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Here’s the next instalment of Burning Ember.

I apologize for the long wait, I had it written I


just honestly forgot to post it. But here it is for your reading pleasure. If you have any
critiques for me I would love to hear them.

Chapter 3 Where Do I Go From Here?

I woke up to the sound of my cell phone ringing. I was very aware that Edward was
lying next to me on the floor. I untangled myself from his arms so I could find my purse. It
was dark outside. Dammit! I thought. Charlie’s going to be so worried. I finally dug my phone
out of my purse. I glanced briefly at the number before answering. It was Charlie. Speak of
the devil.
“Hey Charlie!” I tried to sound cheerful, or at the very least awake.
“Bells where are you?” He sounded worried. “Your note said you were going out for
the day, which is fine, but it’s getting pretty late. I called Jake thinking you had gone home
but he said you weren’t there yet. He sounds awful Bells.”
I glanced at the clock. It was nine-thirty. “Sorry Dad, I drove out of town. I just
needed some time to myself. I found a bookstore in Olympia and lost track of time.”
“Don’t worry about it sweetie. I’m just being a paranoid father.”
“I’ll be back in a little bit, I’m just going to find something to eat on my way
home.” I was trying to calculate roughly how long it would take me to drive from Olympia
back to Forks plus figure in time to eat as I said good bye to Charlie and hung up the
phone.
I turned back to where Edward and I had been laying recalling the events of this
morning. I smiled. Edward had moved from the floor onto the sofa. He sat on the edge
with his face in his hands. I walked over to him, but he didn’t say anything. He didn’t even
look up.
“Edward?” No response. I tried again. “Edward, what’s wrong?”
“You don’t have to pretend for me Bella.” He muttered. Was that guilt in his voice?
Or disgust maybe? “For Charlie I understand, but don’t act like everything’s fine.”
I winced at his words. I felt better than fine, I felt better than I had been in seven
years. I realized what he must have meant. He wasn’t fine. Rejection washed through me
again. I had thought it was perfect, every single moment of the day had been absolute
perfection, for me. I should have known it wouldn’t be quite the same for him, but I
certainly didn’t think it would be bad. I immediately felt inadequate, not good enough for
my vampire lover.
“I-I don’t understand. Was there something I…”
“Something you did?” He questioned in surprise, suddenly lifting his head to look
at me. His expression was incredulous. “I’m a monster and you think you did something
wrong? Very typically you, Bella.”
“A monster? Edward you’re not…”
He cut me off was a fierce glare. “Not a monster? Bella look at yourself.”
Confused I looked at my arms. Harsh purple bruises were appearing there. After
further examination I found that they covered a lot of my body. I flexed my muscles, they
didn’t hurt. I felt like I’d spent the day at the gym. It was ‘a good burn’, like everyone says
after working out. But there certainly wasn’t any pain. I tried to think back, to recall if I
had felt any pain at all through the course of the day.
“Edward, I’m…”
But he cut me off again. “Please do not say you are fine, when I can see that you
aren’t.” His tone was harsh, but suddenly it melted. “Would you believe how incredibly
sorry I am? Here I am hurting you again even after I promised.” His voice was filled with
remorse and what I now recognized as self-loathing. He buried his face in his hands again.
“Edward,” I began softly. He didn’t look at me. “Edward.” I said more sternly this
time. I pulled his chin up so he was looking into my eyes. “I need you to hear me, to
actually listen to me and believe what I am saying. I may be bruised, I’m not blind. But it
doesn’t hurt. I didn’t feel any pain at all today. I know you probably feel differently but
today was most definitely the best day of my entire existence. Definitely worth a few
bruises.”
“You think I didn’t enjoy myself?” He asked, a little shocked. “Bella of course I did,
there is nothing in existence I have enjoyed more. But really, I know you aren’t above lying
to me to sooth my guilt.”
“Edward, do you remember how you had to convince me that you still loved me,
that you weren’t leaving, because I just couldn’t believe you?” He nodded. “Well the tables
have turned. What will it take for me too convince you that today was perfect and I am not
in any pain?”
“Perfect?” He looked surprised. “Really? Even after I hurt you?”
I glared at him. “I. Am. Not. Hurt.” I emphasized each word with acute irritation.
“And yes today was absolutely the most perfect and wonderful day in my entire life.”
He watched me. His pained expression slowly melted into a loving gaze. He slowly
reached for my hand and held it in his. Never taking his eyes from mine he stood and
pulled me cautiously and very gently into his arms.
“I don’t believe you.” He whispered.
“Well you should because I’m not lying.” I whispered back.
“Whatever you say.”
“Trust me Edward.”
“I do trust you Bella. I trust you with my very existence.”
“Than why can’t you believe that I’m telling the truth here?”
“I suppose I will come to accept that you are eventually.” He pulled away and
smiled down at me. “Oh and before I forget, happy birthday Bella.”

The realization flooded through me. It was my birthday. I was twenty-five, Edward
was seventeen, still. And what’s worse I had just had an affair with my ex-boyfriend, who is
a vampire, who is the enemy of my werewolf husband, on my three-year wedding
anniversary. Jake could never find out what I had done, he’d never forgive me, and there
would be a fight, a bad one.
A wave of guilt flooded through me. I knew that even though I was happier now
than I had been in a very, very long time, and while I couldn’t bring myself to regret what I
had done today, I had done something that was unforgivable, and I had done it to my very
best friend. Edward thought he was a monster, but he wasn’t, I was the monster. Not the
kind of monster who lurks in dark alleys or eats small children in fairytales, but the real
kind, the kind that is malicious and cruel, and that hurts the people they love.

We stood there holding each other, comforting each other, until I started shivering.
Edward pulled away from me then.
He gave me one hard look and said, “I’ll go see if Alice or Esme left some clothes
here, you’re going to need a long sleeve shirt and some pants if you’re going to cover those
bruises.” He moved away in one of those unnaturally fast movements of his.
I went back to the piano to get my clothes where they lay in a dishevelled heap on
the bench. I gazed at the polished black instrument for a long time, letting my mind
wander back to my many memories of my life with Edward. There were so many good
ones, Edward playing the piano for me, Edward holding me on my bed trying to talk me
into sleeping, talking with Edward in our meadow, spending time in the large house with
the Cullens. I was truly happy back then. There were bad memories too, like getting stalked
by those thugs in Port Angeles or being hunted by James, but Edward was always there
saving me and that made me grateful for those memories too. The worst part of
remembering Edward was remembering him leaving; remembering the way it felt.
Remembering it was like living it again, almost as vivid and just as painful.
But Edward was back now and I would never have a reason to feel that way again.
Somehow I would deal with Jacob, it would be painful, but Edward would be here to help
me through it.
My chest tightened at the thought of hurting Jake the way I would have to. I didn’t
want him to hurt, but wasn’t he planning on leaving me? Wasn’t he planning on hurting
me too? I pushed the thought away. Edward would be back soon and I couldn’t let him see
me like this.
I managed to pull myself together when Edward came floating down the stairs with
a handful of clothing. I feigned a smile and quickly dressed in what ever he handed me.
“Wow, these actually fit me.” I mused, pulling the sweater over my head. The overly
stylish sweater and jean ensemble was exactly my size.
“You won’t be so surprised once you read this.” Edward laughed handing me a
folded piece of parchment paper and then reached for his clothes and began dressing.
I unfolded the heavy paper numbly. Edward couldn’t have any more surprises
hidden up his sleeve.

Bella,
I’m sure these will come in handy eventually. I would hate for them to go to waste so I hope
that the future I saw them in works out for you. I got your size right didn’t I?

Good Luck!
Alice
P.S. Remember there is more than one possible outcome to your future, just be sure of your own
decisions and the rest will take care of itself.

I smiled. Of course Alice would have seen this coming and been prepared for every
possible outcome. Thinking of Alice caused a small amount of grief in me. I loved her like
she was my own sister and I missed her so much.
“It was nice of Alice to leave these for me.” I tried smiling again as I tucked the
noted safely away in my pocket.
“You miss her don’t you?”
“I miss your whole family, they were the greatest, but Alice was like a sister to me,
so I guess I miss her the most.”
“I miss her too. Its hard being away from my family, I’m sure Esme is worried sick
about me.”
“When was the last time you saw them?”
“Three years ago. I went back to them for a little while after your wedding, but I
couldn’t stay with them. I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I needed to be here with
you.”
“Maybe we should go visit them.” I suggested hopefully. Maybe I would see Alice
again sooner than I thought.
Edward smiled down at me. “Let’s worry about getting you some food and getting
you home to your father before we start planning a road trip to Boston.”
“They’re living in Boston?” I asked, mildly surprised at this new information.
He laughed. “Come on Love, let’s go.” He scooped me up in his arms again and
kissed me on the forehead once before carrying me out to the car.
He let me drive, but he grumbled the entire way about being a better driver than
me. I pulled into the drive-through of the only burger joint in town and ordered myself
dinner. We sat in the car in the parking lot while I ate and Edward fiddled with the tuner
on my radio until he found a song that he liked. I giggled when he started singing along,
but he didn’t seem to care. I watched him while I finished my meal, tapping his fingers on
the dashboard to the beat of the music. He had an air of elegance, even when he was being
so casual.

I pulled the car up to the curb in front of Charlie’s house and put it in park. I
glanced at Edward. He was watching me. He broke in to a sudden grin.
“What?”
“I’m just glad to be back in your life.” He said softly. “I’ll be waiting in your room,
but you should spend some time with Charlie, he’s worried about you.” He kissed me very
softly and then slipped out into the darkness. I sighed. I felt whole for the first time in
seven years, but the reality of all my problems was slowly crashing down around me. If
Jacob wasn’t planning on leaving me before he certainly would after what I’d done today.

“Dad!” I called walking into the house. “I’m back.”


“I’m in the living room.” Charlie called back. I wandered through the kitchen,
pausing to put Charlie’s dinner plate in the sink. There was a note stuck to the fridge in
Charlie’s messy scrawl that said that Jacob had phoned for me. I pulled it down, crumpled
it and tossed it in the garbage can. I didn’t know how to deal with Jacob right now.
I walked into the living room and curled up on the corner of the sofa. Charlie was
watching baseball.
“How was your day?” He asked, turning down the volume on the TV.
“Fine, I guess, I drove down to Olympia for the day.” I shrugged.
“Trying to distract yourself?” he guessed.
“Sort of, I’m just at a loss of what to do here Dad.”
“I think you need to talk to Jake, try and figure this out.”
“I know that’s what I should do; I’m just too upset still.”
“What happened between you two anyway?”
“We fought Dad,” I started, not wanting to get into exactly what we were fighting
about. “We’ve been arguing a lot lately and this time it got out of hand.”
“He didn’t hit you did he?” Charlie asked suspiciously.
“No he didn’t. But he was yelling and I was yelling and well, we were both pretty
angry. Then yesterday when he brought up the fact the he was thinking about leaving, I
panicked and ran.”
“I see.” Charlie said thoughtfully. He stared into space for a moment before
speaking again. “I just don’t understand, you guys have always been so happy. He got you
through that rough patch and…” He trailed off. Charlie didn’t like talking about my ‘rough
patch’.
“That’s the thing Dad, Jake’s my best friend, and I love him, I really do. But I don’t
know if I can love him enough.”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t know if I was ever in love with Jake.” I said softly. “I think he knew it all
along. Dad what do I do? I don’t want to hurt him, but it’s not fair to him.”
“Like I said before I think you need to talk to Jake. If he really loves you, you’ll
work it out.” He slipped his arm around me and gave me an awkward one armed hug
before turning back to the TV.
I stood up and headed for the stairs. “Dad?” He glanced up at me. “Would you be
upset if Jake and I couldn’t work this out?”
“Honey I would only be upset if he was making you unhappy.”
“Thanks Dad, I love you.”
“Love you too Bells.”

I headed up to my room. Edward was stretched across my bed, looking god-like, as


usual. He had a very amused expression.
“What’s so funny?” I asked as he extended his arms to me. I curled up next to him
and he wrapped his arms around me.
“Nothing really, it just looks like your dresser had a fit and threw its contents all
over your room.”
I blushed. “I couldn’t find what I was looking for this morning.”
He trailed a finger along my cheek. “I’ve missed your blush.” He murmured.
I could feel the burn increase in my face. “No one can make me blush like you
can.” I whispered.
“Good.” He lowered his faced to mine and gave me a kiss that threatened to make
the house burn down around us. I wouldn’t have noticed, nor would I have cared.
I came up gasping for breath. I clung desperately to the front of Edward’s shirt and
the truth was I didn’t want to let go. I didn’t want to wake up without him; I didn’t want
to survive without him. That had been my problem all these years. It wasn’t just that I
couldn’t forget him, or stop loving him, I just didn’t want to. I knew now that as much as I
also didn’t want to hurt Jacob, it was inevitable.
“What’s wrong?” Edward whispered.
“I… I can’t lose you again Edward.” I whispered back, my voice shaking.
“You won’t.” He soothed, running his hand through my hair. “I’ll never leave you.
I don’t make the same mistake twice.”
“I’m just scared that’s all.” I couldn’t make my voice sound even.
“Why? What are you scared of?”
“I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to hurt Jacob but I think that it’s going to
be unavoidable because I can’t stay with him and be with you.”
“And you’d rather be with me?”
“Do you really have to ask?” I said, and then I sighed. “I feel like I am I horrible
person. Choosing to be with one person I love and hurting another at the same time.”
“I can’t pretend not to be biased here; I want you to choose me. But you have to
make the right choice for you.”
I wrapped my arms firmly around his neck. “I choose you. I chose you from the
start.”
“Then that settles things.” He smiled and brushed his lips against mine.
I pulled back. “Edward, am I a bad person?”
“Why would you even ask that?”
“I’m having an affair, on my anniversary, and I’ve just decided to leave my husband,
to hurt him on purpose.” I explained.
“You are a good person, Bella, you always have been. You are just in a bad situation
right now.”
“Really?”
“Yes. Now if you wouldn’t mind I’d like to kiss you again.”
“I don’t mind.”
He leaned in and the fireworks started all over again.