No. That would was shouted, screamed throughout my mind multiple times. I wasn’t sure how long it lasted, surely enough time of Alice to snap her fingers in front of my face.
“You don’t have much of a choice, Bell” I didn’t hear her then.
How could I be left with this choice? There had to be another possible way. There just had to be. I felt like I had to cry…but I couldn’t. In fact, I didn’t feel the harmful consuming depression I should be descending into. I was shocked, indeed but not upset or numb. I looked down at my hands in the covers, fisted, knuckles white. Slowly, I relaxed them and sucked in deep breaths.
I took a minute looking at my choices. Charlie’s in jail, Renee’s got surgery and won’t be out of recovery till who knows when. Alice can’t afford for me to stay decently. Edward, a man I’ve hardly known for a week, has offered his place to stay. Edward or the streets…warm or cold…alone or not…
“I’ll do it” I didn’t tell myself to speak my thoughts but they did. Alice took me in for another hug. Edward, again, didn’t bother…
* * *
I was released from the hospital the next day with prescription meds I needed to take every day. Alice helped me pack half my stuff into her car. Edward had the other half in his car. We followed him to his apartment.
Alice stopped abruptly and flipped someone off; bringing me out of the peaceful trance I had carefully put myself in. After she was done cussing at the other driver and she slammed on the gas.
“Thanks, Alice” I said grimly.
“Sorry, Bella. Sometimes I can’t help myself.” She shrugged.
We made it to a maroon colored apartment building. Edward parked in front of us, keys in hand. My heart slammed against my chest so hard I needed to catch my breath. Surely, I’d be staying here awhile and I wasn’t particularly fond of that. Alice opened the trunk of her blue Toyota and got my things. Suddenly, there was a tap on my window, I jumped. Edward was peeking through; his green eyes had life in them. How come I didn’t notice that earlier? He opened the door for me and I stepped out, ignoring his courtesy.
I went to the back of the car and helped Alice with my bags. We only needed one trip with Edward, Alice, and me. We entered a small lobby area, the black-haired receptionist behind the desk greeted Edward, Edward smiled and returned it. She smiled at Alice. Her smile faded a bit when it landed on me. I smiled back, trying to conceal my curiosity and hurt. The elevator opened and Edward went up alone with my things, telling Alice to stop at the twelfth floor and go to the right.
I took deep breaths, trying to calm myself. Breathe in, one…two…three…suspend the air and let it go…four… five… I used that routine whenever I was troubled. After I did it about three times in the elevator, Alice gave me a hug from the side. I placed my hands on her arms and hugged her back awkwardly. The elevator dinged twice and we made a right and saw an apartment door opened: Edward’s.
I was the first to go through the door. A little hallway faced me with a kitchen on the left, an open door on the right, I saw big, ceiling to ground windows. I saw two other doors on the right of the hallway. Edward came out of the open door and he half smiled. “Want a tour?”
“Sure” Alice said without hesitation.
Edward gestured to the kitchen “Kitchen” He gestured to the room he just came from, “Your room”.
I walked over and looked it. A little bed faced the door, a desk was on the right said of the room. Two windows were above the bed with a pretty good view of Central Park another door was on the left. “There’s not much to it, I didn’t know how long you’d be living here but stuff will get in eventually” He looked down at me. I nodded.
Edward continued down the hallway, The next door “Bathroom” That’s probably what the door the of left of my room was about. We made it to the end of the hallway and I gasped. “Living Room” he said, indifferent. Alice was gaping at the beauty of it. Ceiling to ground windows covered it, revealing a gorgeous view of Rockefeller Center and The Empire State building. A little platform stretched to the two sides of the room that windows covered. Then I noticed two of the windows were double doors with a balcony, parallel to the hallway. A flat screen TV was placed on the wall to the left. A desk with a computer was placed on the platform. A lightwood acoustic guitar sat nestled on the other side of the platform, music sheets covering the floor. A big, teal, velvet sofa covered the floor along with two matching arm chairs facing the TV. A glass coffee table sat in front of the sofa. The hardwood shined against the sunlight coming from the windows.
“Damn” Alice held out of the word, breaking the silence. “Your place is just..just…damn!!” Alice gaped.
Edward laughed softly “Thank you. And my room is behind us” I looked back at the last door on the hallway. Edward opened it and a huge bed with a green bed spread sat in the middle of the room. A huge window behind the bed revealed Central park just like mine. A door was on the right, probably going to the bathroom. Surprisingly, I knew we would have to share a bathroom. His room was decorated in paintings and there were more music sheets on the floor than in the living room.
We heard a knock. Before we could guess who it was we heard-
“Open the door or I’ll huff and I’ll puff and you’ll all starve while I eat this delicious food!!!”…Emmett
Alice hopped to the door and opened it see Emmett with three or four shopping bags in his arms.
Edward and I walk towards him. “What are you doing here?” We both asked and looked at each other briefly.
“Jynx!” Alice winked and took two bags from Emmett’s arms.
“I figured we could all have a little family dinner” Emmett grinned and set the food on the counter in the kitchen.
“No, I don’t have work, thanks for asking, Em” Edward said dyly
“OH YEAH!” Emmett stuck his head around the corner. “You don’t have work right?”
I stepped forward to help Alice. “You’re so unpredictable” I laughed. “What’s for dinner?” I asked of Emmett’s smile.
“My famous lasagna” Emmett said
Alice sighed and reached to put her elbow on her brother’s shoulder, “I’ll get the fire extinguisher”
Emmett mashed her head away and she stuck her tongue out at him. Even in their twenties, they acted like the two children siblings they were. Emmett walked out for a minute and I opened up the pasta.
“No worries, Ed, we’ll clean it up” Alice looked up at him and smiled.
“Not worried at all. Can I help?”
I grabbed a spice. “Here, grind the nutmeg into the bowl” I handed it to him, our hands touched- of course- and he smiled softly at me. My heart soared and I turned back to the noodles in self-loathing. Alice elbowed me twice and winked. I glared at her and went back to my job. I’m not an imbecile. No matter how much Alice would try to influence me, I would not go any further.
Emmett returned and cleared his throat. I turned and he was holding my guitar case- something I treasured with my life. “Forget something?”
I nodded and took the guitar. How could I forget this? How could I forget this most sacred thing to me? I sighed. I wasn’t good but sure enough, it meant a lot to me. “Yes, thank you”
“Bella, maybe we could do-” Alice kissed her fist. I rolled my eyes. I wasn’t good at that song yet but me and Alice loved to sing it.
“Oh yeah, you guys should do it!” Emmett said excitedly. He only wanted to see it because he loves making fun of me and Alice’s inner teenager. I felt my face turn red. Edward would be watching…So? No big deal. I swallowed the nervous bile in my throat.
Dinner was ready about an hour or so after. We all sat around with paper plates. Alice was sandwiched between me and Emmett. Edward sat in one of the single arm chairs by Emmett. Again, Edward was learning to space himself, however he did look happier by me. I had to admit, it really sucked how torn this situation was…Emmett laughed hysterically at his own jokes. Alice would flick his head and he’d only laugh harder. Edward laughed too, more than I’d ever seen him laugh.
His green eyes were also glowing, glowing more than I’d ever seen them. Somehow, my cheeks were flushed by that, they’re beauty. I felt happy that he was a happy. This wasn’t a manual effect of my brain to be happy. This was automatic. I was happy and I didn’t even have to try. Perhaps living with Edward would not be so bad. It would not be easy but maybe not as hard as I want it to be.
Edward noticed my staring. I looked away, flushing even more, trying not to grimace.
“Bella” I looked at Alice, she had her fist to her mouth, I could notice how her eyes pleaded. I was not going to win this fight but I might as well go down trying.
“Please, Alice, I’m not good” I pled with her
“B-but, but ,but, Bella” She held out the last letter of my name. She clasped her hands in front of her as if she were begging for food.
I sat, arms crossed, glaring at her pathetic expression. We sat staring for a good two minutes. My teeth were clenched, body still, hands fisted. Alice remained unchanged. This was impossible. I couldn’t embarrass myself…Emmett would make fun of me. Edward would…enough about Edward! My mind chided me.
“Oh fine” I said so quietly. Alice squealed and ran to get my guitar.
“She’s an unstoppable force of nature” Emmett chuckled.
“For sure” I murmured, angry
Alice came back with my acoustic, out of its case and beautiful. She shoved it in my face, I took it gently, with care. I took the single arm chair and sat the instrument softly on lap. I tuned it a bit. My guitar, no matter where it’s been, is always tuned so I don’t have to make too many adjustments. I looked at Alice who had her hand on the arm of the chair; she was looking at me urging me to say the lyrics first. I sighed sharply, blood rushing to my cheeks. “You hit me once, I hit you back, you gave a kick, I gave a slap, you smashed a plate over my head then I set fire to our bed” I tapped the guitar four times played the rock beat.
Alice sang what I said and then went into the bridge of the song. I had to admit, Alice had a much better singing voice than I did. She was in chorus in high school, a soprano. “Break the lock if it don't fit, A kick to the teeth is good for some-”She looked at me to finish it. “A kiss with a fist is better than none”
She banged her head to the beat I went with my guitar and somehow I felt the need to do it too, I resisted. Alice went through the second verse and this time I joined her at the bridge. “Love sticks, Sweat drips, Break the lock if it don’t fit, A kick to the teeth is good for some. A kiss with a fist is better than none!”
Emmett joined us in the chorus.“You hit me once
I hit you back
You gave a kick
I gave a slap
You smashed a plate over my head
Then I set fire to our bed”
“Guitar solo!” Alice yelled with delight.
I did my best going through the solo that was supposed to be done on electric. I messed up a few times but Alice and Emmett were dancing together anyway. I bopped my head keeping the beat, my fingers protested but I kept going. I finished it and Alice yelped in joy. Alice and I went through the chorus together once and I ended it perfectly. Alice yelped in joy, jumping up and down. I grinned at her, my spirits definitely up. I saw Edward smiling as well even though he had not participated.
The rest of the night we talked and joked but did not play again. I caught Edward smiling at me multiple times; somehow I was able to smile back. Alice stayed by my side, her head resting against my shoulder, I was always her pillow.
It was around eleven at night when we realized Alice and Emmett had to go. I sighed, she took my hand and I led her to the door. Emmett and Edward smacked their hands together; the current male handshake. Alice gave me a hug. “I’ll see you later” She said into my ear.
I could only nod; I was choked up and scared. I squeezed her and she let go. Her and Emmett left. There, Edward and I stood, unmoving for a good five minutes. A normal person wouldn’t have stood the awkwardness and said something, my problem was I didn’t know what to say; I didn’t know what to do.
Edward was the first to move and I looked straight after him. He plopped down on the couch. I sighed and walked into my room.
I sat on my new bed and folded my hands together. I silently let the tears flow from my face. How long would I be here? How long? Please… Please let Renee be okay, that’s all that I ask. I laid my head on my knees and sniffled. I prayed Edward wouldn’t hear me; I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. I’d probably hurt him enough already. This was going to be a long time here. I sat for awhile, only until my back started to ache did I get up and open my suitcase up. I threw pillows on my bed as well as my shorts and a t-shirt for bed.
I took my toiletries and headed into the bathroom. I looked at my face. My mouth was turned down to a frown. Purple bruises were on my cheek and neck. My fingers touched my neck and cheeks: they hurt. I couldn’t find it in me to be angry, I’d been mad enough. My dark brown hair was pulled up into a neat pony tail. My eyes looked dead and bloodshot, under them were dark circles. I was a mess. My face was still wet from tears. I splashed cold water onto my face to snap myself out of it. My eyes were wide now but not dead at least, less red too. I ran my hand through my hair a few times before brushing my teeth.
Afterwards, I went into the hallway and found no one on the sofa but the lights were still on. I sat down on the sofa, pulling my knees up. I rested my mouth on the back of my knees. Sleep was the last thing on my mind. I just sat, trying to absorb my surroundings. I looked out the window to see the Empire State building illuminating the night proudly the colors blue, green, and gold. Rockefeller center glowed behind it as well. The rest of the city’s lights were slowly turning off but those two stayed on, bright for even the planes flying above to see…New York would always be New York no matter how much the people in it changed. A small smile found my lips.
“Beautiful isn’t it?” I gasped and whirled my head to see Edward standing at the corner with two cups.
I tried to slow my heart, he was so quiet. “Edward…I didn’t hear you”
He laughed softly and walked over to me, sitting down next to me, still giving me space. “Sorry, I wasn’t sure if you were asleep or not…Coffee?” I stared at his hand offering me the cup, hesitating. His eyes were worried. “Its decaf, don’t worry” He said, seriously
I let out a small huff of humor. I took the mug with both hands and unfolded my legs. “Thanks” He sipped and looked at the scenery.
“I love this view, especially at night” He murmured.
“It is pretty” I said, looking at it again. Cars honked faintly below. I was still smiling a bit; same old New York.
The awkwardness had lifted quite quickly, all I saw was New York. All I felt was calm. All I heard were cars and breathing. Everything was so soft. I like it. Edward sure knew how to make a girl feel comfortable. So peaceful…so quiet… RING! RING! My phone rang and vibrated in my waistband. Again, I got scared out of my body. My heart thumped hard in my chest as I looked at the caller ID. I looked at Edward who had his mouth in a tight line, trying not to laugh. I set the coffee on the talbe in front of us, flipped the phone open and laid my ear against the receiver.
“What, Alice?” I said angrily
“Sorry! Did I wake you?!” She sputtered at the other end
“No, Al, I’m talking to you in my sleep. What do you think?” I growled at her.
“Well aren’t you a pocketful of sunshine” She sarcastically muttered.
“You…” interrupted my nice moment “called when I was just about to fall asleep” I said, quieter this time.
“Sorry, I was just wanted to see how you were doing” She said
“Well no emotional breakdowns after an hour so I’d say I’m okay”
“Okay…just wanted to check up on you…I’ll see you later”
“Bye” She said, sounding like she didn’t want to say it.
I clicked the phone shut and sighed sharply.
“Everything okay?” Edward asked, smirking. I had to admit, that made my heart flip all over the place.
“Yes, Alice was just worried.” I watched at the Call ended sign disappear to my background of me and Alice. I was laughing; Alice had her tongue stuck in my direction with one eye in a wink. I missed those days; the days were I could laugh like that. I felt sadness.
I looked up. “What?” His eyes bored into my mind…I felt my thoughts and feelings disappear.
“Can I…” He hesitated, a pink color fading into his cheeks. “Cam I hold your hand?” He asked, his eyes never left mine.
My heart thudded fast. Red reached my cheeks. Its only your hand. Not your waist, not your hips, not your face. Just your hand. A voice reassured me. “Uhh…” My own voice was uneven. After a moment’s hesitation, I said “sure”
He held his hand out and it looked more inviting than it should. Slowly, I place mine in his and his fingers closed around my hand. Just as always, he was warm, he felt hot since my hands were “so cold” he murmured. I felt shock, he echoed my thoughts.
“Huh?” my voice shook.
“Your hand. It’s so cold, Bella” He said, concerned.
“Yours are so warm” I whispered, looking at our hands, admiring the picture. It looked…good? No, that’s not the word…
“Here” He put down his mug and added his other hand- which was extremely warm because of the coffee- to my, sandwiching my hand. It felt so…good… The picture looked so…right. That was the word.
There we sat, holding hands for a good while, watching the city that never sleeps. My flush only became more dominate as my hand started to warm up.
“…Bella…” I looked over at him, liking the way he said my name. “I…I want to apologize”
“Apologize? Apologize for what?” I asked, very confused.
“I’m sorry…you must be uncomfortable especially when moving into a stranger’s home…” He looked down at our hands, my fingers wanting to intertwine with his.
“…No…don’t be sorry…and besides…you’re not a stranger” I said softly, he looked up at me again. “You’re a friend…”, Friend, that word burned like a hot iron on my mouth. But that’s the way it was supposed to be. Edward didn’t seem to like it either but he didn’t argue.
“I just…I don’t know…I see it in your eyes…you’re not… happy” he hesitated a lot, as if one word would break me.
“It’s not because of you, Edward, please grasp that” I willed my eyes to his but all I saw was sadness. “It’s because of someone else who should be apologizing” I said, my heart falling into pieces.
“Please, you don’t have to say anymore. You’re hurting” He said quickly, his pain reflecting mine.
I nodded, taking deep breaths. “thank you” After a few minutes, Edward replaced my hand with my other, warming it up. I blushed again. “You don’t have to be sorry…in fact, I should be thanking you”
He looked at me with confusion. “Why?”
“Well for letting me stay here for one and two for saving me. God knows what could have happened if I went into my apartment alone and faced Charlie” Edward winced but I smiled. “Thank you…so much” I said with complete sincerity.
He looked choked up as he smiled at me. “It was no problem at all.” I felt myself smiling too. Then out of all of it, I yawned. Edward chuckled. “I think that decaf is working too well. I think it’s time we both went to bed”
I nodded and got up with him. Edward hesitated, tugged his wrist a bit but I hesitated. I knew he wanted me to embrace him but I couldn’t find it in myself to do it willingly now. I sighed sadly and walked down the hallway to my room. “Bella?” He asked once more of me. I turned. He had a hand on the door knob to his room. I envied that knob. “Good night” his lips were tugged up in a way that should be called a smile but not completely.
“Night” I tried to smile sincerely at him but I couldn’t find it in me and went into my room.