Chapter 15

Playlist selection: Beautiful Lie by 30 Seconds to Mars

Bella POV

It’s been two and a half weeks since that fateful day in the library. Tomorrow is Christmas Day, and for the first time in my life, I’m alone for the holidays. My parents are thousands of miles away, enjoying a sun-filled holiday on a cruise to the Bahamas. They wanted me to come home during the break from school, but after the events at the library, I was scared to go home. I needed some time to figure out what to say to them. Should I tell them about seeing Edward? Would they think I’d lost my mind and needed to see a therapist again? I don’t know.

Sometimes I try to tell myself that it wasn’t really him. He looked the same, but different--his eyes and pale skin... but absolutely no sign of recognition for who I was. Shouldn’t he have been a tad surprised to see me in Forks? Why was he here to begin with? Is he going to school at the Center too? I’d never seen him around campus.  He’s always prefered to live in the city, but liked to escape to the wilderness; he would have been miserable in this small, remote town. Did he follow me across the country? If he was looking for me, wouldn’t he have talked to me, tackled me with a hug?  Hell, even a handshake would have been more than he gave me.

But no...he acted like i was just an ordinary girl at the fucking library.  

And it hurts. Really hurts.

This is why I decide to stay in town for the holiday. Partly because I’m too heartbroken and mopey to go anywhere and spread my non-Christmas cheer. I’ve cried nearly every day since our run-in, crushed by the thought that he didn’t even love me enough to say something besides “excuse me”.

I mean, fuck...

The other part of me is silently hoping I might run into him again. I’ve made daily trips to the library and sat at his table, hoping to catch a glimpse of his crazy hair or that beautiful smirk.

But that hasn’t happened.   

Jake and Leah invited me to Leah’s mother’s house for Christmas dinner, but I told them that I have plans to volunteer at a soup kitchen in Port Angeles for the day. That part is true,  I did plan to volunteer, but this morning I woke up even more depressed than the past few days, and I decided that I want to sulk about my pathetic life in the privacy of my own home.

Carrumba is my only saving grace from giving up completely, so she and I share my leftover chili for Christmas dinner. She picks out the kidney beans from my bowl, drops them in a pile on the table, and then wipes her sauce-covered beak on my snowman themed placemat before she dives back in for more. Edward used to pick them out too and give her his little stockpile of beans as a treat.

I sigh and carry my bowl to the sink, fighting the tears again.

After a while, Angela comes up to visit for a long weekend. It’s amazing having her here, even if it’s only for a couple of days. I’ve missed our easy friendship and just being around her. We talk once a week on the phone, but it’s just not the same as spending time in person with your close friends. I never thought I was homesick for my life in Phoenix until the moment I picked Ang up from the airport. I just didn’t want her to have to leave me again - alone with my heartbreak. This town is too small for a single woman to get to know anyone her age. There’s not much of a young twenty’s social circle in Forks.

Things don’t seem to change for me for several months. I go about my usual routine of classes, lab reports, study sessions with Jake, and even a few outings with Leah to her little brother’s soccer games. I’m practically robotic, going through the motions of life, but not really living it. To everyone else, I’m a happy-go-lucky-woman with smiles for everyone she sees, but in reality, I’m a broken-hearted little girl on the inside.

I haven't had that creepy feeling much over the last several months.  The last one I remember was the day Leah, Jake, Rebecca, and I went to the festival.  It's been nice not having to deal with that sensation.  However, one evening in June, I'm chopping veggies for dinner, and Carrumba's playing with the blocks in her cage, when she shrieks loudly - scaring the shit out of me - and causes me to cut my finger.  There's a decent amount of blood all over the cutting board, and instantly I have that unsettling sensation wash over me, causing me to feel slightly panicked.  It's the most intense and terrifying feeling I've had in a long time.  I actually feel like my life is in danger.  It's very strange...   

A week or so later, I’m making the short trip to the Thriftway for Kleenex, a pair of pliers, and a one-pound bag of peanut M&M’s, when a loud roar approaches my truck. I glance out the passenger side window and notice a handsome man with shaggy, blond curls pull his sporty motorcycle next to me at the traffic light. He checks for on-coming vehicles and then turns right and speeds off down Division Street. It takes me a split second to recognize him as the guy who was with Edward at the library that day, and I make a sudden right turn and follow him.

I catch a glimpse of his bike as I pass the police station, but he pulls further ahead as the road bends and twists through the forest. He turns onto a small dirt road that cuts through the trees, and I hesitate to continue down the dark path, but if Edward is wherever this guy is going, then I must follow him. I need to see Edward again.

But he isn’t home - something about an unexpected trip or whatever.

I stay up the entire night, feeling like a fool for seeking out someone who apparently doesn’t want to be found. I cry until I’m out of tears, hiccoughing like a drunk, and my head is throbbing. But that’s when I find it in me to not give up, and instead of approaching him empty handed in an attempt to coerce him into talking to me, I decide to make him his favorite potato chip cookies as a not-so-subtle reminder that I know him. Or at least I knew him, once upon a time.

Every day that passes since I dropped off the little gift at his house, I get more and more pissed that he hasn’t called me. I mean, even if he was still out of town, wouldn’t his roommates still give him the message? The woman assured me he would get his package and the message that I stopped by. She seemed sincere, and I believed her because she reminded me of Renee - all motherly and doting and smiles.

He could call me from wherever he is vacationing to either say ‘thanks for the fucking cookies’ or ‘I hate you, don’t ever talk to me again’...something! What the fuck is he waiting for? Or is he not even going to call me at all? Prick.

I don’t hear from him for two weeks. Two. Fucking. Weeks.

Jake and Leah leave for a weekend getaway, and I spend the Friday evening at home, cleaning out my shoebox of jewelry and hair accessories, listening to Carrumba chatting to herself in her cage, when there’s a knock at my door.

The view from the peephole is murky - only a dark figure standing under the dim porch light - and I assume it’s Mrs. Cope from upstairs, but when I wrench open the door and the flash of auburn hair shines in the Iight emanating from my apartment, my heart hammers in my chest. I blurt the first fucking think that comes to mind...

“Nice of you to grace me with your presence, Edward.” 

He’s staring at his feet like they are the most interesting things he’s ever seen. After a moment of awkward silence, he rakes his eyes up my body, finally settling on my eyes. I glower at him, letting him know that I’m pissed. Fucker needs to say something quick before I explode on a rant of cosmic proportions...or kiss him senseless.

“Uh, h-hi,” he stutters, wide-eyed and nervous. My lip twitches, fighting a triumphant smile. I smell fear, and I revel in it. That’s right, asshole. You’d better be worried that I’ll rip your balls off and ram them into your ears!  You deserve some torture after what you did to me.

I step aside and wave my hand to gesture for him to come inside; I don’t need the whole neighborhood knowing my business.

Staring hard at his face as he crosses the threshold into my apartment, I get a good look at his eyes. They are definitely different than they used to be - antique gold and saffron, not the soft viridian green eyes from our youth. Maybe he’s wearing contacts. His ruby-red lips stand out in stark contrast against his pale skin that practically glows in the unnatural light from the living room lamp.

"You look different.”

"I do?”

"Yeah. What happened to you?”

He ignores my question and moves to stand next to my couch, diverting his eyes now, looking everywhere else but at me. “Nice place.”

I snort at his half-assed compliment. “You want something to drink? I know I fucking need one,” I mumble the last part to myself, but I stalk off toward the kitchen, not waiting for his reply.

I pour myself a glass of wine and hold it up to show him, cocking an eyebrow to prod a response from him. Are you going to talk or just stand there - torturing me?

“Oh, uh, no thanks.” He smiles briefly at me before turning to look at my bookshelf, eying the scorpion in the display box.

I round the countertop and sit down on the sofa, tucking my feet under my body, trying to keep myself together. Why is this so awkward? It’s just Edward, Bella, you’ve known him your entire life! Talk to him.  I nod towards the creepy-crawly knicknack. “That's the Diplo-diplocen-spiz-.”

“Diplocentrus spitzeri.”

“Yeah, that's it."

"I don't know how I know that..." he mutters to himself as if he's surprised by this discovery. 

"It was your pride and joy,” I say, slightly confused by his statement.  Edward knew the scientific names for hundreds of bugs; that damn scorpion was one of his favorites. "I'm surprised you didn't get that tattooed on your wrist."

He whips around to look at me with a shocked expression on his face and stares for a few seconds before recovering and turns back to the bookshelf.

I stare at his back, wistful, thinking about the time in tenth grade when I snuck up behind him and hopped on his back, demanding a piggyback ride. He laughed and galloped through the hall before bursting through the doors to the courtyard and then into the cafeteria. He refused to release me for the entire lunch period.

"I noticed your ink," he says, turning to point toward me. "It's, uh, pretty." 

I peek over my shoulder, seeing the top of the tattoo on my right shoulder and blush, thinking about the irony of the situation.  Here I had thought he was dead and gone and I had forever memorialized him on my skin, but now he's standing in my fucking apartment.  I don't know if this is a fairytale or a nightmare.  Feeling slightly foolish about the tattoo, I manage to mumble my thanks for the compliment.

He offers a small smile and then places a paper bag from the local book store on my coffee table.  “I got this for you. I thought that since your brought me the cookies, I should bring you a little gift in return.” 

"Oh, thanks," I say, trying to hide my excitement.  Aww, he bought be a present?  I can't wait to see what it is!

"I see you're an avid cactus collector, huh?" He points toward the small pots next to the fireplace. "They remind you of home," he states, confident in his observation. Well, duh...

“Yeah, I had to order them from a website; they don’t sell anything like that around here. Ang brought me the succulent when she visited last month.”

“Ang?” He twists to look over his shoulder at me, quirking an eyebrow.

“Yes, Ang. You remember... Angela? My best friend, lived next door, Peter’s sister...”


“Jesus, Edward... Yes, Peter. Your ‘partner-in-crime’, was supposed to be your best man at the wedding... Ring any bells?” Why is he acting like he doesn’t remember them?


I huff in annoyance. I could strangle him for pretending not to remember the wedding! I gulp the remaining wine from my glass. “Yes, wedding.” I look at him, pissed the hell off. What the fuck is his problem? “Why are you acting like you don’t know your friends? Or me for that matter?”

That got his attention. He whirls around at lightning speed and gives me a look that should probably intimidate me with dark and angry eyes, but I’m not playing this game with him. I want some fucking answers!

“I don’t know you.” His voice is low and laced with annoyance, and his fingers tightly grip his hair. He hangs his head and speaks so softly that I barely hear him speak again. “I don’t know... anything.”

“What are you talking about, Edward? You know Angela and Peter...and me! You knew everything about me until you pulled that fantastic disappearing act just before graduation! Hell, you mean to tell me you don’t even know your precious Carrumba?” I wave my hand toward Carrumba’s cage, noticing she’s huddling in her sleep hammock, but her head is peeking out, watching us.

Edward glances at the bird cage and back to me, disbelief masking his face. “The bird?” He points at Carrumba, and I hear a faint peep from her direction. “That loud, obnoxious thing used to be mine?” He shakes his head slowly, muttering something under his breath.

“YES!” I yell, springing myself from the couch and crossing the short distance to stand in front of him at the fireplace. “What the fuck happened to you, Edward? Do you really not remember or are you just playing dumb, because that’s a crock of sh-”

“Bella, there was an, err, accident. I don’t have any memory of my life before that.”

I’m a bit taken back by his reference to his parents’ murder as an accident. There was nothing “oopsie” about that scene in the cabin. Before I can wrap my head around his last statement, he responds with answers to the unasked questions that just popped into my head. 

“I didn't follow you here to Forks, Bella. My family and I moved here a year and a half ago. We lived in San Francisco before that.”

“Your family?”


“Edward, your family was murdered. I don't know who these people are who you call your family, but your real family is dead.” I look at him pointedly. “Dead, Edward. You didn't kill them, did you?”

He shakes his head quickly. “No, of course I didn't kill them. At least,  I hope I didn't do it. I've been told that I wasn't capable of doing anything at that stage...”

“You were told? Weren't you there? And what do you mean 'at that stage'?"

His voice grows more agitated, the volume increasing with each word. “I told you there was an accident!”

Evasive motherfucker. “Yeah, I got that,” I snap.

Edward huffs and flops down into the chair beside the bookcase, his face clearly displaying his frustration with me. I don't give a shit what his problem is. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is that something terrible happened to him and his family, he disappeared, and left me heartbroken without any answers. I deserve some fucking answers.

Annoyed with his attitude, I snatch the package from the coffee table and reach inside. A picture book of Arizona National Parks? Is he fucking kidding me?

“What the fuck is this, Edward? Are you trying to rub the worst day of my life in my face?” I jump up from my spot on the couch and tower over him, my entire body shaking and tears welling in my eyes. "How could you do this to me?"

"I didn't do anything to you, Bella!  I don't fucking know you!"  Those last words cause the avalanche of tears to fall.  How can he say that?

"The hell you don't!  What about the first eighteen years of our lives?  How can you not remember anything about that?" 

"There. Was. An. Accident."  He slowly rises from the arm chair and stands with his arms crossed against his chest, nostrils flaring, and pupils dialating.

"Yeah, you keep fucking saying that, but you never say what happened!  Did you fall in a ravine?  Get struck on the head by a falling tree limb?  Abducted and anally probed by aliens?"

"No, and you wouldn't believe me if I told you."

"If it was some big, horrific incident, wouldn't you have been in the hospital somewhere?  Somebody would have recognized you!  We had your picture all over the goddamn news stations for weeks searching for you!"

"I was gone by then."

"Gone?  Where the fuck did you go?"

"My family found me and took me with them to San Francisco. I told you that already!" he roars, and Carrumba squawks loudly in her cage, startled by the tone of Edward's voice.

"Where did they find you?  Along the roadside?  In the woods?  Jesus, Edward, you know that entire area of Arizona like the back of your hand.  You couldn't get lost there if you tried!" 

"I, uh, I don't know where they found me.  I was unconscious until I woke up in their truck."

"You were KIDNAPPED?!  Oh, my God!  I've got to call my dad!"  What did those terrible people do to him?

"NO! No, I wasn't kidnapped, Bella.  They rescued me, helped me.  I wouldn't be who I am today without them."

"Who the fuck would help some wayward teenager - who was obviously injured and unconsious - and put them in their car to drive them to California, Edward?"  The volume of my voice increasing with every word. "That doesn't make any fucking sense!"   

"My life doesn't make sense, Bella.  You'd probably never understand... nor should you."

"What the hell does that mean?  Christ, you are driving me batshit crazy!  Why are you being so fucking evasive, Edward?! Why can’t you just give me some goddamn answers?!  You at least owe me that!”

“I don’t fucking owe you anything,” he growls.

"Yes, I think you do!  How could you turn a blind eye to me and never look back?"

"It's not all about you, Bella!  I told you that I don't fucking remember anything before the accident.  You're acting like a self-righteous, spoiled princess, and -"

Hearing that word slip past his lips is what finally sends my anger to a new level.  I've never hit anyone in my life, nor do I think it's right to strike someone in the heat of an argument - or at all, for that matter - but that comment is my last straw.  My rage is so far beyond critical level with his secrecy and head games that I raise my hand to slap him across the cheek for calling me a "princess".  I fucking hate being called that.

But he must have supersonic reflexes, because I'm barely mid-swing when his hand reaches up to wrap around my wrist, stopping my assault in a fraction of a second.  Suddenly, we both gasp and I look up into Edward's eyes - black and feral - and see an emotion that is mirrored in my own.



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