I smiled as I gazed down at my beautiful Bella. She was sound asleep now. She was successful in her distraction. I forgot everything when her mouth was on my body. She was doing very well with expressing her feelings toward me. I wished she would say the actual words ‘I love you’. I never thought before that it would be this important to me. I just… I felt so out of balance with her. The worst of it all was again, more dreadful feelings in the pit of my stomach, inching its way into my head-she would never love me. At least not like I did. It was my worst nightmare. Ever since I got Bella, I’ve been having a lot of sinking fears creeping up on me. Why were they resurfacing now?
Carlisle raised us believing that actions spoke louder than words. I never heard him or Esme say they loved each other. It was there in everything they did. My father provided for her and kept her safe, and in return she took care of his needs and his home. Surely that was enough? That was love? I always thought so before.
I have told Bella that I love her. It felt liberating to say the words out loud. I wanted to shout them from the rooftop so everyone would know that I loved this angel of radiance lying beside me… but something was missing – her love.
I need to hear the words from her. I was lusting after her voice, to reassure me she reciprocated the intense feelings I had for her. She told me she wants to love me, but she’s still too afraid of me. But every time she always looks like she’s holding back. I just want to shake her and tell her to give me the full truth, not some mild version of what she’s thinking. If I hadn’t lost control that first time I punished her she wouldn’t be afraid. She would love me by now, I was sure of it. I’ve proven how much I love her. I’ve bought her expensive clothes, jewelry, and even her stupid books, which of the three got the most reaction from her. It still amazed me. Whenever we walked out of a store with bags worth thousands, she does show appreciation, yet those smiles don’t reach her eyes. I’m good at reading her eyes now-they seem to convey a lot more than her words. I have resorted to trusting those with the truth. She hasn’t found a way to conceal those from me. Those deep chocolate eyes really were the window into her soul.
I also show her every night that she doesn’t need to feel threatened of me. My touch brings her only pleasure, not pain. When she cries out my name it’s not in fear or pain, it’s in ecstasy. Only I can make her feel this. I know it will be different on our wedding night, but by then she will love me and accept the discomfort, as this will be her gift to me. Her virginity. I will forever be her only lover.
I stared up at the ceiling thinking about the conversation I overheard between her and my mother. Why was she hushing and comforting Bella? Like a, a… mother being all maternal to her child?
Because she is just a child, she needs a mother! Jaspers haunting voice whispered in my head. I shook it away.
What did Bella tell her that she was too afraid to tell me? I am her protector. She is mine; therefore it is my responsibility to make her feel safe. I welcomed the job of being her sole comfort. Why wasn’t she letting me do it though?
I cannot ask Esme, or Carlisle will know she left their bed as well. I can’t do that to my mother. Whoa, it’s been so long since I referred to her as my own mom. There was a smile tugging at the corners of my lips. Mom. I missed just being her son, her being my mother, letting her hug me, and whisper that no matter what, she loves me. We always had such a good time together, we had such a wonderful relationship. The idea of her being punished by Carlisle gave me an uneasy feeling, she was my mom, no harm should come to her. She was such a good mom, too. I couldn’t stop saying mom, I realized. It seemed wrong for her to be punished. I thought back over my childhood and what I remembered. I know Carlisle punished her when we were younger. I even remember one time he locked her in the basement for a week. Jesus, how could I have been so naïve? I thought about that timeframe- how old was I? I lay there toying with Bella’s hair and froze. It was after she and Renee left, probably a week or so later. Oh my God! How had I forgotten this? I had completely blocked it from my mind. Perhaps because I wanted to forget it, it was awful, and I think I may have even shed some tears later that night, I felt so bad for mom. I just wanted to hug her, and tell her how sorry I was for letting Carlisle do that to her. I remembered now. We were all pig headed. Carlisle encouraged it. I frowned.
I was 14, Jasper was 16 and Emmett was 17. We were all in high school…
We had just come in from school, laughing and being loud as teenage boys do. Emmett was challenging Jasper and I to a video game. The loser had to take out the trash for 2 months.
“Come on you coupla’ wimps! I dare you. I double dare you fuckers. What have you got to lose?” Emmett goaded.
“Hell no!” Jasper yelled. “I learned my lesson the last time I had to wash your jeep for a month.”
“Come on Eddie-boy. You wanna see if you can whip my ass?” Emmett turned to me.
“Sure, why not? I hate taking out the trash. I’m not going to miss that. In fact, when I get married that’s going to be my wife’s job.”
The three of us laughed at the idea and started coming up with other disgusting jobs our wives would do.
“I know, she can wash my truck everyday when I get home after she fixes my dinner.” Jasper chimed in.
“That’s just lame Jasper,” I said.
“With her toothbrush!”
“Oh, I got one better than both of you. I’m going to have 5 dogs. She can clean the up all the shit so I don’t step in anything!” Emmett laughed.
We were all laughing as Carlisle came downstairs. He was rolling down his sleeves and buttoning his cuffs. He must have just cleaned up.
“What’s so funny boys?” he asked.
I turned to him; “We were just coming up with a list of gross jobs we want our wives to do for us when we get married.” We told him about our ideas.
He started laughing with us. He slapped Jasper on the back. “Son, I’m sorry but even with the toothbrush that’s still pretty tame. Besides, remember she’s going to suck your dick with that mouth. You really want her to use her toothbrush on your truck?”
“Shit, I didn’t think about that. No way I want a dirty mouth wrapped around my goods. I’ll have to think of something else,” Jasper grimaced.
“Boys, I want each of you to make a list tonight. I’d like to know what you think would be the most repulsive job a wife could do for you.” Carlisle said. “I want to see them by 9:00 in my study. Then we will discuss them together and see if any need improvement. Whichever of you come up with the most revolting one- that is doable- I will reward.”
He put his arm around my shoulder and I looked up at him. “I expect to see some creativity in this exercise, Edward. I know you’re capable of something greater than just taking out the garbage. I want to see you really stretch yourself with this challenge. You’ve lost the last two times to Jasper and Emmett. I’ve been a little disappointed in your efforts lately.”
“Don’t worry Dad. I’m going to win this one. I’ll come up with something so terrible that you’ll be proud of me. I promise.”
He ruffled my hair. “I’m glad to hear it Edward. Maybe I should call your Uncle Marcus and have Demetri get in on this also. What do you think? Do you think you could top anything Demetri comes up with?”
“I’ll beat Emmett, Jasper and Demetri!” I hated Demetri. Carlisle and Marcus always pitted us against each other. Emmett and Jasper were lucky. They only competed against each other and me. Our other cousins were either older or younger than them, or just stupid girls who weren’t allowed to participate in our competitions.
“Alright boys,” he said getting serious, “I want you to go sit in the living room while I get your mother. I think she’s ready to come out of the basement now.”
“About damn time!” Emmett huffed, “I’m so sick of eating out. I want a real meal! Make her cook something good tonight.”
“Don’t worry Em. I’m sure she will be ready to cook whatever you want for dinner. I know she’s sorry for not tending to the needs of her family this week.”
He grabbed a small ring of keys that was on a peg next to the basement door as he unlocked the door and went down the stairs flipping on the light.
I briefly wondered why he left her in the dark and what the keys were for. I forgot all about it as Emmett was reminding me about our video game rematch.
She was so different when he brought her in the living room. I remembered she had trouble standing without Carlisle’s support. I didn’t want to be a wuss, but I was so scared. She looked wrong. Everything about this seemed so off. Something was so wrong. I looked at Jasper and Emmett. They shared similar looks as mine. They looked pretty nervous. He forced her down on her knees in front of us with her head bowed. She looked up briefly, and my breath caught. She looked sick and pale, like a ghost. I thought she was going to drop dead, I wanted to reach out to her. I didn’t know what to say though, what could I say?
Carlisle told her to ask our forgiveness for being a bad mother. She had helped conduct the deterioration of a family. We were all so uncomfortable with this and tried to tell her we loved her and she wasn’t a bad mother. She was the best mom. She never missed a football game, always cooked us delicious meals, and praised us constantly. Carlisle got angry with us. He told us that unless we wanted her punishment to continue, we would need to respond correctly to her. We were each to stand in front of her and tell her we do not forgive her. She destroyed a family and we were ashamed to call her mother. This was when we started calling her Esme instead of mom. I felt an ache in my chest remembering the look on my mother’s face as we each refused to call her ‘mother’ ever again. We hurt the woman who took care of us when we were sick or afraid. She made us laugh and always told us how much she loved us. We were her world and in turn we spit on her. She was silently shaking, on the verge of a breakdown it appeared. But Carlisle dragged her into the kitchen to start preparing dinner before we could kneel down to her level and tell her it was okay.
I looked down at my own angel sleeping in my arms. Her long lashes sweeping down over her cheeks in slumber. Her supple red lips slightly parted as she breathed. She looked like snow white. God’s gift to me- a slice of my own personal heaven. Walking on earth. Could I ever do that to her? Could I lock her in a basement? Could I make her feel our children were ashamed of her? My arms tightened around her and I kissed her forehead. She frowned in her sleep and mumbled, “James please don’t hurt me. Edward won’t want me.” She turned her head trying to turn her body away from me. I instinctively held her closer and she started whimpering in fear.
“Shhh, Bella. I’m here baby. I won’t let anyone hurt you. Don’t be scared.” I whispered.
“Edward,” she breathed. She snuggled back into me, settling down. “Mmm, my Edward.”
“That’s right love. I’m only yours,” I smiled as I felt my heart swell with joy. She may not be ready to say the words, but I could live with these for now. I pulled the blankets over us, tucking her into my arms so she wouldn’t be cold. I would know if she left again, I kissed her neck and closed my eyes. I resolved to get her to say the words for me soon. I sighed, resigned to what I needed to do. I guess I was going to talk to Jasper again. I was about to drift off when she murmured something that threw me off guard, it just complicated things even further.
“Don’t be Carlisle’s Edward.”
I dropped Bella off at school and called the hospital. I told Carlisle’s secretary to let him know I would be there in a couple of hours. I needed to take care of a few things first.
It seemed like lately I had lost my niche in my family. I didn’t fit in with my brothers due to their differences with their wives, but I felt like a chasm was growing between my father and me also. Okay, I didn’t feel it, it was there, and it was continuing to build. Before Bella came into my world I knew where I stood. I was confident in the direction my life was headed. Now I felt as though I was standing at a crossroad with no road map to tell me a thing. Which was the right path, or what was the destination for either one? I wasn’t used to feeling so out of tune, so out of control. It slipped from my fingers. Would I still feel this insecurity if I had picked someone different? I realized it didn’t matter, given the choice again I would still be where I am today, because I would never choose anyone other than my Bella.
I called Jasper to let him know I was on my way over. He didn’t seem pleased but told me to come on. I haven’t spoken to Jasper since that day at his club. I know he’s worried I’ll tell Carlisle about Alice’s therapy and his break from Carlisle’s teachings. I couldn’t do that to him or Alice for that matter. After remembering how brutal Carlisle could be in his punishment of his wife/our mother, I wouldn’t risk what he might do to Jasper’s Alice. Especially if she’s so fragile that Jasper felt she really needed therapy. She may be his wife, but as far as I knew he hadn’t finished paying Carlisle back for her yet. So technically, in Carlisle’s eyes at least, he still owned her. While he would never take her away from Jasper, he would feel within his rights to discipline her.
This is where I was more fortunate with Bella’s purchase. Since Charlie was dead, Carlisle never finished paying for her. Plus, she had the settlement from the accident, the money from Rene, Phil and Charlie’s life policies and the money from the sale of Charlie’s house and soon Phil’s house. Even James had a small policy through Charlie’s benefits at with the City. Bella was coming with so many assets that even splitting them with Carlisle, as agreed upon in the beginning, more than made up for her original purchase price. I was going to own Bella outright when we married.
Renee and Phil really had worried about what would happen to Bella if they died. She wasn’t aware of it, but they carried life policies worth $1 million each and she received another $1 million from the car accident. It turned out the drunk driver was a business owner and had the right insurance coverage to pay out. There were savings and investments that had done well even with the recent stock market upset and Charlie’s home was insured. Since it was a total loss the insurance company wrote a check for the full coverage amount. There was also the money from the dummy corporation where Charlie hid his funds from all the girls he had trained over the years. The amount was staggering. I never realized how many girls have gone through his house. I still had the house in Arizona to sell also. I had spoken to a local realtor over the phone and she assured me the house would sell high and quickly. Phil had been a very popular local celebrity and there was already interest in purchasing his home.
I got to the club and went back to his office. I knocked since the door was shut. I could hear Jasper talking to Alice through the door. I was surprised she was here and not at home.
“Baby, its fine. I promise I won’t let him hurt you. We’d skip town if you were in danger, I’d know by now if he said anything to Carlisle,” he was telling her.
I heard Alice’s voice respond but couldn’t make out the words. I heard him walk to the door opening it.
“Edward?” Jasper said as he stepped back to let me in. I saw Alice sitting by his desk watching me suspiciously.
“Hey Jasper. Hello Alice. How are you?” I said kindly.
“Fine, thank you,” she answered cautiously. Sternly, too.
I felt bad that she looked at me as the enemy. I wasn’t. I turned back to Jasper.
“So, can I talk to you?” I asked him.
“Sure, have a seat,” he answered as he sat next to Alice.
“Um…?” I looked pointedly at Alice.
“What do you want Edward?” he demanded.
“I want to talk to you about Bella. It’s personal,” I hinted. I saw Alice look at Jasper with apprehension. Jasper pulled her closer to him and kissed her temple.
“Well, have a seat.” He indicated the chair across from he and Alice.
I sat down and stared at Alice for a moment waiting for her to leave the room. I was becoming irritated that she made no move to leave.
“Jasper?” I nodded to Alice. Really, she was pushing it by continuing to sit there. She should know to leave the room when men need to talk.
“What Edward?” he asked, irritation evident in his voice. “You said you need to talk, so- talk. Alice isn’t going anywhere, she’s my wife, my partner.” He was watching me carefully.
I sat there a moment warring with myself. He clearly was not going to ask her to leave the room so I could speak freely. Maybe if I hinted at what I wanted to discuss he’d realize the importance of this conversation. Then he could make her wait outside.
“Do you remember our conversation the other day? The advice you tried to give me?” I asked.
“You mean about the right way to treat Bella, and for you to quit being such a domineering jackass to her?” he smirked raising one eyebrow at me.
Alice giggled and I growled at her. How dare she laugh?
I was shocked when Jasper leaped up from his desk slamming his hands down on his desk. His reaction wasn’t for her disrespect, it was directed at me.
“Watch it Edward! This is my wife you’re threatening,” he warned. “You will treat Alice with the utmost respect or you can leave here right now.”
“What do you mean, I treat her with respect? She should be treating me with respect.” I stood up ready to leave, “She shouldn’t even be here. This conversation is not for a woman’s ears.”
Alice stood up and crossed her arms over her chest. “Bastard! Hello?? I’m right here!” She was waving her arms in a sarcastic way, “Stop talking about me like I’m not, Edward. If you want advice on Bella, I’m better qualified than Jasper is anyway. He only knows what I tell him! God, I feel so sorry for Bella. You really are a selfish pighead jerk you know that?” She was trembling.
Jasper and I both looked at her in shock. I realized it was for different reasons.
She turned to Jasper. “Dr. Brockman was right. That felt good to be able to say what I really feel.”
He grinned at her wrapping her in his arms. “I’m so proud of you Allie. I knew there was a spitfire hiding inside my Pixie, just waiting for her chance.” He kissed her forehead.
I wasn’t sure what just happened. I was stunned. I’d never had a woman speak to me like this. I was just as shocked at Jasper’s reaction. He was proud of her outburst! I wouldn’t hesitate to punish Bella if she spoke to me, or any man in my family like this. This behavior wasn’t tolerated in our women.
“What the hell Jasper? Are you just going to stand there and let her talk like that?”
His arms tighten protectively around her. “What do you think? Of course I am.” He looked down at her with so much love in his eyes as she gazed back up at him with the same intensity of feeling. He spoke now to her, now softly. “I have been waiting two years for her to find the courage in herself to speak up.” He was humming in content, she was sighing in adoration. He kissed her wedding ring.
As I stood there I felt like an intruder on their private moment. I felt a stirring of jealousy in my chest. I may look at Bella like this, but she did not look back at me with that same expression of love that Alice gazed on my brother.
He turned to me and his eyes narrowed. “Don’t you dare make her regret speaking out. This is a huge step for her. You ruin this and I will take you out in the alley and beat the crap out of you just like I did when we were kids.”
Alice suddenly looked at me in fear and looked back at Jasper. “Oh God, Jazz. I’m sorry.”
“No Allie-“ he leaned down and cupped her face to watch her. “Do not apologize. You did nothing wrong. You keep speaking up. I promise Edward isn’t going to betray us. Are you Edward?” He never took his eyes off of her.
I realized if I want his advice then I would have to reassure him that I wouldn’t let Carlisle hurt Alice. “No Jasper, Alice’s secret is safe.”
Jasper kissed her again and turned to me, “You really can’t see past your own pride, can you Edward?”
“What do you mean by that?” I was feeling defensive. What was wrong now?
“You just can’t talk directly to Alice can you? You can’t offer her the reassurance. You offer it to me instead. What am I? Better than her? That’s not possible,” he was back to sharing another moment with her. They were so lost in love, I was green with envy for what they shared. Then he looked back at me, he was shaking his head at me. “Tell Alice. And mean it for Christ’s sake.”
I looked at Alice who was watching me guardedly. I saw that same look in Bella’s face when I talked to her. I didn’t see it when Alice talked to Jasper. I sighed.
“Alice, I would never cause you pain. My brother loves you and I love my brother. I won’t hurt him by letting Carlisle hurt you. Your secret will be kept. I don’t understand it, but you’re safe.” I offered.
“Thanks, Edward,” she said softly. “Do you really want to know Bella?”
Asking a woman for help went against everything I had come to learn. But I really needed to know what to do to make Bella love me. If this was the only way, she was important enough to me to do this. I sighed and sat back down.
“Yes Alice. I would appreciate any help you can give me.”
Jasper and Alice sat down as well.
“Understand something Edward. I don't trust you. I want to for Bella's sake, but you haven't shown that you really care enough about Bella to do things any differently than the way Carlisle taught you. I know you can't change overnight so I'm not going to give you everything in case you aren't capable of change after all. I won’t just spoon feed you facts, it’s not like that. I won't give you any ammunition to use against Bella. You are going to have to gain my trust for me to really share everything I know to help you. Does that sound fair?”
I wanted so bad to demand that she tell me everything she knew about Bella. Obviously she knew a lot. More than I did. I wanted Jasper to punish her for withholding this information. Something of what I was thinking must have shown in my expression. Jasper caught it.
“Edward,” Jasper warned. “I'll walk you out that door right now if you make Alice upset or afraid. I won't let her tell you anything. Is that what you want?”
He knew he had me between a rock and a hard place. I am desperate to know what Alice can tell me, but I want everything now. I held my hands up in defeat.
“Fine, Jasper. I get it.” I turned back to Alice. “I want Bella to love me. I know she will when we're married, but I want her love now. So what do I do to make her love me Alice? I don’t speak the language of women,” I added in a light joke, hoping to diffuse the tenseness in the air. It obviously didn’t work.
Jasper looked at me with pity. Alice just shook her head at me. She looked at me a moment, weighing her words. Her eyes were boring into mine, and I couldn’t look away. She held so much intensity in them. I was honestly, a little intimidated. She was measuring me up. She opened her mouth, ready to say something, and then shut it again, not satisfied with her choice of words. She looked away, and looked back, with a new determination set in stone in her eyes, she softened them, she seemed to be nervous to speak up to me.
“Edward, do you love Bella?” she asked gently.
“Of course, I do. I picked her didn't I? She's going to be my wife before the year is out.” I answered. See, this is why we don't discuss important matters with women. They never get to the point.
“Edward, why do you love her?” she coaxed.
“Because she's mine,” I could hear the impatience slipping into my voice. Jasper could also and raised an eyebrow at me, warning me again to tread carefully with his wife.
She turned to Jasper. “I can't do this Jasper. I'm sorry, it's too much too soon.” She put her face in her hands and started crying softly.
Jasper pulled her out of her chair and onto his lap, holding her closely. He was whispering words of comfort to her as she held onto him. He looked at me over the top of her head.
“Edward why don't you give us a minute. Grab a drink and come back in a few minutes, alright?” he asked. His eyes pleaded with me to give him a minute.
“Alright.” I stood and looked at the woman who had just stood up to me. In her place was a broken child, much like my Bella.
“Alice, I-” I sighed. I really didn't know what to say to her.
I walked out to the bar. There was an employee on a ladder installing a new speaker with their back to me. I didn't see anyone else around.
“Excuse me. I'm sorry to bother you while you're working. Do you have a minute that you could fix me a drink, please?” I asked him.
The person on the ladder froze. I didn't understand why I made him nervous. I guess I just startled him. He put his tools down on the top of the ladder then started down. I turned toward the counter to wait. I stared at my hands trying to make sense of what was going on with Jasper and Alice. I really wished I understood their relationship. I want Bella to look to me for comfort just as Alice turned to Jasper. Instead she turned to my mother.
I saw the guy come around the bar out of the corner of my eye. “I'll just take a scotch and water please. I really appreciate it.”
He fixed my drink and stood in front of me sliding it within my line of vision. I was surprised to see a set of perfectly manicured nails wrapped around the glass. I looked up into Rosalie's smirking face.
“Hello Edward,” she said. “If I hadn't witnessed it myself I would have never thought you capable of sharing those perfect Cullen manners with a mere woman. Shocking the world didn't come to an end when you asked nicely instead of demanding either. Who knew?”
“Rosalie. What are you doing here?” I looked her over. She was wearing coveralls and her hair was hidden inside of a baseball cap. The only part of her appearance that still resembled my brother's wife was her manicure.
“Emmett had to go out of town today so I'm helping Jasper. His electrician couldn't get here until Tuesday so I offered to fix his speaker.” She was enjoying my bafflement.
“Does Jasper know that you're messing with his club? Does Emmett know what you're doing?” I could feel a headache starting behind my eyes. I thought this would be an easy thing to do this morning. Come to the club, Jasper tell me how to get Bella to say she loves me, go to work. Instead I feel like I fell down a rabbit hole. I was in an alternate universe. I rubbed my forehead warily.
“Yes Jasper knows I'm 'messing' with his club,” she sneered at me. “Jasper knows I'm more than capable of fixing his speaker. I wager I could fix it better than an electrician. Wanna bet?”
And there is where I saw Emmett. I seriously thought I was talking to him for a moment. She was just like him. Sarcastic, and trying to make a bet out of anything, even something so random.
“And Emmett? Does he know?” I saw her confidence falter. “I didn't think so.”
Her demeanor changed to contriteness. “Sorry for getting sarcastic. Please don't tell Emmett. He wouldn't understand.”
“Rosalie,” I swallowed the last of my drink, “Don't worry. I don't understand anything anymore. Who am I to say anything?” I said wearily.
She placed a hand on my arm. “Poor Edward.” she commiserated. “I know, leaving lala land and entering reality must be so hard! You really don't get it do you?”
“I see my Emmett in you the way he was in the beginning. Can I make a suggestion? Try being nice to Bella. Talk to her the way you just did me-” she winked, “before you knew you were talking a woman.”
She went back to climb the ladder again picking up where she left off. I leaned against the bar and watched her for a few minutes. She yelled for someone to try it and laughed when sound came from the speaker. She looked down and smirked. I shook my head as I headed back to talk to Jasper and Alice again. Who knew she could do something mechanical?
I knocked on the doorframe to Jasper's office. Alice was still in his lap and they were kissing completely oblivious to me standing there. I wanted that so badly. It was so close to me, Bella, was so close to me, but yet so out of reach. I felt that familiar ache in my chest as I thought of my Bella.
“Thank you for being so patient with me and loving me.”
“Alice, baby, you know you're my whole world. You saved me. I love you so much. Do you think you can talk to Edward now?” he asked.
She nodded and hugged him. “I think so. I want to try. For Bella.” She looked at me, emphasizing her last statement.
Jasper turned to me. “Edward, do you really want Bella to love you?”
“You know I do Jasper. Would I honestly put myself through all of this if I didn't?” I asked.
“Then you really need to listen to what Alice tells you with an open mind. I think you'd be surprised at how little you really know about Bella. I probably know more about Bella than you do. I promise as your brother I will help you if you want it. But understand it won't be easy for you. Carlisle was harder on you than either Emmett or I so his twisted sense of family and right and wrong is more ingrained in you than it was in us.”
“I appreciate any help you can give me with Bella. I want her to love me. I need her to love me. I would never hurt Bella. I love her too much. So Alice, I'll do whatever I can to prove you can trust me not to hurt her.” I promised.
She smiled timidly at me. “Well, I guess the easiest place to start is with the little things. Edward did you know that before Bella came here she was in all honors classes in Phoenix? Bella is very intelligent. She has a bright mind. She hates school now. Bella loves knowledge and making her go back to basic classes was insulting. You didn’t know that though, because she can’t speak her mind with you. It was a rather slap to face by signing her up for Horticulture and Child Development. It make her feel worthless, as if you think she's stupid.”
“I never told her she was stupid Alice. That's ludicrous.” I argued. How could Bella think that I felt she was stupid. I would never choose a wife that wasn't intelligent. She should realize this, but then again, obviously she doesn't.
“I didn't say you said those words exactly. I said that's how she feels,” she said kindly.
I sighed. “Alright Alice. What else?” I was starting to feel like I should be taking notes.
“Bella told me you took her shopping when you took her from Charlie's house. What did you buy her?” she asked.
“I assume you already know the answer to that Alice, so why ask?”
“Just answer the question. What did you buy her?” she asked again.
“I bought her clothes, a bracelet and some books. What of it?” I could hear the irritation slipping back into my voice. Jasper could hear it also.
“Edward, be careful,” he warned me. “Alice has a reason for asking so just listen.”
“Edward I promise there is a reason-” she affirmed. “Out of all your purchases that day, did anything stand out more than the rest?” she coaxed.
I thought about that day. I still felt guilty that I had planned to punish her for fainting. I remembered her face when we stepped into the bookstore and how she leaped into my arms kissing me with so much passion. I remembered when she smiled that her eyes sparkled and she lit up the whole store. I smiled at the memory.
“The books.” I answered. “She was ecstatic over 3 silly books even after I had just purchased a diamond tennis bracelet not 5 minutes earlier.”
“Why do you think that is Edward?” she was leading me somewhere.
“Because-” I paused, “honestly, I don't know Alice. I've even thought about it again several times. I don't know why she would be happier with some cheap books than expensive jewelry.” I looked at her while she sat looking at me. I suddenly realized what she was trying to get me see. I smiled at her, “It's because she loves to read so the books meant more to her.”
Alice and Jasper both smiled back. “That's right. Bella used to be a voracious reader before. Those books gave her a feeling of normalcy within this messed up life she's been thrown into. I'm not trying to offend you.”
“I’m not offended.” I assured her. “I know letting Charlie and James train her was wrong. They were her family, after all. I should have done it from the beginning. I was never completely comfortable with letting them work on her more intimate education to begin with. I should have been the only one. She would have never been attacked by James if I’d stuck to my original gut feelings.”
As I spoke I watched Jasper and Alice’s pleased expressions fall until they were frowning at me again. Alice looked at Jasper again. “I don’t think I should say anything else Jazz. I’m afraid I’ve said too much already,” she worried.
I frowned in frustration. “Alice, I’m not angry with you or even with Bella. You can’t withhold from me now. That isn’t enough information. I want to know more.” I demanded.
“Edward, be careful the tone you’re using with my wife,” Jasper warned me. “You’re about one sentence away from leaving this office.”
I took a deep breath and started again focusing on keeping my voice even. “Alice, I would like you to give me more information on Bella…” I swallowed, “Please.” I’ve never said ‘please’ to a woman in our family and I couldn’t believe how hard it was to say to her, but I was desperate. I had to get Bella to say she loves me.
She looked at me intently, gauging how much more information she would share with me. How far she was willing to trust me. She sighed, “Edward, you don’t even see how wrong what you just said is. In your mind there isn’t anything wrong with the way you-“ she seemed to be struggling for her next word, “got Bella, only who did her training.”
“Edward,” Jasper interrupted, “let me ask you, if Bella wasn’t Charlie’s daughter or if she was trained by, say, Uncle Marcus instead would it bother you so much about letting someone else train her?”
I thought about his question. Now that I had felt Bella’s hands and mouth on my body I knew I would never allow someone else to have any part of training her in this manner. She would only bring me pleasure, just as I would never touch another woman again now that she was mine. I would never find the level of pleasure she could give me with another woman. I couldn’t wait until our wedding night.
However, the rest of her training was very tiresome. Constantly telling her the rules, having to deal with mistakes and trying to decide punishments because I wouldn’t hurt her again like before. It had taken almost as long for her bruises to heal from my punishment as the ones she’s suffered from James and Paul’s attack. So far I had been fortunate that I haven’t had to physically punish her again yet, but I knew eventually I would. It is inevitable in teaching that she will make a mistake that warrants more severe punishment than just scolding. I was not looking forward to that time. If I let someone else handle just this part of her training then I wouldn’t have to be the one to punish her.
“Edward?” he asked.
“Yes and no,” I answered. “I don’t care who trained her or the relationship, I would feel the same way. I don’t want another man to train her in the bedroom for me. That was wrong. I know that now. I should have been the only one she ever had any experience with. It felt too much like sharing her. I can’t handle that. She’s mine. However, I don’t see a problem with getting help with the rest of her training. It would make things easier.”
Alice was cringing into Jasper and he just shook his head at me. He looked at me with pity. “I’m having a hard time sitting here and not wanting to bash your head against a wall, brother, but I have to remind myself I thought the same way in the beginning. But you really are oblivious.” He thought for a moment, “Let me ask you, why would it be easier?”
“I don’t like punishing Bella. It makes me-. I don’t know how to describe it.” I shrugged.
“Well, maybe there is hope for you little brother,” he smiled. “When you can name that feeling will be the beginning of your turning point. Let me give you some advice.” He thought a moment. “You have plenty of experience dating women. Try that with Bella.”
“Why would I date her, Jasper? She’s already mine.” I reminded him.
“Do you want her love or not?” he frowned at me. “If you do just listen and do what I tell you. Court her. Woo her. Show her you think more of her than as a possession for your enjoyment alone. Think about what makes her happy, not what makes you happy for once. You might be surprised how much joy you find in her happiness. And for God’s sake, do not abuse her ever again!”
“Jasper, I don’t abuse Bella! Where would you even get that idea?” I demanded.
“Edward, the whole concept of punishment we were raised with is abuse. Hell, you make mistakes. Did you let Bella tie you down and beat you when you made your mistake by going overboard with her whipping that first night? Did it even cross your mind to allow her to hit you?”
“Of course not!” I replied. “Why would I? It’s not her place to tell me I made a mistake. I knew it, that’s why I stopped. I talked to her afterward. I told her I wouldn’t lose control again. That was the end of it.”
“If Bella did something wrong, say-“ he thought a moment, “went out with a friend and didn’t tell you would you accept an apology from her and leave it at that?”
I thought about it. My first instinct was to punish her. I realized what he was trying to get at. “Okay, I see your point. I should tell her that it isn’t acceptable behavior instead of jumping to punishing her.” I nodded. I could do this.
“Ok, now,” he pressed, “what if she did it again?”
“Then she would need to be punished. She would know this isn’t allowed if I’d already told her before.” I looked to him for confirmation. “Right?”
“No Edward.” He shook his head at me, defeated. “You never punish her. And it’s not punishing. It’s abuse. You always talk to her. You communicate your feelings to her and in return allow her to communicate her feelings back to you. You find a middle ground.” He sighed and rubbed his forehead. I guess he was getting a headache now that matched mine. I don’t think there is enough pain medication at the hospital to take care of the throbbing behind my eyes after this. “As much as I hate saying this, why don’t we just start simple and work up to punishment?”
“Jasper?” Alice was looking at him with concern. “You can’t mean to let him keep hurting her?”
“No baby.” He held her close stroking her back. “I don’t want him to hurt Bella. I’ll be there for Bella, I promise you. This is just more than he can handle all at once. We need to work slowly or she won’t stand a chance.” He cupped her face to look intently in her eyes. “Can you understand Allie?”
She sighed and laid her head on his shoulder looking at me. She sat back up. “Can you promise not to hurt her Edward?”
“By yours and Jasper’s definition? I can promise to try to be more patient with Bella. I’ll think before I resort to physical punishment. Is that fair enough?” I offered. Honestly, it wasn’t any of her business, but I still needed everything she could tell me. Obviously, this was important in getting Bella to say she loves me and I had promised to listen.
“Just start off with something to make her happy. You decide what that is. Then when you’re ready for the next step you’ll know. I promise it gets easier, but remember it won’t happen overnight,” Jasper said.
“Alright, I can do that, but Alice,” I looked from my brother to his wife, “I want your promise in return. Not a word to Bella or anyone else about this discussion. I don’t want you to undermine my authority with her by making her think there aren’t consequences to her actions. Even if I don’t physically hurt her as you call it, I still expect her to act with respect.”
She sighed and Jasper shook his head again at me. “Fine, I promise not to say anything. Not because of your reasons, but that I don’t want Bella to get her hopes up that you’re really going to change, because right now, I’m not sure you can.”