Rating: PG-13 for slight swearing... probably R in later chapters.
Characters/Pairings: Bella/Edward, Bella/Jacob
Short summary: AU, Edward never returned after New Moon. Bella is a sophomore at the University of Michigan (GO BLUE) and has been with Jacob for two years, when someone shows up.
Any warnings: Some language
Disclaimer: It all belongs to Stephie.
It was a surprisingly warm day for Michigan, I only needed a light jacket as I stepped out of my small house on East Ann. The small town of Ann Arbor was buzzing as it usually did on a Saturday afternoon, students slipping out of their impossibly small dorm rooms to clear their heads and get some fresh air. For years, I had lived in Phoenix, Arizona, and loved it. It was hot, scorching sometimes, sunny, and dry. On warmer days like these, I thought back fondly to the years my mother and I spent together there.
My housemates, Sydney and Katherine, appeared in the doorway, still in their pajamas. Sydney had her long red hair piled up in a bun on top of her head; Katherine wore an old pair of glasses with coke-bottle thick lenses. Neither would have been caught dead outside like this, and both looked rather bewildered.
"Bella, it's only ten in the morning," Katherine groaned. "Why are you up so early? How are you functioning?"
"I wasn't out all last night like some people," I chuckled. Katherine and Sydney were fairly notorious party girls. I was the complete opposite, but somehow, we all got along fabulously. We balanced each other out. "Plus, Jacob is visiting, remember?"
"Ohhh... well that explains it." Sydney chimed in, a grin spread across her freckled face. I blushed. I hadn't seen Jacob since August. I was aching to have my arms around him, to feel him next to me. Now that he was approaching his senior year in high school, he was starting to visit colleges, and UM was near the top of his list. I made him promise that it wasn't because of me, but I was still suspicious. I wanted him to be with me, but I did not want to be the main reason for his choice in education. Despite my worry, I was ridiculously excited. I could just see us together, galavanting around in the snow, our cheeks flushed. I was so in love with him, it was ridiculous.
I practically skipped down the stairs to my truck and hopped into the front seat, waving to Sydney and Kath as I revved the engine. Sydney winked at me as she shut the door. It felt as if nothing could go wrong on a day like this. I couldn't help but smile, even through the atrocious traffic on the way to Detroit Metropolitian. The radio was blasting, and I was singing along as I zipped down the highway. My stomach filled with butterflies and my pulse quickened as I got closer. I was pulling into the terminal parking lot when something caught my eye.
A silver Volvo with Washington plates was driving towards the other end of the lot. I stared, watching it turn the corner. I was frozen. Fear rushed through me, and I could feel the blood drain from my face. Just when I had started forgetting... A horn woke me from my trance and I screeched to a halt, just missing the side of a red Mazda. I looked back to the Volvo, but it was gone. No trace.
The man driving the Mazda was absolutely furious. Shit. I thought. Great job, Bella. I stuck my head out the window, apologizing profusely over and over again. I hadn't done either car any damage, but I felt stupid all the same. I shouldn't have let it get to me. The man gave me the finger and drove away. Shaken, I pulled into the first spot available and cut the engine. I stared at the wheel. Why did it matter? It was just a fucking Volvo, I thought. There are lots of silver Volvos in this world. But from Washington? I'm sure there's more than one in Washington. And I wasn't completely sure the plate even SAID Washington. It could have been Wisconsin. Something with a "W." I would not let myself think anymore on the subject. I thought of Jacob and smiled. I thought of his warm hands, messy, jet black hair, his loud, wonderful laugh. His smile. I hopped out of the truck and practically ran towards the terminal. The sooner I saw him, the better. I could NOT let myself dwell on what I had seen. The doors slid open in front of me, and there he was, waiting for me.
"Jacob," I breathed, and I flung myself around him, holding him tight. I never wanted to let him go. I could die here. He was so warm, so welcoming. He peeled me off of him, grinning his fabulous grin. He raised an eyebrow and cocked his head to the side.
"Since when are you so happy to see me?"
"Since I love you," I said. I had never imagined words like these falling out of my mouth. I was not a romantic girl... I had never squealed, giggled or cried at silly romantic comedies- I'd never seen The Notebook, much to the surprise of my girlfriends, who had been trying to force me to watch it ever since the fall of my freshman year. But I loved him, and I couldn't help it. I grinned.
"Let's bounce, shall we?"
We spent the car ride home laughing and dancing to the crappy songs on the radio. I asked him about Charlie, Billy, the boys at La Push. It felt like home, like I'd never left. We pulled up to my house.
"Welcome to Ann Arbor," I said. "Let's go inside."
"Go blue!" Jacob punched the air. We climbed up the front stoop and I called to Kathy and Sydney as I opened the door.
"We're here girls! I hope you're decent!" I heard a squeal and what sounded like a scramble to the bathroom.
"I need my contacts!" I heard Kathy hiss. Jacob and I stepped inside. Kathy was standing near the couch, squinting at us. I noticed her glasses were tossed onto the coffee table. I smirked.
"Katherine, meet Jacob. Jacob, Katherine." They shook hands.
"Sydney's in the bathroom," Kathy explained. "She's not in the best shape in the morning."
"Kathy... it's noon!"
"HEY JACOB!" I heard Sydney call from the bathroom.
"Hi Sydney." He chuckled.
"WE'RE TAKING YOU TWO TO DINNER TONIGHT!" she hollered.
"I have no problem with that. Food is always good." Jacob replied. I pulled him close to me and planted a kiss on his lips.
"Oh get a room," Kathy groaned.
"Gladly," I winked. I took Jacob's hand and pulled him into my room, shutting the door behind me.
We were at dinner, talking, laughing. Jacob and the girls got along great... though I have to admit, it seemed like Sydney was throwing herself at him. I inched closer to him and wove my fingers in with his. I couldn't help but be a little protective. We were all a little drunk, except for Jacob, who had begged me to order him a beer, but I refused. If you get in trouble here, I warned him, Billy will never let you come. He had accepted that, and instead found amusement in the silly antics of my roommates, who were now trying to tie cherry stems with their tongues. They were unsuccessful.
My eyes wandered towards the window, watching the snowflakes stick to the window sill outside, forming pretty patterns on the pane. I smiled, but my smile turned to shock when I saw someone standing there. I blinked, hoping it was just a hallucination, but when I opened my eyes he was still there. He was unmistakable.
Edward Cullen stood outside, motionless, his liquid gold eyes piercing mine, unrelenting, unforgiving. His expression was pained. He was pale, sallow... he looked almost unhealthy, but still impossibly beautiful. I wanted to touch him. To hold him. My limbs ached with longing as I tried to hold myself together. I excused myself, claiming I needed fresh air, I was a bit too tipsy.
I walked out of the restaurant slowly, bracing myself for my encounter. I opened the door... and there he was. We stood, staring at each other for a solid minute, neither able to believe that this was real.
"Bella..." he breathed. Hearing his voice broke me. I felt tears rush to my eyes and they started streaming down my face, uncontrollable. I turned on my heel and ran, knowing I would be unable to get away from him, but trying all the same. I only had gotten two blocks before he stopped me, pulling me into his arms in an unrelenting grasp. I was sobbing uncontrollably, grabbing and pulling at his sweater, wanting somehow to choke him, to kill him, to do the impossible. I felt like a helpless child, throwing a temper tantrum. I was burning with anger and desire at the same time, gasping for breath.
"LET GO OF ME!" I screamed. His loosened his grip and I fell to the ground, shaking. I sat against a stone wall, closed my eyes, and attempted to pull myself together. I kept my eyes closed and spoke.
"W... What do you want from me?" I managed to whisper. There was a painfully long silence.
"I don't... know." Edward said, barely audible. It was off-putting to hear those words from him. Edward had always seemed to have the answers. I was expecting to be convinced. I had braced myself for his words, expecting them to melt off his tongue and magically convince me to be with him. I wanted him to convince me. But he didn't.
"You don't fucking know? What do you mean you don't know?"
"You promised me... that I would NEVER see you again." I was angrier now. My face was red, my hands were sweaty and clammy.
"Is that all you can say. Edward? I'm glad you're acknowledging your fuck-up, but I can't take this. Please... leave." I didn't want him to. I wanted him to stay, but I had to be stronger than that.
"I'm not leaving, Bella."
"Shut the FUCK up Edward." He sighed.
"Okay, obviously you're not in a good state to talk right now, but Bella, look at me," he pleaded. Against my better judgement, I stared into his eyes. I melted. "Please, calm down and... come have a drink with me."
How could he? How could he come here after three years and expect me to walk with him willingly? I was insulted. I curled my fist and hit him square in the jaw as hard as I could. My bones cracked, and he flinched at the sound. I couldn't feet any pain... all I felt was anger. Pure hatred. I had always heard there was a fine line between love and hate, and now I knew how fine it actually was.
"I'm with Jacob Black, you know."
"Ah," he said. There was another painfully long silence. My head was spinning. "You love him, don't you?"
"Yes," I said. "I love him." I stared at my feet. I feared that if I looked into his eyes again, I would forget everything about Jacob that I loved. It was so easy to get lost in Edward's eyes, so easy to forgive him. I wasn't going to forgive him. Not this easily.
"And you're NOT? PLEASE Edward, I am NOT your damsel in distress. I do not need you to save me, or tell me that what I'm doing is dangerous."
"I'm not here to do that," he replied quietly. He plopped himself down against the wall beside me. He was so close to me. I remembered being lab partners back in high school, that electric current than ran so strongly between us. It was back. "I want to make amends."
"I'm not sure I can do that," I whispered, closing my eyes.
"I'm not sure you can either... but you can try, can't you?" There was urgency in his voice. "I'll be waiting tomorrow evening in front of the library. Come if you want, it's your choice. I will be there. If you decide otherwise... well, its supposed to be a nice night. I'll watch the stars."
I didn't look up, but I knew he was gone. The electricity had vanished. I suddenly felt utterly, painfully alone. I stared at the pavement. I didn't know how much time had passed. It felt like hours. Every second without him seemed to last forever... I had forgotten this feeling. I practically jumped out of my skin when my phone buzzed. Oh no. Jacob.
"Bella? BELLA where are you?" It was Jacob. The warmth in his voice filled my body.
"I'm just a few blocks away, I ran into somebody, I'm so sorry."
"I'm fine... I'll meet you back at the house. There's something I have to do."
"Okay then... we're bringing home some mac and cheese for you."
"Thanks Jake..." I took a deep breath. "I love you." It felt good to say it.
"I love you too, Bells. I'll see you at home."
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