Before reading Chapter 12, you must either watch this video or at least listen to the song Reckoner by Radiohead (off In Rainbows). This is required before proceeding with Chapter 12. Why? Because I am obsessed with this song, and most of most of Osa Bella couldn't have been conceived without it. In a nod to Jenny Jerkface's 15 Step, this story was nearly named Reckoner, and if I ever become a millionaire, I assure you all I will be buying a vintage yacht and naming it Reckoner, and you will see my ass sailing Puget sound, tossing VitaminR's to @VitaminR70 and anyone else who wants to come out for a cruise with me and the Myg family.
Plus I wrote like 123942342913 words listening to it. Most of those were cut, but still...
The percussion on the opening of this reminds me of the sound of rigging banging against the mast of a sailboat, and that's where Reckoner, Edward's boat, came from. The opening of this song basically birthed a vintage Hinckley, and not every song can make that claim.
Anyway, please have a listen. Listen while you read, if you like. Put it on repeat. It's that good.
A .pdf of Chapter 12 is available here.
And if you are inclined to leave a comment, please do! I know I say this every post, but hell, I really love hearing from you all. Makes writing this much more fun for me.
All aboard who's comin' aboard? Anchor's aweigh!
Friday night before spring break I went to Derek’s house for dinner as usual. I had briefly—very briefly—debated telling him about the sailing trip with Edward. I knew that I shouldn’t be taking that trip for professional and ethical reasons, but I also knew I’d probably never get another chance to sail on Reckoner, and I knew Edward wouldn’t tell anyone. Our last secret, I decided. And hell, if Derek had been man enough to ask me to go visit his parents none of this would be an issue. Okay, so it wasn't really his fault, but at the time, being pissed off at him helped.
I was anxious as I hung out with him that night, guilty conscience getting the better of me.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
“Yeah,” I said. “Just thinking.”
“Life stuff,” I said. “Charlie and Sue’s wedding for one.”
“Ah,” he said. “You’re happy about their engagement, right?”
“Yeah,” I said. “But it is weird getting a step-mother when you’re thirty years old, plus two step-siblings.”
“You all get along though, don’t you?”
“Sure,” I said. “Leah and Seth are great. We don’t have a whole lot in common, but whenever we get together we get along fine.” I didn’t mention all the beer that was usually involved at those gatherings.
“It’s just the wedding itself then?”
“I have a tough time with weddings,” I said. I had been to a couple of weddings since I’d moved back to Forks and they were really hard to get through without crying. It’s not unusual to cry at weddings, I understand, but usually those are sappy, happy tears. Not the brace yourself so you don’t sob inappropriately kind of tears.
“Well, I’ll be right beside you,” he said and then put his arms around me. I felt better then, realizing that this time I wouldn’t be going to a wedding by myself. I had someone. I turned and kissed him softly on the lips.
“I’m really glad about that,” I said. Then I figured this was as good a time as any to bring up what was really bugging me. “You know, I’m disappointed you won't bring me to meet your parents this week.”
“I know you are, and I’m sorry,” he said, truly apologetic. “I want to introduce you and I promise we’ll go see them soon. I just don’t want them to make you uncomfortable.”
“Really?” I said. “That’s what you’re worried about?”
“Yes,” he said. “I’m going to tell them all about you this week. I’m bringing photos and everything. I want to make sure they understand I’m serious about you and get all of their prying questions out of the way before you meet them.”
“So, you’re trying to protect me?” Suddenly I felt very different about his trip home, better, but guilty. “I guess I could have protected you more from Chief Swan. He packs heat.”
“He wasn’t that bad.” He laughed and then led me into the kitchen. “Come on, I’ll show you how to make a respectable empanada.”
As we were cooking, I managed to cover half his kitchen in flour, which he then slipped in, getting himself covered in it too. He chased me around the kitchen table, laughing like a mad man, and I ran from him into the living room. He caught me and we ended up in a flour-covered wrestling match on the couch. I thought I was doing fairly well and then he pinned me down. I stopped laughing and gave him a wicked grin. I liked being pinned. I do believe that he liked that I liked being pinned, too, because he got real hard, real fast there on top of me. I kissed him and he pressed himself to me.
“I know you’ve been patient,” he said, kissing my neck. “I want you to know how much that means to me.”
“I know,” I said, breathless and very turned on.
“We’ve both been married before, right? It’s not like we’re virgins.”
“Right,” I said and caught my breath as he kissed me again on the lips.
"Things are headed in the right direction, so I think we can go a little further," he said as he kissed my ear. "I'm going to miss you this week and you look so hot tonight." He began to unbutton my shirt as his lips came down on mine again.
I let out a long breath as I felt his erection rub into my thigh and I spread my legs under him. He kissed my chest as I fumbled to unhook my bra. He kissed my breast softly and I moaned as I moved under him, trying to feel his cock against me through our pants. I pulled his shirt off and felt a small thrill at the touch of his bare chest against mine. I put my hand down his pants and he growled, “That feels so good,” as I started rub him.
“Let’s take these off,” I whispered in his ear, tugging at the button on his jeans. He slid his pants off and laid on top of me in his boxers and I wrapped my fingers around him. His skin was smooth, soft and warm under my touch. I suddenly was desperate to fuck him, even though I knew that wouldn’t happen. Not yet. He kissed me again and I began to stroke him. Within a matter of seconds he came, a lackluster expulsion of his morality, right in the palm of my hand.
“It’s been awhile,” he said, somewhat embarrassed.
“It’s okay,” I said. I kept kissing him, but the energy of the moment was definitely gone.
“Let me clean this up,” he whispered.
“No, let it stay dirty,” I said, nibbling his ear. “We don’t have to stop, do we?”
“Your pants,” he said. “Did you bring extra clothes?”
“I’ll throw them in the laundry.” He was totally ruining the mood. “Here, I’ll take them off.” I slid my jeans off and he ran his hand over my thigh. I kissed his neck and put my hand on his cock.
“Oh Bella, I think I love you,” he said in a low, sexy voice, his eyes closed. It was the kind of statement one might make sort of as a joke, like if I’d just cleaned his garage out for him and he wanted to point out how cool he thought that made me. But the words were out there. I don’t know if he really meant to put them there, but there they were, hanging in the space over us. I had to pull away from him and study his face to see what I might read there. He opened his eyes.
“You know I do,” he said softly.
“Me too,” I said and kissed him.
All day Saturday after Derek left I fretted over the sailing trip. What had I done? Was I destined to fuck up every decent chance I had at a healthy relationship? I should have backed out but the truth was, I didn't want to. So I didn't.
Edward called Sunday night to say the forecast looked promising for Monday. “Good wind, overcast, but the waves shouldn't be too bad.”
We met the next morning at the marina in Port Angeles at 5:30 a.m. and left my car there as our ride home. I’d offered to rent a car to drive up to Seattle, but he wanted to drive.
“Carlisle is at our apartment in Seattle and he can bring my car back,” he said.
“Does he know you’re taking me on a cruise?” I asked.
“Sure,” he said. “Why? Shouldn’t he?”
“Of course,” I said. “I mean, why wouldn’t your parents know?” My stomach almost dropped through the car floor as I considered the idea that his parents—and no one else—knew about my sail with Edward. Hope that didn’t come up at the next PTO meeting.
“I didn’t tell anyone,” I said.
"Good," he said in such a way that made me blush from head to toe. I turned my face toward the window. Get a grip, Bella, I thought. Get a handle on this before it veers off the cliff.
“I should have told somebody," I said, trying make light of it. "I mean, what if we don’t make it?”
“You mean what if I throw you overboard on the way?” He teased me. “Are you going to do that bad a job as First Mate, I’ll have to make you walk the plank?”
“Maybe,” I said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve done any sailing.”
“You still know your starboard from your port, right?”
“Port has the same number of letters as ‘left’ doesn’t it?”
What the hell was I thinking? I was going to spend an entire day alone with Edward at sail, and I just admitted to him that nobody knew I was with him. This was major, counselor-license-revoking trouble, with the added drama of potential public humiliation. I could see that now. The truth is, I could see it when he asked me along for the trip, but something about Edward made me unable to think straight. Like, if he suggested that maybe I’d like to skydive from an antique war plane, I’d think, yeah, maybe I would. If he recommended I start mainlining heroin, I might consider it.
Once again I promised myself that this would be it. After this one last day with him, I’d never allow myself to be alone with him again. Ever. There was too much at stake, and I didn’t want to drag him down into some embarrassing tabloid style “staff seduces student” scandal. In a town the size of Forks, that would be a special kind of misery for us both. Then I mentally slapped myself. What the hell was I thinking would be going on here? My mind raced in confusion. It wasn’t a big deal, right? We weren’t technically doing anything wrong. It was just a sail. Just a sail.
“You’re awfully quiet,” he observed.
“It’s early,” I said, taking a swig of coffee from my travel mug. “I’m not a morning person.”
“So that’s why you’re late to work all the time,” he said.
We got to Bell Harbor and began to prepare Reckoner for sail. The wind was coming up nicely, though the sky was overcast as predicted. Edward scaled the rigging, checking to make sure it was intact. I removed the sail bags and he started the engine. He took the wheel as I uncleated the lines that kept us secured to the dock. Then he gave us a shove and we were off. My heart raced as I watched the harbor slowly recede as we motored away from the port.
“She’s all yours, Miss Swan,” he said, stepping off the wheel.
“Oh, I can’t,” I said.
“Sure you can,” he said. “It’ll be much easier for me to get the sails up if you steer.” I stood up and could not keep the face splitting grin in check. “Put us on a North by North West heading, 314 degrees,” he said. “That’ll take us to marker 22.”
I took the helm from Edward and felt the weight of Reckoner heavy in my hands. For now she was mine, would do my bidding. Edward hoisted the mainsail and I felt her catch a solid breeze and surge forward into the waves. Elated, I cried out, "I'm moving to this boat. Sorry!" Edward laughed and raised the jib. I held the wheel steady as we cruised on a perfect, broad reach towards the marker.
"You're good luck," he called back. "The wind is perfect." He came back and sat in the cockpit and grinned at me. “Looks like you remember plenty. When’s the last time you handled a boat?”
“Six years ago,” I said. “There’s a lot I don’t remember. Don’t ask me sailing terms.”
“Why did you stop?”
“Because,” I said, but didn't continue. I’d stopped because Zachary died and that part of my life ended, I thought. But there I was, handling a vintage Hinckley out of Seattle, barely able to contain the adrenaline and the enthusiasm I was feeling. Edward smiled contentedly at me as I ran my hands lovingly over Reckoner’s wheel.
“What?” I asked him.
“You look so happy,” he said.
“I am,” I said, smiling back. And I was happy. Confused, but happy.
We eased into the sail together, relaxing under the cloudy sky and the brisk wind as Reckoner took us from heading to heading, slicing our way through Puget Sound. We talked a lot about music. I asked how Mercy had been. I wondered if anything had developed between them, hoping it had, hoping it hadn’t.
“She’s recording again,” he said. “The woman is prolific. She’s got enough new material to fill a hard drive. You should come to one of her sessions.”
“Where is she recording?”
“At my house,” he said. “She’s still staying with us.”
“Oh,” I said. “Are you two together now?”
Edward smiled. “Why do you ask?”
“Because she seems like a good match for you,” I said, honestly. Though that was only part of the reason I asked. “She’s beautiful, talented. Actually, I never asked how old she is. She’s out of high school, right?”
“She doesn’t sail,” he said. “I can’t go out with a girl who doesn’t sail.”
“Well, you’re really limiting your choices then,” I said, my heart racing. “Most girls your age don’t.”
“Yeah, it’s a real problem,” he teased. “But that's okay. I'm in no rush.”
He laughed and then climbed forward to adjust one of the lines. I studied him as he gracefully moved over her deck, adjusting lines, trimming sails. It was like he was a living part of her, her own consciousness, maybe her very soul. I felt oddly jealous of Reckoner—how I'd love to be adored by Edward the way she was. How I envied all that time she had him all to herself, carrying him off to distant shores.
I had to get control over my thoughts again before I gave myself away anymore than I already had this day.
"You really love this boat," I said when he came back to the cockpit.
"I could live on her," he said. "Sometimes I do."
"I can see why."
"I can't believe you haven't sailed Puget sound in the four years you've been here," he said. "That's a crime. The San Juans are some of the best sailing anywhere. I'll take you this summer."
"I thought you were circumnavigating."
"Come with me," he said. And though he was smiling, I was pretty sure he wasn't kidding.
"Yeah, right. My trust fund is a little smaller than yours."
"It wouldn't cost you a thing."
"Only my job."
I had to change the subject. I started talking about my high school days, telling him stories about really bad plays I’d been in and getting kicked off the cheerleading squad for being too uncoordinated. I finally came around to the topic of Zachary, since he’d been a big part of my high school life. I talked about his love of muscle cars and how he taught me to change a tire at sixteen and how he'd always wanted to learn guitar but never got the chance.
“How old were you when you got married?”
“Nineteen,” I said. “Too young, really, but we were in love.”
“But you were happy, right?”
“Very happy.” I looked away, feeling choked up. “We were married five years before he was killed in Afghanistan.”
“I’m sorry,” Edward said, putting his hand over mine. “I know how painful it is to lose someone you love.”
There was a tenderness in his voice that wrapped itself around my heart and held it so gently I nearly shed full tears. I looked into his eyes and saw the same compassion reflected there.
"I'm sure you do," I said. "And I'm sorry. You're very young to have experienced that kind of loss."
His face gave away something else. Concern. Something troubled him, and something immediate, not a painful memory of some childhood tragedy.
"What is it?" I asked.
"Nothing," he said. I studied his expression carefully but couldn't read anything into it, other than the fact that we needed to break some of this emotional intensity.
“I’m going to go below and grab a bottle of water,” I said, standing up. “Do you want one?”
“No thanks,” he said and looked at the chart. “We should take a break in Port Ludlow. I’ll buy you dinner.”
“No,” I said. “You can’t buy me dinner.”
“You’ve got to be hungry.” I couldn’t deny that I was, but I shook my head vigorously. “We’ll stop and you can buy yourself dinner. How’s that?”
“That I can do,” I said.
An hour later we motored into a marina and docked. We disembarked and I went to freshen up in the locker room. As I checked myself out in the mirror a thousand twisted, conflicted feelings tormented me. I thought of Derek in Portland, talking to his parents about us. Then I thought of Edward and his family and how welcoming they had been that evening back in December. Then I stopped myself. What was I doing, comparing my 37-year-old boyfriend to my 17-year-old student? I ran into the deli and bought a couple of sandwiches for us and went back to the boat.
We were sitting in the cabin, Edward at the chart table and me cleaning up in the galley after devouring my sandwich. I watched him intently as he plotted the course from Port Ludlow to Port Angeles. He was in deep concentration, biting his lower lip, making scratches on the chart in pencil. I stared at his face, for once without him noticing me. His eyes were a light amber, so strange for the low light of the cabin. I didn't understand how his eyes could change color like that. I assumed he wore colored contacts sometimes, but despite his good looks vanity seemed out of character for him. His brow wrinkled and his jaw tightened as he contemplated the route. I loved watching him think. It was almost as though if I stared hard enough, I might actually hear what was in his head. He looked up and caught me staring and then gave me a half smile.
“What?” he asked.
“Why not just use a GPS?”
“What fun is that?” He shook his head. “We’re going to have to do some night sailing if you want to make it home tonight. Are you okay with that?”
“I’ve never been sailing at night,” I said.
“Well, if you prefer we can anchor in the cove and finish up in the morning.”
Oh my God, I thought. Spend the night with Edward Cullen aboard Reckoner? Was that even a real possibility?
“I’ll stay up top,” he added.
“I couldn’t make you do that,” I said without thinking.
He raised an eyebrow and I did not miss the insinuation. “Shall we keep going then?” he asked.
I knew the answer had to be an immediate, emphatic yes. Yes, Edward, we need to keep going. Ha ha, of course we can’t spend the night together on your very sexy, expensive yacht. But I was stumped for words because I was too busy fighting the impulse to push him into the stateroom and rip his clothes off and just… fuck it. Get it over with. He wouldn’t protest.
“You’re the Captain,” I said. “It’s your call.”
He wasn’t looking at me anymore, he was eyeing me. Sizing me up. My breath came shallow and quick, along with my pulse, and I was just shy of a panic attack as I anticipated what was coming. I knew exactly what he was thinking, and I could have, should have strongly discouraged him. But I have to be honest and say I didn't. I didn't do anything but stare at him, waiting for his next move.
He came out from behind the chart table and approached me subtly, almost like he was approaching a frightened, wild animal for capture. Then he stood far too close, placing his hands on the counter on either side of me, trapping me. His presence made my head feel fuzzy, my legs weak.
“Let’s see,” he said in mock contemplation, looking down at me. “I can have you all to myself here overnight or rush you back to Port Angeles under sail in the dark. What to do, what to do?”
“You know, that’s kind of not funny.”
“I’m not kidding,” he said.
“Edward,” I said, fumbling for words, my mouth completely uncooperative with my mind. “Listen…"
“I know what you’re going to say,” he said, cutting me off, taking my hands in his. “You don't have to say it.”
He caressed the palm of my hand with his thumb, an unsubtle move that caused me to gasp in surprise. He looked into my eyes and I had to close them quickly, my mind growing numb as that utterly wrong reality emerged between us.
“You know I’d never compromise your position,” he said, and he even sounded convincing. But then I felt his lips on my brow, soft, cool, vanquishing, sending every last thought of protest out of my mind. There was nothing but the feeling of his lips on my skin. Then he moved his mouth to my ear and whispered, “Unless you want me to.”
I exhaled a heavy breath. I couldn’t move. It was my call, but I couldn’t answer. I want you to, I want you to, I thought, but I can't let you.
I couldn't deny that the very reason I came on this trip was because I was attracted to him. I set this entire thing up to happen. Now it was happening, and all I could think was, fuck. I didn’t really mean for it to happen. I didn’t mean to lead him on. Right?
“No one would ever know,” he said. “I swear to you.”
“I… I’m seeing Mr. Banner,” I said, as if that was some kind of answer.
“You know he’s not right for you.”
“How would you know?”
“I see you every day,” he said. “I’m observant. I know things.”
“Well then you should know that I’d never be… with a student,” I said.
He laughed. “Why didn’t you tell Derek you were coming to spend the entire day all alone with me out here?” He was quite amused, not at all uncomfortable like I was. I felt my face flush with shame.
“I don’t know,” I said. “It was a mistake. And you’ve got to believe me—I’ve never, ever, ever done anything even remotely like this before. You’re the first… oh my God… that’s not what I mean… ”
“I know that, Bella,” he said, his voice reassuring. He gently stroked the side of my face, tipping my chin up so I’d look at him and I cringed. “Relax. It’s okay.” He kissed my forehead again and then my cheek, and again my head emptied itself of every single worry as I soaked in the feeling of him, the scent of him. But I just couldn’t do this.
“Edward, please, please don’t.” I implored him. “I really care about you. Very much. If I was seventeen I would sail away with you and never look back. But that’s just not how it is.”
“You know, technically I’ll be eighteen in June. Then what?”
“Please stop,” I said, shaking my head, burying my face in my hands. “I can’t do this. I just can’t.”
“Okay, okay,” he said and put his arms around me. “I’m sorry. Take a breath.”
I buried my face in his shoulder and tried to just breathe but he smelled so good it made me want to do terrible things. He smelled as though he was made of cold winter air and the deep sea and tall trees in summer and the night sky. That scent made me feel like an animal, subservient to instinct alone. I put my arms around his waist and let my nose rest against his neck and inhaled deeply. That was a big mistake.
I began kissing his neck, so lightly at first it was nearly imperceptible, but once I tasted his skin I couldn’t stop. My lips wandered up to his jawline and then over to his ear with a will all their own, surprising us both. I ran my hands through the thick of his hair, holding his head to me as I moved my lips behind his ear and kissed him there, never allowing myself to think. There was no room in my oxytocin soaked brain for rationality, consequences.
He pulled back from me slowly, gripping me by the shoulders, searching my eyes intently for something, possibly dispensation. But the me that boarded Reckoner that morning wasn’t available to give consent just then. That version of myself had been annihilated by the impossible desire his proximity, his scent had awakened in me. And I believe that when he looked at me right then, that’s all there was to see. Undiluted, one hundred percent concentrated desire. I felt my own eyes go black with it.
"I'm sorry, Bella," he said, and backed me up against the counter. I felt his hands move over my ass as he lifted me up onto the counter, pressing himself between my legs, holding me fast. "I'm only so strong."
Then his lips came down, powerful, urgent, onto my own, an impossibly hot, open mouthed kiss. His breath, my breath, his hand on the back of my head, his fingers tangled in my hair, destroying every last bit of sanity I had in me. Seventeen or not, I wanted him. Now. Badly. And I hated myself for this, for what I now knew I was capable of. But I couldn't stop. Whatever he wanted of me, it would be his.
He carried me to the stateroom and then he was on top of me, pinning me to the berth so I couldn't move beneath him, though I wanted to reach for him, I wanted to kiss him again, wanted to feel his mouth covering mine, to taste him, to breathe him. His face was hovering just above mine, like he was still searching for answers. My breathing came too fast, was too shallow and the room started to spin. I felt disoriented and then strangely afraid, but I still had the rush of adrenaline pumping my sexual desire through me like a freight train out of control down a mountain.
“You’re really confused, aren’t you?” he asked, trying to understand, I imagine, how my brain and the rest of my body could be so entirely out of sync. "Bella, I don't want you to hate yourself. I don't want you to fear me."
I started to cry and he pulled me into his arms. "I'm not afraid of you. I'm afraid of myself."
“I’m sorry,” he said. “Please don’t be upset.”
“What am I doing?” I asked, choking back a full throated sob. “Edward, I am so sorry. I shouldn’t be here. I shouldn’t have come on this trip.”
“No, I’m sorry,” he said. “This was all my fault.”
“I led you on,” I said, wiping my eyes.
“You think you led me on?” He was genuinely surprised. “Is that really what you think happened here?”
“I made you think it was possible for us to be… I don’t know, and you’re right, here I am, alone with you, nobody knows I’m here. What else could you think?”
“You haven’t done anything wrong.”
“I kissed you,” I said.
“No, I kissed you,” he said.
“I started it,” I said. "I kissed you on the neck."
“It was only a kiss,” he said. “No damage done, no one will be the wiser.”
“Edward, I really am in a relationship with Derek, you believe me, right?” I pulled myself out of his arms and moved across the room. I couldn’t be that close to him any longer.
“Of course I do,” he said, frowning. “He’s very attached to you.”
“You think?” I asked.
“Definitely. He’s going to propose to you. Soon.”
“What?” I felt my face go pale. “Why would you even think such a thing?”
“I can read people,” he said. “It’s on his mind, trust me.” He looked up at me. “What will you say? Yes or no?”
“I…" My stomach dropped to the floor. All of a sudden I wanted nothing more than to be off that boat and under the covers of my bed. “I don’t feel well,” I said, and really meant it.
Edward ran and got a bucket and I put it to my face and heaved my dinner into it. Edward handed me some water. I humiliated myself in the bucket several more times as he held my hair.
“We’re staying,” he said. “I think you need to get off the boat for a bit.”
After an hour ashore, I insisted that we continue back to Port Angeles that night, and we made it back somewhere after midnight. I spent the rest of the sail sipping water and watching what I could of the horizon. I absolutely could not trust myself to stay on the boat overnight with him.
I felt like shit when we disembarked and Edward drove my car home. I think he felt responsible for making me sick. Somewhere on the way I fell asleep, still queasy. He woke me when we arrived at my house.
“I need to get you home,” I said. “You should have driven us to your house.”
“It’s okay, Carlisle is coming to pick me up here,” he said. “I’ll wait for him on the porch.”
“No,” I said. “Don’t be ridiculous. Come in.”
We went inside and sat at the kitchen table. I must have been some special shade of green, because he looked at me like I had the plague.
“You really look awful,” he said. “Maybe you should lie down and go to sleep. I can let myself out.”
“Edward, we have to talk,” I said.
“No, we don’t,” he said.
“We have to address what happened out there,” I said. “I have really screwed up. I should have had better boundaries with you. I am so sorry. For everything.”
“Stop,” he said. “You’re being too hard on yourself. You didn’t do anything wrong.”
“Yes I did,” I said, trying to keep myself from cracking. “I should never have taken that trip with you today.”
“The trip was fine until I ruined it,” he said. “We were having a great time.”
“I did have a great time,” I said. “That’s not the point. I was completely out of control with you.”
“Let’s not agonize over it, okay?” he said. “Nothing happened. You did nothing wrong, and nobody is ever going to know we were out today unless you tell them.”
“I don’t want you to keep secrets to protect me. That’s wrong.”
“Bella, please,” he said. “Do not make this a bigger deal than it is. You’re with Derek, right? You don’t have any real interest in me. It was just one of those things.” Did I really believe that? No. Not at all. But I didn’t say anything. “And to tell you the truth, I am interested in Mercy. I was just, I don’t know. Cold feet. So you don’t have to worry about me feeling anything I shouldn’t. We can just go back to how it was.”
“That’s such bullshit,” I said.
“Don’t be difficult,” he said, pissed off. “I’m trying to help you.”
“I need to report myself for misconduct. I should tell your parents. I’m going to talk to Principal Colter. I'll have to quit my job.”
“Absolutely not,” he said. “You can’t do that.”
We stared at each other silently, like some contest of wills. We both knew that the best course of action would involve impossibilities like time travel, erasing recent history and starting over from several months back. But there was this sense that no matter how many times we might go back in time and take a different road, they all led right here.
“Listen Bella, there’s more than just your conscience at stake here.”
What had I done to him? My mind raced, cluttered and useless as I tried to solve this problem, but it was too big for me. I couldn't remember ever fucking anything up quite this epically.
“Okay,” I said. “I won't turn myself in. But we can’t be around each other anymore.”
“I know,” he said. "The timing is just all wrong here."
Carlisle's car pulled into the driveway. We both heard it but Edward stood there, looking at me in that way of his where I know there is more he wants to say but never will. And there's even more that I can't say to him. Those things left unsaid become quiet, insistent drones of longing constrained by rules that can't be ignored, even though we sometimes cheat. But in this moment they embody truths that cannot be touched by words. Still they force our hands, pushing us to deeds we might not otherwise do if only we could name them.
"Thank you for the sail," I finally said. "The wind was really perfect."
"It was," he said, and paused as though considering whether to add more, but finally deciding against it. "Good night."
"Good night," I said, my stomach knotting itself as he opened the door and slipped out into the night where his father waited.