there." "Do you know what goes through my head?" "No. Frankly." he frowned.her into dark places with me.
. They'd obviously grown closer in my absence. I get you."Why didn't you tell me?" He squirmed uncomfortably. Music's your thing. at least for now. remember?" "Maybe. Emmett. I mused grimly. And she'd definitely tell Bella if she knew. I wanted to believe I could change my fate. My beautiful neighbor girl had loved me. you know?" He thought for a moment. as long as you don't try to trick her again. and I had the weight to defy Fortunae—even after her wheel felled me time and again. but she does. "Do you understand why?" "Yeah. dude—a friendly little concert. "You should invite her to a concert or something. You two always had that weird connection. In spite of everything." A small flame of hope rekindled in my chest. Guilt clouded my conscience. You know better than anyone that she hates it when people treat her all fragile and stuff. then snapped his fingers. torn. "Is she happy?" I asked softly. I still wanted her to. I defy you. Perhaps she could again. "Do you think she'd go?" He shrugged. what with her marketing business and her hot little ass the ticket to score." He grinned. I was a monster. suddenly envious of all the time Emmett was able to spend with Bella. and I saw the blatant fear and sorrow in his face." I nodded. She might surprise you. "It's worth a shot. then took pity on me. She's a smart cookie. Just ask her out." I said gravely. But man…" He scrubbed his face. She'd like that. "She misses you a lot. "Yeah. Bella's a damned martyr. once. She can be…unpredictable.14 - . "I didn't want to put you in a bad position. God. I offered him a smile. already knowing I'd be scanning the Seattle Sound for upcoming Bella-ish gigs. Rose doesn't know and I prefer it remain that way. stars. and super strong—give her a chance. "Maybe you should let Bella decide what's best for her." "Bella can't know." I answered. She'll never say it. That there was such a thing as free will and choice." "Rosie does tend to force issues. She's a big name on the OP now. she's real happy. though.
ooo The morning after the Rialto Beach trip… Dull blue light spilled into the cave-like darkness of my parents' basement. Copyright 2010 by Gondolier. Decision Altitude The altitude at which a skydiver is trained to begin execution of emergency procedures. Who leaves powdered milk and permanent markers sitting outside a bedroom door after ruthlessly pranking someone? And furthermore. typically. And this morning had been no exception. The remainder is my original work.) ). Skygod Ch. Once she was out. 1 & 2 was written for Support Stacie Auction winners Revrag and Peyotemusic this past fall. The corners of my mouth quirked at how simple it had been to ease her warm body and jello limbs from the sofa where she'd crashed for the night. They chose several key HL5 outtakes from Edward's point-of-view. If you haven't read HL5. she'd stand in her front yard and watch it.Decision Altitude Stephenie Meyer owns any Twilight characters that may appear in this story. the vignettes wouldn't have been written. . The girls' planning and execution were flawless. It wouldn't have woken up Bella. Disclaimer: Skygod contains SPOILERS for Hydraulic Level 5 (HL5). competing with the glow of the end table lamp I'd switched on hours ago. and liberally sprinkle powdered milk beneath her. Their clean-up…not so much.15 - . If there was a tornado tearing down her street. she was down for the count. who then falls asleep on the basement sofa instead of running for the fort and pulling the drawbridge? Bella Swan—that's who. so be sure to thank them—without their generosity. I recommend putting this story on hold (unless you don't mind spoilers…you've been warned . No copying or reproduction of this work is permitted without my express written authorization.
burning eyes skimming over the hills and valleys of her body beneath a ratty quilt. Damn. But she didn't wake. when I shared her bed every night. her lineless forehead. pulling into herself. The last time I'd watched her sleep was seven years ago. I'd boneheadedly believed her angry looks.I glanced at the clock above the mantle—six forty-two. she sighed again and rolled over. If she only knew how easy it was to catch her unaware and see her bewilderment. The cool moonlight highlighted the sorrow rife in the gentle lines around her mouth and eyes. The thought of seeing the vibrant brown of her eyes as she blinked against the morning light was appealing. But now. if the stench emanating from my own pores was any indication. Her face was more angular. But watching her sleep was even more so. A selfish part of me wanted her to know I watched her while she slept. plain as day. I wondered…does she still dream about me? A quiet sigh and a small puff of air sounded and I froze. her face now hidden against the back of the sofa. All I knew was her plaintive silences and sad sighs carried the weight of years. Yet it was all still Bella. did I really care if she caught me? I relaxed into the chair. More than enough time for her skin to absorb the milk. Rather. I didn't think so. keeping me at bay. girlhood had all but faded. her body curvier. her irritation.16 - . but I'd always heard my name somewhere in there. I'd glanced at her in the passenger seat. Surely she would have to wake up soon if she still planned to go to work today. For the thousandth time. all slouch and arms. not weeks. Needless to say. her eyes wiser. Maybe I should wake her up. my thoughts turned to last night and the things I'd learned. ready to run for the stairs before she caught me staring at her. the return trip from Rialto Beach was grave… ooo She wasn't happy. In seven years. my own . deciding I did not care. Emotion had spilled from her in torrents and flooded the Campervan. I sat back in my armchair. watching her eyelashes shudder against pink cheeks. And she tried so hard to present a blank face. and I found my throat dry. Occasionally she'd mutter incoherent things. She was dreaming. Since she stormed my book signing and reentered my life with dramatic flare. her unhappiness were caused by my presence. I'd always loved it—the lax curl of her lips. But then again.
I was braced for the brightness of her smile. But how to explain what happened in New York without telling her that? I sighed. It would have to be the drugs alone. not again. Muted strains of her southern rock could not fill the quiet of Jasper's Campervan. the glow of love as she'd tell me how happy she was. Who was the woman? A stranger who was a convenient lay for a sex-starved addict. and I wasn't ready to answer questions about my illness. but I fiddled with the temperature control. voice pleading with me to tell her what she did wrong to make me unhappy enough to leave her. It wouldn't do to go down that road. Why was I using in the first place? Because it was the only thing that made the sadness go away. water-under-the-bridge ex. I pushed it back. They were old friends. for now. Bella and I had a lot of pain to dig through. "Are you warm enough?" I asked. I had not expected the anguish in her brown eyes. but tonight I felt them creeping closer. She shuddered. She only shrugged. I forced my misery upon her. I was prepared to play the cool. unabashedly nonsensical prose that became Violet Edge. Or her wringing hands. Charlotte had been ruthlessly swift to demand revisions to my spiraling. I had expected her to throw her relationship with Jacob in my face. uprooting their grasping. Somewhere beyond the dark curve of the road. I'd have to be careful with that answer. abject misery creeping into the edges of my mind. not after that ill-fated Thanksgiving episode and the subsequent months of insomnia and black despair. I could feel the same old. because it would open a whole new can of worms. It was remarkable I'd been able to write anything at all. familiar pines flanked either side like sentinels guarding the stretch between Forks and Port Angeles. . I stole her joy.17 - . anyway. I think my feet might actually root to the ground…and I wouldn't mind. If they caught me. Why didn't I contact her after she left New York? I was a mess in rehab.body aching with a desperate need to simply touch her. twisted bodies until they ensnarled me and kept me forever in the Olympic Peninsula. I refuse to end up alone because of you… With a handful of words. My leaving had accomplished the opposite. how our divorce was all for the best. I'd been prepared to answer her questions about what happened in New York. she shattered the entire illusion of a protective case I'd tenderly welded for seven years in a feeble attempt to spare her the sadness. The recognizable shaking in my hands began to surface and I clutched the steering wheel before I betrayed myself to her.
or absorb it into her own body. My fingers ground into the steering wheel again. did she? Because I'd lied to her. I blinked back tears gathering in my eyes. there was nothing flippant about my decision to leave the woman I would love until I uttered my last death rattle. treating our marriage vows as flippantly as if I'd reneged on a promise to take out the trash? Oh. Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Simple Man" echoed hauntingly through the quiet. before now? All those wasted years… Something like guilt but weightier. She did it without a thought of self-preservation—she had since she first reached out to me that Halloween night. thrummed in my chest and I gasped at the strength of it. despite her warm kisses and even warmer laughter. "I like this song. There was no apology which would ever undo the damage I'd done to the person I loved most in this world. "Edward…" . No words from a wordsmith. She only knew how to make it go away. her eyes still sad. tonight. "I know. What did I possibly think would happen when I walked out. She could list a thousand songs I liked. I'd stripped her of her choices. Bella never quite understood the sadness that had pervaded. And by enforcing my preposterously arrogant beliefs on Bella. But she didn't know that. too. more shameful. just to break the unnerving silence. and my fingers tapped the steering wheel along with the slow-driving beat." I mumbled.And now. I warily glanced at her face again. it all seemed so apparent.18 - . Fortunae hadn't caused me to suffer—I was the only one responsible for the piles of poor choices I'd left along my life's path. so fragile in her plastic vampire teeth and polyester cape. Of course she knew. She'd come so close to the truth. I refuse to end up alone because of you… One show of defiance. and she'd crumbled my life philosophy." Bella offered me a half-smile. in her concern for poor Vigo's despair. She wouldn't look at me. Why had no one told me she was so miserable? Why hadn't I asked her myself. in retrospect. There was no fate.
her eyes darting up to the "I'M A SUCKY VAMPIRE" emblazoned across my forehead. she'd apologized last night. She confessed how she'd finally abandoned the Cullen name. Finding it. her small. She riled me up. Sure. I knew what she would do next. God help me. What little you did see. She could see the tears and her pity was palpable. in spite of all I had done. But I knew Char." No. I knew she'd seen me. I'm sorry too. It would have been too much for you. "Sleep well?" she chirped. I pretended as though it hadn't cut me to the core. please. But. I knew who it was. I mused morbidly. With a final glance at Bella. Let me feel it. hunting for orange juice. streetlights reflecting in her cheerless eyes as we entered Port Angeles. "I should have seen how sad you were back in college. strong hand still beckoned me and. She soothed my spirit. she chose not to acknowledge me until she was ready. . I shook my head. you made your own… But she didn't heed my silent warning.Her eyes were on me now. Bella. Because. I deserve this." "Hey. peering at me through long eyelashes. earth to sun. A not-so-quiet banging of a cabinet from the kitchen interrupted my thoughts. And if the huffing noises and stomping feet were any indication. In spite of all I had done. and it'd be back to the usual the minute she perkily hopped from bed. telling me someone else was awake. I let her drive the sadness back like a selfish creature. ever composed. She let me hold her and kiss her head. "No. I politely refused. I shoved up from the armchair and climbed the stairs before Charlotte decided to storm into the basement and wake her up with bitter accusations. I wanted to stay there forever.19 - . She made me laugh." she said. She made me feel like the seventeen-year-old boy I'd once been. before illness had invaded my mind. She offered to let me sleep on her couch. I found her with her face buried in the refrigerator. she slinked over to her glass and filled it to the brim. because she was Bella. I would still orbit her. She didn't ask about it.
She'd simply ignore our four a. bending over and brushing her fingertips across the floor. Edward. she slurped her orange juice a little too loudly." Rather. you're so much better.m. the marker. "I was pranked pretty good last night. "Anyway. also pouring a glass of orange juice and bypassing the cereal. I'll show you my room." She pouted her subtly botoxed lips and ran a finger along my arm.I shrugged. She wiggled her butt a bit. email exchange. "I can think of other things that would make me howl. So this was the game. Instead. Char. If you'd like. You'll howl when you see what they did to my luggage. I can hold off for ten minutes while you throw on your clothes and shoes. So much more…together. no doubt. deposited her glass in the sink. "You're really uptight." she continued. Charlotte snapped her fingers in front of my face. "The only time you ever have this sort of anxiety is when you visit Forks." she said breathily as she arched her back and pulled her toes toward the small of her back.20 - ." I shook my head. "When we're in New York. I shrugged again. I'd hoped she'd be more understanding—that she'd realize why." she purred. "Not this morning. and stretched her long legs for her morning run. I didn't second-guess myself nearly as much as I did here. "I hope it involves a bar of soap and lots of hot water. I need to take care of something. her breasts jutting out. When you get back. But then. . cooking a feast for the pranksters who'd invaded her home. And I certainly was much more focused in the city. I needed to fix the mess I'd created with Bella. Edward. and I couldn't help but chuckle." Her freckled nose wrinkled. You really do smell like shit. bringing my attention back to her. I didn't feel alive like I did in the Pacific Northwest. exactly. My mother would be awake soon and. I'm going for a run. someone. It was as if I hibernated for most of the year." Was I better in New York? I had to admit. only waking up when my feet hit the home soil for the occasional Thanksgiving or Christmas. my stench.
Edward! There's nothing too serious behind that. my fingers gripped the counter in frustration. to keep her happy. Stepping back. But at least let me flirt a bit with you. It may have been one of the best and worst nights of my life. She flashed a gorgeous smile at me. knowing it was now or never. and then it was gone. her voice warm in all her faux cheerfulness. when Charlotte would no longer be a guest in my parents' home. is there?" I took a deep breath. And if I were a gentleman. I'd made so many bad choices… I was so tangled in the Weeping Lady and the words pouring from my mind. "Charlotte…this isn't going to work. I wouldn't either…at least until after Rosalie's wedding. essentially. I . I wondered if I could wait that long. my fingers ached to finish my latest chapter. I knew she would never bring this up again if she could help it." "Char—" "We'll talk later." she said quickly. She needed to know what destructive. I shuddered. Had she listened to nothing I said last night? "Char…" "Look. leave her—to make her smile. demented things I'd been willing to do—lie to her. After I returned from my time with Bella at Rialto Beach. "Last night was…awkward." Her eyes went painfully cold for a moment. why I had this compulsive drive to make her safe. leaned up. and sensuously kissed my chin. I stumbled up the stairs to my old bedroom and shook my laptop to life." she said quickly. You're too anxious here.What the…? I groaned. I know. beautiful. "Like I said. crazy woman sleeping on the basement sofa. Bella had to understand…I needed her to understand why I was the way I was." "What do you mean? The run?" "You know what I mean. we just need to get back to New York.21 - . Despite myself. Last night was an exercise in dualism. Despite the near desperate emotions tumbling in my brain. But as I thought about the stubborn.
Her mouth was sultry and pouted. She moaned into my mouth. she'd have it. ever again.didn't hear the slow creak of the door or the clicking of heels across Esme's gleaming wood floor. What she wanted was me. you'll be sobbing my name. If I didn't see her clear. clad in nothing but a black silk robe and an expensive-looking lingerie set. "Once I fuck you. I could do this. "This is right…just give in. two months from now. Her hands skirted up my thighs and kneaded them. I closed my eyes and let my thoughts stray to long nights with her when she'd lean over my bed the way Charlotte was now. It wasn't right because she didn't have . my head rebelled. her mouth assaulting mine." Charlotte placed two firm hands on my shoulders and shoved me against the headboard of my bed. She was intent on what she wanted and if it was the last thing she did. hazel eyes raking hungrily over my body.22 - . Why tonight. her fingers skimming gracefully along my stomach. her blonde hair tousled and spilling over her shoulders." No. I recognized the smoldering look in her eyes." she breathed between kisses. my hands floundered for an instant then gripped her lace-trimmed hips. Charlotte sauntered over to my bed and leaned against it. "Edward. I glanced up. her breath fanning over my face in a wave of mint so strong. "you'll never want anyone else. roughly. "I'm going to ride you so hard. I cursed internally. Startled. up my chest…If I kept my eyes closed. I could almost fool myself into believing they were brown… "Do you know what I'm going to do to you. desperately struggling to gain control of my traitor body. of all nights? Why now? Why not a month from now. My head fell back and I swallowed." My body twitched in reaction. This wasn't right. to make peace with Bella… Bella. Edward?" she whispered." she hummed into my ear. My jaw dropped. I could give Char what she needed…what I'd intimated when we began this relationship. it made my eyes water. when I had a chance to get my head on straight.
protecting the goods from her stiletto." Scowling. into my room…and I knew what she saw: Isabel said this…Isabel did that…Isabel was everything…Isabel…Isabel…Isabel… With an angry. Then her gaze honed in on my open laptop…on the picture of two grinning children hovering over a birthday cake…on the chapter I'd been furiously composing before she'd slipped. "You're still in love with her. then. or whatever the girly fragrance was Bella used. half naked.23 - . Of course she would think that…she had no reason not to. after I'd promised to give it a go with her. if not your girlfriend?" Girlfriend? Is that what she thought she was to me? Crud." I turned my head from her hot mouth and transferred my grip to her shoulders. I can't believe after seven years. heel-clad leg from my body and slid from the bed. Charlotte's icy eyes scoured my room for answers. "I can't do this with you. She didn't smell like freesias. you're still panting after her!" "I'm with you. brazenly flashing a black lacy thong. My hands flew down. "I'm sorry. or strawberries. excruciating grind into my pelvis. I would have flown to her so quickly we wouldn't have even made it to the bed. she gathered her silky black robe tighter against her chest." I groaned. as if she expected someone to pop out of my closet. . easing her off of me. Her head didn't belong in the crook of my arm. she swung her long. Char. "Stop. "Who can you do this with. "What's that supposed to mean?" she snarled. Hurt and fury radiated from the cast off female staring me down. It wasn't right because she wasn't Bella. she would have caught her heel in the blanket and tumbled to the ground.brown hair or blushing skin. She has your balls duct-taped in a memento box somewhere under her bed. aren't you?" she hissed. and she didn't know that nipping the skin beneath my chin drove me absolutely insane with lust. And if Bella had sauntered into the room wearing what Charlotte wore. "That Podunk MaryAnn you can't stop writing about. aren't I?" I growled. But Charlotte was not Bella and she knew it. I couldn't help but think if it had been Bella in lingerie and heels.
you were probably stuttering her name. seal up that box with packing tape and label it: Life in Washington? Loving Bella was my life. refusing to let her claws find purchase. I thought she was going to try to jump me again. And after her tearful pleas at Rialto Beach. I'd be at her feet in a minute." she said icily. and dismissively turned back to my laptop. I'd give her what she needed. The minute you finish that chapter. But I forced it back. If she snapped. Char could be a manipulative bitch." I said. So help me. Mr. I fully intended to email my chapter to her at four in the morning. What had possessed me to think I could ever move on with someone else? That I could compartmentalize my feelings for Bella. I'd rejected her. Even though we'd signed a piece of paper stating otherwise. I bet you're a bad lay. I'm still your editor. "I bet that's why you can't seem to keep a woman around for more than a month. partly because there was truth to what she'd said. I'd learned long ago to tune her out when she turned her vitriol on me. to the kitchen for my nightly cup of tea. for a moment. She wavered at the foot of my bed and. I quietly crept past the den and the faint brass riffs of a late-night program. I want to hear an inbox alert. That's pathetic. too. Edward. what she needed was for the lies to end. Her pride was wounded. so of course she was a hell-cat. I should never have given in. Cullen. pausing only to get in the last word. and it had everything to do with what Charlotte had forced in front of my face: I was in love with one woman. that vow stood as true to me today as it did on our wedding day. "Don't forget. The ritual made me . Bella had me by the balls. Bella may not want me anymore.24 - ." A rival fury stirred in my chest. "I guess you'll never have the pleasure of finding out. It was grossly unfair to Charlotte. As Char so ineloquently put it. Something heavy was seeping through me. As much as she'd pushed for us to take our friendship to the next level. Every time you came. Not long after this revelation. but dating another. If she wanted it the minute I was done. Instead she clapped across the wooden floor and angrily swung the door open. You're worse than a prudish little girl. Do you understand?" Loud and clear. but it didn't mean I was free to give myself to someone else."Are you?" she snorted. "among other things.
of course. When we get back to New York. her eyes full of unspoken anger. "Char…" Rosalie arched a fine eyebrow. If I had a shot at Peter again." She waved her hand. I'd do the same thing. Instead of the empty kitchen I thought I'd find. showers. She rose from her mug and left the room. her head ducked even further. When she heard my footfalls. with a twinge of guilt. Rosalie and Charlotte sat opposite each other at the counter. But when I rounded the corner. "I went into this with eyes wide open. we'll just see what happens. shall we?" "We'll see. rather than take yet another pill to filter through my blood stream. My hands finally settled on Charlotte's shoulders and I squeezed them." I murmured. I don't know if I'll ever be able to—" "One day at a time." I sighed. Which. offering me a weary smile. "I pushed too hard tonight. And I was too afraid to tell her she could never be what I needed. Edward. too damned weak to tell her no when she was trying so hard to be what I needed. Char had abandoned her black silk for a set of flannel pajamas and a fluffy white robe. I saw that her eyes were red-rimmed and swollen. I know what she's been to you. I used natural remedies like tea." She shifted on her stool. "I don't want this to ruin a seven-year friendship." she hissed as she closed my bedroom door ." she cut in. and I knew I'd be getting an earful from her shortly. their heads bent over steaming mugs of hot chocolate. Her hair was pulled up and. I crossed the room and stood behind her. I was caught off guard. "It's fine. music. her puffy face meeting mine." I squeezed her shoulders again.feel like Emmett's old Irish granny.25 - . "You are a fucking dickhead. and I know this visit is difficult. I couldn't do it…not tonight. "I'm so very sorry. With a sigh. my hands hovering over her shoulders. "I'm sorry I can't give you more. Edward. But insomnia was a detrimental side effect of my disorder and. gave Rosalie the perfect excuse to storm my sanctuary. forgetting the tea. I returned to my room. hiding her embarrassment from me.
you'd be cartwheeling down the driveway because Bella was spared the pain of being married to me. I'm breaking my promise." I narrowed my eyes at her over my mug of tea. "Ah…thanks." She shifted her feet and I felt her anger multiply. And trust me.and slammed a mug of tea on my nightstand. I rubbed my aching forehead. He'd gotten an earful from Rosalie. if it was possible. "You need to either man up and get serious about that woman downstairs or cut her loose. But whatever you do. you need to give Bella the real reason you left. Rose. I closed the book I'd been reading and pushed my glasses into my hair. God help her future children." I hissed through my teeth. You do what it takes to fix her. Rosalie stared me down with a terror-inducing glare she'd perfected over the years. Hands on her hips. The digital clock next to my bed read five after eleven. You really screwed her over—so much so.26 - . I can't believe you told Emmett two years ago and not your own sister!" Poor Emmett. or I'll tell her my way. "You think you spared her? She's an utter mess in the love department. "You bet it is. too. you of all people should know—" "That you're so in love with Bella you can't piss straight? Yeah…that's another thing. bracing for a storm. she's terrified to be alone. but terrified to date someone else. they abandon them? That is the most ass-backward thing I've ever heard! I'm giving you the same advice. . I set my mug down on the table as a sudden wave of exhaustion washed over me. But either way. running frenzied hands through my hair. brother—man up or cut her loose. "Who the hell loves someone so much. and that means telling her every last detail of your disorder or so help me." I averted my eyes from her death glare and gulped my tea. "Rosalie. if anything. "My god. Edward." "Spared?' she gaped at me in amazement. "Is that an ultimatum?" She flipped her blonde hair over her shoulder. don't keep stringing her along with half-hearted promises of a future together." I stuttered. my way won't be kind to you. I'd think. the minute I return from my honeymoon. You make plans to tell her everything you told me last month.
Not caring that my sister still malevolently hovered in my room. almost immobile. Some kids pulled hair and blew raspberries at their respective crushes. I clutched the arms of my chair. the red "I'M SUCKY TOO" scrawled across her forehead. Fake blood and whoopee cushions had been our language of irritation. waiting for her awareness to sink in. I had only a fraction of a minute to worry why. much more devious. and love. And this . Her eyelids fluttered again and she groaned. Oh. That's the way we worked. Despite the wretched sour milk smell. I wanted her side of our story. anyway. exactly. we'd used it to its fullest advantage.27 - . this time. Since we'd first discovered the art of the prank. We'd been much. My mouth curled into a smile at her confusion. I wanted her to be a part of it. But she had to know it was coming. I leaned in closer. Now I just had to convince her to help me write it. I could correct the lies." I conceded. "Ewwww. there it was…lovely. "I already have a plan. As another bout of extreme tiredness punched me in the gut and I fell back on my pillow. grateful for a second chance. she'd be angry about the marker and the soured milk. waiting for the first flash of brown. Yes. thinking of the book I was going to give to Bella—a book of stories about our childhood and everything that had been in my head from the time I was six. Abashedly. I shirked out of my clothes and pulled myself into bed. she was perfect. aching to wrap a finger around the wisps and curls framing her face. I gazed back. I realized I'd reject a hundred Charlottes if it brought me one more morning watching her sleep. She'd get the truth in the most honest. My heart hit the top of my throat and I swallowed. and her eyes met mine in playful accusation. She'd wake up soon. I finally realized why Rose had been smirking. More and more. I glanced at the clock again…nine-thirty. And by bringing her in on the drafts. most personal way I could think to give it to her—my written words." she moaned. and smugness. as the lithium wreaked havoc on my memory. I gave in to sleep so quickly. the rumpled clothing and tangled hair. They weren't "dreaming" flutters. then her grimace at the sour smell. her arms stretching over her head. She'd drugged my tea. she'd drugged me… ooo Bella's eyelids fluttered. most definitely.aware that Rosalie watched me with a strange mix of fury and triumph. It was a better option than letting Rosalie tell her.
28 - .time. there'd be no more lies. A/N: For now. Thank you so much for venturing into Edward's head with me :) . unless I write more for charity. that's it for Skygod.
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