After the events of Eclipse
, Edward couldn't bring himself to take away Bella's humanity. Ten years later, when Bella gives birth to her first child with Jacob Black, Edward simply can't stay away. To his surprise, he doesn't even want to.Chapter Two: Memories to Life
Bella didn’t know what to think. She was convinced that Edward had said his final goodbye, that he wasn’t going to try and contact her anymore and that he wouldn’t be a part of her daughter’s life in any way; however, there was tangible evidence, once again, that he had snuck into her house, into her daughter’s room, for the second time. Who’s to say he hadn’t done it more than that, as well? It was frustrating beyond belief knowing no matter what she did, she couldn’t keep him out.
Honestly, what was he playing at? Bella didn’t get it, and instead of feeling touched by his simple gesture like she was last time, she was beyond irritated – fuming mad, really.
She stalked around the house all morning with Ellie in her arms, crying up a storm. The baby seemed to pick up on her mother’s feelings, but try as she might, Bella couldn’t control herself. Angry tears streamed down her face for hours, and only after she passed by a mirror in the hallway and caught a glimpse of her crazed mien out of the corner of her eye did Bella pull herself together. It wasn’t fair to Ellie to act so selfish.
Finally, after another hour, both Bella and Ellie seemed to be back to a functioning, if not completely normal, state of mind. Ellie was asleep in her swing, and Bella sat staring at the now slightly withered little bouquet of violets that she had carefully laid on the kitchen table. Her mind, for some reason, was almost completely blank, until one thought suddenly intruded.
Why blue violets? She and Edward had never discussed blue violets, Bella was sure. They were not even her favorite flower. What did they mean?
Bella sighed and rested her chin in her hand, narrowing her eyes at the little buds. Her mind wandered back to her first days in Forks, looking for clues – the first day in biology, the bonfire on First Beach and her shameless flirtation with Jacob, the Quileute stories about the cold ones, Googling the…
Wait. Google. Of course.
Bella almost laughed at the irony. ‘When in doubt, Google it!’ was apparently still her motto when it came to Edward’s mysteries. She hurried over to the old computer in the corner and turned it on, tapping her fingers impatiently. Though this computer wasn’t nearly as slow as the old monster from her father’s house, it would still be completely impractical for people that actually frequently used the internet.
As soon as Firefox popped up, Bella typed “blue violets” into the search engine, but didn’t see anything that looked remotely helpful. She then tried, “what do blue violets mean?” and still didn’t have any luck. She sighed and thought for a moment, then rolled her eyes at how hard she was making this. “Meanings of flowers” had to work, right?
“Here we go,” Bella mumbled. The first two links weren’t useful at all, but the third was exactly what she was looking for.
Blue violets, according to Phillips’s Florals, signified, “Watchfulness, faithfulness,” or were supposed to convey to the receiver that the sender “will always be true.” Bella stared at the computer screen and slowly shook her head, beginning to giggle wildly. It was a completely inappropriate response and she certainly didn’t find any of it funny, but she was out of ideas as to what to do.
It was just so Edward, and it certainly explained his particular choice of blue violets.
An hour later, Bella pulled into her father’s driveway, and before she could even get out of the car, Charlie was out of the house and unbuckling Ellie from her carseat. Bella grinned and shook her head as she shut her door, grabbing Ellie’s diaper bag and bouncer from the trunk.
“Hey Bella,” Charlie called over his shoulder as he began walking up the sidewalk to the front door.
“Hey dad, nice to see you, too!” Bella teased as she followed him through the front door.
Bella put all of Ellie’s gear down in the living room and briefly sat on the couch.
“Her diapers, formula, the works – it’s all in the diaper bag,” she informed her father, who was much too busy making faces at the baby to really pay attention to her. Charlie was constantly teased these days, in a good natured manner, of course, about what a sap he turned into when his grand daughter was around. Baby talk, funny faces and silly noises seemed to be his specialty. Bella never ceased to be amazed by the changes that a baby could bring to people, herself included; certainly anything that could get that sort of response from her usually stoic father was pretty impressive.
“Alright, dad, I’m gonna go run some errands. I’ll be back in a few hours or so. I might go home and try to clean before Jake comes home tomorrow night, so if I’m not back by the time you want to get rid of her, just call my cell, okay?”
“Bells, take as long as you want. Ellie and I will have a great time. Sue said she might stop by later, too.” Charlie rose from the couch with Ellie in his arms and kissed Bella’s forehead. “See you later, honey.”
Bella smiled and gave her father a one armed hug, then leaned down blew a tiny raspberry on Ellie’s tummy. “Bye bye, baby. Have fun with grandpa.”
Bella waved as she made her way out the door, but Charlie was already bouncing around the living room singing some sort of silly song to Ellie.
Bella sighed as she got into the car and pulled out of the driveway, remembering for a moment the shiny silver Volvo that had so often been parked there waiting for her in the mornings before high school. Those memories soon turned to thoughts of her old, beat up red truck, however, which led to thoughts of Jacob. He had always been and always would be her own personal sun.
For selfish reasons, she wished she could bring Ellie with her on this particular “errand,” but she was positive this was one thing the baby would be better left out of, even though much like her father, Ellie was turning out to be a source of constant joy and strength Bella could definitely use at the moment. Bella slowly drove through town, purposely not thinking about where she was headed until she was suddenly turning onto the still immaculately kept lane leading to the Cullen house. For some reason, she expected it to be overgrown with weeds and vines, considering it had stood empty since the Cullens left town ten years ago, but it was still as perfect as the last time she’d been there.
Bella swallowed around the lump in her throat, clutching the steering wheel tightly. She knew Edward would meet her here, had probably followed her, in fact, but part of her still couldn’t believe that she was about to see him again after ten years. At first she had contemplated trying to find the meadow, sure he would be there, as well, but considering their previous history in that spot, Bella chose the next best place – and one that she wouldn’t get hopelessly lost trying to find.
As the house came into view, Bella immediately saw a tall figure standing on the porch. She looked away quickly, her breath now coming in rapid spurts, and put the car into park. Her hands were shaking and probably had been for some time, but she hadn’t realized. She somehow made it out of the car without stumbling and walked slowly to the steps, staring at the ground the whole way. Bella didn’t know what she expected to happen once she looked at him, but she was so nervous she thought she might throw up.
Finally, she raised her eyes to his, which she knew had been focused intently on her the whole time, and felt her breath catch in her throat. Of course, he was the same – still seventeen, topaz eyes, bronze hair, and perfect marble white skin. Even though she knew his physical appearance inside and out, it was still a shock to her system to see him so unchanged when Bella knew she didn’t look anything like the eighteen year old girl he had last seen.
Her hair was shorter, lines were starting to appear on her face, and after giving birth, her figure in no way resembled the svelte teen she had once been. Her hips were wider, her breasts larger, and an unwanted twenty pounds of baby weight still lingered on her frame. While she once would have been embarrassed by her physical imperfections, however, she now found them almost insignificant. They meant things had happened to her, that she had grown and changed, and that was perfectly natural.
Had Edward changed at all?
They simply stared at each other for a full three minutes, and Bella found herself starting to relax. She could breathe normally again, and though her hands had not stopped shaking, they were shoved tightly into the pockets of her coat.
Edward broke the silence and said softly, his voice awed, “You’re still beautiful.”
Bella smiled tentatively and exhaled. She didn’t know what to say now that they were face to face.
“Edward, I…I don’t know where to begin,” she mumbled.
“You’re upset with me,” Edward sighed. “I can tell.”
Bella stopped herself from rolling her eyes and shooting back a sarcastic, “You think so?” like Jacob would; honestly, he sometimes rubbed off on her too much. Instead she simply nodded and slowly sat down on one of the porch stairs. Edward sat, too, but had the good sense to stay several feet away.
“I am upset with you,” Bella began, trying to choose her words carefully. “I mean, really, Edward, what are you doing here after all this time?”
Edward looked confused for a moment, as if the answer should be obvious. “I’m looking out for you. For you, and for Ellie. She’s beautiful, Bella.”
“Thank you,” Bella automatically replied. She got that compliment about her daughter quite often.
There was an awkward silence for a moment before Bella continued. “But Edward, I don’t…want you to look out for me. Or for Ellie.” It almost pained her to say the words, because a small part of her knew it wasn’t completely true. “I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself these days. Plus, I have a…husband,” Bella finished lamely. She still felt guilty using that word in front of Edward, considering his feelings for her obviously hadn’t changed much.
Edward didn’t look at her, but continued gazing forward, his expression unreadable. If anyone else would have seen him, they would have sworn he was a statue, carved to sit and forever watch over the empty house behind them.
“I mean, Edward, I appreciate the fact that you want to do that for me, and especially for Ellie, but…that’s what I’m for. That’s what Jacob is for, to keep her safe and happy. I just don’t…”
“You just don’t want me around her. I know, Bella.” Edward turned tortured eyes upon her and this time it was Bella that looked away. “Don’t think that I haven’t regretted letting you go every day since it happened.”
Bella forced herself to hold back a sudden and unexpected sob and choked out, “I know it’s hard for you. Sometimes it’s hard for me, too. But…” she sighed and turned her face towards the sky and cold air, blinking back tears. “Edward, if I lived every day regretting it, I would be miserable.” She hadn’t expected to come to the heart of the matter quite so quickly, but Edward did have a way of getting straight to the point.
“Like you think I am,” Edward said with a bitter tinge to his voice.
Bella shook her head and said slowly, “I don’t know if you’re miserable, Edward. I hope you aren’t.”
Edward didn’t respond for a minute and then grudgingly admitted, “I’m not completely miserable. I’m not happy, but…I’m happy because I know you’re happy.” It looked like it hurt him to admit as much.
“I wouldn’t change anything, Edward, especially now that I have Ellie. You told me that I would thank you one day and I am. Every bit of me is grateful that you were strong enough to force me to go because I couldn’t have done it. I wouldn’t have. But Jacob and Ellie are just…” Bella stopped, afraid she was saying too much. The problem was that she wanted to say everything to him and watch his eyes sparkle at her joy and his lips slowly curve upwards in a smile as he gazed at her.
But those images were from the past, and the point of this meeting was to firmly leave the past in the dust behind her.
Edward was gazing at her evenly, memorizing the sight of her. He said very quietly, “I can’t leave you completely alone. You should know that.”
Bella put her head in her hands, frustrated not only with Edward, but herself, as well. She hated that those words still thrilled her.
“Okay, look. Can we make a deal here? Some kind of compromise? Because Edward, you can’t keep sneaking into my house, especially into Ellie’s room. I’m not…comfortable or anywhere near comfortable with that,” Bella said firmly.
Edward slowly nodded and said thoughtfully, “I’m sorry. I should have realized, I know, but I really didn’t understand that that would bother you so much.”
Bella forced herself, once again, to not make a sarcastic remark. Honestly, had vampires always been this dense? Were they always so oblivious to human emotions or social mores?
“I know, and I understand,” Bella said patiently. “Just don’t do it again.”
“I won’t. I’m sorry that I’ve upset you.” Edward’s voice was sorrowful.
“It’s alright. Look, maybe, if you want to know how I’m doing from now on, just…maybe I can write to you? Not all the time, not even a lot, but, just to…say hi and tell you about Ellie and everything. I just can’t see you again, Edward. And you can’t see Ellie.”
Bella abruptly stood up and brushed off her jeans, clutching the car keys in her hand.
Edward rose, as well, moving his arm as if to reach out to her, but quickly yanked it back when Bella flinched away. “I’m sorry,” he said again. Bella was sure he meant for much more than just the events of the last twenty four hours.
“I’m sorry, too,” she whispered. “Just…send me your address in the next few weeks, okay? And I’ll save it.” They stood there for a moment and looked at each other, Bella leaving most of her feelings unspoken, and then she slowly began to back away towards her car.
Walking backwards, though, was not the right decision for a clumsy individual like Bella. She suddenly felt her foot slip on a loose rock, and for a moment was sure she was going to really hurt herself when she landed. Before she could hit the ground, however, she felt icy hands gently pulling her upwards, back into a standing position. Edward’s fingers slowly grazed down her arms and she shivered, whether from the cold or from the emotion his touch evoked, she couldn’t tell. She was frozen to the spot, staring at his face, so close for the first time in so long.
Edward smiled slowly as he looked into her eyes, then carefully leaned down and kissed her forehead, his lips lingering against her skin for a few seconds. She heard him inhale deeply to fill himself with the memory of her scent.
“I love you, Bella,” he said firmly.
Bella closed her eyes, and by the time she opened them, he was gone.
She felt a lone tear roll down her cheek, which she hastily wiped away. Bella stood rooted to the spot for a while, then mechanically made her way back to the car. Before she climbed in, she said very quietly, even though he could no longer hear, “I love you, too, Edward.”