It’s me this week, and I am happy to say that I just finished reading a story that was on a lot of people’s Favorite/Best of 2014 lists. It is a recently completed AU story. Michelle actually recd. it when it was a WIP here.
Author’s summary: Prompted by a feeling, Alice leads the Cullens back to Forks, but ten years is a long time in a brief human life. Edward’s wish for Bella to have a nice human life seems to have been fulfilled. Bella believes that once she loved a remarkable boy, but in the end he didn’t love her. Can Edward convince her she is wrong?
So it’s a New Moon AU story, but it doesn’t start until after 10 years has gone by. There are many reasons why this story is so special, and why I wanted to dedicate a whole post to it’s wonderfulness. The first reason is Bella has moved on, like married everything. To Mike Newton. Yeah, you read that right. I don’t normally like reading about Bella being with anyone other than Edward, but Mike’s not the bad guy in this story.
They have a good marriage, and Bella loved him.
Excerpt from Chapter 1:
Bella continued on in her happy, human life. She continued to work at the library while Mike tried to keep his family’s business afloat. It was the day after her 28th birthday she received word she would be working with a large donation to establish a children’s library.
Ten years is a long time in a brief human life. Bella was shocked to see the name associated with the donation only because she knew they didn’t usually leave a paper trail. She remembered they were generous, but veiled their gifts with various charitable organizations and trusts, so as not to be remembered individually over centuries of giving. Always the professional, she eagerly got to work, briefly wondering if they would attend the dedication ceremony.
This was not something Bella would lose sleep over. She rarely thought of the Cullens, of Edward, at all these days. Long ago Bella had taken the seed of his lie to heart where it had initially destroyed her, but over time it sprouted roots and began to grow into a new truth. The original seed had told her not only that she was unloved, but that she was unlovable. Soon it tempered to become nothing more than a solemn place in her heart she went to in moments of melancholy. Once she loved a remarkable boy, but in the end he didn’t love her.
I like that we are dealing with mature people. You know, grown ups. I have always been in the camp that Bella forgave Edward too easily. I know that she still loved him, but he took more than just her heart with him. He also took Alice and his whole family with him. I would have treaded more lightly with Edward, if it were me.
I totally love this Edward that Bled Dry created, because he also changed. Really matured himself. He is not perfect, and he admits this every change that he gets with Bella.
Excerpt from Chapter 5:
“You loved me so much you decided to break my fragile little girl heart and leave me to my own devices deep in the woods behind my house? Wow Edward, thanks. A girl could only be hope to be loved so much in her life.” Bella picked up her purse, this time without spilling its contents, as she stood. “On that note, have a nice life Edward Cullen. Tell the next girl you choose to love so much I wish her luck. She’s gonna need it.”
Edward rose with Bella, but instead of guiding her to the door he grabbed the purse from her hands and through it back down. “Jesus woman, you need to listen to what I am actually saying. For once in your god damned life just listen to what I am actually telling you.” Edward’s words were little more than a growl and he was close enough to Bella that her breasts would brush against his chest if she took a deep breath.
Which she did.
“Edward. I listened to what you said that day in the woods. Trust me. I believe the phrase you used was ‘I don’t want you’. So maybe for once in your god. Damned. Life. You need to listen to what you are actually saying.” Bella did not back away from Edward an inch, in fact she moved her face closer to his, in an primal challenge. Additionally she punctuated her sentence with finger jabs to his chest as she spit his own words back at him. “Now you need to back the fuck away so I can meet my husband for dinner.”
At that Edward grabbed her wrists.
“You are going to listen to me before I let you go. I was willing to crush myself so that you could have a shot. You have no idea how much I love you; you constantly underestimated my feelings for you. I used that against you. I was willing to leave you because I love you more than you could ever imagine.”
As Edward spoke he pulled Bella’s hands to his chest, pulling her even closer to him, his grip tightening.
“Are you trying to tell me you loved me the most? That our feelings for each other were some sort of pissing competition and you won?” Bella’s voice was little more than a disbelieving whisper.
“I’m trying to tell you that you have no idea how I felt about you. No idea how I feel. I loved you more-“
“Do you want it to be a competition? Do you want to approach this as a seventeen year old boy? You think you loved me more because you were willing to quit? To walk away? To hope I had a nice life without you? Well here is my submission; I loved you more because I was willing to fight for you. I didn’t want the easy way. I was willing to risk everything to be with you. You were a pussy and walked away when things got tricky, but I would have fought. I loved you more.”
“You would have fought for us? Where is the evidence of that?”
“You never gave me a chance, I had no idea where to find you.”
“That’s bullshit Bella. You believed my lie at first utterance. I thought I would have to at least convince you. You believed my lie and within the year you had fallen into a dog’s bed.”
Bella gasped as Edward gripped her even tighter, tears pricked her eyes. “Edward please… you’re hurting me.”
Edward’s hands instantly dropped, “I’m sorry.” His body sank down onto the couch. His hands replaced Bella’s wrists with his hair, he grabbed it and pulled his head down to his knees. “I just wanted to say sorry. I want to earn a place back in your life. And I keep making it worse. Do you remember what I said to you that day in the woods?” He let go of his hair and looked up, though his body remained slumped to his knees.
“You told me you didn’t want me.” Bella said as she sat beside him.
“I never said that; you did.”
“I was making a mess of it. I was trying to leave you, but the words weren’t coming, I couldn’t bring myself to actually say the words that would cut you out of my life forever. Each sentence I started I nearly ended with a confession of what I was really trying to do. Then you said it for me.”
And so starts the dance. Bella and Edward develop a friendship and working relationship that Mike is not too happy about, but the heart wants what the heart wants.
My favorite chapter has to be chapter 29 for a number of reasons, but I won’t post the whole thing, just a small part that brought me to tears.
“But now I’m ready. The blood lust is gone. When I’m with you, the monster I’d always fought is gone. In his place is just a man ‒ a man who loves you and wants to be with you with every fiber of who he is.” He’d meant to give Bella a push, but instead, he jumped over the cliff himself.
“Edward,” Bella hesitantly interrupted.
“Please, let me finish.” Edward smiled shyly. “I realize I’m ten years too late. I do. I just wanted you to know how I feel. You need to know what you have always been to me. You’re my mate. My heart. My soul. While we were apart, I was nothing. Regret doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings about leaving you. I know what I lost now. I know that I was a coward. I couldn’t see the man you saw in me. It was only when we were apart I saw what I’d lost in myself. I’m not going to say that leaving you wasn’t a mistake, but I’m not sure if I would’ve ever come to discover this without it. I was always secure in my love for you. I always thought, though, that one day you’d see the real me and you’d be gone. I didn’t understand I was only the real me when I was with you.”
Edward took a moment to compose himself. The biological urge to sob was momentarily overwhelming.
I know that I’m not surprising anybody to say that they do end up together. What surprised me was how it came to be, the push and pull Bella felt, and there was a twist that I truly didn’t see coming. The Cullens come back to Forks because of Alice seeing something bad, and we finally get to see what that was.
I will also say this, if I had been smart enough to read this story last year, it would be have been on my Favorite list as well.