We sat on the small stoop to the house, silence stretching between us as if all these years weren't enough to separate us. Her hair was long, curling and twisting it's way down her neck and back; I was surprised to see some of it tucked beneath her as she sat down. The colors of her were vibrant; her eyes a deeper and more honey-tinted brown than I remembered them being, her hair had lost the soft red hues and had gained ones that matched the hues of her eyes. Her lips were a plump blush and her skin, though pale, had a glow to it that I had never seen before.
Perhaps I was just over-analyzing everything; it had been more than a decade since I'd laid eyes on her last. She was stunning and it was hard to rip my gaze off of her. She had her cigarette resting between her lips, hanging there as if it were the most natural thing in the world, and she was leaning back on her palms to look up at the sky. She exhaled puffs of smoke from her nose and it billowed out around her, tainting the smooth swirls of smoke from the burning end of her cigarette. Silence suited her, I noted, it gave her a sense of mystery that had me captivated. The silence of her mind as a human had always been fascinating; but looking at her now, seeing this unbearably gorgeous creature, and not hearing a word or a thought or a heartbeat... Something about it broke my heart.
"So who changed you?" The question slipped out of my mouth, and I honestly hadn't even really thought about asking. The curiosity was there, granted, but it seemed dangerous to bring up things in such a settled quiet. She didn't make a single move, she didn't blink or breathe or glance at me. It was disturbing how in control of herself she seemed to be these days.
"James." Her voice was even, untouched my emotion until the very end of his name. Something changed, there was a pain behind her voice that would have gone unnoticed by anyone else. Anyone except me.
I knew my girl.
"What happened?" It was a simple question, I thought at least. She turned her eyes to me as if she were surprised and I wondered why. It was a normal question, correct? Was I insane?
"I came here."
She narrowed her eyes at me suspiciously. I perked my right brow at her, truly at a loss about her distrust. As far as I knew, the conversation was progressing naturally.
"Because of you, actually."
"Me?" That was unexpected.
"What did I have to do with it?"
"What did I have to do with it?" I suppose it was a simple question, perhaps even warranted. I had conceded that it had something to do with him, logically that gave him a right to ask.
But it hurt.
"You left me when I was convinced I couldn't live without you. If I'm being honest with myself, I don't want to spend another ten years getting over someone if I can somehow prepare myself for it now. I left because I was growing too..." I couldn't think of the word; it was there, on the tip of my tongue, but it seemed like it was a different language. "Attached." I sighed inwardly, this was not a conversation I felt like having.
"So you were together?" I heard the misery in his voice and, frankly, I didn't care. I'd been in pain before and he hadn't been sympathetic. A little reality would do him some good.
"For the past ten years."
"Wow." It was an automatic response, breathy and shocked. I could practically hear him wondering if our time together had meant anything in comparison.
I was beginning to question that too. I'd thought it hadn't.
It was my ninth day in Greece and I was sitting at a small table in a midnight cafe. I hadn't thought they existed but Edward had brought me here. I assumed it was meant as a surprise, something to bring me joy. I wasn't that impressed. It was quiant, which was nice, but the whole "bring a girl to a small cafe" thing had been done already.
I ordered a BLT sandwich and a glass of water. When the waitress brought it back and I began eating it, Edward stared at me as if I'd sprouted two heads. He held his glass of soda in his hand, though he never drank out of it, as a way to appear normal. The BLT was delicious.
The conversation was minimal during our small outing, I wasn't fond of talking about things in public. You never knew who could be listening, and that bothered me. Once I finished eating, Edward and I swapped drinks. I sipped his for a while to make it appear that both of them had been enjoyed. Edward tricked the waitress into letting him pay for the whole bill and I shot daggers at him with my eyes.
This was not a date.
We left the small cafe and went for a walk through town, heading down towards the pier until we sat with our feet dangling over the water. It wasn't home, but the water soothed me slightly. The tension had almost disappeared between Edward and I; while there was still something of an unresolved relationship left, we were on friendly terms. We joked casually back and forth about things but it was hard to start topics of any real depth.
As we stared out at the water, sprinkled with the reflections of the stars, I found myself thinking about Alice and the strange reaction she'd had to me. I desperately wanted to know.
"So why has Alice been giving me the cold shoulder?"
"She thought you were dead when she stopped being able to see you."
"So she's treating me like I'm dead."
"She has trouble dealing with things she can't see coming, doesn't she?"
Edward rolled his shoulders and frowned, "I suppose you could call it that. Yeah." He looked at me out of the corner of his eye, a soft smile replacing the frown. "She'll get passed it, just give her some time."
We let the quiet envelope us again, just listening to the gentle movement of the water and the subtle hum of the city behind us. Some restless part of me calmed and settled and I wasn't sure why. The thought that maybe Edward had been what I was missing, what I'd left to find was floating around in my head for the past few days. It was hard to ignore.
What was harder was my desperate desire to go home.
"I'm leaving soon," I said. He turned to look at me again, his face a mask of casual interest.
"Going home to James?"
I shrugged casually, not opening my mouth to confirm his question. It wasn't that I was unsure of where I was going, something just felt wrong about answering.
His voice interrupted my personal gibberish, soft and melodic and threatening to reopen my chest for his curious hands to wiggle around in. "Bella?"
I turned my face to him, expecting him to tell me what he wanted to say once I acknowledged him.
I'd intended to ask her if she loved him, intended to break my own heart one more time. I'd hoped it would help me walk away. I hoped it would help me let go.
She didn't need me pulling her back into a life she'd let go of. I wanted her happy, if he made her happy I would bow out.
Her eyes lifted and met mine. I had a sensation of falling into something I would never get out of, an endless pit of effort and failure. I leaned forward unconsciously, inch by inch until her sweet breath was on my face. Instinctively, I pressed my lips against hers firmly. I felt my lower body scoot closer, every inch craving a nearer proximity to her. My hands went up and tangled in her hair at the base of her neck, I pulled her forward, closer to me and harder against my lips. She didn't fight me and the surprise of that knowledge propelled me further.
The momentum was building and I had the terrifying thought that it would destroy us both.