Friday, October 2, 2009

Chapter 39


I awoke from my dream to a gentle shake of my shoulder and a soft kiss on the top of my head. I’ve had the same dream the last couple of nights. I opened my eyes to the man who was going to make it come true.

“Hi,” I smiled dreamily.

“Good dream?” Edward asked.

“Hmm, very good dream,” I replied softly.

“That’s good love but you need to wake up. You need to put your seatbelt back on. We’re about to land,” Edward told me softly. He tucked my hair back from my face as I straightened up from sleeping on his shoulder.

I yawned and arched my back to work out the kinks from sleeping sitting up. I heard Edward’s quiet laugh and turned to look at him. I felt my cheeks flush in embarrassment as I realized my yawn was a little loud.

“I’m sorry you’re so tired. I wasn’t expecting to need to go to this conference with Carlisle and I have some things that I need to do before I leave,” he offered.

I smiled in appreciation. “It’s okay, I understand. I can’t wait to see Alice and Jasper at the airport.” I grasped his arm and hugged it. “It feels like forever since I’ve seen them.”

“I know you missed everyone, love. We’ll be home very soon. I’m only sorry I have to turn around and leave you so quickly.”

“I’ll miss you. How long will you be gone?” I asked.

It was odd how different I felt about Edward since this trip. Before this week I would have jumped for joy at the thought of being free of Edward even for only a few days. Now I was actually going to miss him. I really liked being with him now.

“Just a few days. Carlisle said the conference was four days and it started yesterday so I should be home by Tuesday when you get home from school. Emmett and Jasper are going to take you to and from school while I’m gone.

I crushed the feeling that tried to come to the surface at his reminder that I still couldn’t go anywhere alone. I was confident that would change when he got back and we could talk about it.

“Will you have time for us to have lunch together before you leave?” I asked.

“If we make it a late lunch, then yes.” He lifted my chin up to give me a chaste kiss before tapping the tip of my nose. “But I want you to sleep when we get home first, understand?”

I sighed at his telling me what to do again, but nodded my agreement; he was just showing concern since I was tired. I guess it was okay, sleep did sound pretty good. I understood what a red eye flight was now. I could feel my eyes burning. After spending the last couple of days of our vacation, that’s what I deemed it now, packing and flying out of Phoenix at 5 am, I was just about dead to the world. It wouldn’t take much for me to crash.

I was finally resolved that I’d never set foot in my home again. That part of my life was over now. I decided it wasn’t worth the fight to try and convince Edward to keep my home. I was learning with Edward the necessity of picking my battles. I’d already won so many battles on this trip that affected my life more than a house would. I would learn to get over it.

“Edward?” I said stretching his name out. I glanced up at him beneath my lashes and smiled wistfully.

He glanced down at me as he put away his book in his laptop case. He studied my face briefly before giving me my crooked grin. He leaned in and captured my lips with his in a slow soft kiss. I moaned into his mouth as he pulled back. I opened my eyes to see the laughter dancing in his eyes at me.

“Let me guess,” he stated. “Would a nice back rub help you sleep when we get home,” he chuckled.

I blushed at being caught without even having to ask. I guess the tone of my voice was enough to let him know I wanted something from him. I’d have to remember this and try it again sometime. I grinned and nodded.

“Please? I know it would help me sleep,” I assured him.

He wrapped his arm around my shoulders and led my head to rest on his shoulder. “Of course love. You know I love giving you a back rub about as much as you love receiving one.”

I heard the sound of the landing gear being lowered and looked out the window to see the ground coming closer toward us. My heart sped up as I thought again about my dream. We were starting over in our relationship. Everything had changed for us. I couldn’t wait to begin my new life in Forks.

I closed my eyes briefly and remembered my dream again. I pictured the interior of our new home; the style and colors that I liked the most. I saw my home office where I wrote at night after coming home from work. I would teach high school English and write on the side. My college diploma would be hanging on the wall opposite my desk where I could see my accomplishment. Later we’d have a couple of children, a boy and a girl, after I was established. Edward and I in the kitchen cooking dinner together while the kids played or did their homework at the breakfast room table. We’d both be wearing “Kiss the Cook” aprons and stopping every once in while to do just that while our children laughed at us. After dinner, Edward would offer to clean the kitchen so I could write for a while until movie time. Then I’d hear small footsteps running down the stairs while calling to me to hurry. I’d go into the family room where my family was waiting for me with a big bowl of popcorn to watch a movie together. I’d snuggle into my loving husband’s arms with our children snuggled in on either side of us. Our home would be filled with love and laughter like my home growing up. It would be a perfect life now.

I didn’t realize I was smiling until Edward asked, “Care to share what’s made you so happy lately?”

I opened my eyes and grinned widely at him. I rose up and gave him a quick kiss. “Just remembering my dream.”

“What was it about?” he asked.

“Just us,” I answered vaguely.

The plane rolled to a stop and the captain came on over the speakers thanking us for flying. I squealed and clapped my hands. I probably looked so juvenile but I couldn’t help it. Alice was going to be waiting with Jasper and I couldn’t wait to tell her more about my trip. We’d talked for a little while the other day, but Edward was in the room so I didn’t go into detail.

We left the plane and saw Jasper standing next to a tall Alice. I laughed as the crowd parted and I could see Alice was standing on a chair looking over heads for us. I waived as she spotted me and screamed. She quickly jumped down and ran to me knocking the wind out of me in her rush. Edward walked over to shake hands with Jasper.

“Oh Bella, I’m so glad you’re home!” she squealed. She hugged me again tightly and grabbed my face with both hands. She pulled my face down to her level, her eyes darted back and forth looking for something in my expression. I clamped my hands over my ears as she screamed again piercing my ears with her sharp squeal.

“It’s happening! I knew it would. Jasper owes me $20. I told him I could feel things and I knew it would happen.” She kept chattering on.

“What happened?” I asked as she pulled me along with Jasper and Edward to get our bags from the carousal.

She didn’t answer me, just kept dancing and pulling me along. I finally planted my feet firmly on the ground. “Alice! What happened?” I asked more loudly.

She stopped and stared at me in astonishment. I didn’t know what she was carrying on about.

“You’re falling in love with him,” she explained. She spoke to me like it should be the most obvious thing in the world.

I continued walking blindly being pulled along by Alice behind Edward and Jasper. Everything around me blurred out of focus while I considered what her words meant. Did I love Edward? I knew I liked him now, but love?

I thought about our trip and all the things he had done for me. I thought back again to what I said to him in our hotel about why I stayed. I thought about how much he’s changed with me over the months since I met him. He no longer treated me like an object. I could express my feelings without fear now. Heck, I was walking through the airport with Alice in jeans and flip flops. I’d flown to Phoenix from this same airport just one week earlier in a scrap of a dress and heels shackled to Edward’s side by his arm around my waist. I’ve been dreaming of a married life with him so what did that mean? Ok, I was willing to admit to myself, I definitely liked him a lot, maybe I would even go so far as to say I really liked him a lot.

He was a monster when we met. Hell, we didn’t meet; he bought me off the internet really. His father emailed my picture to him and he said he wanted me. He abused me and treated me like some kind of personal toy for his pleasure all the while claiming to love me. How could I love a monster?

‘Because he isn’t a monster any longer. You changed him just like Esme said you would.’ I heard my conscience whisper.

But love? I shook my head at my internal question. No, I wasn’t ready to admit that feeling yet to anyone; not to Alice and certainly not to Edward. I wanted more time first. I wanted to be sure of myself and my feelings before I said them out loud. Once said there would be no taking them back. I still needed to learn to trust him completely so I could tell him about his father. I knew he wouldn’t hurt me again nor would he let anyone else hurt me, but Carlisle wasn’t just anyone. He was his father. I needed to trust him that he’d protect me against Carlisle. After that I would be ready to tell him that I loved him, not before.

I paused as I realized what I just said and turned to Alice in shock. I loved Edward. How did she know when I didn’t? My whole internal dialogue was a waste of time. I have been trying to talk myself out of admitting my feelings. It didn’t make sense to be in love with him already, but I knew in my heart of hearts I did love him. I loved the man he had become, the man he really was deep down. I was in love with Edward Cullen; my Edward Cullen.

She just gave me a smug smile and tapped her temple with her finger.

“I told you, I know things,” she shrugged.

I grabbed both her hands in mine and looked to be sure Edward wasn’t paying attention to us at the moment. He and Jasper were busy getting our bags off the carousal.

“Please Alice, don’t say anything. I’m not ready. I don’t want to tell him yet,” I begged.

Alice hugged me tightly and nodded. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said anything until we were alone. I know you’re not ready to admit to those feelings just yet. I was just so excited I couldn’t hold it in. I won’t say a word to Edward and don’t worry, Jasper won’t say anything either.” She grinned and winked at me then. “But I’m right aren’t I?”

I looked over to Edward who was coming back toward us. He and Jasper were carrying our bags. I smiled at him before turning back to Alice, my smile being all the answer she needed. “Yeah, it’s crazy I know. But yes, I do love him,” I admitted softly. “I’m just not ready to tell him yet. We’re just beginning to find each other.”



I shut the bedroom door. Bella was definitely out. She was so tired between packing and our early flight. I still hadn’t told her about my plans for the house. I decided to save it for a surprise later. I wanted to tell her when I proposed. I thought that would be the perfect time. I was surprised she didn’t protest or say anything when we were still in Phoenix.

Esme was working at the far end of her garden when we got home. I was secretly glad. I wanted Bella asleep while I talked to her. I wanted to talk to her alone, just one-on-one. I felt she deserved it. I didn’t want any interruptions nor did I want to admit to Bella how much more of a monster I was then she already knew. I went down to the kitchen and checked the coffeepot. It was set up for a fresh pot so I turned it on. She always had the pot ready to go at a moment’s notice. I knew this was my father’s rule. She was to anticipate his every need and be ready to serve immediately.

I smiled, my mouth watering at the smell of something cooking in the oven. It reminded me of my childhood. It had been years since that smell filled the air; 8 years to be exact. I knew what it was and it reminded me what a horrible son I was again. I took two mugs out of the cabinet and the cream from the refrigerator and put them on the table. I smiled at the sight of her bouquet sitting in the center of the table. She could enjoy her flowers now that my father was out of town. I noticed the card attached and read the message I’d asked to be written. “I love your pot roast. Your son, Edward.” I shook my head in disgust at myself again. I heard the door to the mudroom open and grabbed the coffee pot as my mother walked in.

“Hello Edward,” she said hesitantly.

I could tell she was nervous. Hell, she was probably as nervous as I was. I’d hurt her so badly that day, she would never assume anything from me. I cleared my throat to dislodge the lump that had developed in my throat. I gestured to a chair for her to sit, unable to speak yet. She tentatively sat down staring at me wide eyed as I brought the coffee pot over and poured both of us a cup of coffee. I set the pot down as I sat in the chair next to her.

“Cream?” I asked.

“Thank you,” she whispered, her voice cracking.

I poured cream in both cups and stirred her cup before sliding it over to her. My hand shook as I brought my cup to my lips. I saw her take a sip of her coffee from the corner of my eye. When I turned to her I saw the tears filling in her eyes. They began to spill over when she turned toward me.

“Thank you for the coffee Edward,” she said softly. She cleared her throat. “It was very sweet of you to do this.”

The tears continued to pour from her eyes. I knew no one in my family had ever taken the time to serve her. To do something as simple as pour her a cup of coffee was unheard of. Well maybe Jasper and Emmett did this now for her in secret, but I had never once offered the courtesy to her.

“The pot roast smells really good. Is it for lunch?” I asked hesitantly.

“Yes. I hope you don’t mind. I thought you might like it before you have to fly out this afternoon.” She answered. I could hear the trepidation in her answer.

I still wasn’t sure how to apologize to her so I was making small talk, skirting the main issue. I closed my eyes and pictured the day that destroyed my relationship with my mother; the pot roast being the catalyst that earned my father’s praise. It was the day he let her out of the basement. My brothers and I had told her we didn’t forgive her for destroying Charlie’s family.

“I don’t forgive you. You’re a horrible mother. You destroyed a family and I’m ashamed to call you my mother. You’ll never be my mother again. You’re just Esme from now on,” I said, staring down at my mother on her knees in front of me.

My father was standing to the side observing. Emmett and Jasper had already said these things to her and walked out of the room leaving me to state the things my father forced me to say to her.

I didn’t feel this way. I loved my mother. If she destroyed Charlie’s family then she must have had a good reason. I knew Charlie and his family. Charlie was just like my father. Renee was quiet and subdued just like my mother in their presence. James was a little punk that was always trying to act tough by picking on his little sister. When our families spent time together, James would show us how he bosses her around and punished her if she didn’t obey.

“Very good Edward,” my father said. “Now you need to get your homework done and don’t forget your challenge for the evening. Make me proud.”

“Esme you may start dinner now.” He told her as I left the room.

I hesitated on the stairs as I saw him yank her to her feet and shove her out of the living room. Her pained eyes looked up at me as she walked past in silence. I was shocked at just how truly fragile she looked in that moment.

“Edward, your room, now!” my father barked.

I turned and ran to my room staying there until it was time for dinner. I finished my homework and worked on my challenge. I was determined to win. I hated losing to my brothers. It was worse if I lost to Demetri. I always lost. My heart wasn’t in it. I didn’t like my father’s challenges, they always made me uncomfortable. They were wrong somehow. My mother always taught me to respect women and my father’s challenges didn’t seem to do that.

I tore up another piece of paper in frustration. Even I knew washing my underwear by hand wasn’t enough to win. That idea went on the floor along with every other lame-ass idea I’d come up with. I glanced at the clock and realized it was time for dinner. I got up and stomped downstairs to the dining room in frustration. Everyone else was already seated waiting on me. As I sat down, Jasper and Emmett started in.

“So what stupid shit idea did you come up with Edward? Spit-polish your shoes? Clean under your bed?” Jasper laughed.

“Nah, you know he’s not that creative. He probably put down clean out his sock drawer or organize his music,” Emmett chimed in.

“Now boys, give your little brother a chance,” my father said condescendingly. “I know Edward doesn’t give you much of a challenge, but I’m sure he’s come up with something better than that. Haven’t you Edward?” he turned to me.

“Yeah,” I mumbled. I knew I was going to lose and they were already rubbing it in.

“Uncle Marcus is emailing Demetri’s idea to me after dinner. We’ll have to see what he came up with. He’s always a tough one to beat,” he reminded me.

I felt my anger rise as my father and brothers continued to laugh at me. I would win this challenge even if it killed me.

My mother walked in carrying a serving platter which she laid on the table next to my father. It was pot roast with carrots and potatoes, my personal favorite. She also set out steamed green beans with pearl onions; Emmett’s favorite and fried corn with bacon; Jasper’s favorite. My mother smiled at me in silent communication. I knew she was saying she didn’t blame us for our words earlier.

My father carved the roast while Emmett and Jasper continued to make fun of me.

“Shut. Up,” I said slowly. I was trying to control my anger at the table. My mother always told me that anger had no place at the dinner table.

“What’s the matter?” Emmett snickered. “Little Eddie can’t take a joke? Do you need Esme to powder your ass?”

I noticed he didn’t have any trouble slipping into his new form of address for our mother. Everything was always so easy for him. It wasn’t fair.

I stared down at the roast on my plate and felt my anger boil over. How dare she be nice to me after what I said to her? It was her fault I couldn’t earn my father’s love. She was holding me back. Her ideals, her love are why my father thought I was a weakling, why I was a disappointment to him. She did this to me!

“Shut the hell up Emmett!” I yelled, standing so quickly I knocked over my chair. Everyone looked at me in shock except my father. He just sat back and observed; a smug smile of satisfaction on his face.

I grabbed my plate and marched around to my mother’s- No, Esme’s place at the table. I dumped my plate in her lap to her shock. Then I grabbed the serving platter and threw it on the floor along with the rest of our dinner.

“I hate your pot roast! You disgust me! Your food disgusts me! Your very presence disgusts me! I don’t ever want to see a pot roast on the table again as long as I live!” I snarled at her. “You’re nothing to me any longer!”

I couldn’t stop the word vomit that flowed out of me born of my anger and frustration at my father and brothers. She’d done nothing to warrant my attack, but I blamed her for all my sins. It was so much easier as a fourteen year-old to place blame on my innocent mother than to stand up against the monster my father was. I saw the real pain in my mother’s eyes as she stared up at me from her seat, my dinner covering her blouse and lap. Tears were flowing down her face at me and I saw her chin quivering, but I didn’t let it effect me. I pulled her by her arm out of the chair and shoved her to the floor same as my father had earlier.

“Clean this slop up and make me something decent to eat if you’re capable.”

I ground my foot into the roast and stormed out of the room and ran up the stairs. I ran to my bathroom and immediately vomited into the toilet. I flushed the toilet and brushed my teeth with shaky hands. I propped my hands against the counter and stared at the stranger’s face in the mirror. I was shaking so hard from the torrent of emotions I was feeling, shock being the biggest one. I couldn’t believe I just dumped our dinner on the floor and on my mother. I couldn’t believe my father let me do those things.

I turned off the light and entered my bedroom as my father came into the room. I guess I was going to get my ass handed to me now.

“Dad-“ I began. I didn’t know how to apologize to him for my behavior.

“Edward,” he interrupted. He sat at my desk and pulled out his wallet. “I honestly didn’t think you had it in you son. I’m proud of you. I must say I’m not happy about waiting on dinner for another hour, but you earned the reward tonight, hands down. I don’t even need to see what your brothers or cousin came up with. Nothing could top your demonstration in there tonight. I expect to see great things coming from you from now on.”

I stood there stunned that I wasn’t being punished. I was being rewarded for my temper tantrum. There were no other words to describe what I did. I threw a fit in anger and lashed out against the one person who had only ever shown me unconditional love.

I held out my hand to take his reward. I counted out $500. I looked in wonder at the money in my hand and then up to my father’s face. He was looking at me with pride. Pride I had never seen directed at me. I resolved in that moment to always make him proud of me, no matter what it took.

“Don’t you worry, Dad,” I assured him. “You’ll only see a son you can be proud of from here on out. I promise.”

He ruffled my hair affectionately. “I’m sure I will,” he said. “Dinner should be ready in an hour.”

He left my room and I yelled out. “Hey Dad? Tell Esme, I want spaghetti for dinner.”

I heard him laugh as he headed down the stairs.

I became my father’s monster that night and never looked back until Bella came into my life. I was going to have my mother back thanks to her. My love for Bella was turning me back into the man my mother could be proud of.

I opened my eyes to see my mother still silently crying. She was staring at her flowers in front of us.

“Thank-“ she croaked. She cleared her throat to start again. “Thank you for the beautiful flowers. I love them,” she paused then turned toward me. I saw love and acceptance in her eyes for me. “I love you, Edward.”

I swallowed the lump in my throat. “Mom, I’m so very sorry for the way I’ve behaved.”

She opened her mouth to interrupt me. I held my hand up to stop her.

“Please Mom. I need to be able to say this to you.”

She whimpered, her breath caught at hearing me address her in a way I haven’t done in eight long years. She nodded and took a deep steadying breath.

“I don’t deserve your love for the way I’ve treated you. I’m sorry for dumping my food in your lap and on the floor. That was so very wrong of me. I never stopped to realize that the love I received from you was pure and the love I needed all these years. I let my insecurities about myself allow Carlisle to overrule everything you ever taught me. You taught me love and respect for myself and for others. I destroyed your trust and faith in me in one moment of weakness and have allowed it to rule my life ever since. I love Bella and I want to be a better man for her. I want her love and I want her to never fear me again. I’ve made promises to her while we were in Phoenix that I intend to uphold. I want to make a promise to you also.” I turned in my chair to hold her hands which were shaking. Her sobs becoming louder at my words. “I promise never to be less than a son you can be proud of. I promise never to take you for granted or make you question my love and respect for everything you’ve done for me over the years. I want to make your life easier in any way I can. I love you Mom.” I finished in a whisper. “I’ve missed having you in my life. Will you be my mom again?”

“Oh Edward,” she cried and pulled me into an embrace that would rival Emmett. “I’ve always loved you. I never stopped. A mother never gives up on her children or stops loving them. I’ve always been here for you and always will be. I love you so very much. Please know that I forgave you that very moment. I knew the frustrations you felt as a boy. I knew you craved your father’s attention and I understood what was going on. I know that wasn’t you. That was all him, it’s always been him inside of you, keeping you buried beneath the twisted truths he taught you. I knew you would come back to me when you found your own true love. Bella has the power to heal you and I’m so proud of you for allowing yourself to feel that love. That type of unconditional love is why I’ve survived all these years. Because I love my children unconditionally and I knew you would need me again one day.”