The Blackened Flame

Chapter 1

I can still hear the sound of my hand colliding with your cheek. The resounding ‘smack’, even now, six years later.

Do you know they call me an ‘ice queen ’now? That I’m a bitch extraordinaire? That I take what I want from men, just as you took from me?

A part of me died that day; the day I found out I wasn’t the only one you professed to love.

Womanizing man-whore.

You didn’t see anything wrong with having three girlfriends.

I’m an independent woman now, not a puppy to follow you around.

Men follow me around now.

I spin my silky web and mercilessly trap my flies.

I’m the top marketing sales rep in my region, bringing in millions of dollars every quarter. I have a nice home, a nice car, and I’m lonely as fuck, but I think I prefer it that way.

I don’t know where you are, nor do I care. Years down the line and I have no idea what happened to the only man I ever loved.

Chapter 2

First day of the new quarter and I already have my goals in place. It’s going to be tough, but I figure I can manage it, especially with the account I have been given. Their previous account rep, Ben, left the company and I inherited his largest account: Hale Bank and Trust.

It’s my first meeting with their company reps and I am prepared to show them all just what they’ve been missing with Ben for the past two years.

“Go get ‘em, Tiger,” my boss says as I sashay past his desk on the way to the conference room.

I’m setting up the room, going over my practiced sales pitch, when Alice, the receptionist, ushers in the team from Hale.

In six years, no one has gotten the drop on me until this moment. The moment you step through that door and back into my life.

Chapter 3

I am yelling, screaming, slapping, and kicking you… in my head. I want to scream out ‘what the fuck are you doing here?’, but I refrain.

I am a cool business woman now, professional. You have no fucking sway over me. Not Anymore.

The years have been good to you, somehow you look better than you did in college. Your eyes are as bright green as before, you hair just as unruly, but your face has taken on a more masculine appearance.

It takes a second, but I see the flash of recognition glint in your eyes. Inside I am not that girl anymore, but outside I still bare the same physical resemblance to her.

“Bella?” you question, awe and something present in your tone.

I flinch at your voice, just as smooth and sinful as before. “It’s Isabella now. Hello, Edward.”

Chapter 4

I introduce myself to your colleagues, shaking each of their hands, ignoring you. I waste no time going over the pitch, my gaze merely glancing coolly in your direction from time to time so it doesn’t seem like I am ignoring you.

There are questions, there always are, before four sets of eyes turn to you.

“Sir, what do you think?”

‘Sir’? Fuck. Me.

I thought the older gentleman with the silver hair was the head of the group, so I had been paying more attention to him. I thought you were just a peon.

“I like it, though I want to iron out some of the details. Demetri, would you please set up a meeting with Isabella for Friday. That way I can look over the material and decide a course of action,” you direct before turning to me, your gaze just as cool as mine has been throughout the meeting. “If that is alright with you, Isabella.”

“Friday works just fine for me,” I respond, groaning internally.

Luckily, it looks as if I will be dealing with the one he called Demetri, and won’t have to deal with you.

Chapter 5


You stand in front of me, telling me and my colleagues what you are going to do for us to help boost business at Hale. Your eyes regard me coolly, but I don’t even notice.

Because I’m happy. There you are, standing in front of me; glorious, beautiful… alive.

All I can think is ‘thank God. Thank-fucking-God, you’re alive’.

You disappeared, after the day you found me with Lauren and I couldn’t find you.  I searched everywhere, and after a while I searched the obituaries and missing persons reports, praying I didn’t find you there.

I loved you, so fucking much, and it took losing you to realize that. I didn’t need them; I didn’t need any other woman.

I just needed you. And you were gone.

Chapter 6

Thursday came and went and now it is mid-day on Friday when I am to meet with Hale Bank and Trust. A lunch meeting.

I expect you to be too busy. I expect only Demetri. Once again, my expectations of you are way off.

It isn’t just Demetri, you are here as well.

I am not prepared for you. I don’t know how to process you or your presence.

We go over the proposal, and you remain mostly silent leaving Demetri to be your voice. You study me with your eyes, I see you watching me.

Demetri’s watching me as well.

You agree to almost my entire proposal, only a few areas need tweaking.

Three days after the start of the new quarter and half of my goal has been met and it burns me that I have you to thank.

Chapter 7

“Isabella, I was wondering if you would be willing to go out with me, maybe to dinner,” Demetri asks.

He is so polite, but I have to be crude in return. Especially with you watching, let you see what you created.

“I don’t do dates,” I reveal. “But if you want to get some food before we fuck, I always enjoy a good meal.”

I lick my lips, enticing my prey. I already have him, but I want to show you I will have your second.

“T-that would be acceptable,” Demetri responds with a stutter and I can see his eyes darkening.


“I don’t think that would be the best idea, Demetri. We want to keep a professional relationship with Isabella,” you protest, surprising me.

What does it matter to you if I screw him? For proprieties sake?

I’m in my prime, Edward Cullen, much like you were six years ago. It’s my turn now, step the fuck off.

Chapter 8

Thanks to you I have to find a new sexual meal for the evening. There is a wine bar not far from my apartment. I dress in a tasteful, yet alluring, dress.

I’m not a slut, but I have needs and no one to fulfill them. I had a booty call for a while, but he went and got a girlfriend. Ass

There is a blonde sitting at the bar. His body isn’t bad, his face the same; average height, average weight, average looks. Nothing spectacular about him, but he is the only lonely soul with a cock tonight so he will have to do.

I sit next to him, brushing my leg against his. It catches his attention and he turns to looks at me.

Hook, line, sinker.

We head back to my place an hour later and I get what I need.

Fuck you Mr. Cullen.

Chapter 9

Damn, he’s a minute man.

I get up from the bed and walk into the bathroom. He’s done and I’m left unsatisfied. I look at the clock, it’s still early.

I jump in the shower and wash him off of me. Stepping out, I walk back into the bedroom and scowl. He’s still there, cuddled into my satin sheets and blanket.

Ugh, I am going to have to wash everything before going to bed.

“Get up,” I demand, annoyed at his presence. He should have left by now. “You need to leave. Get out.”

“Aw, come on, baby, I thought…” he croons in his attempt to lure me back in.

I gag, my mood souring and I snap, unable to take him any longer. “You thought wrong and I’m not your fucking ‘baby’. Now, get the fuck out.”

My tone shakes him and he springs from the bed, picking up his clothes and mumbling about me being a bitch.

I don’t give a flying fuck what he thinks and move to my closet, picking out a new set of undergarments and putting them on.

Chapter 10


“Turn back now, man. The bitch will eat you alive and spit you out.” Some guy warns as he stumbles out of your apartment half dressed.

I don’t know why I came, but I did. Here I am.

I walk in, unannounced, and make my way back to where I hear you; the sound coming from what I assume is your bedroom.

You stop at the sound of my footsteps, your brow rising slightly in surprise before turning to a frosty glare. It is cold under your gaze. Frigid. Where did your warmth go?

“What the fuck are you doing here, Cullen?”

You stand in front of me, unabashed, wearing nothing but a black lace panty set with matching garter and stockings. You are also in four inch heels and I want nothing more than to fuck you, but that isn’t why I came here; it’s not my mission.

“What happened to you, Bella?” I ask, because I need to know.

Because what I see isn’t healthy.

Chapter 11

What happened to you, Bella?

Ha! What happened to me? You did. Fucking man-whore.

I continue walking around, ignoring you. Maybe you’ll leave before I hit you.

“I called after that day, but your number was disconnected,” you reveal.

I quirk my perfected bitch brow in your direction. You didn’t want to go there.

“I was miserable without you.”




“It’s Isabella now. Bella was a stupid girl who loved and worshipped you,” I seethe. “Oh, and you happened to me.”

And I see the storm coming.

Chapter 12

You stand in front of me, stunned by my admission and then you’re pissed.

“So, you fuck any man you can? Is this to get back at me? Are you fucking using protection?”

“Get back at you? Not that it’s any of your fucking business, but they all wear condoms and I’m on birth control. No fucking way I’m going through all that shit I did because of you…” I trail off, realizing in my anger I’ve revealed much more than I ever meant to tell you.

“What does that mean?” you ask.

My jaw clenches as I spill my darkest secret, the one few know. “It means you didn’t wear condoms and I wasn’t on birth control. Get the picture?”

Chapter 13

I watch your eyes widen and you find anything to brace your body against.



“That’s why I came over that day. I was going to tell you the news that you were going to be a daddy.”

Your face is ashen, eyes unfocused, as your body leans against the wall for support.

“What did you do about the baby?” you ask quietly, your eyes darting around the room for evidence of a child.

“I didn’t have to do anything. Nature made that decision. I miscarried three months later. It was a little girl. I was going to keep her, just so you know,” I inform you, but I can feel the dam I’ve built around me crumble as that time finds its way back into the forefront of my mind.

Chapter 14

I cried on the floor of my living room, my arms wrapped around my mid-section, shielding my baby from the torrent of emotions spilling forth. I stayed there for over an hour until there were no more tears left to shed.

Those were the last tears I ever shed for you, Edward Cullen, father of my child, breaker of my heart, and the only man I would ever love. I resolved from that moment on I wouldn’t think about you, that I would move on from you… and I did.

I changed my phone number the next day, so you couldn’t call, but I kept yours so I could eventually tell you. I moved out of my apartment days later and in with a friend. You stopped by, but she told you I wasn’t there.

I was over you and your cheating ways. I wasn’t going to let you or any other man string me along ever again.

Chapter 15

I shudder as six year old memories flood my mind unbidden. I remember seeing her on the screen for the first time, buying baby clothes, a basinet. Making plans for a life with our daughter, alone.

I remember the pain.

The cramps.

The blood.

They said it wasn’t my fault. I didn’t do anything wrong, that it just happened sometimes.

I just wasn’t meant to have part of you.

And for the second time, you broke me.

Never again.

I burned your pictures, but you would forever remain branded in my brain.

Now you stand in front of me and I curse you for opening old wounds and making me show them to you. Haven’t you taken enough from me?

Chapter 16

I hate you for invading my space.

I hate you for drudging up painful, long buried memories.

I hate you for coming back into my life.

I hate you for what you took from me.

You stand there speechless and I want to slap you. I want to hit you so fucking hard, so that you can feel one iota of the pain I feel.

So I do.

I step forward and swing my arm, my hand connecting with your face, and there it is again… the resounding ‘smack’.

But there is also the burn from touching you and my body remembers.

I slap you again, and again. Because I’m angry, because you’re making me hurt again.

“Stop slapping me!” you yell out and grab my hands, burning me.

And then you kiss me.

You must have a death wish.

Chapter 17

I hate myself for liking your kiss. I hate the way my body burns for more, just like it always did when you touched me.

I wonder how many women you’ve kissed over the years. Are you married? Fiancé? Girlfriend? Girlfriends? Mistresses?

It’s only a fraction of a second that I allow you to kiss me, but it’s long enough that severe damage has been done.

I push you away from me and you’re smiling. It’s small, very small, triumphant almost, but I can see it in your eyes and I can’t stand it.

My arm swings back, but not to slap. My fist connects with the side of your face. Hard.

Your body falls back, down to my floor, limp.

I take kickboxing three nights a week, sparing one. K.O., asshole.

I leave you laying there as I return to getting ready to go out. While punching you felt good, my hand no longer does and I find a frozen pack of peas in the freezer to put on it.

I’m in serious need of a good, all night, stress relieving fuck fest.

Chapter 18

Dressed to kill, I’m ready to go, but you’re still down for the count.

I turn the glass of water in my hand, spilling it all over your face.

“Get up, jackass,” I command, my four inch stiletto poking you in the ribs trying to rouse you.

The combination works and you sputter from the water that I continue to pour over you.

It’s a big glass.

You look up at me from the floor, stunned. Rubbing the side of your face, you stand.

“What the hell happened?”

“I punched you out, fucking moron. Don’t ever even consider kissing me again or I will rip your fucking balls off and shove them down your damn throat. Do you understand?” I threaten.

You nod and stare at me.

“I’m so sorry, Bella,” you softly say, and look like you want to speak more, but stop yourself. Good.

“I don’t need or want your apology and pity. I just want you to get the fuck out so I can go out.”

You regard me stoically for another moment before turning and walking out the door. I close it behind you and finish getting ready to catch my next prey.

Chapter 19

It has been two weeks since I spilled my secret and knocked your ass out. Two weeks that I’ve seen you every day.

How I stomach working with you, I’ll never know. Probably because Demetri is always with you, and I can torture him while you watch.

How does it feel? I hope it hurts, I hope it grates on every fiber of your being. I doubt it does, as much as I want it too. I was just one of many. Two years down the drain.

I shouldn’t be talking with a client this much after the initial meetings in the beginning, but you just keep calling and tweaking. You’re an exhausting client. Are you doing it just to piss me off? It’s working.

I eye Demetri across the lobby at lunch and you aren’t there.

A devious plan rises and I act. My hips sway enticingly toward him and his gaze moves to me.

His eyes widen before darkening because he knows why I’m walking toward him.

He knows he is my next capture.

Chapter 20

I find a secluded little closet and pull Demetri in. Hands are all over me, large hands. I hand him a condom from my purse and he bends me over, lifting my skirt.

He’s fucking huge, spreading me further than any before, as he slides in.

For a split second I’m pissed at you for denying me this, but Demetri drives all thoughts of you from my brain with his skilled cock.

I may have to keep him around for booty calls.

His large hands pull my hips back and I’m delirious with pleasure. I can hear him mumbling, but my own sounds and the feeling of him filling me, make me unable to hear anything.

So I don’t hear the door when it opens, but the light catches my eye. My head turns and I see you, watching me being fucked by your second.

Hurts, doesn’t it?

Payback is a bitch.

Chapter 21

You don’t say anything, your eyes lock on mine for a moment before you close the door.

Demetri hasn’t been back to my office since.

It pissed you off, didn’t it?

Unfortunately, my little stunt has me working with only you now.

And you’ve become relentless, unbearable, in your demands and changes.

At least I have Demetri on the side now. Yeah, he was over last night. I’m still sore sitting here, across the table from you.

“What is wrong with this ad, Edward?” I question, pulling the print ad for the side of the city buses up on my computer.

“It’s offensive.”

I balk at you. What exactly is offensive about the girl holding up a checkbook triumphantly?

Now you’re just being a stubborn ass.

Chapter 22


I try to not let it eat at me, but it does. Watching Demetri fucking you was… infuriating. And now I’m in a constant foul mood.

For the past two months, I have had no idea what to do about you.

I miss the old you, but the new you, the angry you, is glorious. The strength looks good on you, but it’s just masking the pain and sadness.

Ever since I found out I’d almost been a father… I want to be ever closer to you, more than before.

I’m still in shock. You were mine and I fucked it up.

I saw our future, I had it all laid out, but then Lauren came around and was hitting on me. Then there was Irina in my Statistics class.

I was young, stupid, and horny. I loved that women were coming on to me, but the price was too high. I lost more than I ever knew.

I changed when you disappeared. I’ve only dated two women since then and I don’t fuck around.

But you do now, and that… burns.

Fucking any guy around that you can get your claws into.

Chapter 23

“Stay the fuck away from Demetri,” you say without warning.

My brow hitches at you. You cursed at me, a first since we were reunited.

“I don’t see how what Demetri and I do outside of our business hours is any of your concern, Edward.”

“You think I don’t know what you are doing?”

“What am I doing?”

“Using him to get to me. To get me riled up and angry. Is that what you want?”

“I don’t want you in my life period. I still would have gone after Demetri, regardless of whether you were here or not.”

You’re angry, glaring at me.

Somehow, that doesn’t make me as happy as it should.

We continue working until you reach an ad for the city buses that you find agreeable.

Thankfully, it’s the last time I have to see you for over two weeks.

Chapter 24

You’re maddening.

Granted, you’ve increased the work, which means you’ve increased my commission and bring me ever closer to my goal.

However, I’m working more and more hours to make sure that my other clients are not being neglected in any way due to your demanding ways.

I stop at a little market on the way home, it’s after seven and I’m starving. I grab some salad from the salad bar and replenish my fruit stock before heading over for some more loose leaf tea.

I’m trying to decide between a tropical green and a lemon green when I hear your voice. You’re nearby. Not in my aisle, but close.

I want to run away because you are the very last person I want to see right now. I just want to go home, eat my damn salad, and have a glass of wine, before a relaxing bath.

But you keep haunting me.

Why won’t you leave me the fuck alone?

Chapter 25

I’ve made it to the checkout line, avoiding you. I should have known I wouldn’t get away though.

We stare at each other, neither saying a word, just… stare.

I want to scream out ‘what do you want from me?’, because I really want to know if you are there just to torture me.

I’m so angry at you, don’t you understand that?

“Dinner alone tonight?” you ask.

“There’s only one salad, isn’t there?”

“No dessert?” you question and I know what you are really asking.

“I’m a little tired,” I spit while my eyes narrow.

“Taking the night off?”

I turn on you, the fire lit.

“Shut up right now or I will deck you again in the middle of this crowded store. You don’t know me, not anymore.”

“No, the girl I knew was sweet and full of warmth. I really don’t know the cold woman before me.”

“Yeah, well that sweet girl full of warmth… got fucked over royally by you,” I retort. Then I want to know.

“Why do you continue to work with me?” I question, curiosity finally taking over.

“Because despite our history, you really are the best.”

There is sincerity in your tone, so I know it’s what you really think. Again I wonder, but wondering is a dangerous thing.

Chapter 26          


It’s after noon and you haven’t returned my calls. I’m getting worried, because every day that I call, you either answer or call back within the hour.

Despite your sometimes crude behavior, you have great customer service. Even with me, a man you abhor.

My gut tells me something’s wrong. I finagle your number from your secretary after she tells me you’re out today, because I have to know you’re ok. Six years of not knowing and now I can’t last four hours.

I can hear the sadness and tears when you answer before your claws come out. You tell me you’re ‘fine’, but I can hear the ‘not fine’ in your voice when it wavers.

“Why do you care? How did you get this number? I’ve taken this day off every year for the past six years. Figure that out, asshole.”  You slam the phone down, shutting me out.

My fears are confirmed. I used to be so in tune with you, now it’s coming back… and I can’t take it. I can’t take your sadness.

So I go.

I go to you.

Chapter 27

You called. On this day. Why?

I’m weak today, my strength gone. I can’t fight.

I’m dead inside, black as night.

I curl back up on the couch and pull her picture to me. It shouldn’t have been like this. We talked about the future, our lives, about being together forever, about having a family.

For one brief shining moment, I believed it was going to happen, that all my dreams with you would come true.

Now all I have is a cold, empty, apartment. No friends, no family. Just work.

But all of that is better than the pain. The pain I only allow myself to feel on this one day.

Not long after you call, my sanctuary is interrupted; you’re standing at my door.

“Why can’t you just leave me alone?” I scream at you and you step forward as I try to close the door. “Go away! Go the fuck away!”

“Tell me what’s wrong,” you demand.

And I hate you again for exposing my pain.

Chapter 28


You whirl on me, seething with anger.

“Our daughter was born six years ago today,” you inform me and it’s just like you’ve punched me again.

“You said you miscarried.”

I see the tears in your eyes, your bottom lip trembling.

“Stillborn. I was twenty nine weeks along when she… when she stopped moving and the cramps and the blood started,” you reveal and I feel sick. Sick that I wasn’t there with you, helping you. If only I’d known.

“Then how was she born?” I ask, confused. I am dying inside at this, but I need more information from you.

“How the fuck do you think they got her out of me? I was too far along, they had to induce labor,” you cry out, tears streaming down your cheeks. “I had to give birth to my dead baby!”

You’re sobbing now, collapsing to the ground, and I can see the damage I’ve done. I want to make it right; I need to make it right.

Chapter 29

I protest when I feel your hands on me. Trying to soothe, but burning instead.

Despite my efforts, I end up in your arms, sobbing. I haven’t cried on anyone’s shoulder since then.

You need to go away, I don’t want you to see me like this.

“Please,” you beg, but I don’t know what for.

And I don’t care. I’m tired. I’m burning. The hole in my chest tearing open, spilling forth the thoughts and pains I kept long buried.

“Why wasn’t I enough?” I ask and you pull me tighter.

“I was the one that wasn’t enough,” you say.

I cry in your arms until I am exhausted and limp. You pick me up and take me to the couch; I’m too weak to protest. We sit, and I’m in your lap, your arms around me. It’s a dangerous place to be.

You lean forward to pick something up and gasp. I can see your eyes water and I know you are looking at her.

Chapter 30


I slowly bring the sonogram picture to me and there she is. Our daughter.

Tears sting my eyes as I gaze upon the face of the baby we created.

The daughter I lost without ever having known she existed, to no fault of anyone but my own.

In the three dimensional image I see the little things that made her ours.

It’s the other pieces of paper beneath the picture that cause a strangled sob to erupt from my chest.

A photo of you, in a hospital room, holding her. She’s so tiny and wrapped in a pink blanket. I see the tears in your eyes, her little hand in yours.

A birth and death certificate. Three pounds, fifteen inches; Elizabeth Anne Cullen.

I turn your arm, hidden on the inside of your left wrist are the letters: E. A. C.

‘EAC’, initials, the same as mine. I’d seen it once before, but assumed it was about me. Now I see, it was always about her.

I pull you tighter as the tears stream down my cheeks. My only love and my baby girl.

I fucked it up, I fucked everything up and now you’ll never forgive me, will you?

I look down at you and you’re passed out from exhaustion and crying in my arms.

You’re so broken, don’t you see that? The chip on your shoulder isn’t healthy.

You need to be put back together.

Will you let me help fix you?

Chapter 31


I want to continue holding you, I don’t want to let you go. It’s been so long since you were in my arms.

I wish I could go back and undo it all. Maybe we would be playing with our little girl right now.

Picking you up I take you into the master bedroom and lay you down on the bed, placing a kiss on your forehead.

Taking my phone out, I walk into your living room and dial the only person who I think can help.

“Rose, it’s Edward. Are you busy?” I ask, my eyes scanning over the table and the heartache that lies atop.

“What’s going on, Edward?”

“Do you remember me telling you about Bella? My girlfriend in college?”

“Yes, the one you fucking cheated on?” she questions, twisting the knife in my heart.

I see another picture poking out from the stack; our little girl in a casket, Bella kissing her forehead.

“I found her, but she needs help. I don’t know what to do!” I exclaim, my hand pulling at my hair as the tears roll down my face. “She’s so broken. I b-broke her. I need to help her, please… please help me.”

Chapter 32

I wake and you are there, in my bed with me. My hackles raise and the tears prick my eyes, some spilling down my cheeks.

“I don’t have anything else for you to take,” I say wearily and your eyes look sad.

“I don’t want to take, Bella, I want to give. Will you let me give?” you ask and I say nothing, because I have nothing to say.

We lay there, looking at one another. I don’t know why you’re still here, why I haven’t kicked you out. I guess I just don’t have the strength today.

I miss her. I want her.

My doorbell rings and you answer it. I want to yell and tell you not to open my fucking door, but I don’t.

I stare dispassionately at you as you walk back in with an unknown following you. A gorgeous blonde, no less.

“Bella,” you say, calling me that name for the first time in months. “This is Dr. Hale; she’s here to talk to you.”

I flip you off, glaring at you. How fucking dare you.

Chapter 33

“How are you, Bella?” the blonde asks and I want to scratch her eyes out.

“It’s Isabella,” I manage to say with as much venom as I can muster.

“Isabella,” she says, not even flinching.

She’s good.  “Are you fucking her?”

“Wh-what?” you question, confused.

You sit on the bed next to me and try to touch me. I pull back. I have to guard myself from you.

“Isabella, I want to help you, you aren’t well.”

“Fuck you.”

“Isabella, please,” you beg.

“Why won’t you leave me alone?!” I scream at you, my strength revving up with my anger. “I hate you! You ruined everything! I hate you!”

My fists beat against your chest and you take it. You take my rage, my pain, without complaint.

Why are you even here?

Chapter 34

We move to my living room, and I walk toward the door to let you both out, but you grab my arm pulling me to the couch.

You burn me again and I hate it. I hate the burn and what it means.

She makes me talk.

I hate her.

She makes me tell her things only my friend… my old friend… Angela knows, like the location of where she is buried.

Now you know too.

How does she do that?

I hate you for bringing her here, into my home, my sanctuary.

She doesn’t back down from my attitude… she’s good.

“Isabella, what is today?” she asks.

It’s a simple question for most, but the answer is hell for me.

“It’s my Armageddon. It’s the day my whole world went away. When everything turned black.”

And I hit you again, lashing out, begging you to hit me back just so I can feel anything else but the pain of my loss.

You, her, my dreams… I lost it all and now I’m dark.

Chapter 35

You leave, she leaves, but not without an appointment to see her.

I step into the shower, clothes and all, trying to wash it all down the drain.

I cry more, because you shoved it in my face. Broken, darkness.

And I don’t want to be fixed, but you want to fix me. As I am I have power, strength.

I stay until the water cools, shedding my wet clothes before stepping out.

I look into the mirror, staring at the woman before me.

I hate her.

She is pitiful and weak, why did you bring her back? I’m not her anymore. I don’t want to be.

It’s less painful in the dark.

Chapter 36


I’m completely drained by the time I return home; emotionally, physically, spiritually.

I wanted to stay, but you wouldn’t allow it.

The floor was knocked out from under me. I was saddened before… before I knew you were so far along. Before I saw her. Elizabeth. My daughter.

The pictures… are devastating. Babies smaller than her survive every day, so why didn’t she? Why didn’t you tell me that I lost part of me?

I’m angry that you didn’t contact me, but my guilt overrides it.

All the what if’s and maybe’s, they do no good. But still, I think about them.

I have to find my footing, because you have none. We are drowning in despair.

From now on, I’ll be your pillar, holding you up when you don’t have the strength to stand.  I want to help you; I want to see you smile.

You were so beautiful when you smiled.

I hate that I unwittingly took that from you.

Chapter 37

You put me in therapy.

I don’t know why I let you do this, because I can’t stand to be around you and you always seem to be around now.

Maybe it’s because I know I’m not ok.

I hate you for making me face my pain.

I love and hate Dr. Hale. She’s a bitch like me, dishing just as good as I give. But she makes me tell her about you. I don’t like talking about you. She makes me talk about her and my fingers unconsciously trace the letters on my wrist.

And I hate you again, because if you hadn’t cheated on me, maybe she would have made it.

I tell Dr. Hale that.

I tell her I blame you for everything.

Chapter 38

Dr. Hale put me on an anti-depressant, but I don’t have much hope it will help. I take it every day as instructed though.

My work colleagues and my boss have noticed the change in my behavior.

They also notice you.

“How are you today? Is there anything I can do? I’m here for you, Isabella,” Alice says every single fucking time I see her and I want to punch her to make her shut the fuck up.

I loathe those questions and the voice she says them in.

Pity, and I can’t stand the sound of it.

The band-aid has been ripped off and everything is exposed. Now I’m off and the world just isn’t right.

I’m wrong.

My claws are out constantly, my tongue lashing people without restraint.

I spend more and more time in the gym lately, trying to take everything out on the punching bag. The sparring instructor has banned me from class because I was being too aggressive. I can’t go back until I calm down and learn to control my aggressions.

I’m spiraling out of control and there’s no one to save me… except you.

Chapter 39

The punching bag rocks back as my fist collides. My hands ache from the impact.

Why couldn’t you just leave me alone? Why did you have to dig everything up?

You came back into my life and turned everything upside down.

I was confident, driven, and enjoyed the company of men.

Now I feel like a wild beast you are trying to cage. Hissing, biting, scratching to keep you away, and still you advance.

Sex is the only time I feel anything other than nothingness and pain. It’s the only time I feel good, if only for a brief moment.

Now, I don’t even know who I am.

I’ve lost my edge.

Sex no longer provides the escape I crave.

My onslaught on the punching bag continues, but it doesn’t make me feel any better.

The physical pain doesn’t dull the emotional pain.

Chapter 40


You’ve been having sessions with Rose, but she says progress is slow. I ask if it’s all my fault, knowing she can’t tell me anything, but she does nod in confirmation.

“She never dealt with the loss of Elizabeth,” Rose says, calling her by name and I wonder if I shouldn’t see someone too, because just hearing her name rips me apart.

You tolerate my intrusions better than a few weeks ago. You have stopped hitting me and throwing things as me.

I call you every day to check on you. You usually curse me out before calming and telling me you’re okay.

Imagine my surprise when you call me.


“Edward, Edward, Edward, Edward, Edward, Edward,” you repeat over and over.

“Bella, is everything ok?” I ask as panic begins to rise. Are you high?

“I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know. Make it stop. Stop. Stop,” you answer, repeating the same words over and over.

You make a humming noise when you stop speaking and small sobs.

“Please, please, please. I can’t stop, stop.”

“Stay in your office, I’m on my way,” I inform you before hanging up and sprinting out of my office to you.

Chapter 41


I call Rose on my way and she heads out as well, not liking what I described.

Alice is guarding your door when I get there, unlocking it to let me in.

I find you sitting behind your desk, humming as you rock back and forth, slamming into the wall.

“She was fine this morning,” Alice informs me before shutting the door.

I reach out for you, but you slap my hand away.

“No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, NO! NO! NO! Burns, burns, your touch burns,” you say, the rocking picking up in speed. “No one else, no one else, only you, you, you.”

I have no idea what to do and I pray Rosalie can help. She arrives a few minutes later, cursing when she sees the state you’re in.

“What’s wrong with her?” I question.

“Reaction to the Prozac,” she states.  

“Why would she have a reaction to it? Shouldn’t you know about that?”

She gives me a harsh glare, she’s known for them, and I’ve been seeing them since she was two. “Medication for treatment of clinical depression is not an exact science, Edward,” she snaps before sighing. “It could also be that she finally hit the bottom.”

Chapter 42

It’s an out of body experience.

I hear you and the others talking to me, asking if I can move in a discrete like manner.

I think I can manage; it’s not too far to the elevator.

I go to move, but I feel disconnected from my body and I stagger.

You touch my arm, helping me up, and it burns. The feeling spreads and I shudder.

It’s the strangest sensation; my body is moving of its own volitions, bobbing and rocking.

It takes all that I have in me to control the volume and movement as we walk, and I find my arm has wrapped around yours as you guide me. Like you are my pillar, my support.

My support. Ha! What a silly notion, you supporting me.

What the hell has happened to my life?

Chapter 43

I’m talking to you a mile a minute as I rock in the car seat, because if I stop I’ll scream. I have to talk.

I have no idea what I’m saying, but you respond. It’s nothing deep, I know that.

I also know I called you an asshole, jerk, and a fucking bastard. Over and over because I can’t stop repeating.

Fuck, I’m Rainman.

Does this shit wear off? Please say it does, I want to be normal. Even if normal is painful, at least it’s not insane.

You help me into some door and I realize it’s the back door to her office.

Talking and moving, talking and moving, and then screaming.

Your arms are around me, burning me, trying to hold my screams in. They aren’t of pain, or pleasure, they just… are.

You hold my arm steady as much as it tries to move against you, and I feel a little prick before everything starts to shut down and my vision goes dark.

Chapter 44


I take you back to my apartment, not wanting you to be alone tonight after what happened.

You stumble in, still loopy in an almost drunk like way, from whatever Rose gave you. Your shoes drop to the floor by the door.

“Where’s your wife or girlfriend?” you ask as I direct you to the living room.

“I’m not with anyone.”

You raise an unbelieving brow in my direction.

“One nighters for you? Relationships just aren’t your thing, huh? Ah, right fear of commitment issues, now I remember.

“Isabella, I haven’t had sex for a very long time, since my last relationship ended.”

“Cheat on her too?” you ask.

My jaw clenches. “No, we were just not compatible. Something you would know if you ever let me talk about anything that happened after that day.”

“I figured you ran off into the sunset with one of your other girlfriends and forgot all about me. So, it was just me you cheated on then? Now I understand; I couldn’t hold you, keep you satisfied.”

“That couldn’t be farther from the truth, Isabella.”

“I don’t know your truths,” you murmur. “I only know your lies.”

Chapter 45

Lies, all I knew were lies. Was our entire relationship a lie?

“You told me you loved me. You told me you wanted to move in together, get married, and have a family.

“Did you tell them that as well?” I question you.

You hesitate before taking a deep breath, your eyes locking onto mine.

“I was stringing them along, I know that now. I never would have left you, I loved you. I’ve only ever loved you. They were just a fling, nothing special.”

My jaw clenches as my anger surfaces through the muck of my mind, my body rising off the couch unsteadily. “You bastard! I fucking worshipped you so that I could be overlooked for ‘nothing special’? So that you could break my heart for a blow job? You ruined us for some fucking pussy? For the attention of a ‘fling’?”

You flinch.

“How long were you cheating on me? Did you use a condom with them? Since we both know you weren’t with me. Thank fuck I’m clean, no thanks to you, or I might have beat your head in when you walked into the conference room.”

All I can see is red, and that fucking bitch with her lips wrapped around your cock. The most unwanted image that will forever be branded in my memory.

Chapter 46


I remember that day like it was yesterday.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. The horrified look on your face as you stood in my doorway, watching what was going on.

“Who are you?” Lauren asked as I pulled my dick from her mouth and yanked my pants back up. Fuck, fuck, fuck. “Do you normally interrupt girls sucking their boyfriends off?”

My eyes snapped to yours as your hand flew to your stomach, and I watched the blood drain from your face.

“Bella…” I could feel my whole world falling away.

You turned to leave and I ran after you, my hand grabbing for you. As soon as I touched your arm, you spun around, your hand whipping across my face with a resounding ‘smack’.

“Don’t touch me! Don’t you dare fucking touch me! Don’t call me, don’t try to find me!” you screamed, tears filling your eyes as you stormed off.

The last things I heard from you were your sobs and the slamming of the door.

Chapter 47


“Fuck!” I had screamed.

My hand punched into the drywall at the disaster I had created.

“Edward,” Lauren called and her voice made me sick… because it wasn’t yours.

I whipped around to face her. “You need to leave. Now. We’re over. Don’t talk to me, don’t call me.”

I could fix it, get you back, I just had to get rid of her first.

“What the fuck, asshole?”

I turned and glared at her. She was why you were gone.

Later on I felt bad for dismissing her the way I did. She didn’t know about you, she was hurt as well, but I only cared about you. I blamed her when it was really just my immaturity and insecurities.

The insecurities that I never wanted to admit to myself.

Chapter 48


Now we sit here living through the ramifications of that day, of my stupidity and mistakes.

I decide to respond to you in short precise answers, telling you everything. Maybe then I will be able to gain some trust back.

“You have no idea how much I regret what I did. I wanted you, and instead of just being with you, I was a stupid cock driven twenty two year old who ruined the best thing he ever had.”

“How long? How long were you ‘stringing them along’?” you ask.

“It was just the last few months, right after the new semester started,” I admit.

“The last few months? If you didn’t want to be with me then why the hell didn’t you just break up with me? That would have been hell, but not as bad as what actually occurred.”

My heart aches, even now, at the thought of leaving you. There was no way I could have done it. I loved you.

“Because I didn’t want to leave you, I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you,” I admit.

“Then why? Why did you do it?” you question and I see the tears forming in your eyes.

I sit silently, while you regard me and wait for an answer, but I have none to give you.

How can I admit to you, something I have never been able to admit to myself?

Chapter 49

“Because I was young and stupid and thinking with my cock,” you say.

“No,” I disagree, shaking my head.


“There’s more. I believe the young and stupid part. I get that, I might even understand that, but what else was there?”

I watch as you swallow hard, but your eyes never leave mine. “I was jealous.”

“Jealous?” I question in disbelief. “Of whom?”

“Peter,” you admit. “Peter. I thought you were having an affair with Peter. I thought you were fucking Peter!”

I balk at you, my eyes wide in disbelief. “Peter? Peter who was so in love with Charlotte? Peter who I was helping pick out an engagement ring so he could propose to her. Peter?

“Yes! You chose to live with him, and not me,” you argue.

“Not fucking true!” I yell out, furious. “You were the one who said you weren’t ready! That and Peter and I were in the same major, the same classes! We could car pool which was great because you knew my truck wasn’t working so well at that point. Oh! And Jessica lived with us as well! ”

You’re pacing now, tugging at your hair. “It was in the Spring that I said I wasn’t ready, but by Fall… by Fall I wanted to curl up with you every night and wake up with you every morning. In the spring I was scared about how much I felt for you. How much I loved you.”

Chapter 50

It stings to hear you say that you loved me in past tense and I wonder why.

The fight dies and I slump back down on the couch, still stunned by your admission.

“You know, you never answered my question about Rose,” I mention.

“Because it’s a ridiculous notion and incestuous!” you exclaim, sitting on the other end. 

“Wha-what?” I stammer.

You sigh. “Do you remember me talking about Rosie? My cousin?”

A vague memory of a picture in your room, a blonde haired girl standing next to you.

“Though she’ll punch you if you call her that now.”

“Wait… Dr. Hale. Hale as in Hale Bank and Trust? So, you work for your uncles company?” I question and you nod. “Couldn’t get a job on your own?”

You scoff. “I had an offer from a competing company, and my uncle made a better one. He saw the potential I had.”

My heart hurts as I remember the potential we had.

Chapter 51


Everything comes down on you and you start to cry. I pull you onto my lap, rubbing soothing circles on your back. You hit my chest a few times trying to push away, but eventually give in, letting me hold you.

You fall asleep in my arms, your tears wet on my shirt. I stay there, holding you for hours, unable to let you go. Reacquainting myself with every beautiful feature of your face.

It was so hard to hear what happened that day. I would have been there in a heartbeat if you had just called. But I understand why you didn’t. It was painful enough hearing that she was gone; you didn’t need me there making your heartache worse.

I wonder if you will take me to where she is buried, I want to say hello… and goodbye. I want to tell her I love her and I wish she was still with us.

For the first time in years I feel like I’m finally home. Sitting here, with you in my arms. Right where you’re meant to be.

Chapter 52

I’m sitting in Rose’s office after the ordeal, after waking up in your arms the next morning, still sitting on the couch. You were asleep, your head tilted back, but you never let go of me in the night.

I called off work, not wanting a repeat of the day before. She’s taking me off the Prozac and trying something else that I’ll start in a few days.

“You never stopped loving him, did you?” she asks bluntly and my hackles are back.

I don’t want to go there.

“Your pain of his betrayal and the grief over Elizabeth’s death overpowered your emotions, burying how you really felt. Why else would you have given her the same initials, or even his surname?”

I hate crying, and yet I am crying all the damn time these days. Three sentences and my eyes are already filled.

“She had to have his name, because even as much as he hurt me, I still love him. It hurts so much that I wasn’t enough for him; that he didn’t love me enough in return…” I trail off, tears streaming down my face as I realize. As angry at him as I was for what he did, I have never stopped loving him.

Chapter  - 53

A couple days later I find myself at your place after a joint session with Rosalie. You invited me over for dinner, and I didn’t protest much, but you said you wanted to talk.

We sit silently while we eat. You make a noise to speak, but then stop.

Moving to the living room after dinner you attempt to speak again.

“Were you ever going to tell me about her?” you ask finally and I nod as I sit on the couch.

“I wrote you a letter; it contained one of the sonogram pictures for you… I just couldn’t see you, it hurt too much. I had the envelope with me to mail when I headed out to the doctor that day. I’d been off, something didn’t feel right. She wasn’t moving,” I tell you, my voice cracking, the tears welling in my eyes before sliding down my cheeks.

I try to hold the sob in, but it’s no use, not when I am talking about her. Elizabeth. But I know I need to tell you what happened.

“They couldn’t find her h-heartbeat. They told me my baby was dead... I called Angela and she rushed over. They induced me. I was a mess, an absolute mess. She stayed with me through it all, held m-my hand while they p-pulled my d-dead baby from me, a-and then she helped me m-make the arrangements.”

Chapter 54

“Why didn’t you call me?” you ask and I can hear the pain in your voice, see tears rolling down your cheeks through my own.

“Because I was too far gone, because it didn’t matter anymore, she was gone. Nothing mattered after that,” I tell you.

“What ever happened to the letter?” you question, sitting down next to me.

“I still have it, it’s with her things. I was going to put it in her casket, but I wanted only happy things. So, I left her a letter telling her how much I loved her, and a little teddy bear I bought. It was the worst day of my life. The only time I ever got to dress my baby was for her funeral!”

I’m sobbing, my grief spilling from my eyes. You wrap your arms around me, pulling me onto your lap, holding me. The fire burns, even now, but the shaking of your sobs overpowers that feeling.

I know then that, even though you didn’t know about her, you still love her, because she was part of us.

Chapter 55

Your fingers lightly stroke my back, the flames from your touch licking with each stroke up, and then back down. I should move away from you, but I don’t. My body remembers the peace it felt in your arms and prevents me from leaving.

“Where are your friends; Angela, Jessica, Peter, Charlotte? I know your mom walked out on you, but what about Charlie?” you question.

“I pushed them all away,” I whisper. “I didn’t want to have any attachments, and other losses that could hurt me. Charlie checks in, but we really don’t talk anymore. After I left the hospital, after I buried her, I just stopped. I stopped caring about everything. I didn’t care if I lived or died.

“Charlie wanted to help and he tried, really he did. It was me. I couldn’t deal with the look of pity and pain on his face. It broke him to watch me fall apart. I felt so guilty about that, so I made him believe I was ok, that everything was ok. Then I moved away from everything and everyone, away from you. And away from the reminders of everything I had lost.”

I ran away, but then realized, I could run but I couldn’t hide. But I don’t tell you that.

Chapter 56

It’s been a few weeks since the complete and utter melt down of me, and our talks. Sessions with Rose are going well. The new medication hasn’t had any side effects thus far.

I see you a lot more now and you are still calling every day, but I’m much more civil.

You are at my door one night after work, but this time I don’t yell at you or hit you; I let you in. I don’t know why, but it could be because of the quart of Baskin Robin’s rainbow sherbet in your hand.

Did you really remember that’s my favorite?

The smile you wear says ‘yes’, and a feeling comes over me, but I can’t name it.

This goes on for weeks, you showing up at my door with something, pushing your way into my life. And I let you, every single time.

What we do together isn’t much; eat dinner or dessert, watch TV, a movie. Sometimes we play a game.

I shock you the day that I smile upon seeing you… almost as much as I shock myself.

I think I am healing, little by little.

Chapter 57

Little by little, I open up to you, and I can feel life returning to me. It still surprises me that you are the one to help me after you were the one to devastate me.

Old feelings I once had for you begin to stir; they were only lost, hidden away.

Everything is out in the open now and I realize, I really do, that you aren’t the same villain I had built up in my mind. You weren’t callously fucking women behind my back, laughing at my stupidity for not seeing it.

It still stings, still hurts, but at least I understand a bit better now. No one is perfect, not even you, though I believed you were.

I feel lighter knowing I am trying to understand.

Chapter 58

You bought a photo album and some scrapbooking material you tell me, as I open the door to you one Saturday morning. You say we need to display her, not hide her to be brought out once a year.

Together, we spend the day putting all of the things from the file I’ve kept into the album. It’s hard to look at everything, but it feels almost therapeutic in a way. Especially here with you, working on honoring our daughter. We print off her name in elegant script and slide it into the front slot on the outside of the book.

It’s beautiful, and something I realize I should have done long ago.

“Can we go say hello?” you ask, your hand outstretched, and my eyes burn, flooding with unshed tears.

I nod and slide my hand in yours.

We stop and pick up some flowers on the way; daisy’s. I think she will like them.

Chapter 59

After parking your car, we walk through the rows of tombstones until I see hers peaking up, the teddy bear vase on her headstone drawing my eye.

You stop in front of it, reading the marker.

Elizabeth Anne Cullen

An angel with the book of life wrote down my baby’s birth, and whispered as she closed the book “To beautiful for this earth”

The reality of her comes crashing down on you. You drop to your knees, your hand at your mouth trying to keep in the sob I can see forming in your chest, as your whole body shakes in grief. As I put the flowers in the vase I can see the tears streaming down your cheeks, and it takes everything in me not to break down just yet.

I know now, without a doubt, that you are also devastated by her death.

I kneel on the ground next to you and slide my hand in yours.

“Hi, baby,” I say, my voice quivering as I hold in my own sob. It doesn’t work and as my eyes scan over her headstone the pain I feel erupts out of me.

I feel your hand squeeze mine as we mourn our loss. Together.

Chapter 60

It was an emotional day, but one we shared together. It had been a time for healing; one I now realize, we both had desperately needed.

Later, after we share a quiet meal and some time to regroup our emotions, you tell me you want…no you need to tell me something and you ask me to just please listen, and I softly agree.

“Bella, it’s so fucking difficult to tell you my shame. I was young, stupid, and what I did was unforgivable. I know this, believe me. If I could, I would change things. I would have begged you to break your lease and move in with me, or vice versa. There are so many things I wish I’d done differently, the biggest being that I hadn’t succumb to their advances and acted upon them. It’s hard to explain sometimes, why we did something, when sometimes we don’t understand the motivations ourselves.

“I’ve only ever loved one woman, you, Bella. After a few years of trying to find you with no success, I met a woman and we went out on a few dates, but there wasn’t anything there. I’ve never had a connection to anyone like I had with you then and instead of talking to you about everything, I fucked it all up. I can tell you how much I regret it, how sorry I am, every day of forever and I know it will never be enough. But, I hope you will give me the chance, because you are my only love, my soulmate. And, I can promise you that losing you scared me and made me realize what was important in my life, and I know I fucked us up. Never again.”

Chapter 61

Many months have passed since we visited Elizabeth’s grave and we continue to move closer and closer. Even after all you declared that day I still hold you at arm’s length. I can’t deny the gravity I have toward you any longer, but I still hold up my walls.

You’ve told me everything, answered every question I have asked and those I haven’t. Every smile, innocent touch, has been chipping away at me.

We’re standing in the kitchen, you have me pinned against the counter and I don’t push you away. Your fingers trail up my arms, shoulders and neck, sending heat flaming through my body.

“I hate you,” I say feebly, tears falling from my eyes because I know I’m about to give in to you.

Your hand continues to burn me as it trails around my exposed skin.

“I love you,” you say, your lips ghosting mine.

Burning. Your mouth is the door to the furnace that holds the fire that will light my pyre and consume all that I am.

“Give me a chance, an opportunity, to make things right, Bella,” you beg.

“Please don’t ask me that, I can’t go through that again. I don’t think I can trust you.”

“Trust is something that is earned, not given. That’s something I have learned and I vow to earn your trust again,” you say. “Please.”

I quiver under your touch, releasing a ragged breath. After everything, how do you still do this to me?

Chapter 62

I nod, relenting, and your lips are no longer ghosting, they’re devouring. Your hands are pulling me tighter to you, as if you are trying to pull me inside you.

“Edward,” I pant, releasing your lips.

Picking me up, you walk us to my bedroom and throw me onto the bed, ripping our clothes away before sliding between my thighs.

My legs wrap around your waist as you lean down to kiss me, hands groping everywhere. I can feel your cock along the length of my slit and it burns in the most delicious way.

As we kiss your hips rock back and forth, and then you are inside me.

My body ignites into a full blown inferno, the fire consuming me whole.

There is just you, me, burning and melting into each other.

Chapter 63

The next morning I wake and I am in your arms. I hate to admit it, my mind still revolting against you as much as my heart pulls me toward you, but… I like it here. There is that feeling of peace.

Your fingers are sweeping along my skin and I can’t remember the last time I felt so good, so… sated.

“So,” you begin a small chuckle escaping. “Does this mean you’re going to give me a chance?”

I take a deep breath to gather myself before I say the words that I never thought I would say a year ago. “One chance. I’m giving you one chance,” I say and you sigh in relief.

It’s a hard thing for me to do. Part of me says to run away from you, that you are scum, a cheater, and an ass. The other part, however, can’t deny the feelings I have for you. Over the last seven months since everything came out, you have wormed your way into my life and opened my heart back up.

I’m scared to death to trust you with my heart again, but I can also see the change in you, and it’s enough to take your hand.

“That’s all that I can ask,” you reply, kissing my forehead. “I know it’s cliché, but I mean it, Bella. I love you, and I will never hurt you again.”

I pray that it’s true, because I know I won’t survive you a second time.

Chapter 64

I agreed to a date with you and I am nervous as fuck. Am I sure I want to do this? It’s been seven years since I was last on a date, and it was with you.

You show up at my door with flowers in your hand and a hopeful smile.

Dinner is good… and strange. Out with you, talking with you, like our past never happened. Just two people talking about normal everyday things, laughing at stories we share.

You take my hand and I can feel the heat spread through my body, and I completely relax just from your touch.

Looking at us, one would never believe our past. Maybe, just maybe, we are moving through it and beyond it, to where we were always meant to be.

Chapter 65

You and Rose convince me to reconnect with everyone, so one weekend we drive out to my dad’s house.

When we show up on Charlie’s doorstep, he draws his gun on you, causing you to stumble backwards and fall. You are scared shitless, the fear evident on your face.

“Bella,” Charlie says, surprised to not only see me, but see me with you.

I can see the glimmer of wetness in his eyes as he looks me over, before clearing his throat. He walks to me, wrapping his arms awkwardly around me. It feels… like home.

“You’re looking good,” he notes.                           

“You too, Dad.”

We go in and talk, catching up, though every look towards you is cold. Like daughter, like father, he’ll warm back up to you. It just takes time to heal.

Chapter 66

You contact Angela, Peter, Charlotte, and Jessica and bring us all together. You receive another less than warm greeting, while I receive hugs.

It isn’t strange, like I thought it would be.

The whole evening is wonderful to reconnect with people who used to be my closest friends and confidants. I realize that I handled everything wrong from the moment I slammed your door.

Though I know at that point I would never have been able to get past what you did.

They are all understanding, knowing I wasn’t in a good place and not knowing how to help. They all feel terrible, just as I do, about not keeping in touch. By the end of the evening phone numbers have been exchanged, and I am now signed up on Facebook with five new friends.

Chapter 67


It’s been three years since I walked into that conference room and found you. You were very much the woman scorned, and with every right.

I’ve spent every moment from that point on trying to make up for what I did to you. It will never be enough, and I know that, so I can only try. I hope you will let me try for the rest of our lives.

You’ve let me back in, we’re living together, and we have our ups and downs. You’ve stayed confident and stubborn, but you have also softened up, showing me some of the girl you used to be.

I loved the old you, but this you blows me away and I know I am incredibly lucky for all that you have given me. You should have pushed me away harder… though I think I would have just pushed back equally as hard. I love you even more for giving me the chance to redeem myself.

I know you will never forget, and never fully forgive me for my actions, no matter how much you say you do.

So, I stuff the three carat diamond ring in my pocket and head home, praying you will say ‘yes’.

Chapter 68


I take you to our favorite restaurant, to a private table hidden away. I don’t want prying eyes to sway your decision. Just you and me.

You’re confused, eyeing me, as I pull you to the curtain drawn alcoves.

“Edward?” you ask and I turn to smile, not giving away anything.

Before we enter I lean down and kiss you, just as electric and burning as always.

We sit and order our food, along with a bottle of wine. When dessert arrives I clear my throat gaining your attention.

I pull out the ring and place it in front of you, swallowing hard. Your eyes widen, glued to the blue box in front of you.

“Bella, I know I’ve made some serious mistakes in the past, but I’m hoping you have forgiven me enough to accept this,” I say, my fingers shaking as I open the box. You gasp as you gaze upon the ring nestled inside. “I promise that I am yours and yours alone. I love you, so much. Words cannot even describe how much I need you. Please, please… will you marry me? Be my wife?”

I can see the fear in your eyes, and the words ‘even married men cheat’ rolling around in your head. Then you shake them from your mind.

“Ok, yes,” you say. “Let’s get married.”

Chapter 69

A year later we are in the conference room going over the next quarters ads when I can’t help but roll my eyes at you.

“You can’t be serious, Edward,” I say with a huff as we go over the newest wave of advertisements.

Your team is staring at us as we volley back and forth. I roll my eyes, your jaw tenses, and five minutes later we come to a non-agreement and move on to the next.

They’ve all become accustomed to it, our fighting. I don’t back down and neither do you.

You go to leave, your team heading out the door first and I wait for you.

“Always such a bitch,” you say with a smirk, teasing me and leaning down for a kiss.

I quirk my brow at you. “That’s Mrs. Bitch to you, Mr. Cullen.”

“Yes, Mrs. Cullen… I mean, Mrs. Bitch,” you tease with a wink and a kiss.

Even after everything that’s happened I still remain a hard ass bitch at times, calling you on everything. Only now I smile, and tease, and laugh, and love.

Your hand reaches down to rest on the barely visible bump hiding beneath my loose clothing. We haven’t told anyone yet except Rose, Charlie, and your family, but we will have to soon. I’m running out clothes to wear, and time.

“I’ll see you tonight, baby,” you say, kissing me hard before leaning down and kissing my stomach and walking out.

Chapter 70


You’re pacing again. Back and forth in front of the window, your hands splayed protectively over your stomach.

“Baby, ninety seven percent of women who have stillborns never have another,” I say, trying to calm you. You are at the same time you were when Elizabeth died and you are freaking out.

“Yes, but what about the other three percent?” you question.

I can see your panic rise and I know I have to calm you before you start hyperventilating. Your hands are almost frantically rubbing circles on your stomach.

“Hey, hey, come here,” I say, wrapping my arms around you and pulling you to me. “Let’s take a bath; that always helps you relax. I’ll pour in some lavender.”

I start a bath and help you undress, kissing your skin tenderly. My hands caress over the bump that holds our little boy.

We step into the bath, my hands holding you so you don’t fall. Sitting down, you relax back into my chest, sighing.

My hands run up and down your arms, sweeping over your stomach.

“It’s okay, baby, everything is going to be okay. I’m here, and we’re going to be fine. You, me, and our baby boy,” I whisper into your ear, kissing your temple.

I can feel his movements slow as your anxiety dies down.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t calm my own, but I can’t let you see that.

Chapter 71


Thirty seven weeks, four days, and your contractions start early. You begin freaking out, and the only way I can calm you is to kiss you; all over.

I ask you if he is still moving, and you nod, yes. It’s then I can really feel you relax, but you are still tense, not knowing what is to come.

I’m tense as well; the thought of losing either of you tearing at my heart.

We make it to hospital with lots of time to spare, the nurse tells us, after you’re examined.

Many hours later, and after a long painful delivery for you, our amazing son is born.

Ethan Anthony Cullen. Six pounds, twelve ounces, twenty inches long.

Ten fingers, ten toes… and a heartbeat.

The love and gratitude I feel for you are so incredible and I thank you and God for the second chance you gave me.

As I look at your glowing, tear filled face and the one of our perfect son, I can see that the blackened flame which once extinguished our love is now radiating as a bright and wonderful light.