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The Invisible Wife

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I shouldn't be feeling like this. I know it's wrong. I have absolutely every reason to be happy…a husband, three children, and a gorgeous home. I don't have to work, so I'm free to devote myself and my time to my family and friends. So why do I feel like I don't matter, like no one even sees me, and that if I were to disappear…no one would even bother to notice.

I used to be a happy person. I used to smile and see the joy in life. Now I force the smiles and fake the laughs. I'm not quite sure how things got like this, and I don't know how to fix it. I just want to be able to care again, feel something…anything other than sad and worthless. Maybe I should try talking to Edward again. I tried once but he was so caught up in his work I don't even think he heard me…

"Edward please…can't you see that I'm unhappy? I feel like I'm dying inside." I plead with him, watching as my husband barely pays me any attention as he continues to read over some new research report in our home office.

Sighing, Edward looks up at me. "What could possibly be so wrong in your life that you're unhappy Isabella? I work damn hard to provide for you and the kids. You have everything you could ever want. You don't have to work and we have a staff who maintains our home so you don't have to. Your days are free to do with as you please. Do you know how many people would kill to trade places with you Isabella? Just be thankful that you have such a good life, stop whining, and more importantly stop wasting my time over this trivial nonsense."

"Edward, you don't understand. I'm lonely. I feel like you don't even remember I exist half the time. You're either at work or on some business trip or locked up here in your office. The only time I see you is when we are at some event for the kids. I miss my husband. I need you back." I try to fight back the tears, but they fall anyway. I just want to scream at him, he won't even look at me when I'm talking with him, trying to get him to see that I need him to make me feel loved again, feel important. He doesn't look though, I don't even know if he heard me.

"Bella, if you're that lonely why don't you spend more time with Alice and Rosalie."

I wish I could make him see, the girls are too busy with their own lives. Rosalie never was one who was easy to talk to and she just opened up her third restaurant here in LA, and Alice just had the twins a few months back. My parents, well, all they tell me is to be a better wife and be thankful I have it so good so it's not like I could go seeking advice from them either.

"You know Alice has her hands full with the babies right now and Rosalie is far too busy with the restaurant having just opened."

Looking up at me, Edward huffs as he pulls his glasses off his face and tosses them on the desk.

"Then I'll buy you a puppy Isabella." He grits through his teeth, clearly getting frustrated by me trying to have an actual conversation with him. A tense silence settles over us for a moment as he just stares at me. "Is that all?" He questions, effectively dismissing me.

I knew he wouldn't listen or understand, so I don't know why I'm so upset by how he reacted. I rush out of his office, shutting the door behind me and head to my room where I lock myself away for the next hour as I cry. I cry for myself for feeling how I do, I cry because I feel like I've lost my husband, and I cry because I'm not quite sure how much more of this I can take…something has to give.

Two days after that train wreck of a conversation, I woke up to the sounds of a soft whimpering and scratching sound. Getting out of bed, I found that as usual Edward has already left for the day but sitting on the floor at the foot of the bed was a golden retriever puppy in a box with a red satin bow around its neck. Attached to the bow was a note, scrawled in Edward's messy handwriting that said "Hopefully now that there is another girl in the house you won't feel so lonely." I wasn't sure how to feel about what Edward wrote on the note, but I fell in love with that puppy all the same, and named her Clara.

Edward…my husband…I love him, really I do. I just wish he would actually pay attention to me once in a while, make me feel like I'm important to him. He hasn't made me feel like that since before Michael, our middle child was born. Edward worked for his father's company, Cullen Pharmaceuticals, or CP as it was more commonly known within the industry. Edward used to travel for work a lot, talking at doctors conventions and such trying to get more clients for his father. Most of the time I would travel with him, and we always managed to have fun together even though Edward was working.

Once I had our first son, Elliott, I started staying home when Edward would have to travel. We had both agreed it wouldn't be the greatest idea to travel with a baby, but every time Edward came back home to us was wonderful. He would look at me and Elliott like we were the only two things in his world. He would not only tell me he loved me, but would show me every chance he got, taking me out on romantic dinners, or just bringing flowers home for me at the end of the day. They would always be sunflowers, because I was the sun that lit up Edward's world. At least that's what he used to tell me…

Pulling up to the house after dropping Elliott off at school, my heart skips a beat. His car is here…Edward is home. I can't help the smile that breaks across my face as I rush to shut the car off and get inside the house. I have missed him so much. He had been away for a week in Georgia for some conference, but from what he said when we talked over the phone, everything had gone really well and Edward had managed to secure eight new clients for CP.

Bursting through the front door, I see my gorgeous husband waiting for me, holding a huge bouquet of sunflowers for me. How he always managed to find them, even when they were out of season was beyond me. In an instant, the flowers are left on the table by the door and Edward has me scooped up in his arms, peppering my face with kisses as he tells me how much he missed me. As much as I hated when he had to travel for work, I always loved the homecomings.

Edward carries me down the hall to our room and gently places me on the bed. "I missed you Bella" he whispers, his eyes full of love as he looks at me.

"I missed you too Edward" I murmur back before kissing him. We take our time with each other, reconnecting, our hands roaming and recommitting each other's bodies to memory before making love for most of the morning. Realizing the afternoon is drawing close and that Elliott would need to be picked up from school soon, I move to get up and get dressed. Edward reaches for me, pulling me back into his embrace as he nuzzles and kisses my neck.

"I missed you so much Isabella. I hate when I have to leave you and Elliott for work." He softly says into my ear.

Bringing my hand up and caressing his cheek, I tell him "I know Edward. But I know you love your job and Elliot and I will always be here waiting to welcome you home."

Placing a quick kiss on his lips, I hop out of the bed, head into the closet and throw on some clothes. Walking back into the room, I toss some clothes towards Edward, who is still lying in bed, a lazy smile on his face.

After getting dressed, Edward wraps me in his arms as he says "I love you baby. You're the best thing that ever happened to me."

Turning in his arms, I give him a kiss, but quickly end it, knowing that we have to leave soon to get Elliott from school so that we won't be late.

"I love you too Edward…always." I whisper in reply. "Now come on, let's go pick up our son. I'm sure he'll be excited to see that his Daddy is home.

Right around the time that Elliott turned six, Edward's father died, and he took over the business. He started staying at work longer, and going away on longer business trips, but I understood. Edward was determined to make a name for himself. He didn't want to ride on the coattails of his father's reputation. Edward worked so hard, and he managed to not only prove himself, but took CP to new heights, expanding the company to an international level. I was so proud of him for all he had accomplished. He was happy, and it made me happy to see him be so successful.

Shortly after the company's expansion, I got pregnant with Michael. That's when things started to change. Edward was happy about having another child and seemed proud about having another boy, but for the most part I was on my own during the pregnancy. My friends Alice and Rosalie helped with decorating the nursery. Edward didn't even know which room it was in until I went into labor and he needed to go grab the car seat to take with us to the hospital.

Edward had pulled away as my pregnancy progressed. I chalked it up to a combination of my hormones being out of whack and Edward just being busy with trying to take CP public on the stock market. It just seemed to me that for the most part, I only saw Edward on doctor appointment days or evenings when there was some gala or charity event that we were supposed to attend, and even then, it wasn't like it used to be. Once Michael was born though, it seemed like everything was good again. Edward doted on me and the baby, he smiled all the time, and he even took time off of work. He took off a full month after the baby was born, and then for the second month, worked from home. I thought things were finally getting better. I was wrong.

Edward seemed frustrated with me all the time, complaining about how I ran the house. He didn't realize how hard it was to take care of things when you are juggling an eight year old and a six month old, plus trying to maintain a six bedroom home and put dinner on the table. I had always prided myself on taking care of our home by myself. I never liked the idea of having someone else clean my house, especially when I knew I could take care of it myself, at least until I couldn't anymore…according to Edward that is.

We were supposed to be having several of the board members from CP over for dinner. Elliott was in the middle of a solar system project for school and Michael was sick with a cold and running a fever. In the midst of it all I lost track of time and forgot to get everything ready. Edward had left work early that day and came home to find me covered in paint and glitter glue trying to soothe a crying Michael, and Elliott had all of his things for his project spread across the dining room and kitchen. I had been so busy looking after Michael and then helping Elliott that I hadn't had a chance to even clean up the kid's stuff that was all over the house, let alone start dinner.

I look up, startled as I hear the front door slam shut. I check the clock and it finally dawns on me that today was the dinner with the board members. Edward told me he would be home early and he needed me to make sure the house was cleaned up and that the dinner was prepared for our guests. Nervously, I meet his gaze and I can see the anger written across his face. I try to stutter out some sort of an apology but am quickly cut off by Edward telling me one thing…"Don't." His voice is menacing, and I know better than to even try to explain at this point.

Quickly, I try to make the best of things and start trying to pick up the clothes, toys and various other things that are strewn about the den, kitchen, and dining room. In my rush to get as much done as possible I hear Edward talking to Elliott.

"Hey Buddy" he says, in a much happier tone than the one he addressed me with. "Mommy and I have people from my work coming over for dinner. Do you think you could be a super helper and take your project to your room to work on for now? I promise either me or Mom will help you with it later on if you need us to."

"Sure Dad" Elliott replies. He loves his father, and is always willing to do anything for him. I watch as Edward helps Elliott move his things to his room and then stop in Michael's room to check on him before coming back into the dining room where I am. I swear I can feel the tension rolling off of him. I listen as he calls a catering company, who after being told that Edward would pay triple the normal cost, agree to have dinner ready at the house by seven. After he gets off the phone with the caterer, he calls a maid service and offers them an obscene sum of money if they can send a crew to the house right away and have it ready before our guests arrive at six. Once he's off the phone, he just stares at me, his face devoid of any emotion, his demeanor eerily calm.

"Seriously Isabella?" He demands. "One night. I need you to take care of things for one night and you can't do that for me? You know how important these dinners with the board can be. Are you deliberately trying to ruin me?"

"Edward, I'm sorry. I just…with Michael's cold and trying to help Elliott with his project…"

"Just stop, Isabella!" he yells. "Clearly you can't handle taking care of everything at home, and now I've been left to clean up your mess like always. After tonight we are hiring a permanent house staff to take care of things. This is not open for discussion. I will not have your forgetfulness and incompetence ruining everything I've worked so hard for. You can take care of the children…unless you start screwing that up too and make me hire a nanny."

I don't know what to say or how to respond. My apologies will only fall on deaf ears. My vision blurs from the tears, and no matter how fast I try to wipe them away, they just keep falling even quicker. Edward's words have cut straight to my heart. I feel like the disappointment that Edward clearly thinks I am.

"Isabella stop crying, get Elliott and Michael settled for the evening and then go get ready for dinner. Our guests will be here in a few hours." Edward tells me, his voice cold and distant.

Afraid of getting him even more upset, I just nod and leave the room to go and do as I'm told.

I guess that's when I started feeling different. I felt so bad about almost ruining Edward's dinner. I tried apologizing afterwards, but he just dismissed the issue, saying it was done and over with already. But it wasn't done, he managed to find ways to remind me of how I failed him, how he had to come and clean up the mess I made. I felt like a failure. I had always been able to make Edward happy and take care of our home and now it seemed like I couldn't any more. I tried talking to Alice and Rosalie, but it seemed like they didn't understand or couldn't be bothered with my problem. Alice just told me to brush it off, that Edward was probably just having a stressful time at work, and that I should be happy about not having to worry about taking care of the house anymore. Rosalie just told me to talk to Edward about it since it was mine and his problem and not hers.

I tried to make the best of things, but each day when the staff showed up it was like it was a reminder of my failure, my weakness that I couldn't take care of my own house. Edward was staying later and later at work too so I was barely even seeing him anymore. It was as though we were just two people living in the same house. At one point we went three weeks without even seeing each other, and another time we went almost two months without even exchanging so much as a hello. He was always a good father though, and made sure he made time for the boys, took them places, and showed up for all of their important school events. It was as if he had forgotten all about me, as if everything else overshadowed me, and I was just lost somewhere in the background. I felt invisible.

Chapter Text

The more time that passed, the further Edward and I drifted apart. I was desperate for us to reconnect. I loved my husband and I knew that deep down he loved me too, we just seemed to have gotten lost along the way. I tried talking to my parents about it but all they told me was to make the best of things, that no marriage was perfect, and that I shouldn't talk about my feelings the way I was because airing my dirty laundry like that wasn't appropriate. I was so afraid of losing Edward. I couldn't imagine life without him. We had known each other all of our lives, and had been together since we were sixteen years old…

I was so excited about tonight…junior prom…and Edward was going as my date. We've known each other since kindergarten, and have been the best of friends. He was the one person who really understood me, who knew all my secrets and I knew all of his. He was the only person I felt like I could truly be myself around, but now I want more with him. I've felt like this for a while, every time he looks at me, or smiles or laughs I get butterflies in my stomach. Rose and Emmett tell me that he likes me too, but I'm not sure. I did decide though I'm going to tell him tonight, I just hope it doesn't cost me our friendship.

I picked out a purple dress for tonight, Edward always told me I looked pretty in purple. Looking out the window, I see Edward's car pull up and I try to look calm even though I rushed to the door. Just as he climbs the front steps, I open the door and can't help the cheesy grin that creeps across my face when I see how handsome he is. He's even wearing a purple tie to match my dress.

After he places my corsage on my wrist, my parents take what seems like hundreds of pictures of us before we leave and head off to the prom. Just as he helps me into the car I hear him whisper that I look beautiful. I can tell by the look in his eyes that he means it, and for the first time ever, I truly feel beautiful. Not because I was dressed up, not because some boy said it, but because it was Edward…he made me feel beautiful, and no matter what else happened, I would always remember this.

All night long, I keep trying to get enough nerve to tell Edward how I feel, but the timing never seems right, plus Edward seems nervous about something and a little standoffish. He's still a perfect gentleman, dancing with me throughout the night, and we manage to have fun, but I can tell that something is up with him.

Before I know it the prom is over and we're back in Edward's car heading back to his house. Our parents agreed to letting us have a small group of our friends get together afterwards, and Edward's parents gave the okay to use his house. Hearing the crunch of the gravel beneath the tires snaps me out of my thoughts and I realize I need to talk to Edward before everyone else shows up.

Edward parks the car in the garage and we head inside. We get to the living room, sit on the couch, and I take I final breath to try to calm myself before speaking.

"Edward…can I talk to you about something?" I ask nervously.

"Sure Bella. I um…I actually wanted to talk to you about something too." He replies, trying to avoid eye contact.

His wanting to talk to me makes me worry. Does he already know what I'm going to say? Is he freaked out? Does he not want to be friends anymore now that he knows? The little confidence I had built up leaves me in an instant, and I do the only thing I can think of…I ask him to talk first.

"Oh, umm well…you can go first Edward." I mumble.

He starts to say that I should go first but the look on my face and my shaking my head convince him to just talk. Taking my hand in his, he begins to speak as I try to contain the giddy feeling I have from him holding my hand.

"We've been friends a long time Isabella, and I don't think there's anyone who knows me better than you. I love that I get to call you my best friend but…" he trails off, seemingly struggling with his words, and I try to brace myself for whatever he's going to say next.

"…but I want more. I want to be able to call you my girlfriend." Edward whispers the last part so low I'm not sure I hear him. He wants me to be his girlfriend? I can't help myself and launch into his arms, hugging him tightly. Edward seems caught off guard by my actions, but hugs me anyway. Neither of us say anything for a while, but finally he moves me so that I'm looking at him.

"I take it that was a yes to being my girlfriend?" He chuckles.

"Nothing would make me happier Edward" I whisper back to him.

We were so happy together in the beginning, and for a long while afterwards. Edward was my perfect match. He could complete my sentences, and I could complete his. We always seemed to know what the other was thinking. Then again, things were much simpler when we were sixteen, back before having to juggle three kids and a home, before Edward had to run a Fortune 500 company, before everything fell apart and I was left feeling like a failure. We were both lucky enough to come from well off families so we didn't have to work, our parents gave us everything we wanted or needed.

Our biggest worry was making sure we did well on the SATs. The summer before senior year of high school was amazing, and the school year flew by for us too. We were even luckier because our parents seemed more than pleased that Edward and I had gotten together. Before we knew it we were heading off to college. Edward and I agreed that we didn't want to be separated from each other. We applied to the same schools, eventually deciding on Stanford. Most people will say their best memory of college is the day they graduate, but not me. Mine would always be the night in May of our freshman year, the night of our two year anniversary, when Edward asked me to be his wife…

Walking hand in hand with Edward, I snuggle closer into his arms as I think about everything he did for me tonight. The flowers, the romantic dinner, playing his guitar and singing for me. It was the perfect way to spend our anniversary. I still can't believe we've been dating two years. It seems like just yesterday that we were at our prom and he asked me to be his girlfriend. As far as I was concerned, it was the best decision I had ever made.

After dinner, Edward asked if I'd like to go for a walk in the park near campus, which led us to being here now, watching as the sun set. This park had become our spot over the course of the school year, Edward and I spending weekends here studying together or just relaxing. This place held so many good memories for us. Leaning into Edward, I kiss him on his cheek.

"I love you Edward. Thank you for such a perfect night." I whisper to him.

Stopping us in our tracks, Edward turns to fully face me as he speaks.

"Anything for you Bella, I love you. Being with you these two years has made me happier than I ever thought possible. I know we're still young Isabella, but I can't see my future without you. I don't want a future if I can't have you by my side. I want it all with you."

Edward drops to one knee and pulls out a box, opening it to reveal a diamond ring, causing me to feel as though the wind has been knocked out of my lungs. As I try to breathe, I feel the salt on my lips from the tears that are streaming down my face from the sweet things Edward has been saying, and the reality of what he's doing now.

"Isabella Swan, I love you. I don't want to spend another day without you. I promise to spend every day of the rest of my life showing you just how much I love you and just how much you mean to me. Will you marry me?"

My mind is reeling from the fact that Edward has just proposed and as I look at him, he looks so nervous waiting for my answer, like he's about to throw up or pass out or maybe both.

"Yes" I whisper. "Yes, I'll marry you Edward" I say again, more confidently this time since Edward seems to not have heard my first yes. As soon as he realizes my answer, he places the ring on my left ring finger and scoops me up into a hug, spinning me around as he peppers my face with kisses. I've never been happier than I am in this moment, and can't believe how lucky I am to be able to call Edward mine for the rest of our lives.

"Bella, you've made me the happiest man in the world tonight" he tells me as we head back towards campus. We walk back to my dorm in relative silence, the only things we manage to say to each other is an occasional murmured "I love you." There's so much I want to say in this moment – I want to tell Edward how happy he has made me, how much he means to me, and how lucky I feel for getting to call him mine, but I can't seem to form the words. I can only smile as I look at the ring on my finger as I try to wrap my head around the fact that I'm engaged, that Edward isn't my boyfriend anymore, he's my fiancé.

Our families were over the moon for us when they found out we were engaged. We agreed to remain engaged for two years, and decided to get married before senior year started. It seemed fitting seeing as we became a couple before our senior year of high school, that we would become husband and wife before our senior year of college. Everything seemed to be going perfectly for us. Edward and I had job offers waiting for us after we graduated, Edward working for his father's company, and me working as an art teacher at a private elementary school. Our wedding was absolutely perfect and everything I could have ever dreamed it to be. Every time I look at our wedding photo hanging on the wall in our bedroom, I think of how happy we were then, how carefree.

Looking back now though, I wish I could speak to my younger self, warn her of what lie ahead if only to make sure she was better prepared to handle it all, because I know that at the time if anyone would have told me just how far Edward and I would fall, just how far apart we would become…I never would have believed it. I thought Edward and I would always be happy together, I just never realized how wrong I was to think that, and I never would have thought that in reality, I would be left feeling more alone and isolated than I ever thought possible, questioning if my husband, the love of my life, still loved me or even knew that I existed anymore.

Chapter Text

I had always wanted to be a mother. Elliott was definitely a surprise for Edward and I, as I ended up pregnant with him right around our second wedding anniversary. Edward and I had enough money between both of our trust funds so that it wasn't a big deal for me to stop working once I found out I was pregnant. Edward was excited beyond belief about becoming a father. We did everything together from the doctor's appointments, to decorating the nursery, to the Lamaze classes and reading all of the books about pregnancy. He was the perfect father to be. Once Elliott was born, Edward was the perfect father and was more than helpful with diaper changes and 3 am feedings.

We both wanted to have more children, but decided to wait until Elliott was older and in school. As much as we loved our child, the thought of having more than one under the age of five running around the house was more than either of us could handle. Once Elliott started school, we decided to start trying again, but things got put on hold once Edward's father died and he had to take over Cullen Pharmaceuticals. Edward was busy doing damage control from his father's unexpected departure and trying to establish himself as the new head of the company.

Edward was working hard, and eventually it all paid off. He managed to expand CP internationally, and one night in the midst of our "celebrating" his success, the condom was forgotten. I was ecstatic to be pregnant again, and at first Edward seemed pleased as well. We both knew it was a bit of a crazy time for me to be having another child, but we still thought of it as a blessing. Edward seemed happy to know we were having another boy but it seemed however, that Edward's excitement would end there. As supportive as Edward was when I was pregnant with Elliott, he seemed to be the complete opposite with Michael…

"Thank you guys so much for helping" I say as I turn and face Alice and Rosalie. Looking around the now completed nursery, everything looks absolutely perfect. I'm glad the nursery is finally done, and not a moment too soon since my due date is about a week away.

"It's no problem hun. We were more than happy to help" Alice tells me as she offers me a hug.

"Bella you know we were happy to help you get the nursery ready, but how come Edward didn't help this time? When you were pregnant with Elliott he was barely letting you lift a finger to do anything." Rose asks.

As soon as the question is out of her mouth, I look away. I don't know what to say to my friends, how to explain that Edward has been so distant with this pregnancy.

"Oh Rose, you know how busy he is now that he's running things at CP. He barely has time to breathe anymore." I try to explain, trying to convince myself that what I'm saying is the truth, when I know it's a lie.

Shortly after we found out we were having another boy, Edward started pulling away. He would smile when the baby was mentioned, but he never asked about the doctors' appointments or anything like he did with Elliott. I would tell him about them and he would always just say that he couldn't come to the appointments because he had some business meeting that he couldn't miss, but personally I couldn't wrap my head around the idea that playing a round of golf with board members was more important than the doctor's appointment. After all was said and done, I think he only made it to half of the appointments, and even then he was usually late. When it came time to start the nursery he just told me to use the credit card to buy whatever I wanted and choose whichever room that I wanted for the nursery.

Sighing, I shake myself out of my thoughts and look over to Rose and Alice, glad to see that they seem to have believed the lie.

"OK girls, I think we've all worked hard enough. What do you say I order us some food and we relax for a while?" I suggest to the two of them. They readily agree and we head off to the kitchen to sort through the take out menus.

Several hours later, I'm awoken from my sleep when I feel my water break. I shake Edward awake telling him the baby is coming. It takes him a moment to realize what I'm saying, but once he does, he kicks into action…getting dressed, calling our friends and family, and arranging for one of them to come and stay with Elliott.

Edward helps me out of the bed and grabs my bag that I packed for the hospital. Just before we go to head downstairs to leave, I remind Edward to grab the baby's car seat and bag from the nursery. Nodding his head, he runs halfway down the hall before turning around and coming back to me.

"Which room is Michael's nursery babe?" Edward asks.

I try to fight back the tears, but my voice cracks when I answer him, telling him it's the room across the hall from Elliott's. Edward's question just reminds me of how distant he's been, that he doesn't even know which room will belong to our new son. Edward hears the change in my voice and sees the tears building up and asks what's wrong, but I play it off as just pain from a contraction, not wanting to start an argument about how he hasn't been an active participant in this pregnancy or marriage for the past six months.

We make our way downstairs, promising Rose and Emmett that we'll call them as soon as the baby is born so they can bring Elliott to meet his little brother. Edward helps me into the car before getting in himself and speeds off towards the hospital, steering with one hand while the other holds mine the entire way. As we drive, I look at him and I can see the excited smile on his face.

"I love you Isabella, always. Thank you for giving me another son." He says as he briefly looks towards me before refocusing his eyes on the road. His words are touching, and I can tell by the way he looks at me that he means everything he said. I can only hope that things are beginning to change, starting to go back to how they used to be.

We get to the hospital and are quickly moved up to the maternity wing and into a room. Shortly after we arrive our families show up and the doctor checks me, letting me know I probably had another hour or two before I would need to push. After several hours and lots of pushing, screaming, and crying, Michael Carlisle Cullen is born. Edward and I couldn't be happier, and I let my own tears flow freely as I watch my husband holding our new son as he looks at me with tears in his own eyes as he whispers softly to me "Thank you."

Once we brought Michael home, it seemed like everything was good again. Edward doted on me and the baby, he smiled all the time, and he even took time off of work. Edward took off a full month after the baby was born, and then for the second month, worked from home. I thought things were finally getting better. I was wrong. Once Edward started going back into the office, things slowly went back to how they were before the pregnancy. He worked long hours only to come home and continue working in the home office. I saw him briefly…in the mornings on his way to work, occasionally at meal times, or when we had required social events or school events for Elliott.

While Edward was home, it was easy to handle things around the house. He would watch Michael while I straightened up the house or would he would help Elliot with his homework so I could get dinner started. On weekends he would even take care of the boys so I could rest for a while. I guess he just didn't realize how hard it was to try and juggle everything on my own. Once Edward went back to working, I was the one who had to do everything…taking care of Michael, the house, helping Elliott with his school work, making sure dinner was on the table, running all the errands. It was a lot to handle, but I loved every minute it. I felt like I was born to be a mother, and I was finally coming to terms with the fact that Edward had said he didn't want more children, that he thought our two sons were enough.

Of course the house wasn't always perfect or dinner was a little late getting to the table, but all in all, the kids were happy and healthy, and Edward didn't complain too much so I thought I was doing a good job as a wife and mother. At least until the dinner debacle when Michael was six months old. That's when everything that I thought might be fixable came tumbling down. Sure Edward and I had had our share of arguments in the past, what couple doesn't, but this time was different. He said things, truly hurtful things that made me question every belief I held about myself, and he yelled at me, screamed at me really. It's a wonder that Elliott never heard any of it, but luckily as far as the kids and the public eye were concerned, mommy and daddy were still a perfectly happy couple. Things changed drastically after that fight. Every time something, no matter how small it was went wrong, Edward made sure to remind me of how incompetent I was, and how he always had to clean up my messes for me.

Eventually it became as if we were just two people living in the same house. At one point we went three weeks without even seeing each other, and another time we went almost two months without even exchanging so much as a hello. And although Edward was always a good father, and made sure he made time for the boys, took them places, and showed up for all of their important school events, it was as if he had forgotten about me, as if I no longer even existed on his radar. My biggest fear was losing my husband. I had always had him by my side, and didn't know what I would do without him, but enough was enough…I finally had to give in to the possibility that my marriage was dead and that I needed to try to move on without Edward.

Chapter Text

My parents were never really the understanding sort. When you come from families like mine and Edward's, you learn at a very young age how important your public image is. All my parents cared about was how we looked to the outside world. Problems were swept under the rug or money got thrown at them to make them disappear. I never saw my parents really be loving or affectionate towards each other. I think theirs was a marriage that happened only because my grandparents saw it as an acceptable match. Looking back now, the one true kindness my parents ever showed me was allowing me to marry for love.

Both of our families came from old money. Edward's father used the family fortune to found Cullen Pharmaceuticals, and as far as my family's money was concerned, it came from well-placed stock market purchases and business deals. Daddy was smart enough to invest his trust fund money in Apple early on and made a pretty profit from the investment. Suffice it to say that Edward and I wouldn't ever have to work a day in our lives if we didn't want to.

Coming from money carries certain responsibilities with it. Because of our financial status, we're expected to act a certain way, and associate with certain kinds of people. Our families are the ones who are always at charity galas, go to church every Sunday, and grace the society pages in the newspapers. I hated growing up that way. I was always so worried about pleasing my parents and doing the right thing and being perfect, that I'm surprised I didn't end up developing a severe case of OCD along the way. I guess that's why I should have known how my parents were going to react when I finally went to talk to them about the problems that I saw in my marriage to Edward.

"Isabella," my mother huffs. "I don't know what you expect from me or your father. These 'problems' as you call them are things you and your husband need to deal with, and I'm quite sure there isn't anything to worry about anyway. You always did have a flair for the dramatic. Are you sure everything is as bad as your making it out to be? I mean really darling, Edward is a good husband. He works hard, provides quite well for you and the children…maybe if there is a problem it's with you and your ability to be a good wife."

My father says nothing as my mother drones on and on about how wonderful Edward is, how he is a good husband. She just doesn't seem to get it though. She only sees the façade…the side of us that we display to the public. I'll give our parents credit for that though…they taught us well enough to know that regardless of what was really going on, we had to look presentable, look like an utterly happy couple when it came to stepping out in public.

I turn my head away from the two of them so they can't see the tears streaming down my face. Just once I wish they would really listen to me, really hear me and help me figure out what to do. Wasn't that what good parents were supposed to do? All I'm sure of now is that I don't want to be like my parents when it comes to my children. I just don't understand how my mother can sit here and listen to me pour my heart out, tell her how I feel like my husband has forgotten about me, how I feel like we've drifted so far apart from each other that I'm not sure if we could find our way back to each other, and still say that she thinks I'm being over dramatic or that the fault is mine for not being a better wife.

"Mom," I manage to whisper. "You don't get it. Edward's changed. It's like he doesn't even remember I exist. We barely see each other or talk anymore. Yesterday was the first time we said more than hello to each other in over a week, and that was just because we needed to talk about something regarding Elliott's school. I can't keep living like this mom. It's killing me inside. I think that maybe Edward and I might be better off if we get a divorce."

"Absolutely not!" shouts my father, finally reacting to what I'm saying. "Isabella, you know better. A divorce is not an option. You know how it would look publicly, and you know the Church's position on it. I will not allow my child to sully our good name because she's sad that her husband can't be at her beck and call. Just think of the field day the press would have with this! No Isabella, you will most certainly not be getting a divorce."

I hated this. I hated that my parents were more concerned with their image than me. Maybe that's why I fell so hard so fast for Edward. He was the first person who ever really paid attention to me, cared about what I wanted and needed, who wanted to see me happy. I think that's why this whole situation hurts so much, because I know who he used to be and who he is now is nowhere near the charming, loving man I had married.

"But Daddy…shouldn't I be allowed to be happy?" I question.

My mother responds before my father even gets a chance. "Of course you're allowed to be happy, but that doesn't mean you cause a spectacle that could be splashed across the newspapers while doing so. I thought I raised you better than this Isabella. You know how important our image is, and you should know better than to voice these sorts of issues out loud. These kinds of things are private matters. Whatever you issue with Edward is, be a big girl and figure it out, but do it quietly. It wouldn't be proper for these kinds of things to be aired out in front of the world for all to see."

After she's said her piece, my mother leaves the living room and heads into the study, effectively ending the conversation. Realizing I'm not going to really ever get them to understand, I quickly kiss my father on his cheek and make my way back home, where I end up crying myself to sleep.

After that colossal mess of a conversation with my parents, I thought long and hard about everything. I honestly couldn't care less what got said in the media if Edward and I got a divorce, but I was worried about the children, and even more so, how I would be viewed in the church. Growing up Catholic, there are certain things that get drilled into your head, and while Edward and I may not have adhered strictly to everything the Church had to say, I knew we both took our marriage vows seriously, and viewed them as not just a promise to each other, but a promise to God as well. We still attended Church each week, or when Edward was busy, I at least made sure to go with the children. I guess that's why in all my thinking about everything I kept hearing my father's voice saying 'you know the Church's position on it' over and over.

I struggled to try to sort everything out in my head. As much as I hated to admit it, my parents were right, at least as far as the Church's point of view was concerned. Divorce wasn't an option in the eyes of the church so I needed to try to figure out something, plus as I looked at my sons; I didn't want to make them have to worry about choosing between mom and dad. Things were always better when I was pregnant. Edward was more attentive, kinder towards me, and at least then he remembered that I existed. If only he would agree to try for another baby, maybe we could get things back on track again. I knew he wouldn't agree though, and I guess that's why I just chose to "forget" to take my birth control. I mean, no form of birth control is 100% effective, and hopefully once I got pregnant, Edward would be excited enough about the pregnancy to forget that I tricked him into it. The only problem was, Edward was so distant and barely home enough for me to even have a chance to get pregnant again.

It was almost two months after I stopped taking my birth control that everything just got to be too much, and Edward and I had a huge blow out. I couldn't stand it anymore and one night during dinner after the children were in bed, I just blurted out the question of whether or not he wanted a divorce. Edward was adamant that he didn't want one, that things were just hectic at work. I begged and pleaded for him to try to be home more and he argued that I needed to learn to be more understanding and more appreciative of how hard he worked to provide our family with a good life. We fought hard that night, throwing plates and glasses, but by the time it was over, Edward and I ended up in our bedroom, with me pinned up against the wall as he took me roughly. I reveled in it, and loved every second of it. It was the first time in a long time that I felt any sort of connection to Edward. Afterwards we fell asleep wrapped up in each other after finally really talking to each other.

Edward agreed to try to be home more and I agreed to try to be more understanding about the demands of his job. Little did Edward know that I would end up pregnant that night. As much as I had accepted that Edward didn't want more children, all I could remember was how loving, caring and attentive he was when I was pregnant with Elliott, and how he was home all the time after I had given birth to Michael, so I made the decision to stop taking my birth control in the hopes that having another baby might help get us back on track. Needless to say Edward was beyond pissed when I first told him and didn't come home for a week. When he finally showed up again, he was happier. He told me he was okay with us having another child, but then followed that up with the announcement that he had gone and had a vasectomy to prevent any future "accidents" and that he wanted me to get my tubes tied after the baby was born just as an added preventative measure.

My plan of the pregnancy helping me and Edward get back on track was quickly shattered. As distant as Edward was during my pregnancy with Michael, he completely ignored this one, only acknowledging it when people would offer congratulations. He never asked me about anything having to do with the baby, or attended any of the doctors' appointments with me except to find out that we were having a girl. He didn't even offer to help pick out her name. I knew better at this point than to even ask if he wanted to help with the nursery, so once again it was me along with Rose and Alice who got the room set up and decorated.

Looking around Samantha's nursery, I can't help but smile to myself as my hands instinctively wrap themselves around my stomach.

"Don't worry baby. Your Daddy is going to love you just as much as Mommy does." I say to my unborn child. It's the one truth I know for sure. Edward may not have wanted this pregnancy, but I know he'll love his daughter…even if he doesn't love me anymore, at least not the way he used to. Sitting down in the rocking chair in the corner, I just enjoy the quiet of the moment as I try to will the dull ache in my back away. I have the house all to myself with Edward away on another business trip and the boys spending the weekend with their Grandma Cullen at the lake house. Out of nowhere, I feel a sharp pain and can't keep the grimace off of my face. I've felt this pain before, I know what it means, and now I really wish I wasn't home alone.

Another contraction hits as I try to grab my hospital bag from my room. I'm frantically dialing everyone I can think of…Alice, Edward, Rose and Emmett…but no one is answering. I'd call my parents but they are off on a Mediterranean cruise. Grabbing my bag I make my way to the stairs and just toss my bag down to the first floor. Slowly I make my way down the stairs, stopping when another contraction hits. I'm not sure at this point if I'm crying because of the pain or because I have to go through this alone. Finally I make it to the car, and make two more phone calls, one to my doctor to let them know I'm on my way to the hospital and the other to Edward. When his phone goes straight to voice mail, I leave a message pleading with him to come home because the baby is coming.

After I get to the hospital everything is a blur. I'm checked into a room and hooked up to a fetal monitor, but shortly afterwards, the nurses are calling for the doctor and there is talk about heart rates, and breach position, and things I don't quite understand. My doctor tells me that he needs to move me to the operating room, because he needs to get the baby out quickly. I try my best to keep my fear at bay but the tears come anyway and all I keep asking for is to make sure Samantha will be ok and for Edward because I'm just too afraid to be doing this alone.

I start shivering in the operating room as everything gets set up, and a young nurse, I think her name is Bree, comes to me with a sad look in her eyes telling me that she wasn't able to reach my husband, but that Alice and Jasper finally answered and they are on their way now.

"Please stay with me," I beg her. "I'm too scared to do this alone."

Bree just nods her head, takes my hand and sits on the stool that's near my head.

Just after the anesthetic is kicks in, I hear the doctor telling me he's about to begin the c-section. A few minutes later I feel tugging and pulling before the doctor says "It's a girl!" After that, all I hear is silence when I should be hearing my baby cry.

Turning to Bree I ask "Why isn't my baby crying?" My voice laced with worry.

"I'm sure everything is just fine." She tells me, but I can see it in her eyes, something is wrong.

I'm not hearing my baby cry, the nurse hasn't brought her over for me to see her…all I hear are hurried and whispered words amongst the doctors and nurses until I eventually hear someone tell someone else "Page the NICU and tell them they have a new one incoming."

I turn to Bree again, "Is my baby ok? Please find out if my baby is ok."

Bree squeezes my hand once before leaving my side to go find out what's going on. I feel so exhausted from everything that's happened, that despite how much I try to stay awake to hear back from her, I end up giving in to sleep before I ever get to hear what Bree found out. When I wake up, I can tell at least that some time has passed, as the sun is beginning to rise. I'm in a different room than I was in before, and I immediately panic, wanting to know what happened to my Samantha. My screaming for a nurse and my constant ringing of the call button gets someone in my room fairly quickly.

The nurse who comes in asks me to calm down as she checks my IV and my vitals. All the while I keep asking about my baby. After she finishes making a few notes on my chart, she explains that Samantha wasn't tolerating the labor well and when she was born, the umbilical cord was wrapped fairly tightly around her neck, and that even though she is doing fine now, the doctors want to keep her in the NICU for a day or so for observation. I ask to see her, but the nurse tells me it's too early, and that the doctors wanted me resting in bed at least until the morning, so I will need to wait a few hours before they will let me see her.

The nurse leaves after this, and I'm unable to fall back asleep. Looking around my room, everything looks sterile and untouched. I can tell no one has come to visit yet, which brings on a new round of tears as I realize I'm still alone in all of this when in reality I need the support right now. I try to go back to sleep, but I can't, so I spend the next few hours watching the clock as I count down to when I can hold my child.

Finally nine a.m. comes and the nurse comes back to my room, offering to bring me to the NICU so that I can see Samantha. Getting out of my bed and into the wheelchair is painful as I feel the stiches in my lower abdomen stretch and pull. As I'm wheeled towards the NICU the nurse explains all the procedures I will have to go through before getting to hold Samantha. Once we get there, I scrub my hands and put on the required gown and head in so that I can meet my baby. As soon as I reach her, my heart stops. She's absolutely perfect and thankfully breathing on her own. The nurse helps get me situated into a rocking chair before handing Sam over to me. As soon as she's in my arms and I count her fingers and toes and see for myself that she is really okay, I feel like I can finally breathe again.

"Hi sweetheart," I coo at her. "I'm your momma, and I love you so very much."

I sit there, rocking and singing lullabies to her, just enjoying this time with her when I hear someone clear their throat. Looking up, I see Edward standing there, wearing a yellow gown of his own and looking like he hasn't slept in a week. His eyes have dark circles under them, his hair is a mess, he hasn't shaved, and from the looks of it, he's slept in his clothes.

I stop rocking the moment I see him, whispering out a faint "Edward…"

He rushes towards me, his own tears running down his cheeks as he wraps his arms around me and his daughter in a hug.

"I'm so sorry Isabella. I never wanted you to go through this alone. I got your message and got the first flight I could, but when I landed, I got a message from the hospital about delivery complications and the NICU. I've never been so scared Isabella. I've been such an ass this go around and I'm sorry. I don't know how I'm ever going to make it up to you."

Looking up at him, his gaze is focused on the baby. I know there's a lot that Edward and I will need to talk about, but now isn't the time.

Motioning for him to come closer I say to him "Edward, I'd like you to meet your daughter, Samantha Hope Cullen." He smiles at me as I hand him the baby, and looking at him and how he is looking at Samantha with nothing but love in his eyes, I can't help but hope that maybe there's still a chance for things to turn out alright.

Chapter Text

The doctors kept Samantha in the hospital for two days just to make sure everything was okay. Thankfully everything was just fine. No one really knew what caused the problems during my delivery; they all just said that these things just sometimes happen. I was never happier to be home than the day I got to leave the hospital with my baby. Edward had made arrangements with the Board of Directors at CP so that he could take an extended leave of absence. They all understood once they found out what had happened when Sam was born.

I think everything that happened was a wakeup call for Edward. We started talking to each other more, and we were really, truly communicating with each other. He admitted to needing to work on his priorities, and I admitted to needing to work on being more independent. Edward stayed home for three months with us, and it was some of the greatest time that we spent together as a family. He did occasionally show up at his office, just to keep track of everything, and occasionally would work a day or two from home, but for those three months, Edward's sole focus was on me and our family. Elliott and Michael loved having their dad around so much, and I think we were becoming a stronger family because of it.

Rose and Alice even noticed the changes in us, telling me when we would meet up for coffee to catch up how Edward and I seemed to be happier now more than we ever were before. It was true, we were. Things were looking up. There were still some cracks in our relationship that needed to be patched up, but I understood these things took time, we'd eventually get everything back to the way it should be. Edward had even agreed to see a counselor with me so we could work on our relationship together after I told him how I felt I was losing him and that I needed him to be a full partner in our relationship. The only thing he asked was that we kept the fact that we were seeing a therapist quiet, which I readily agreed to. I mean, it wasn't anyone else's business, so I had no problem with keeping it to ourselves. Our parents didn't even know.

Admittedly, I was nervous beyond belief when Edward said he was going to start working again. I knew we had made progress, but I wasn't sure we had gotten far enough in rebuilding us as a couple for things to stay on course now that Edward was going back to work. I worked hard to keep my fears and doubts at bay, not wanting them to invade my mind and sabotage the progress we had made so far. Edward was wonderful though. He made it home every night for dinner, spent time with the kids, and even made sure that he and I went out on a date night once a week. We were stronger than ever, and our therapist even said that it would be fine for us to move our sessions to an as needed basis. I guess I should have known better, seeing how good everything was going, that it wouldn't and couldn't last.

Just after Samantha's first birthday, Edward had to start working more often. It wasn't anything like how he used to be, but one or two nights a week, he'd miss dinner because of meetings at CP. I understood though, the economy was on a shaky footing and even thought the medical industry was relatively secure, there was still some damage control and some pre-emptive decisions that needed to be made. The straw that finally broke the camel's back though was when the economy completely and utterly tanked. It was a threat to CP's future. A crappy economy meant less people willing to fund or invest in the research that Cullen Pharmaceuticals engaged in to develop new drugs, a situation which could spell disaster for the company. Edward was back to working crazy hours and I could already feel everything we worked so hard to build starting to crumble around me.

I tried to stay positive, but Edward was so stressed from work, and I was stressed from trying to get used to completely managing three kids and a home on my own again now that Edward was working all the time, that the distance between us started to rear its ugly head again. I would attempt to make plans for Edward and I, or for all of us as a family, but Edward would just tell me not to bother, that he had too much going on at work that he needed to deal with. Within the blink of an eye, the old Edward was back. He made it to the kids events whenever he could, and as far as I was concerned…I was back to being unnoticed.

I tried asking him to go back to therapy with me, but he told me he didn't have time for that kind of bullshit when his company needed him, that his employees needed him to do his job so that he could try to keep them from losing theirs. After he said that I asked him what about what the kids and I needed, but he just scoffed at the question telling me that he would always be there for his children and that I had nothing to complain about since he provided me with a comfortable life.

He just didn't get it. I didn't care about how big the house was or the material things, or what kind of car I had to drive. I just wanted my husband back; I wanted to feel loved again. But the distance between us grew, the old cracks resurfaced, and seemingly, we were more distant from each other now than we were in the past. I tried to talk with Rose and Alice about it, but they didn't seem to understand my side of things, asking me what I expected Edward to do with the economy the way it was and him needing to do whatever he could to keep his company intact. Suddenly, I became the Debbie Downer in our group, and they started pulling away too. I can't blame them, all I ever had to talk about were my problems, and really…who wanted to listen to that every time we hung out.

I guess seeing my friends pull away was what made me realize how alone I really was. My parents certainly didn't understand or even care to try to, my husband was more like a phantom with how little I saw him, and my friends couldn't deal with me and my "insecurity issues" as they called them. I think this was when I started letting the darkness consume me. I started just running on autopilot. I stopped feeling, just doing whatever I needed to in order to make it through the day.

I slam my hand down on the alarm clock to stop its incessant beeping before getting up and out of bed with a sigh. As usual, the other side of the bed, Edward' side is empty, the only sign that he came home last night at all is that the sheets on his side are messy, indicating that he actually slept here last night. I make the bed quickly before shuffling to the bathroom to take a shower and get dressed. I quickly go through the motions of getting ready for the day, not even bothering to really check how I look in the mirror or make sure I look okay in what I'm wearing. It doesn't matter, no one notices me, no one cares.

Making my way down the hall, I check on Sam who is still asleep, and then make my way to Michael and Elliott's rooms. Grumpily, Elliott makes his way out of bed to get ready for school and help his brother get ready as well. After seeing that he's definitely up and moving and not just going back to bed, I head back to Sam's room, wake her up and get her dressed. I smile as she hugs me, I love my children, they're the only ones who seem to know I even exist anymore. Once Sam is ready for the day, I head downstairs with her and get breakfast going for the kids. Just as everything is ready, my boys come into the kitchen and sit down to eat.

Once everyone is done with breakfast, I pile all three kids into the car and make my way towards Elliott's school to drop him off and then to Michael's preschool to drop him off for the day as well before running some errands and heading back home with my baby girl. Walking in the door, I sigh as I look around the house. I hate this part of my day, where I'm truly and utterly alone. I love my little girl, but I need more than just the connection to my children. I need to feel like I actually matter to someone. I set Samantha in the kid's playroom so she can watch Sesame Street and turn on the baby monitor so I can try and straighten up the kitchen and get the laundry started.

I go through all the bedrooms, collecting the dirty laundry. Once I'm in the laundry room I sort everything and get the first load of wash going before making my way to the kitchen. I stop in the hallway, looking at one of our family pictures that hang on the wall. It was from when Samantha was six months old. It was my favorite picture that was taken of us that day. I'm holding the baby, Edward is holding Michael, and Elliott is in between us, one arm wrapped around each of us. We're all smiling in that picture, happy…I haven't really smiled or been happy in a long time. I'm not even sure I remember what happy feels like. Lost in my thoughts, I end up bypassing the kitchen and head to the family room.

Sitting on the couch, I look around the room, at all the pictures on the walls, shelves and tables. Memories of family vacations, birthdays, and holidays surround me, and yet, I can look at each of these pictures and even though there might be a smile on my face in all of them, there is just a handful where the smile is actually genuine. I feel the tears start to fall, and immediately get angry with myself for letting the emotions through. I've been so good with keeping them hidden and locked away. It's been so much easier not feeling, that now when my emotions make their presence known, I feel like I'm being shredded to bits by how overwhelming the pain is.

Curling up into a little ball, I finally let all the walls come down as a gut wrenching sob escapes my throat. My body shakes as I cry. I feel like I'm mourning because I'm surrounded by the memories of everything I had, everything I've managed to lose. I don't want to feel like this anymore. I can't take it; I need to find a way to make it all stop. I want to be able to lash out and scream and break things, but I can't, it isn't an option. Samantha is here, and the boys will be home in a few hours. Plus, Edward would notice I'm sure and then I'd have to listen as he complains about my leaving him another mess to clean up and how I need to just stop being dramatic and moping around about every little thing.

I can hear through the baby monitor that Sam's show is almost over, and try to get myself back under control. I don't need my child seeing me like this. My chest heaves rapidly as I take in gulps of air to try to calm myself and I use the sleeve of my shirt to wipe off my face. Clearing my throat, I head to the playroom and play with Samantha for a few minutes before bringing her to the kitchen so she can have lunch. I set her in her booster seat before preparing her meal. After she finishes eating, I read a story to her. Halfway through she falls asleep, so I carry her to her room and set her down so she can nap.

Once Sam is settled in, I head back to the kitchen to try to straighten everything up. As I go to put a few things away in the fridge, I notice the date on the calendar, and a fresh bout of tears emerge. It's mine and Edward's anniversary. I didn't even realize it was coming up, and I'm quite sure that Edward didn't realize either, seeing as he noted on the calendar that he had some sort of business dinner tonight. I just feel so lost, so willing to give anything to make all the pain go away. I wasn't any happier not feeling anything, but this hurt is beyond torturous, especially when I know that there's no one for me to turn to about it.

I make my way to the sink, and start rinsing everything before loading the dishwasher. I get lost in my thoughts from the monotony of the task. All that I think of is how I wish my husband still loved me the way he used to and that I still mattered to him and my family and friends before my thoughts drift to how I need the pain to go away, I need to be able to stop feeling and yet at the same time I wish I could feel at the same time. I'm so torn and lost I just don't know what the solution is. I must be sobbing, because as my shoulders shake from crying, I manage to drop a glass in the sink, causing it to break. The way the light hits it, causing it to sparkle, it's as if someone was sending me a sign, there is a way for me to fix it all, to make the pain stop, to be able to feel again if only for a brief moment.

I pick up one of the larger glass shards and turn it over in my hand, tracing my finger over the edges, feeling its sharpness, realizing how easily it could slice through my flesh. I let the jagged edge press against my finger tip; I feel the bite and the sting as it pierces through my skin, a small bubble of blood forming where the cut was made. The pain of the cut is a welcome distraction from the all-encompassing ache in my heart, allowing me to forget it and focus on something else. The feeling of it lets me know I'm still alive, that I can actually still feel anything at all, but all too soon my anguish rears its ugly head and I stumble into it face first, feeling it all the more intensely this time.

I want the release, the feeling of being free from the weight of my emotional burden, but I don't think I can handle how the hurt seemed to double after the fact. I need something stronger, to make the pain stay away for good. Looking back and forth between my cut finger and the blood streaked glass, it's as if the pieces of the puzzle all come together and I can see the solution clearly.

I know I should be worried about my children, my boys who will be waiting for me to pick them up from school and my daughter who is sleeping upstairs. But the idea that I can make the pain stop seems to override every other thought in my head. I place the piece of glass to my wrist, placing some pressure and allowing it to puncture my skin. The feeling of being free of the worry and pain hits me like a train, letting me know this is right, this is my solution.

I press the glass deeper, feeling it slice further into my wrist, before yanking it across. The initial pain surprises me, causing me to cry out, the piece of glass falling to the floor, me following shortly after. I start to feel everything become hazy as I hear the front door slam shut.

"Isabella? Are you home? I need you to pull my blue Armani suit out for me for my dinner meeting tonight. I just came home to change." Edward calls out. I vaguely hear his footsteps as I watch the blood flow out of my arm and pool on the floor around me.

"BELLA! What the fuck did you do?" Edward screams as he places a dish towel and a firm grip on my wrist. As I drift away, I finally feel the relief, the peace in the knowledge that I won't hurt anymore.

Chapter Text

If I had known that Edward was going to show up when he did, I probably never would have made the cut. I spent over a week in the hospital behind that incident because the doctors needed to make sure that all the surgery went well and that there wouldn't be any significant nerve damage. It turns out I couldn't even kill myself right. There was a wrong way to cut your wrists…who knew…plus while I managed to make a deep cut, I didn't manage to sever anything completely. All of that coupled with Edward's showing up at home at the right time, was just enough to keep me from finally finding my escape.

Edward knew what I had done; at least I think he did, because all he said about the entire thing was that I was being dramatic and attention seeking. My parents on the other hand, once they spoke to Edward, reamed me out for spitting in God's face and causing a slew of problems for the family as far as the media were concerned. They started really shutting me out and distancing themselves after that. As far as the public was concerned, the entire thing was reported as a kitchen accident. The official press release stated that there was a leak in the kitchen and I slipped while carrying a few glasses, receiving some severe lacerations in the process.

Once I got home from the hospital, Edward really went off. He complained about having to fix my mess once again, and how I potentially cost him millions of dollars from the meetings he had to miss, and jeopardized the jobs of at least 200 employees when he had to reschedule the budget restructuring meeting to later in the month. I already felt bad enough, but seeing how Edward acted once I got home solidified everything for me. Not once did he ask if I was okay, if I wanted to try finding someone to help me, or if I even just wanted to talk to him. All I got out of him was two days after I got back home, was him telling me that I had to say goodbye to the kids tonight when we put them to bed because I'd be going away for a while in the morning so that I could, as he put it, get my act together and my head on straight.

"You need to say goodbye to the children tonight Isabella." Edward says flatly from behind his newspaper.

"What? Why?" I ask, confused as to what is going on.

Slamming his paper down on the table, he glares at me, as if everything that has ever gone wrong is my fault. Maybe it is, I'm not really sure anymore.

"You're going away for a while Isabella. To a retreat. It's in Utah. I think it'll help you get your head back on straight so you can stop all this childish attention seeking behavior." Edward's voice holds a tone of finality to it, as if the decision has already been made, as if I have no say at all in the matter.

"But Edward…what if I don't want to go?"

"That's not an option Isabella. This whole kitchen incident has been a clusterfuck of epic proportions. You have no clue the damage control I've had to do…with the press, at work, and more importantly with our kids. Do you have any idea how badly you scared them? How selfish can you be Bella? Did you even think what would have happened if Sammi or one of the boys managed to find you like that?" I can hear it in his voice…the worry, the fear. That and his mentioning the kids, it's the closest he's ever come to outright saying that I tried to take my own life.

The reality of what I had done wasn't even mentioned at the hospital. I don't know what he said to the doctors or who he paid off, but nothing was ever said about me being a risk to myself. No psychologist was ever brought in to talk to me. The only doctors who saw me were the attendings, the surgeon, and the guy from the physical therapy department to discuss when I would be starting to work with him.

"Isabella," Edward sighs. "You are going. It's for three weeks. The kids have already been told and I've arranged to stay home while you're away. Think of it as a vacation at a health spa."

I don't bother saying anything else. I know there is no point in arguing since the decision has already been made. The easiest thing to do now is just go along with it. Ignoring Edward, I go to our room to pack some bags, but as soon as I walk in the door I see that there are three suitcases already packed and waiting.

I don't know how to feel about it all. I'm sure if Edward had approached me and talked everything through with me first, I probably would have been more open to this whole idea, but he just made the decision for me, ignoring my needs and wants like what I have to say doesn't matter. I head into the bathroom and change the bandage on my arm before taking my pain meds and crawling into bed. I drift off to sleep as the tears stream down my face, feeling more alone than ever.

I don't know what Edward thought he'd accomplish by sending me away. He told me that the trip would help, that it would be good for me. I finally got a glimpse of just how scared I had made him the morning I left. I had been trying to come up with a way out of the trip, but he hugged me so tightly, and whispered in my ear, pleading with me as he said "Please go Isabella. I don't know where my Bella is, but she isn't here and I need her back. Go on this trip, do what you need to do and then come back to me." His eyes held so much fear and worry; there was no way I could deny him. I nodded my head, agreed, kissed him and climbed into the car and headed on my way.

The place Edward sent me to was a far cry from any place that could have helped me. How sitting in circles chanting and singing Kumbaya, riding horses, and getting mud baths was supposed to help a suicidal individual is beyond me. Sure it was relaxing, but it wasn't what I needed. I needed my family to care, to make me feel loved and special and important. All I got was a room in a place where I was surrounded by snobby people who I didn't know and who didn't want to know me. I had way too much time to myself to think, and all I could think about was how when I cut myself I finally felt free from the pain and at peace. I loved my family dearly with all my heart, but I wasn't sure how much more I could bear if nothing at home changed.

That's when I decided I needed a contingency plan in place. During my "vacation" I spent my time working out the details of my new plan, figuring out what I would do if things got really bad again. It was a small comfort to know that I had a way out. The problem came when all I could think about was the plan, and how it would be a quick fix for all the hurt I was feeling, but I managed to remind myself it was my last resort option, especially when I knew I'd be watched like a hawk once I got home.

I was right. Once I got back from my "retreat," Edward's mother was over the house all the time. Out of everyone I think she might have been the only one to really see what was going on with me. She would look at me sometimes like she understood, like she had been in my shoes once too. I never asked about it and she never said anything either. Maybe one of us should have, things might have gotten better if one of us had spoken up. I was never really left alone with the kids, and Edward made no attempts to try to make things better at home. I tried several times to talk to him about everything, but he just told me to put on my big girl panties and act like a responsible, mature adult. He flew off the handle when I mentioned me seeing a therapist, immediately squashing that idea all together.

Eventually Edward's mom came over less and less, and our family slipped back into its routine that we had from before the incident as it had come to be known. That routine, the constant aloneness, slowly drove me closer and closer to the edge. Alice and Rose stopped contacting me all together. I'm not sure if it was because they didn't know how to act around me anymore, or if they just couldn't be bothered to have a nutcase for a friend but either way, my last two connections to the world outside my family were severed.

It got harder to get through the days, and Edward was on my case more and more for not taking care of myself or doing enough to keep the house maintained. I just felt like a human shell, a robot moving on autopilot day after day. That's when I knew it was time to turn the contingency plan into the actual plan. Edward seemed to always have to do everything for me, or redo it after I had, so all I could manage to think was what was the point anymore…it was obvious that my family didn't need me, they were better off without me.

I started keeping my eye out, looking for a way to make my plan come together, when I finally was granted a golden opportunity. Edward and I were going to dinner as Rose and Emmett's house. Even though Rosalie had distanced herself from me, she was still one of the top chefs in town, and Edward wanted her to cater some corporate event he was planning, so it was agreed that we'd go to their house for dinner so they could plan out the menu.

As dinner wound down, Emmett offers for me and him to clear the table so that Edward and Rose can work. The two of them make their way to the living room, as Em and I start carrying the dishes into the kitchen. Emmett has always been nice to me, even with everything that has happened.

We clear the table, rinsing and loading the dishes into the dishwasher. He makes small talk with me, and for a moment I almost feel normal. I've forgotten what it's really like having a conversation with someone, having someone actually care about and listen to what you have to say.

After the last of the dishes are loaded, I excuse myself to the bathroom, passing Em and Rose's home office along the way. Just as I walk past the door, a glint of silver on the desk catches my eye. I do a double take and finally realize what it is. Em has always enjoyed going to the shooting range as a form of stress relief. I guess he must have gone and forgotten to lock his gun away afterwards.

Checking to see no one is coming down the hall, I quickly sneak into the office, swiping the gun and a few bullets, tucking the gun into the back of my pants and shoving the bullets into my pocket. I shut the gun case and make sure it locks before I head back out to the living room where Edward is waiting for me so we can head back home. I offer him a smile, the first genuine one to cross my face in a while, content in knowing that everything I need for my plan to be carried out is finally falling into place.

Chapter Text

After that dinner at Emmett and Rosalie's, I started to make sure all of my preparations were made. I hid the gun and the bullets away in the back corner of my closet where no one would find it. I wrote letters to the children, making sure to have things for them from me for all of their important milestones…graduations, important birthdays, high school prom, weddings, and the birth of their children. I needed to make sure that regardless of what happened to me that Elliott, Michael, and Samantha would always have me with them, know that I loved them, and understand that none of what happened to me was ever their fault.

As far as Edward was concerned, I didn't need to write letters to him, everything I needed to say has been written within my journal. I know much of what he may read there may hurt him or cause him to get upset, but I think it may be the only way to reach him. The fact is that I'm totally lost; there is no way for me to find my way back from the shadows, to not feel invisible anymore. I've accepted it as my fate, but that doesn't make it any less painful or difficult to bear. I need to take matters into my own hands now.

I made sure I had my final messages to Alice, Rosalie, and my parents taken care of as well. I'm not sure if any of them will even want to read them, but I needed to have closure with them as well. They needed to understand their role in all of this.

Once everything was put into place, it was just a matter of finding the right time for me to carry out my plan. I needed to make sure it was a day where I didn't need to worry about the children being at home and one where Edward would be home relatively early. Today was that day. Elliott and Michael have already been at sleep away camp for a week, and Sam is having a weekend sleepover with some of her friends from her nursery school.

I've spent my morning getting all of my final preparations done. Looking through all the family albums and picture frames throughout the house, choosing my favorites to keep with me in my room. I needed the comfort of those memories, those happy times that are all but lost to me now. Glancing over the pictures…prom with Edward, pictures of me with Alice and Rose from college, my wedding day, the birth of each of my children, various family outings…I can't help but cry. How I wish I could live within these memories forever.

I just wish most of all that things could have been different. I've thought about it a lot…the what ifs and the maybes. Maybe if I was stronger and more confident in myself enough to truly confront Edward about my feelings. Maybe if I wasn't so afraid of upsetting or letting down my parents. What if Edward's dad didn't die when he did and Edward and I had more time as a family before having to take on the responsibility of CP. There were so many possibilities available to us and all of them seemingly were snatched away before we could ever even really dream of them. I guess when it all comes down to it; I never really stood a chance.

Finally, I write a small note and place it on top of my journal for Edward…

Before I go, I need to say this to you Edward, here and now. I love you, and I always have, no matter what we have gone through. I believe with my whole heart that you love me too, regardless of how lost you have gotten along the way, I don't think that you ever truly meant to hurt me, so for that reason it is easy for me to say that I forgive you, and that I am sorry that I'm not strong enough to carry on in this journey with you.

I love you and will be with you always,

Bella

EPOV

Pulling into the driveway, I shut off the car and just sit for a moment, enjoying the peace and quiet. The kids are all out of the house and for the first time in who knows how long, I will be able to take a few days off from the office. I needed the time to be honest…for myself, for Bella, for my family. We've drifted so far apart, and a lot of it is my fault. My mother made sure to tell me that.

After Isabella's attempted suicide, my mother finally sat me down and gave me a good talking to. There was so much I never knew about my parents. They always seemed to have the perfect marriage, always seemed so happy…kind of how Isabella and I were…at least in front of other people, especially the kids. As soon as that thought crossed my mind, I realized I needed to listen to what my mother had to say and seriously reconsider the kind of husband and father I've been.

"Edward, son...there are things you don't know about your father." My mother tells me.

"What do you mean Mom? Dad was a great man; he gave us a good life and built up a great reputation for the company." I reply, confused about exactly what she's trying to say.

"Son, please…let me tell you what I have to say and then I promise to answer any questions you have. It's important to hear this. I had always told myself I would never speak of it to anyone, but you need to hear it if you ever want to have a chance to salvage what's left of your own marriage."

I've never heard my mother sound so serious before, not even when she had to tell me that Dad died, so all I do is nod my head and wait for her to speak her mind.

"Carlisle…your father…" my mother begins. "I loved him very much Edward, I always will, but he was a very misguided man. Maybe a big part of that was from how he was raised, but he still had many of his priorities out of order. He thought that as long as he provided a home, put food on the table, that it was enough.

When we first dated, he was wonderful, made me feel special, and showered me with attention. I think the pressure of having to become a family man got to him. Once we were married and had you, the reality that he had other people he needed to be responsible for got to him. He was always there for you, but even though I know how much he truly did love me, I was always pushed aside, CP taking my place in his life. He'd never listen when I tried to speak to him about how I was feeling or what I needed. Told me to just be happy with the life I had.

We fought a lot, but never around you. To you and everyone else we appeared the perfect, happy couple when in reality we were anything but. I was strong enough to just muddle through it. I loved your father enough to stay with him. I don't know how strong your Isabella is. She never had the chance to be independent or on her own before. Her being so isolated and ignored…it's only a matter of time before everything comes tumbling down.

Now, I want you to think about what I've told you and see if any of it sounds familiar to you. I'll call you tomorrow and answer any questions you have. Now go home and try to sort out how you plan on fixing things with your wife.

That talk yesterday with my mother really had me thinking and I knew now that there was a lot that needed to be fixed in my family life.

Getting out of the car I make my way into the house, dropping my briefcase and keys in the front entry.

"Isabella, I'm home" I call out, only to be met with complete silence.

Loosening my tie, I make my way towards the bedroom. As soon as I walk in, I see pictures scattered all over the bed…pictures of Isabella and I from when we dated, our wedding, and when our children were born.

"Bella…what's going on? Why are these pictures all over the bed?" I shout, confused about what's going on.

Hearing a noise in the bathroom, I head towards it, stopping dead in my tracks when I see the sight in front of me.

Isabella is sitting in the bathtub, tears streaming down her face, with a gun pressed against her head. As soon as she sees me, she moves the gun, pointing it directly at me. I'm frozen speechless and not quite sure what to do, afraid that any sudden movement will set her off.

"Isabella, baby…what's going on?" I softly whisper.

I try to keep calm as Isabella looks at me, her makeup smudged from the tears streaming down her face. I can tell she's close to losing it, and I don't know if the gun is loaded. Gingerly, I try to step forward but stop as soon as Isabella cocks the gun.

"I can't do this anymore Edward." Isabella mumbles. "It hurts too much, it hurts all the time. I don't matter to anyone, it's like I'm a ghost. You don't even notice me anymore, all I do is complicate your life. You'll all be better once I'm gone."

Isabella is gripping the gun so tightly, and I can see it in her eyes, a determination that hasn't been there in a long time. It's freaking me out, because I can't lose her. She's my heart, my soul…I know I've fucked things up but I need to have the chance to make things right.

"Baby please…just put the gun down." I beg, my own tears starting to fall. I'm not sure why I'm crying…because I realize how much I've screwed up, because I don't know if Isabella is going to shoot me or herself, the fear of losing my wife, or all of it combined.

"We can work this out Isabella. I need you baby. I love you. I've been so wrong about so many things. We'll go to therapy…every day if you want. I'll do whatever it takes Bella, just put the gun down. Think about the kids, baby. They need you. I need you."

Isabella shakes her head, the gun pressed against her temple as she mumbles "no, no, no…too late, can't change" over and over.

"I don't believe you Edward. You've told me that before, you've ignored me before; you've lied about our problems before. Why would you change now? It's too late, it hurts too much and there's only one way to make it stop. I need to do this."

I don't know what she's planning to do, but all I can think is to pray to God that she shoots me and not herself. I deserve it, for all the pain I've caused her. I've been so blind, done so much wrong. I deserve the punishment. The children need her so much more than they need me. I don't know what I'm supposed to do in this situation; I can fix problems at CP at the drop of the hat, but this…I haven't a clue how to fix this.

I take a few steps closer towards where Isabella is sitting against the tub but stop once she points the gun at me again, her hand shaking slightly.

"Tell me what you need me to do Isabella. I'll do anything, I want to fix this, fix us. You're everything to me baby. I can't lose you…"

"There's nothing you can do to fix this Edward!" Isabella screams. "It's too late for fixing. The damage is done. I tried so many times to be a good wife, a good mother and I failed…I tried to talk to you, to get you to understand how I was feeling, and I failed at that too. I wasn't good enough, I wasn't what you needed. You never listened, you blamed everything on me, and you put that godforsaken company ahead of your family! I was supposed to come first Edward, and I never did…not once. I can't do it anymore!"

Isabella's words are barely comprehendible through the sobs, but it's the look in her eye that sends the cold chill down my spine. That look that her mind is made up, she's made her decision and there is no going back. For a moment, Isabella just sits there holding the gun in her lap as she cries, and I think that maybe she's going to just set it down, that nothing is going to happen. I take the few remaining steps until I'm standing about a foot away from her. I move to hug her, to try to do anything to distract her so that I can try and get the gun away, but she notices my movements.

Looking up at me, tears pouring down her face, she speaks to me in barely a whisper as her grip around the gun tightens.

"Tell the kids I'm sorry for leaving them, that none of this is their fault. Tell them I love them and will always be with them. Make sure they get the letters when the time is right. I love you Edward, I'm sorry I wasn't what you needed, that I couldn't be a good wife for you, that you always had to clean up my messes. I've always loved you Edward…always."

It's as if everything happens in super speed and slow motion all at once. Isabella moves to raise the gun, I manage to get a grip on her arm and we begin to struggle as I feel her finger tighten around the trigger, I hear rather than see her pull the trigger as the sound of the shot echoes throughout the room.

I'm vaguely aware of someone shouting "NO" only realizing it was me after silence descends upon the room.

I see the bright red spreading across the front of her shirt. I can hear her gasping for air, a vacant look on her face as she whispers the words "no more pain" over and over, the gun still in her hand. I yank it away from her and toss it across the room. Scooping her into my arms, I feel the blood seeping into my shirt, as I bawl, begging my Bella not to leave me.

Unwilling to let go of her, I shift my hold on her as I dig out my phone, dial 911 and report what happened. The operator tells me to stay on the line until the police and ambulance arrive, but I drop my phone, ending the call when I look up and see the message Isabella left for me on the mirror.

Scrawled in red lipstick, the message on the mirror reads:

Edward, now I've really left you a mess to clean up. –Isabella

The words are a slap in the face, a reminder of just how cruel I had been, and bring on a fresh round of tears as I cling to my wife's now seemingly lifeless body.

I'm unsure of what I'm supposed to do now, or how I'm supposed to go on without Isabella. She's the one true love of my life and because of me she's gone and done this. How am I supposed to tell the kids? All of this is running through my head but at the same point all I can think of is how I would give anything to have my Bella back.

I don't know how long I sit there, but the next thing I know, there are police and EMTs in the bathroom. I hear them shouting different things…faint pulse, weak and shallow breaths, dropping blood pressure. I feel them trying to pull Isabella away from me and I snap, screaming at them to leave her with me, to not take her away. As they pry her from my grip, I try to fight them so that I can keep Bella with me only to end up restrained by one of the officers. I hear someone mention the word sedative and feel a sharp pinch in my hip before everything fades away…

Chapter Text

EPOV

Bella and I are walking hand in hand towards the park. It's her birthday and as much as she denies it, I know she's upset that her parents aren't here to celebrate since they decided to go on some European cruise. I wanted to make sure today was special for her so I planned out all of her favorites, packed a picnic basket and figured we could spend the day together.

We reach our favorite spot, the top of a hill, underneath a cherry blossom tree, and I set down the basket and spread out the blanket. I can't help but smile as I think about the day Bella declared this our spot. It was our first time coming to the park, and as soon as she saw the trees she was bouncing excitedly. Cherry blossoms were Isabella's favorite and she said right then and there that as long as we were here at school, this would be our spot.

I pull out the plates and the food, loving Isabella's giggles as she sees that I have all her favorites. I want today to be all about her so I take my time feeding her, occasionally taking a bite or two myself. For dessert, I kept it simple, just some strawberries and whipped cream.

Bella thoroughly enjoys getting the whipped cream on me, but I can't complain as she seems to be enjoying licking it off of me. I of course can't help myself and start "accidentally" getting whipped cream on her too. Soon enough we're both laughing so hard we're gasping for air.

Looking as Bella like this, her cheeks flushed from laughing, her eyes sparkling and bright, and a dazzling smile across her face…she's never been more beautiful. Instinctively, I stroke my hand across her cheek before pulling her to me and kissing her.

I moan into her mouth as I taste the sweetness of the berries and cream still on her tongue. Her hands make their way to my hair and she's holding on to me as if her life depended on it.

Breaking the kiss, we're both gasping for air, our foreheads resting against each other.

"I love you Bella, so much. You're everything to me. Promise me I get to keep you forever" I whisper.

"Always Edward," she replies. "My heart will always only belong to you."

"I'm so very glad you said that baby" I tell her as I reach back into the picnic basket, and pull out a small wrapped box, handing it to her.

"Happy Birthday baby"

Isabella smiles as she takes the package, tearing off the paper and opening the box to reveal an infinity heart necklace.

"Edward" she says. "It's gorgeous. It's just like the one I saw at the store."

"It is the one from the store baby. I knew you liked it, and I wanted you to have it" I explain as I take the necklace from the box and fasten it around Isabella's neck.

"This necklace is a symbol of my promise to you Bella. You're it for me. You're my forever. I will never want to be anywhere without you. I love you."

"I love you too Edward" Bella tells me as she stands up and starts walking away. "But I can't stay here anymore…I have to go."

"What? Isabella, no! I need you baby. Please…don't leave me. You promised me forever. I can't do it alone!" I'm shouting and crying and begging her to stay. This isn't how it was supposed to happen. She was supposed to stay with me forever.

"You'll be just fine Edward. The kids need you. I'm finally free Edward, there's no more pain for me here." Bella tells me as she fades away, leaving me a sobbing mess under our tree, feeling as though my heart has been ripped out of my chest.

I wake with a start. I'm confused, and feeling as though everything is hazy. I can't remember where I am, and as I look around the room and hear the beeping of the heart monitor, I realize I'm in a hospital. Sitting up, I feel a little woozy, and as I look down at my clothes I feel as though I'm punched in the gut, the reality of everything that happened today hitting me like a ton of bricks as I see the dried blood stains on my shirt and pants.

The beeping of the heart monitor speeds up as my dream comes back to me and I feel my breaths coming quicker and I start shouting out for my wife.

"Isabella!" I yell, as fresh tears pour down my face. I look towards the door when I hear it open and I see a nurse, a doctor and my mother come rushing in.

I question them all at once, hoping this is all just a bad dream.

"Please, where's my Bella? She's okay right? I need to see my wife!"

None of them will look me in the eye, making me think my worst fears are true. That Isabella is really gone.

"Mama, please…please tell me she's okay" I beg through my sobs.

My mother looks at me, her own tears forming as she replies "I'm so sorry son…"

"NNNOOOOOOOOOO!"

I start struggling against the doctor who is attempting to check my vitals.

"Mr. Cullen, please. I need you to calm down. I don't want to have to sedate you again." The doctor tells me. "Your wife is alive…barely. That bullet bounced around inside her and did a lot of damage. They got her stable enough in the ER to move her to surgery. We'll let you know when we have an update."

Finally, after hearing the doctor's words, I give up, slumping back into the bed, not really having the energy or the will to keep going. Not without knowing if my Bella will be okay. Not when she may not make it because of me.

"Now, your vitals seem fine Mr. Cullen, but I want to keep you overnight as a precaution. I'm not certain it's wise for you to be alone at this point anyway…"

"Where is my wife? I need to see my wife." I ask, interrupting whatever nonsense the doctor was spouting.

"She's still in surgery, Edward" my mother tells me. "They said they didn't know how long they would need to work on her based on the damage."

"The kids…oh God! What am I supposed to tell the kids?" I ask.

"Shhhh" my mother says as she tries to soothe me. "We haven't told them anything yet. The boys are still at camp and Sammi is still at her sleepover. Rosalie and Emmett are going to pick up the boys tomorrow and Alice and Jasper said they would go and pick up Samantha. They're bringing them back to my house."

"No. I want to go home. I want my children at home with me!" I shout.

"Edward…you can't go home. Not yet anyway. The police just barely finished at the house, and the bathroom is such a mess. I've called for a special cleaning crew the detective suggested but they can't get to the house until Monday. Now, until everything is settled at your house, you and the kids will stay with me. We can figure out what to tell them in the morning."

I don't really hear everything my mother has to say. As soon as she mentions the bathroom, all I can see over and over in my head is Isabella and the gun and the sound of the trigger being pulled, her whispered apologies echoing in my ears as I'm haunted by the defeated, broken look that her eyes held. I feel like my mind is on overload, so I turn my head away from my mother and feign sleep, the tears continuing to stream down my cheeks, brought forth by the knowledge that all I want is to be able to hold my Bella in my arms, and that it's still uncertain as to whether or not I'll ever get to do that again.

I'm not sure how long I lay there, but someone brings in a dinner tray that I don't bother to eat and a while after that, a nurse comes in to give me something to help me sleep. I guess the sobs wracking my body are a bit of a clue to let them know I'm not sleeping. I want to say no and refuse to take it, but I acquiesce and swallow the pill, knowing it's the only way to get the images in my mind to let me be, if only for a little while.

I wake up early the next morning to find myself being poked and prodded by a nurse who is double checking my vitals before she goes to get the doctor to work on my release. Looking to my left, I see my mother sitting in the chair next to me.

"Good morning" she tells me, which only causes me to grimace. There's nothing good about it, and I can't help but point that out to her.

"I'm in the hospital, I don't even know if my wife is still alive and I have to tell my children today that I'm such a fuck up of a husband that my wife needed to resort to attempted suicide to escape the pain I've managed to cause her. So please Ma, tell me just what is so good about this morning?"

Mom just sighs as she gets up and places a bag on my bed.

"I brought you a change of clothes. I thought it would be wise to change before seeing the children."

Looking down I realize I am still wearing my blood stained clothes from yesterday. I know I need to change out of them, but I'm afraid to let them go. They have a part of my Isabella on them. If I throw them away, it's as if I'm throwing her away too. I grab the bag my mom placed on my bed, and go into the bathroom to wash up and change.

Walking back into my room I see the doctor talking to my mother. I overhear bits of their conversation, something about counselors and therapy. Hearing me drop my bag back on the bed, they stop talking and turn and look at me. My mom sighs before walking next to me.

"Everything is all set for you to go home Mr. Cullen. I've given your mother your paperwork, along with some names of people in case you or your children need someone to talk to. Also, I've written you a prescription for an anti-anxiety medication, just in case you need help keeping calm or settling down at night," explains the doctor.

He continues prattling on as I grab my bag and walk past him to try to find out where Bella is. My mother follows me out, and then leads me over to the elevator. The ride up the three floors is quiet and tense. Stepping off the elevator I see the sign directing me towards the Critical Care Unit.

I approach the nurse's station and give them my name. The nurse looks at me with pity in her eyes as she leads me to Bella's room. As we walk she fills me in on Bella's condition, warning me to not be alarmed by the many tubes and wires. She explains to me the damage the bullet caused…because of the way it entered, it went through her intestines, ricocheted off her ribs and managed to hit one of her kidneys. Her rib broke when the bullet hit it and managed to puncture one of her lungs. All in all, Bella was more than lucky to even still be alive at this point, and for now…things would remain touch and go.

I wasn't allowed to stay long in Bella's room. The rules for visitors were quite restricted on the CCU, and patients were only allowed to have two visitors at a time for no longer than thirty minutes, twice a day, and even then, the visitors were restricted to family members ages sixteen and older.

The drive home from the hospital is quiet, the whole time all I'm trying to think of how I'm going to explain everything to the kids, who were the only reason I was even able to leave Bella in the first place. If it wasn't for the fact that I needed to see and hold my children, I would have still been in the hospital fighting tooth and nail to find some loophole to get around the visiting restrictions.

As soon as we get to my mother's house, I trudge up to my old room and just curl into bed. It doesn't matter that I haven't really showered since yesterday morning, or that I haven't eaten in almost twenty four hours. None of it matters. All that matters is that my Bella is alone some cold, sterile hospital room, alive only by the grace of God, the doctor's skill, and the machine's she's hooked up to. She's my everything, my one great source of happiness in my life, and I managed to destroy it all.

My mom comes in and out of my room several times, telling me to get up, to go eat, or to take a shower. Each time I just ignore her and roll over so that my back is to her. Eventually she stops coming in. I hear the door open again, and thinking it's my mother I just yell for her to leave me alone, but I feel a pair of large hands grab me by the shoulder, drag me into the bathroom and toss me into the already running shower.

"I know this whole situation is a world of suck Edward, but you need to keep it together for your kids. Now, get cleaned up. I'll leave a change of clothes for you on the bed. Rose and I are going now to pick up the boys from camp. We should be back here in time for dinner" says Emmett in a no nonsense voice.

I hear the door click before I start peeling off my already soaked clothes. I go through the motions of taking a shower and brushing my teeth, but avoid shaving all together. The thought of the razor blade being near my throat is far more tempting than it should be. I'm clearly in no shape to be allowed near sharp objects.

Eventually I drag myself downstairs to the living room. I avoid the tv and the newspaper, not wanting to see any potential coverage of what happened yesterday. I glance at the clock, but decide I don't really care what time it is and head over to the bar, grabbing the bottle of whiskey. I don't bother with the glass, and drink it straight from the bottle.

After a few sips, I set the bottle down on the table and lose myself in my thoughts. How did everything get so fucked up? I know a lot of it's my own fault, but could I really have been so blind to what my wife needed? I can't help but think of the last trip we all took as a family. We went out on our boat for an extended weekend with some friends, and we seemed okay then. Isabella laughed and smiled. The kids were happy. Was it all an act? Were we that good at faking it that even I lost sight of what was really going on?

No matter what I think of, it all ends up coming back to the same point that in the end, I'm responsible for what's happened. I know I've been crying this whole time, I can feel the tears on my cheeks, and I quickly wipe them away as I try to get myself under control, but it's the sound of the door opening, and the voices of my children that snap me back into reality.

"Mom? Dad? What's going on? And why are we at Nana's house? Dad…where are you?" I hear Michael calling out.

"Mamaaaa!" I hear Elliot and Sammi shouting.

"Hold up you three, let's go find your dad and let him know your home" Emmett tells them.

I hear other voices with the kids, presumably Rose, Jasper and Alice.

I sigh as I get off the couch, and head toward the doorway realizing that it's time to tell the kids. I just hope that I have the strength to get through it. 

Chapter Text

EPOV

"Bella? Are you sure you're okay?" I ask, worried about my wife who has been locked in the bathroom for the past twenty minutes. I knock on the door again, pleading with her to let me in, but there's no answer.

"Isabella! I'm freaking out here. Can you at least answer me…Bella! I swear to God if you don't answer I'll break the door down!"

I hate yelling, but she's been sick for weeks now…always throwing up, never really having an appetite any more…and I'm worried, I don't know what I would do if something was wrong with her.

Finally I hear the click of the lock on the door and a very worn out Bella walks back into our bedroom. Looking her over, I can tell she's thrown up again. Her cheeks are flushed, her eyes are red…I really need to make her go see the doctor.

"Bella" I sigh. "I don't want an argument from you. You've been sick for weeks now. You need to see the doctor."

All of a sudden, she looks very nervous. I know Bella hates dealing with going to the doctor, but she's never looked nervous like this before. Maybe she knows something is wrong? My mind immediately starts running through all the various diseases and illnesses that she might have and I make a mental note to start researching best physicians in the country to care for her. I'm sure I have a few people from the CDC on speed dial at work.

"Edward" she says, her voice hoarse and almost a whisper. "I agree, I probably should go to the doctor, but…I think I know why I've been so sick."

Oh God. I feel my heart stutter to a halt in my chest. She's sick…she knows what's wrong and hasn't told me. It's got to be serious if she's hiding it…

"Breathe Edward" she whispers to me as she takes my hand and leads me to sit on the bed, taking the spot next to me.

"I've kind of suspected for a while now, but …well now I know for sure." Bella explains, as she pulls a white stick out of her pocket, handing it to me, a huge grin on her face.

I look from the stick to Bella and back again, taking note of the plus sign on it. I'm utterly dumbstruck. I know what that plus sign means, and I know I should be saying something, but I haven't a clue as to what it should be.

"Well…say something Daddy" Bella says nervously, her eyes quickly starting to shift from happiness to concern.

"Are you sure?" I manage to mutter.

"The box said its 99% accurate. Are…are you not happy?" she questions worriedly.

"What? Oh God…Bella, of course I'm happy. I'm just shocked is all. I've been so worried about you being sick all the time, I had myself convinced you had some weird disease and that I was going to have call in some favors at the Center for Disease Control to make sure you got better."

Bella just stares at me blankly. I think my word vomit has stunned her into silence.

Looking back down at the pregnancy test in my hand, the enormity and the reality of the situation hits me. My Bella is having a baby, my baby…I'm going to be a father, and I couldn't be happier about it.

"I'm going to be a daddy" I say softly, a smile creeping across my face.

"And I'm going to be a mommy" Bella replies, a smile on her face as well.

I can't help myself, and scoop Bella in my arms and spin her in circles as I try to contain my excitement. The two of us can't contain our excited laughter as I plop us both onto the bed, where we spend the next several hours celebrating our impending parenthood.

I'm jolted out of my daydream as I feel three small bodies collide into mine and try to hug me. They know something is wrong. I can see it in my children's eyes. I don't know how I'm supposed to do this. Bella always handled the more serious conversations, the difficult stuff with the kids. I'm not equipped for this.

"Daddy, where's Momma?" Sammi asks me, and I have to bite my lip to hold back the sob that threatens to escape. She looks so much like her mother it hurts, but I can't break down…not now, not in front of the kids. I need to be strong for them, but I feel like I'm holding on to a thread. I look up at my friends and mother who are standing in the entry way to the room, pleading with my eyes for them to throw me a rope here, but they don't. After offering apologetic looks, they all turn and leave me to deal with telling my children something that will utterly tear their world apart.

Bending down, I pick up my baby girl, settling her on my hip as I walk over to the couch and sit down, positing Samantha on my lap.

"Come here boys. I need to talk to you about something very very important." I say.

My heart is pounding in my chest and my throat feels like it's going to close. I don't know how to do this. There's no manual for this, no Tragedy Talk for Dummies book that can give me instructions.

"Are you okay Dad? Is Mom here? How come we had to leave camp to come to Nana's house?" Michael asks in quick succession. He may look like me, but his personality is that of his mother…I miss her more than I ever thought possible already, and I'm again fighting back the tears.

Clearing my throat, I figure it's now or never.

"Well that's what I wanted to talk to you about buddy." I start, almost freezing like a deer in headlights as I feel the eyes of all three of my children focused solely on me.

"Do you all remember when Father Garrett talked about heaven in Sunday school?" I ask, hoping this is the easiest way to do this…the best way to do this without royally fucking up my children's emotional well-being.

"Duh Dad. Heaven is where Jeevus lives. Its way up in the sky where we can't see it." Michael tells me.

"Jesus, Michael. His name is pronounced Jesus. But that's right. Heaven is where Jesus lives."

"Why are we talking about heaven Pop? Where's Mom? Why are we talking about heaven and Mom's not here, and…and…heaven is where Grampa went when I was little cause he died. Why isn't Mom here Dad? I want Mom!" Elliot says as the tears start pouring down his face. I can see it in his eyes…he knows something's wrong. I need to do this, and do it fast, before they get any more worked up.

"That's what we need to talk about El." I explain, rubbing his back with my free hand in an attempt to soothe him.

"Mom isn't here right now. She had an accident and got really really sick." I manage to get out before my own tears start falling.

"Well, can we call her on her cell phone and ask her to get better and come home now?" Sammi asks me.

Oh how I wish it were that simple, I think to myself.

"I'm sorry baby, but we cant." My voice cracks and I have to take a breath to calm down before I keep talking.

"Do you remember your pet fish baby? How you woke up that one morning and they were sleeping and wouldn't wake up?"

I see my daughter nod her head, and I can only hope I'm explaining this right, that she'll understand…on some level at least.

"Well sweetheart, that's kind of what happened with Mommy. You see, Mommy is very sick. She got a really bad boo boo and when that happens to people like it did to Mommy, they sometimes have trouble waking up."

I hope they understand. I can't explain in more detail, they don't need to know the details, even if that quack doctor at the hospital told me to be as honest as possible with them…that it would be better for them to understand as much as possible and hear it from me rather than someone else later on.

"And now she's up in heaven with Jeevus forever?" Michael asks, tears welling in his eyes as he realizes his mommy isn't here.

"Not exactly buddy" I say softly. "Mommy's in the hospital and the doctors there are working very hard to make her better, but she might have to go and live with Jesus from now on." I reply, not bothering to correct his mispronunciation because really…Jesus, Jeevus…the name doesn't matter right now. What matters is that He wasn't there to save my wife and spare my kids from possibly having to grow up without a mother.

"So no more mommy?"

"But I want Mom here with us"

"I want my Mom NOW"

I don't even really know who said what as the reality hits all three kids at once and I'm trying to juggle all three in my arms, the four of us becoming a sobbing mess as I try to tell my children how much I love them, how much their mother loves them, that everything will be okay, even if I don't believe it myself, I need to at least pretend to for the kids.

I guess everyone else realizes I've told the kids by this point because they all cautiously enter the room. Alice and Rose offer to take the kids, but I can't bear to be apart from them. They're the only part of my Bella that I have right now.

After a while, Alice and my mother go into the kitchen to make some dinner for everyone. Once the food is ready, we all sit around the table, and it's like pulling teeth trying to get the kids to eat. Elliott flat out refuses, Michael plays with his food before talking about how Mommy's food is better and Sammi is crying because Bella isn't here to cut her food up the way she likes it. As for me, I'm just trying to hold on to the last shred of my sanity, so I just tell the kids they don't have to eat and tell them it's time for bed.

Alice and Rosalie help me get the kids ready for bed, but a whole new round of arguments and tears start when it's time to go to sleep. The kids don't want to be alone in their rooms, so I settle on moving them into the master suite that used to be my room since it has a king size bed for them all to fit on.

After I tuck them all in, hugging each of them tightly and telling them I love them, I just sit with them as they settle down and I realize the most important thing I need to tell them.

"Your mom loves all three of more than I could ever tell you. You are the most important people in her life, and you need to know that she's trying as hard as she can to get better so she can come home to you. Mom's accident is a sad thing, and if you want to talk to me about it, or what you're feeling you can, any time you want to. I will always be here for you. I'm not going anywhere, I promise."

The three of them just lay there for a moment before I'm given an answer of head nods and "okays".

I sit with them a few more minutes and just when I think they are getting ready to doze off, I hear Elliott's voice, and it breaks my heart because he sounds like such a lost little boy in this moment.

"Hey Dad? Do you think you could sing the mouse song for us?" my son asks me.

I freeze. I don't know if I can handle that song right now, but at the same point, I can't deny my children anything either. An American Tail was always Bella's favorite movie and once we had the kids, she got all three of them hooked on it. Even at twelve Elliott will still watch it with his brother and sister every now and then. He says its cause they nagged him to, but I know he likes it too, even if he'd never admit to it.

The mouse song was from the movie, and Bella would sing it every night at bedtime with Elliott to put him to sleep, she did the same with Michael although he doesn't ask for it as much, and it was still a regular part of Samantha's bedtime routine. I just don't know if I have the strength to get through the song, but I have to try for my kids.

I start singing, and as I do, I images of the first night we brought each of our children home and put them to bed for the first time with Bella singing this song to them run through my head as the words strangle my heart and my thoughts run wild, each more painful the one before…

Somewhere out there,
beneath the pale moonlight,
someone's thinking of me and loving me tonight.

I'm always thinking of you Bella…you were always in my thoughts. I just wish I showed you more often how much I love you.

Somewhere out there,
someone's saying a prayer,
that we'll find one another in that big somewhere out there.

Will you fight to survive for me baby? Will you give me the chance to make things right? Will we be together again?

And even though I know how very far apart we are,
it helps to think we might be wishing on the same bright star.

You're too far away Bella. I need you, the kids need you. I need you baby, because I don't think I can do this without your help.

And when the night wind starts to sing a lonesome lullaby,
it helps to think we're sleeping underneath the same big sky.

Somewhere out there,
if love can see us through,
then we'll be together, somewhere out there,
out where dreams come true.

I'll always love you Bella, and I promise to be a better man for you whatever it takes. I'll sell CP, I'll move us somewhere far away so we can start over. I know I can never make up for all the things I've done wrong, but I still want to try.

I manage to make it through the song without completely breaking down, Bella's own beautiful voice haunting me in my mind as I sang. Thankfully the kids seem to be sleeping, so I carefully slide off the bed and walk out of the room, closing the door behind me, only to slid down to the floor once it's closed.

Everything I've done wrong, every mistake I've made over the years echoes through my head as my body is wracked with sobs, and Emmett and Jasper come to pick me off the floor and put me to bed in the room across the hall from my children.

Once they have me in the bed, Jasper offers me one of the pills the doctor had prescribed for me and a glass of water. I don't want to take it and begin to argue, but think better of it when I realize tomorrow will be an equally difficult day of waiting in limbo.

Chapter Text

I hit the save button on my final essay of my college career just as I hear the door to our apartment open. The sound of Bella's feet skipping down the hall let me know she's right outside the door. As soon as the door opens she runs towards me and launches herself into my arms and onto my lap as she starts talking a mile a minute.

"Oh Edward everything is perfect! We finalized everything today, my dress is finished and the dresses for the girls look just amazing! I can't wait for the wedding baby." She tells me, as she continues rambling on a mile a minute about all the details for our wedding.

Our wedding…Isabella Swan will finally be Isabella Cullen in two weeks. Personally I can't wait, no matter how much my friends tell me I'm giving up my partying years, I know Bella is it for me.

I smile and nod in all the right places…I think….as she tells me about the cake and the flowers and the decorations for the church. I don't really know what is going on with all that stuff, but as long as Bella is happy, that's all that matters…especially after all the fighting we've gone through with her parents.

They wanted us to do the wedding their way. They weren't happy with Bella's dress because it wasn't traditional, they weren't happy with the bridesmaids dresses either because pink isn't an appropriate color for a wedding, or the caterer we chose or the cake. Bella spent too many nights crying over it all until I put my foot down. Bella's parents weren't happy about it and threatened to stop paying for the wedding. When they realized it didn't matter, and I told them that I'd pay for it myself out of my trust fund, they realized they wouldn't be getting their way and begrudgingly just went along with everything, although we were the recipients of a good number of snide comments along the way.

So to see Bella this happy over everything, I don't care if it means I have to hear Bella talk about everything from the seating arrangements to the detailed schedule she's mapped out for us for the day of the ceremony…my girl is happy, and that's all that matters.

The next two weeks fly by, the guys and I go for our final fittings for our tuxedos and I finalize our plans for the honeymoon with the travel agent. Family, friends, and business colleagues of our parents arrive and everything is a blur of activity as we get everyone settled in hotels, have our bachelor and bachelorette parties, and finally the wedding rehearsal.

Now, the night before the wedding, I'm antsy, nervous, excited, and I can't sleep, although Bella not being here with me may be a big part of it. The one thing her parents refused to bend on was her staying at their house the night before the wedding, which is why I am here in our apartment all alone. Sleep finally claims me in the wee hours of the night, only for my alarm clock to jolt me back awake a few hours later.

The morning speeds by as Emmett and Jasper pick me up and take me to the church where we get ready. My jitters are ever present, not because I'm nervous about getting married, but because I'm afraid that Bella will realize that I'm not good enough for her and back out at the last minute. Finally we're told its time for the ceremony to start.

Standing at the end of the aisle, my eyes are trained on the door. My breath hitches as it opens and I get a glimpse of the most beautiful woman in the world walking towards me. I look away for a brief moment, to wipe the tears from my eyes, but when I look back up, Bella isn't walking towards me. Instead I see a coffin being carried forward by pall bearers.

"BELLA!" I start to scream, my chest heaving as I gasp for air, the panic rapidly rising within me.

Everything seems to move in slow motion as I see the pall bearers walk past me and place the casket on the stand in front of the altar, a picture of Bella on a stand to the right of it. I feel my legs give out as the sobs wrack my body and I beg for my wife to return to me.

BANG BANG BANG…I'm startled awake by the banging on the door to my room. I feel my heart racing in my chest and can feel the wetness on my face from the tears I cried in my sleep. As I take deep breaths to try to calm myself, the door opens and Jasper walks in, closing the door behind him.

"Everything okay man? We could hear you screaming downstairs," He asks me.

I just stare at him. I mean really? Asking me if everything is okay? What part of anything that has happened in the past few days is okay?

"The kids…did the kids hear me? I don't want to upset them…I…I need to keep it together for their sake." I mumble as I realize the other part of what Jasper said.

"They're fine Edward. Your mom made them breakfast and took them out on the patio to eat so I don't think they heard anything. They were asking where you were earlier, so we had to show them you were just asleep in here. I think they're worried about something happening to you too."

I just nod my head and sit up in bed. Jasper puts his hand on my shoulder and squeezes. It's his way of saying he's here for me and it means more than I could ever tell him. He and Emmett are truly the brothers I never had.

"Edward…" Jasper starts to say. "I don't know if there's anything I can say to make this situation any better but…please know that Alice and I, and Emmett and Rose are here for you and the kids. I know we haven't really been around much lately and we should have made more of an effort, but we're not going anywhere on you. Anything you need, any time."

"Thanks man," is the only response I manage to formulate, but I think Jasper understands. He nods his head and leaves me to get ready for the day.

I climb out of bed, and head to the bathroom. I shower and skip shaving again, because really, I'm still not trusting myself with a blade that close to my throat, and get dressed before heading downstairs. As soon as I make my way into the kitchen, my kids rush to my side and cling to me. Now I can see what Jasper meant when he said they might be scared about something happening to me.

Kneeling down so I'm on their level, I say what I can to try to help calm their fears, although I'm sure only time will do so.

"Hey guys. Did you sleep okay? Uncle Jasper told me you needed to see me this morning. That's okay you know. If you guys ever need me, you just let me know and I'll be there as fast as I can. Now I want you all to listen carefully, because I'm going to tell you something very important. I'm not going anywhere on you guys. I will always be here for you okay? I love you guys more than anything."

I watch as all three of them nod their heads, and I hope that my words offer them some comfort, and make a mental note to keep reminding them that I'm not going anywhere.

The four of us head to the kitchen, where my mother has a plate waiting for me. I can feel everyone's eyes on me, waiting for me to break down, but I can't…not now, not in front of the kids.

I finish eating quickly, and get the kids settled with Alice, Rose, and my mother so that I can go back to the hospital. The guys offered to come with me, something I'm extremely thankful for.

Once the kids are thoroughly distracted with toys, video games, and movies, I head out with the guys, tossing the keys to Emmett since I know I'm in no condition to be driving.

A short while later the guys are in the waiting room, and I'm in Bella's room at the hospital and it's as if all breath as left my body. I struggle to make sense of everything…the wires and tubes, the beeping machines.

The information goes in one ear and out the other when I return to the waiting room and the doctors fill me in on Bella's status. Blood transfusions, perforated organs, possibilities of system failure, infection, and sepsis. The only thing that sticks out to me is when the doctor says the next forty eight hours will let them know one way or the other how Bella's recovery will go. Hopefully between Emmett and Jasper, someone will remember all the rest of the details.

An hour and a half after I walked in, I've been updated about everything, and with Bella being in a critical care unit, my time for visitation has ended for the day.

The three of us stop on the way home and grab a quick lunch before heading back to my mother's house. I notice the car as soon as we get into the driveway, and honestly I'm surprised they haven't shown up sooner…Bella's parents are here. Maybe I should have reached out to them once everything happened, but frankly I was more concerned about my own children than them.

Charlie and Renee Swan are truly two of the vilest people I know. Now I know I have acted beyond reprehensibly towards Bella, but her parents really were the front runners in the worst parents of the year contest. Nothing Bella ever did was good enough, in their eyes, Bella could never do anything right, and yet all she ever wanted was their approval, to make them happy.

As Jasper, Emmett, and I walk towards the door, I whisper to them.

"Do me a favor guys and make sure the kids aren't around when I talk to her parents. I doubt it's going to be a pleasant conversation."

Both of them nod, and we walk in to see Charlie and Renee sitting and talking with my mother, and the kids all sitting in the kitchen with Rose and Alice.

Seeing me walk in, my mother excuses herself from the room, and heads towards the kitchen with Emmett and Jasper in toe, asking the kids if they'd like to bake cookies.

Looking over towards Bella's parents, they look picture perfect, as if they haven't even shed a single tear over their daughter. All I can think of is how these people could be so cold.

"Why don't we go talk in the study," I ask, hoping to keep this conversation as far away from the kids as possible.

Bella's parents follow to the study, and we all find a place to sit, me in one of the wingback chairs, and the two of them on the loveseat.

The tension could be cut with a knife, and the three of us sit there in an awkward silence, no one really knowing what to say.

After a while, Charlie finally speaks.

"So…have you thought about how you're planning on handling damage control?"

"Damage control?" I question, immediately knowing where he's going with this.

"Well surely you've got some sort of idea of how you're going to spin this to the press. Neither you nor we need this sort of bad press, and I think the best think would be for you to just tell us when she's getting out of the hospital so we can ship her away again, perhaps spin this as some sort of stress related breakdown," chimes in Renee.

It's enough to make me snap. The two of them, not even concerned with how their grandchildren are coping with the whole situation. All they care about is their precious public image.

"Bad press," I shout. "That's all you're worried about. Bella is your daughter for Christ's sake, and all you care about is your fucking public image. What about your grandchildren? Have you even thought about them? Are you even feeling anything over Bella's suicide attempt? Are you even capable of feeling anything at all? And as for my wife and her condition, I will not sweep it under the rug like some dirty little secret. We lived most of our lives doing that with our problems and look where it's gotten us. No more! Anyone who asks, aside from the children, will be told the whole truth of what happened. Bella deserves at least that much respect from me, considering I failed to show it to her in the past. I will not hide her away like she's something to be ashamed of. No more secrets and lies and pretenses just so we can look good."

"How dare you talk to us like that," Charlie snarls at me. "What Bella did was a sin, that much can't be ignored. The Church is clear on that fact. Its best we just move on from this. As for the children, with how fucked Bella was in the head, they would probably be better off without her. And as for you pointing fingers and blame at Renee and I...you're just as much to blame in this whole damn mess. You never paid her any attention. She was always complaining and whining about how you were never home, how you never showed her you loved her. You may as well have pulled the damn trigger yourself!"

Charlie's words cause me to see red and I launch myself at him, my right hook landing square on his jaw. I have him pinned to the ground, pummeling him with punches and smacks as I shout.

"Don't you think I know I'm responsible? Don't you think I wish I could do it all different? That's the difference between you and me. I've realized my role, accepted my responsibility and now I'm trying to be a better man so I can be a better father to my children, and a better husband to Bella should she make it out of this. I owe Bella at least that much, but you…you'll never change. That's why after the today, you won't ever see my kids again. I won't allow you to poison their lives the way you did Bella's."

My swings slow as I run out of breath and tire out. Charlie's face is bloody and looks like ground beef. In an instant, he swings us around and is on his feet, pulling me with him and slamming me against the bookcase, his hands tightening around my throat. I'm gasping for air and clawing at his hands, as he screams at me.

"I swear to God Almighty I will kill you."

I feel my air supply cutting off when I hear a small voice laced with fear crying out.

"Please don't hurt my daddy away too," Michael pleads.

Charlie's hands drop from my throat, and I cough as I attempt to inhale much needed air as I notice Rosalie and Alice trying to pull all three kids from the room.

"I'm so sorry" Alice whispers. "We all heard the shouting, but they ran so fast and got here before we could stop them."

I nod in understanding, knowing that if they could they would have kept the kids away.

After Alice and Rose get the kids back in the kitchen, I head towards the living room to see the Swans out.

As they walk out the door, I remind them of what I said.

"Bella is still in the hospital, you are not to show up there without letting me know before hand. I will not have you around my children anymore. I meant what I said. After today I don't want you coming around anymore."

"You can't keep us from our grandchildren" hisses Renee.

"I can and I will. I may have failed Bella once, but I won't fail her again. It's up to me to protect our children, especially from people as hateful as you. I won't hesitate to call the police if you so much as think of trying to come near them," I growl in response.

Bella's parents say nothing else as they turn and leave. The only regret lingering in my mind over everything that happened today is that it didn't happen sooner. Maybe then things might have been different.

I try to push the maybes and what ifs out of my head as I walk towards the kitchen so I can check on Elliot, Michael, and Sammi. There's a lot we need to discuss…how Bella's doing, when they can see her, but the most important thing being the fact that tomorrow we are going back home…to our house, the house where my entire world was both created and shattered into a million pieces. I just hope I'm strong enough to get through it.

Chapter Text

EPOV

"Edward, baby…can I take this blindfold off now?" Bella giggles.

"Just a few more minutes Bella. We're almost there." I tell her.

After our honeymoon, Bella and I decided we should start looking for a house of our own. What Bella didn't know was that I had already found what would be the perfect house for us, especially once we started a family of our own. All that was left was Bella's approval and we could sign on the dotted line, making the house ours.

Pulling up into the driveway, I park the car and turn it off before taking the blindfold off Bella, whispering "Surprise" as she sees the house for the first time.

Confusion is evident on her face as she looks at the house and then at me.

"Edward…who does this house belong to?" she asks.

"Us, Bella. It can belong to us, if you like it."

"What? Edward!" She starts saying, but I cut her off before she can say anything else.

"Baby, shhh. Nothing is finalized yet. I wanted to make sure you liked it first. Let's just go inside, look around, and if you don't like it we can look for something else okay?"

Bella nods her head in agreement and we both get out of the car and walk into the house where the real estate agent is waiting for us.

I can't help but chuckle when Bella gasps as soon as we walk inside. Her eyes are wide as we go through the rooms and everything the house includes. The look on her face when the agent mentions the fact that the house sits on five acres of land tells me that we won't be looking at any other houses.

After going over a few more details, the real estate agent leaves us alone to talk a few things over.

"Edward, this house is perfect." Bella murmurs.

"Will you be happy here baby? Is this where you can see us raising a family?" I ask.

"Yes Edward. I can see it all here; children, grandchildren…us growing old and grey together. We can build ourselves a life together here."

"Then consider it yours baby. All we have to do is sign the paperwork."

"But…" Bella starts.

"Shh. No buts Bella. My parents are giving us money for a down payment. It was part of their wedding gift. The rest we'll be able to afford between my trust fund and now that I'm working for my dad. Let me do this for you baby. Let me give you the house of your dreams." I whisper to her as I hold her close.

"Okay" Bella murmurs back to me.

We walk into the kitchen where the real estate agent was waiting for us, and fill out all of the paperwork to get the sale started.

Three days later we get the call telling us the house is ours, and letting us know we can start moving in at the end of the month.

The countdown until our move in day flies by as we spend much of our time packing up our apartment and shopping for things to furnish the house with, scheduling delivery for the day we're planning on moving in.

Finally its moving day, and between the hired crew and the help of our friends, much of the house has been set up. Bella and I are snuggled together on the couch, enjoying the fire burning in the fireplace.

"Thank you so much for finding us this house Edward. I know we're going to be happy here." Bella says softly as she leans in to kiss me.

"That's all I want baby, is for you to be happy" I reply before kissing her back.

I'm pulled out of my thoughts as I park the car in the driveway, and I realize that everything I said all those years ago when we moved in here was true. All I had ever wanted was for Bella to be happy. I thought I was doing the best I could to make that happen, I was just too blind to really see what was going on in front of me, or maybe I wasn't. Maybe I knew all along, but just couldn't admit it or accept it. Either way, it doesn't change things. Bella is still hanging by a thread. All I can do now is learn from it and try to be a better father for my children.

I get the kids out of the car and we head towards the house. Samantha is in my arms, clinging to my neck, Michael is squeezing my other hand so tight that I think he might break it, and Elliott is kicking at the gravel in the driveway as he trails behind us.

Once we get to the door, I set Sammi on the ground and manage to pry my hand out of Michael's grasp. I unlock the front door and holding my breath, lead my children inside. None of us know what to expect, I can feel the kids nerves rolling off of them. I'm just thankful that Michael and Samantha are too young to realize why we had to wait to come back home. Elliott on the other hand, well at twelve years old he kind of put two and two together. That was not a fun conversation…luckily for now he didn't push for more information than knowing that his mom got hurt at home. I know one day all three will need to be told the entire truth behind all of this, but for now I'm going with the whole less is more mantra.

Looking around the house, everything looks the same and different all at once. It looks as though nothing happened here, yet Bella's absence is front and center. The house always used to have the smell of some sort of baked goodies from her always making sure there was a special treat for the kids for their after school snack. Now the only scent that lingers in the air is bleach from when the cleaning crew was here.

"Daddy my tummy's hungry" Samantha says as she tugs on my hand.

"Okay princess, what do you say we go into the kitchen and I make us all some sandwiches for lunch?"

"Peanut butter and fluff?" Samantha asks as she gives me a puppy dog look, the same look her mother used to give me when she really wanted something. I have to fight to keep the sob from coming out of me.

"Sure sweetie. Anything you want," I manage to choke out, my voice broken.

We make our way to the kitchen, and Elliot helps get the plates down while Sammi and Michael sit at the counter. I pull the peanut butter and fluff out of the pantry and then turn to get the bread to make the sandwiches. As I open up the jars, I smile as I remember the first time Sammi discovered peanut butter and fluff. It was ironic that it should be her favorite sandwich since just the mention of peanut butter or fluff would send Bella off to the bathroom puking during all three pregnancies. But Sammi loved the stuff; we just didn't let her have it too often, and reserved it as a special treat. I just needed to remember that regardless of what we're going through, that I can't indulge the kids too much.

Once I get the sandwiches made I walk over to the fridge to get the kids some juice for with their lunch, but I stop dead in my tracks when I see the picture on the refrigerator door. It was a candid shot that my mother managed to take of us all last Christmas. Bella, the kids and I all had on Santa hats and were surrounded by wrapping paper. The kids were giggling, and Bella and I were both smiling. We were all genuinely happy that day. Thinking back, it's the last truly happy day I can remember having with Bella, and that fact just makes me feel like shit. Christmas was over six months ago…how can something so long ago be the last happy memory I have of my wife?

I wrench the door open and take my time finding the juice so I can try to compose myself. Once I have my emotions in check, I grab the apple juice and shut the fridge. After I pour it into cups, I join my kids and we all eat lunch. After we finish and the dishes are in the sink, I ask Elliott to help his brother and sister pick out the clothes they want to wear tomorrow.

During breakfast at my mother's house I talked with the kids about what would happen tomorrow. I explained what would go be going to the hospital to see their mother. I was as honest as possible, and I think they understood, but my mother and I arranged that she would take the kids home early if need be if they wanted to leave or just couldn't handle being there.

After I see the kids all head off towards their rooms, arguing over whose outfit they are going to pick out first, I turn and head back towards my bedroom. I stop just outside of it. The door is shut, and I feel myself starting to tremble as I relive the memory of the last time I was in this room. My hand shakily grabs the handle and opens the door.

From the look of it, everything seems to be in its proper place, but then again, the bedroom wasn't where disaster had struck, it was the bathroom where the nightmare occurred. Taking a deep breath and reminding myself that I needed to face this at some point, I walk into the middle of the room and look around. Reminders of Bella are everywhere I look…pictures, knick knacks on the dresser, even her scent is everywhere. It's more than I can handle and I finally break down and cry as I wrap my arms around myself in an effort to try to keep from falling apart. I've always loved this room because it was mine and Bella's, but now…well now I've never felt more alone.

After a while, I manage to get my tears under control and my eyes set on the door to the bathroom. I know I need to go in there and face what happened, but I'm too afraid to do it when it's just me and the kids in the house. Reaching into my pocket, I call up Emmett and he agrees to come over and watch the kids so I can deal with things on my own.

Twenty minutes after I hang up with him, I hear the front door open and the kids asking if Uncle Emmett can go swimming with them in the pool. After seeing that the kids are situated, I head back up the stairs and back to my room. I stand just outside the bathroom for a good ten minutes before grabbing the handle and opening the door.

When I look around, it's as if nothing ever happened in this room. The lipstick has been washed off the mirror. The streaks of blood are no longer tainting the tiles. It's as if the entire ordeal was something out of my imagination. I walk over to the tub, my hand grazing where Bella was sitting along its edge just a few short days before. As soon as my fingertips make contact, I break down, sliding to the floor and curling into a ball as the sobs wrack my body.

Every moment of that day plays like a horror movie through my mind, and I can't help but scream for my wife to come back to me as I relive hearing the gun being fired as her blood bloomed and spread, a stark contrast against the white of the shirt she wore. Eventually, my sobs turn to whimpers and I get myself together enough to head back into the bedroom.

Deciding that I need to tackle arranging my leave of absence from work first, I walk over to the desk in our room, sit down and go to look for some paper and a pen so that I can write out my letter to the board of directors. I quickly halt my search though when my eyes see Bella's letters to the children and her journal. Flipping through the letters, I'm floored by how many there are…prom, sixteenth birthday, high school graduation, wedding day, birth of their first child…Bella made sure to arrange it so she could still be there for them through all their important milestones. I can't fathom the time it took her to write all of these, and its then that I realize how much of a failure I've been as a husband. These letters must have taken Bella at least a few weeks to get together, and yet I never once noticed that she was planning something like this.

I take the letters and lock them away in the safe in my closet, wanting to ensure their safety God forbid the worst should happen and I actually need to give them to the children. I walk back to the desk, grab Bella's journal and lay down on the bed. Nervously, I open the cover and see a slip of paper slide out. Picking it up, I see Bella's handwriting on it.

Edward,

I know my leaving you has caused you pain. I'm sorry for that, please know it was never my intention to cause you pain, but to only find peace and freedom from my own. I've always loved you, I always will. I hope that what you read in these pages, if nothing else, allows you to understand why I needed to go.

Until we meet again, all my love,

Bella

The tears are already falling, but I don't even bother to try to stop them as I begin to read the first entry…

I shouldn't be feeling like this. I know it's wrong. I have absolutely every reason to be happy…a husband, three children, and a gorgeous home. I don't have to work, so I'm free to devote myself and my time to my family and friends. So why do I feel like I don't matter, like no one even sees me, and that if I were to disappear…no one would even bother to notice.

I used to be a happy person. I used to smile and see the joy in life. Now I force the smiles and fake the laughs. I'm not quite sure how things got like this, and I don't know how to fix it. I just want to be able to care again, feel something…anything other than sad and worthless. Maybe I should try talking to Edward again. I tried once but he was so caught up in his work I don't even think he heard me…

As I read, I'm assaulted by memories of every time I turned Bella away or brushed her off. How I wish I could change it all now. How I wish Bella was here so I could try to fix everything, tell her I know how wrong I was. I feel as though my heart is breaking more than it already has, but I know I need to keep reading…

I tried asking him to go back to therapy with me, but he told me he didn't have time for that kind of bullshit when his company needed him, his employees needed him to do his job so that he could try to keep them from losing theirs. After he said that I asked him what about what the kids and I needed, but he just scoffed at the question telling me that he would always be there for his children and that I had nothing to complain about since he provided me with a comfortable life.

He just didn't get it. I didn't care about how big the house was or the material things, or what kind of car I had to drive. I just wanted my husband back; I wanted to feel loved again. But the distance between us grew, the old cracks resurfaced, and seemingly, we were more distant from each other now than we were in the past. I tried to talk with Rose and Alice about it, but they didn't seem to understand my side of things, asking me what I expected Edward to do with the economy the way it was and him needing to do whatever he could to keep his company intact. Suddenly, I became the Debbie Downer in our group, and they started pulling away too. I can't blame them, all I ever had to talk about were my problems, and really…who wanted to listen to that every time we hung out.

I guess seeing my friends pull away was what made me realize how alone I really was. My parents certainly didn't understand or even care to try to, my husband was more like a phantom with how little I saw him, and my friends couldn't deal with me and my "insecurity issues" as they called them. I think this was when I started letting the darkness consume me. I started just running on autopilot. I stopped feeling, just doing whatever I needed to in order to make it through the day.

Reading Bella's words on these pages, all of her pain and hurt laid out here in front of me…its more than I can bear, but I can't help but think that feeling this pain, having to live with the knowledge of everything that Bella went through, knowing how I failed…it's the least of what I should have to deal with considering the amount of pain that Bella felt that I was responsible for. Wiping my eyes so that they are clear enough to finish reading, I brace myself for what is to come, and force myself to finish reading the journal…

I've spent my morning getting all of my final preparations done. Looking through all the family albums and picture frames throughout the house, choosing my favorites to keep with me in my room. I needed the comfort of those memories, those happy times that are all but lost to me now. Glancing over the pictures…prom with Edward, pictures of me with Alice and Rose from college, my wedding day, the birth of each of my children, various family outings…I can't help but cry. How I wish I could live within these memories forever.

I just wish most of all that things could have been different. I've thought about it a lot…the what ifs and the maybes. Maybe if I was stronger and more confident in myself enough to truly confront Edward about my feelings. Maybe if I wasn't so afraid of upsetting or letting down my parents. What if Edward's dad didn't die when he did and Edward and I had more time as a family before having to take on the responsibility of CP. There were so many possibilities available to us and all of them seemingly were snatched away before we could ever even really dream of them. I guess when it all comes down to it; I never really stood a chance.

Before I go, I need to say this to you Edward, here and now, since I don't know if I will have the strength or courage to say it later. I love you, and I always have, no matter what we have gone through. I believe with my whole heart that you love me too, regardless of how lost you have gotten along the way, I don't think that you ever truly meant to hurt me, so for that reason it is easy for me to say that I forgive you, and that I am sorry that I'm not strong enough to carry on in this journey with you.

I love you and will be with you always,

Bella

I can hear Bella's voice speaking each and every word that I read, and by the time I finish, her words of I forgive you and I love you and will be with you always are echoing in my head. All I can think of is how can she even think of forgiving me for what I've done, I don't know if I will ever be able to forgive myself, nor do I think I am worthy of forgiveness either.

Chapter Text

EPOV

Three weeks. It had been three weeks since Bella's attempted suicide and she hadn't woken up yet. The doctors couldn't explain it, they had lifted her medically induced coma after the second week, and when Bella didn't wake up, all they were saying was that sometimes after severely traumatic events the mind shuts itself down as a way to cope heal itself. That answer didn't sit well with me. I wanted a medical explanation for why my wife wasn't awake yet.

I should be grateful that things had even turned out the way they had. From what the doctors had said, Bella was what they called a "one in a million" case. She had so many injuries when she had been brought in, and after that first surgery, she had to go back under the knife a second time when it seemed as though she was turning septic. Some of the sutures in her intestinal tract had managed to open up creating an infection in her gut. The doctors caught it quickly enough but still had to amp up the level of antibiotics she was on, which was a bit of a delicate balance as it was considering how sensitive her damaged kidney was.

This whole thing was such a complicated mess. For all the progress Bella would make towards a recovery, it seemed like she always would take two steps forward and five steps back. She'd start to heal, but then develop an infection. She'd stabilize enough to get off the ventilator, but by the next day would go into respiratory distress and need to be intubated again. Her kidney would be looking better, then it wouldn't be, then it would, then the doctors would be talking about removing it all together. I felt like I was on a roller coaster that I couldn't get off of. I didn't know how much more I could take.

Doctors, my mother, and my friends all tried talking about "options". Apparently options is code word for making the decision to not give my sick wife the chance to live again. DNR, heroic and extraordinary measures, quality of life…all these phrases got thrown at me. I couldn't make those decisions though. All I could ever muster was to tell everyone that I wanted everything and anything possible done to save Bella and get her well. But now…sitting here, holding her cold hand as she gets closer and closer to her fourth week of being comatose…I can feel myself questioning my resolve, feel myself beginning to give up. Maybe this is the price I was supposed to pay for all of the mistakes I've made. Maybe the cost of my being an asshole is losing my wife.

I prayed every day for God to intervene, to wake Bella up. If not for me than for Elliot, Michael, and Sammi. They needed their mother and it seemed like the longer it took for her to wake up, the more scared they became. They were supposed to start school in a few days, but none of them wanted to go, and I couldn't blame them, which is why I arranged for them to have private tutors to homeschool them for the time being…

Walking into the house after just getting back from the hospital, I tell the kids to go get themselves a snack and pick out a movie for us all to watch. I want them to try to enjoy this last bit of summer they have left before going back to school. As much as I don't want them too far away from me right now, I know they need the chance to maintain some sense of normalcy.

Elliot is still waiting for me in the kitchen even though his brother and sister have already run into the den to start sorting through our DVD collection.

"Dad…" he says, his voice nervous and shaky.

"What's up El?"

"Well…it's just…" He trails off, unsure of how to get the words out. I give him the time he needs to collect his thoughts and begin again. "You see… Michael and I were talking and…well, we know school is starting soon, but we really don't wanna go back there. Everyone will be asking us questions about Mom and honestly…we don't wanna be too far away when she wakes up. We want to be able to see her right away."

I'm so caught off guard by what he says. I had figured they would want the normal routine of school and their friends, but I never considered how hard it would be for them to have to deal with everyone knowing what happened to their mother and asking them questions about it. As for them wanting to be near Bella when she woke up, I knew I shouldn't indulge them too much in that line of thinking. We didn't yet know when or if she would wake up, but I didn't want to kill their hope yet. All of them, once they heard that for the most part Bella was out of the "danger zone," they all seemed to have their hope growing day by day as they waited for her to wake up. At least until the this week. It seems like its sinking in that she's been asleep too long, that maybe mommy won't wake up. It seems now like every day their hope is dying a little bit more. Which is why if not going to school is what they want, it's what I'm going to give them.

"Okay El. You don't have to go back to school." I tell him. "But I will expect you and your brother to work with a tutor for homeschooling and you will follow the curriculum you would have learned if you were back in school. And, once things get back to normal, you will go back to school. Deal?"

Elliot's hug as he agreed was all I needed to know I made the right decision to agree to his request.

"Please Bella," I whisper against the palm of my wife's hand. "Please wake up. If not for me, then for the kids. I know I've been horrible to you. I know you won't believe me when I tell you I want us to work on things…that I've been going to a counselor to sort my shit out. I don't blame you for not believing me. I haven't given you much to hang your trust on in terms of our relationship and how I treat you, but I want to prove to you that I can be the husband I used to be before everything got so fucked. Please baby, give me that chance."

I've never done so much begging in my life. Or so much self reflection. And let me tell you…it sucks. If I'm not here at the hospital or home with the kids, I'm at my therapists office. I knew I needed to start getting my shit together. I needed to be a better father, a better husband. Its been hard. I don't like having to take responsibility for everything I've done wrong, but it's helping. My therapist and I have been going through one of Bella's journal entries each time we meet and using that as a starting point. Every time I leave Aro's office I feel so emotionally raw…like someone just spent an hour scrubbing my skin with Brillo pads and bleach.

"…I guess that's when I started feeling different. I felt so bad about almost ruining Edward's dinner. I tried apologizing afterwards, but he just dismissed the issue, saying it was done and over with already. But it wasn't done. He managed to find ways to remind me of how I failed him, how he had to come and clean up the mess I made. I felt like a failure. I had always been able to make Edward happy and take care of our home and now it seemed like I couldn't any more. I tried to talk to Alice and Rosalie, but it seemed like they didn't understand or couldn't be bothered with my problem. Alice just told me to brush it off, that Edward was probably just having a stressful time at work, and that I should just be happy about not having to worry about taking care of the house anymore. Rosalie just told me to talk to Edward about it since it was mine and his problem and not hers.

I tried to make the best of things, but each day when the staff showed up it was like it was a reminder of my failure, my weakness that I couldn't take care of my own house. Edward was staying later and later at work too so I barely even got to see him anymore. It was as though we were just two people living in the same house. At one point we went three weeks without seeing each other, and another time we went almost two months without even exchanging so much as a hello. He was always a good father though, and made sure he made time for the boys, took them places, and showed up for all of their important school events. It was as if he had forgotten all about me, as if everything else overshadowed me, and I was just lost somewhere in the background. I felt invisible…"

Dr. Aro closes Bella's journal as he finished reading the entry we're starting from today and I feel like I have a knife twisting in my stomach. Had I really been so horrible. So self absorbed and worried about trying to make a name for myself…worried that I needed to keep doing bigger and better things with my company to prove that I was a good husband and father…a good provider that I lost all sight of what was important? Apparently I had.

"So tell me Edward," Dr. Aro begins. "What was so important about that dinner that the fact that Bella was running late made you react that way?"

I'm not sure how to respond…the truth is I do, but the truth hurts…especially when the truth is proof how how big a failure you are when it comes to being a compassionate human being.

"I…I was afraid," I admit.

"Of…" Dr. Aro prompts. He never does let me half ass an answer.

"Of the board thinking I wasn't as good a leader as my father. I can still remember being a kid and all the board members coming to our house for dinner. Everything was perfect. Every crystal class sparkled, every piece of silver flatware shined. Mom always had the meal ready to be served on time. I knew thats what they would expect from me…expect from a suitable replacement for Carlisle Cullen…and Bella… she forgot…and in my mind I felt like it was going to make me look imperfect…look incompetent."

"And so you took it out on her?"

"Yes," I reply, more ashamed of myself than ever. "I…I know now that it was wrong. I shouldn't have treated her that way. I should have spoken to her. Been honest about everything…how I was feeling, why I was so stressed about the dinner. More importantly I should have apologized to her after yelling at her."

Dr. Aro and I continue talking about other things from Bella's entry before he tells me our time for the day is up. As I go to leave he says one more thing to me.

"Edward," he begins. "I want you to think about something. So much of how you behaved, of who you've been has been based off of the need to fill this idea of perfection you think your father embodied and exhibited. Think about that, about what your mother told you in regards to the truth about your father's glaringly obvious lack of perfection. And think about how you want your children will act when trying to follow in your footsteps one day. Do you really want them to try to be what you or your father thought was perfect? Or do you want them to find their own way in the world, with a chance to not make the mistakes you did by being imperfect?"

Before I even try to respond he nods his head and tells me he'll see me in two days for our next session.

I guess Bella isn't the only one having trouble with two steps forward five steps back. Aro's a good therapist. He doesn't let me avoid the issues or cop out with a half assed answer to his questions. It's just that every time I feel like I'm starting to grow and understand what I did wrong and what I need to do to be better, he throws me curveballs which shine a light on a whole other set of issues and problems I need to sort through. Some days it seems like it's all too much. Like the hurt and the pain and the struggle to improve are too hard and that I would just be better off giving up because there is no way someone as horrible as me could ever become a decent human being again.

Looking at the clock, I know it's about time for me to head home for the day. I give Bella a kiss on her forehead, tell her I love her and that I'll be back tomorrow and then head home to my children.

Nothing could have prepared me though for the next day when I walked into the hospital again. As I step off the elevator, I can see a flurry of movement inside Bella's room. Doctors and nurses rushing in and out. I run to her room to see whats wrong, afraid that she's taken another turn for the worse, but what I see as I stop in the doorway…almost makes my legs give out from under me.

Bella.

Awake.

My wife is awake. Her beautiful brown eyes are open.

"Bella!" I cry out. "You're awake." I try to make my way towards her. To wrap my arms around her and tell her how sorry I am for everything…that I'm working on being better. That I want to be better for her and our kids. I never make it within a foot of her bed. The doctors push me back away from her and when I try to fight my way past them, an orderly with arms the size of tree trunks steps in to push me back towards the door.

"What's going on? Why won't you let me near my wife?" I shout.

"Because I asked them to," Bella replies, her voice barely more than a hoarse whisper.

"Because Edward… look at what you've driven me to," her words are slow, and in her scratchy voice come out blunt and harsh and caustic. Nothing at all like the soft, sweet voice I know my wife possesses.

"I damn near killed myself Edward. Because of you. Because you're not the husband I married all those years ago. I'm through being your doormat Edward. I need to take care of myself now. Make myself better for the sake of my children."

She turns her head away from me as she starts to cry.

"Bella…baby please. I'm trying to be better. I'm in therapy. I'm working through things. I've read the journal you left and I understand now. I know I wan't fair or even remotely human towards you. I was a monster. But please… I want us to work through this. I love you Bella. I'd do anything…"

I'm grasping at straws, begging her to just listen to me, to hear me out so we can try to find our way out of this darkness together, but she cuts me off before I can even finish talking, and when she speaks, it is with a certainty and a resolve I never heard from her before, cutting me straight to my heart, leaving me broken and devastated.

"No Edward. Not this time. You gave up on me a long time ago. You promised me too many times that we would work on things and fix them, and not once did you ever follow through. Things only ever got worse. I have nothing to base any sort of trust in you on. So now.. this time Edward.. I'm giving up on you."

I try once more to plead with her. Beg for a chance to just talk, but she won't have it.

"Please just go Edward," she says. "I don't want to see you anymore. Don't come back."

Chapter Text

" Bella!" I cry out. "Your awake." I try to make my way towards her. To wrap my arms around her and tell her how sorry I am for everything…that I'm working on being better. That I want to be better for her and our kids. I never make it within a foot of her bed. The doctors push me back away from her and when I try to fight my way past them, an orderly with arms the size of tree trunks steps in to push me back towards the door.

" Whats going on? Why won't you let me near my wife?" I shout.

" Because I asked them to," Bella replies, her voice barely more than a hoarse whisper.

" Because Edward… look at what you've driven me to," her words are slow, and in her scratchy voice, come out blunt and harsh and caustic. Nothing at all like the, soft, sweet voice I know my wife possesses.

" I damn near killed myself Edward. Because of you. Because you're not the husband I married all hose years ago. I'm through being your doormat Edward. I need to take care of myself now. Make myself better for the sake of my children."

She turns her head away from me as she starts to cry.

" Bella…baby please. I'm trying to be better. I'm in therapy. I'm working through things. I've read the journal you left and I understand now. I know I wasn't fair or even remotely human towards you. I was a monster. But please… I want us to work through this. I love you Bella. I'd do anything…"

I'm grasping at straws, begging her to just listen to me, to hear me out so we can try to find our way out of this darkness together, but she cuts me off before I can even finish talking, and when she speaks, it is with a certainty and resolve I never heard from her before, cutting me straight to my heard, leaving me broken and devastated.

" No Edward. Not this time. You gave up on me a long time ago. You promised me too many times that we would work on things and fix them, and not once did you ever follow through. Things only ever got worse. I have nothing to base any sort of trust in you on. So now… this time Edward…I'm giving up on you."

I try once more to plead with her. Beg for a chance to just talk, but she won't have it.

" Please just go Edward," she says. "I don't want to see you anymore. Don't come back."

It's been almost a week, and the entire scene at the hospital, but Bella's words especially have not stopped echoing in my head. She's giving up on me. No way to have any trust in me. Don't come back. Even meeting with Dr. Aro hasn't helped. Well…he had his advice to give, but it's more the fact that as much as I know that what he said is true, I just don't want to believe that in this case, perhaps the best way for me to love Bella is by giving her what she wants.

Maybe I'm being bitter. More than likely I know I'm acting like a petulant child. Bella's allowed my mother to the hospital to bring the children. She's even allowed Alice and Jasper, and Rose and Emmett. The only ones who have shared anything of their conversations are the kids. The rest of them will go so far as to tell me that Bella is getting better each day, but that's it.

"Edward, really…put the bottle down and stop brooding," my mother says with a huff as she takes the bottle of Jim Beam away and puts it back behind the bar.

"I can only imaging how difficult this is for you son, but drinking yourself into a stupor before noon will do no one any good in this situation."

"Mom…" I begin, but trail off because really, what is there for me to say. I want to argue. I want to rage about the injustice of everything that's happened, but how do I do that when it's my own fault, that I've caused myself to be in this situation. I prayed and begged and bargained with God that I would do anything if Bella survived. How was I to know that the cost for her survival was me having to give her up and walk away? The pain of it is just as if I had lost her to the bullet anyway. But I guess this is burden to bear. My children are happier now that their mother is awake. Bella is going to recover. Shouldn't that be enough?

"Edward!" I'm brought out of my thoughts by my mouther calling my name.

"Huh?"

"I said," my mother begins again, her hands holding mine. "I know what Bella said to you was difficult to hear. But…don't you think you should use this time to really think of how you're going to show her you've changed?"

"What do you mean Mom?"

"I mean, she's made it clear, and honestly, I can't blame her, that she has no basis for being able to trust you. So, my question is, what are you going to do to make her feel safe enough to begin to build that trust? Show her you're changing. Show her you value her and want to be the man you once promised her you would be."

My mom doesn't say anything else. She walks off into the kitchen and leaves me to think, which in my own opinion is both a blessing and a curse. But she's right. And so is Bella. I haven't given her any reason to trust me. It's damn time I start.

Whether or not my mother is trying to help, it's a little too convenient when she asks me to bring the kids to visit their mom in the hospital since she's supposedly forgotten a doctor's appointment of her own that she can't miss.

Walking into the hospital I feel as though I'm on tenterhooks. As though a live current is surging through my body. I don't know how Bella will react to seeing me again, and maybe I should have been more adamant about trying to get her to see that I want to fight for her…for us…but I'm gonna damn well try now.

Approaching Bella's room, one of the nurses stops me, a hesitant and cautious look in her eye.

"Mr. Cullen, I had hoped you would have taken what Mrs. Cullen said to you the last time you were here to heart."

The nurse's eyes dart from my wife's room to my children to me. A silent conversation happening, a reminder that I'm not welcome.

"Yes, of course I did," I tell her. "I'm just bringing the children to see their mother. I'm planning on waiting out in the hall by the nurses station.

"But Dad," Elliott starts. "Don't you want to see Mom too?"

And this is the other conversation I've been dreading. The kids don't know yet that I'm unwelcome. I haven't figured out how to have this talk with them.

"Of course I do El," I begin to tell him, hating that I'm going to lie to him because a hospital hallway is not the place for me to tell him the truth. "I spoke with your mom earlier today on the phone. I know she's really missing you kiddos and I know you guys really miss having her at home, so I thought today would be a nice time for you to have alone time with her since someone else has always been with you guys when you've come every other day."

I can tell he doesn't buy the answer I give him, but he doesn't argue.

"Come on guys," Elliott says as he grabs Michael and Sammi's hands. "Let's go see Mom."

I follow behind at a distance, stopping at the entrance to Bella's room. She does look better, if only slightly. I know her road to recovery is long, and I'm hoping to do whatever I can to make it better for her.

However, as she hears us entering the room, the smile that spreads across her face as the kids walk in falters as she sees me in the door way.

"Oh…you're here" She says as she sees me. I can hear the struggle in her voice as she tries to keep the venom out of it as she speaks to me. And I can't help but notice the twitch of her hand in the direction of the call button, as if she's desperately ready to be rid of me and ready to call a nurse or an orderly to have me removed. I can see the way she's warring over how to handle my appearance here after she summarily banished me a week ago since the kids are here and I know she wouldn't want to upset them by causing a scene.

"I'm only here to drop the kids to see you. I know they miss you. I'll be waiting in the hall. There's no rush, so spend all the time you want with them."

It's maddening how awkward it is for me to speak to her. Perhaps it is because I have been judged and have been found wanting. Perhaps it is because I know how horribly I have failed my family. Regardless, it's a struggle to look Bella in the eye and see her judgment of me there. It's something I'll tuck away in my mind for now to discuss later with Dr. Aro.

She says nothing more to me, only a curt nod of her hear…a dismissal, before focusing her attention on our children.

I walk away from the room as I hear her ask Sammi about how her day has been, the heaviness in my heart lightening if only an infinitesimal amount as I hear not just my daughter, but both of my sons launch into telling their mother everything they have been doing since they had seen her last.

Time passes achingly slowly for me as I wait for my kids to leave their mother's room. As I sit I wonder how and if everything that has happened can be repaired. I hope and pray that it can be, but I fear that it will be me that won't survive if it can't. After all, how are you supposed to survive when your heart is ripped out of you.

Later, after the nurse sends my children back to me because visiting hours have ended, I work to keep up my facade as Michael and Elliot ramble on about how good it was to see their mom and how they can't wait to see her again soon. It's funny how easy it was for me to pretend that everything with Bella was fine for all those years, but now that the cold, harsh reality has been held up for all to see…pretending, if only for the sake of my children…it's unbearable. Is this what Bella felt like for all that time? I don't understand how she survived it, because I know I can't tolerate it much longer.

It's only after the kids have been fed and put to bed later that night, that I realize I won't have to tolerate it any more if I can just get Bella to trust me and

I'm thrown by the knock at the door, especially for it being as late as it is, but figure it's just Jasper or Emmett coming to check on me and the kids. However, when I open the door, I don't recognize the person standing there.

"Mr. Cullen?" They ask.

"Yes. Who are you?"

"You're full name is Edward Anthony Cullen?"

"Yes," I respond slightly irritated. "Now that we've established who I am, can you explain who you are and why you're at my door at almost ten o'clock at night?

"You've been served Sir," the mystery man says as he hands me a manila envelop before walking away, getting into his car and driving off.

Growling in frustration, I step back into the house, shutting and locking the door. I've been served lawsuit papers before, being the CEO of a pharmaceutical company doesn't come without an occasional lawsuit now and then.

I rip the envelop open, already mentally planning on just calling our company attorney in the morning to deal with this. I have far more important things to focus on right now, like putting the shattered pieces of my marriage back together.

It's when I scan over the documents in the envelop that I realize that this just isn't another lawsuit, or work related at all. Scanning the documents, the word "summons" on the one didn't even raise any flags, but it is the "Complaint for Divorce" on the other that sends my mind reeling.

I scan the document, none of it sinking in, or perhaps I just don't want to believe what I'm reading. But it's all there in black and white, with Isabella Cullen listed as the plaintiff and myself as the defendant. I think what finally breaks me is when I read the grounds upon which she filed - emotional abuse and neglect.

I can barely get the words out as I call Jasper, sobbing as I explain what has happened. He hangs up after telling me he'll be here as fast as possible and that he'll let Emmett and my mother know what's going on.

As I wait, I stare at the papers lying on the floor next to where I've collapsed. I shove them away, as if being near me, they will hurt me even more, even though I'm already feeling like I'm dying. Bella doesn't want to try. There's no way to apologize and show her she can trust me…that I have and will continue to change and be the man she deserves and needs. I guess…it's all just too little too late, and the chance I hoped and prayed for…never existed in the first place.

Chapter Text

BPOV

 

All I can think of is the beeping…so much beeping. Someone needs to turn whatever the hell is making all of that noise off. Suddenly though, the beeping is insignificant as pain washes over my body. I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck, and yet, I’m glad I can feel this. It means I’m still alive. It’s funny. You hear all the professionals and experts tell you how people who attempt suicide and survive often regret their decision to end their life once they make the attempt. I guess that little tidbit is true, well, not that I regret what I did, but it has put things in perspective.

 

I remember being in the bathroom. holding the gun in my hand. Finally feeling as though I had control over my life again was, I admit, euphoric. It was also so surreal knowing that I was in the final moments of my life. Or what were supposed to be the final moments of my life…until Edward walked in.

 

I’m sitting on the tub, unable to stop the tears from falling. Crying, mourning the loss of the chance to see my children grow up. After all, what kind of mother can I be to them when all I feel is pain every day.

 

I press the gun to my head and close my eyes, taking a final shaky breath as I prepare to pull the trigger, but a noise at the door stops me. Edward. A rage I have never known before washes over me. I won’t let him ruin this for me. He’s taken everything else from me…my self worth, my confidence, my hope of a happy life. I’ll be damned if he takes my choice to die away from me too, so I point the gun at him to stop him from coming any closer. He freezes in his spot. I can tell by his face he isn’t sure of what he’s supposed to do.

 

"Isabella, baby…what's going on?" he softly whispers.

 

I can see he’s trying to keep calm and I know I’m close to losing it. I wanted to do this privately, but I’ll make a show of it means I get what I want in the end. Gingerly, Edward tries to step forward but stops the moment I cock the gun. I should just do it, just put the gun back to my head and pull the trigger. There’s enough space between Edward and I that I would be dead before he ever reached me, but the words stumble out of my mouth before I can even think of stopping them.

 

"I can't do this anymore Edward. It hurts too much, it hurts all the time. I don't matter to anyone, it's like I'm a ghost. You don't even notice me anymore, all I do is complicate your life. You'll all be better once I'm gone.”

 

I’m so focused on gripping the gun, but I can see it in Edwards eyes, a fear and understanding that hasn't been there in a long time. It's ironic, because I can't bear to try and let him in anymore. He's my heart, my soul…I know he sees now just how badly he’s hurt me, but he’s let me down too many times. If I let him try to fix things and get let down again…I can’t bear that level of disappointment again.

 

"Baby please…just put the gun down." he begs, his voice shaky as his own tears starting to fall. I'm not sure why he’s crying…it’s not his life thats going to end. Maybe it’s because he realizes how much I've been ignored, or maybe it’s because he doesn't know if I’m is going to shoot myself or him, the fear of the public scandal this whole thing is going to cause, or all of it combined.

 

"We can work this out Isabella. I need you baby. I love you. I've been so wrong about so many things. We'll go to therapy…every day if you want. I'll do whatever it takes Bella, just put the gun down. Think about the kids, baby. They need you. I need you.”

 

I’m brought out of my thoughts as people start showing up and fussing over me. Asking me to blink to answer questions, and thats when I realize there’s a tube down my throat and I can see the people around me are doctors and nurses. After checking my vitals and removing the tube, the doctor explains what happened. How I was brought in with a gun shot wound, the damage, the repairs, the complications…how much time has passed since the day I pulled the trigger. I guess I really did a number on myself. 

 

The doctor asks me if I want my husband called so he could come down now that I’m awake, but without even a thought, I tell him no and ask him to make it understood that my husband isn’t welcome in my room. That I need him away from me. I’m not sure what makes me tell the doctor to keep Edward away, but the minute I’ve said it, I know it’s what I need. I know I need help. I also know I need to get help on my own, away from Edward. I’ve lost myself and I need to figure out who I am and what I want if I ever want to be a halfway decent mother to my children. It’s why when the doctor asked me if I would be willing to speak with a therapist about what happened, I said yes.

 

Laying in this hospital room, I pray that my choices lead me to a better future. I know I am not without fault in what has led me here, but I need to know that there is a way for me to be happier. Edward was right…my kids do need me, just as much as I need them. Edward though…he may have said he needed me, but I know he doesn’t. He’d be just fine without me. All of this thinking is exhausting, and yet, I can’t help replay what happened in the bathroom that day…

 

"I don't believe you Edward. You've told me that before, you've ignored me before; you've lied about our problems before. Why would you change now? It's too late, it hurts too much and there's only one way to make it stop. I need to do this.”

 

I can tell Edward is out of his element, always the one in control, and yet he doesn’t know what I’m planning to do, but all I can think is to pray to God that me doing this really lets him understand all the pain he’s caused me. 

 

He takes a few steps closer towards where I am sitting against the tub but stops once I point the gun at him again.

 

”Tell me what you need me to do Isabella. I'll do anything, I want to fix this, fix us. You're everything to me baby. I can't lose you…” He’s resorted to begging now. Or at least pretending to beg. For all the years we put on the act of being a happy couple, he sure has learned how to put on a good show.

 

"There's nothing you can do to fix this Edward!" I scream. "It's too late for fixing. The damage is done. I tried so many times to be a good wife, a good mother and I failed…I tried to talk to you, to get you to understand how I was feeling, and I failed at that too. I wasn't good enough, I wasn't what you needed. You never listened, you blamed everything on me, and you put that godforsaken company ahead of your family! I was supposed to come first Edward, and I never did…not once. I can't do it anymore!”

 

I’m sobbing and I know my words are barely comprehendible, but my mind is made up, I’ve made my decision and there is no going back. For a moment, I just sit there clutching the gun in my lap as I cry. 

 

Maybe this is what makes Edward bolder, makes him think that nothing is going to happen. He takes the few remaining steps until he’s standing about a foot away from me. His move to hug me is what I notice. He hasn’t even so much as thought about offering me some type of comfort like that in who knows how long. Funny, it only took me holding a gun to my head to get him to engage in physical contact with his wife again.

 

I know that this is it…that it’s now or never and I begin to speak in barely a whisper as my grip around the gun tightens.

 

"Tell the kids I'm sorry for leaving them, that none of this is their fault. Tell them I love them and will always be with them. Make sure they get the letters when the time is right. I love you Edward, I'm sorry I wasn't what you needed, that I couldn't be a good wife for you, that you always had to clean up my messes. I've always loved you Edward…always.”

 

It's as if everything happens in super speed and slow motion all at once. I move to raise the gun, and somehow Edward manages to get a grip on my arm and we begin to struggle as I tighten my finger around the trigger, I won’t let Edward take this away from me. The trigger gives and the sound of the shot echoes throughout the room.

 

I collapse to the floor, surprised at how much this hurts. Its the pain that lets me know that my plan failed. If it had worked…if I was dead, I wouldn’t feel like my insides had been shredded with razor blades and set on fire, and yet the physical pain is so much better than the suffering I was living in every day.

 

I'm vaguely aware of someone shouting "NO" and lifting me off the floor as darkness closes in around me, my head rolls to the side and I see the bright red spreading across the front of Edward’s shirt. I can hear my own gasping for air, and see the look of horror on Edward’s face, but all I can think of is how much everything still hurts and how all I want is no more pain.

 

I’m not sure how long I was asleep for, but it must have been awhile. The sun is up now, and the doctors and nurses have been coming in and out of my room, going on and on about blood tests and med changes and other things I’m not really paying attention to. 

 

And that is when I hear him - Edward. The sound of his voice alone starts a war within me. I know how much he’s hurt me and yet I can’t deny that I still love him. But I know he’s not healthy for me…not anymore. I look at the doctor standing next to my bed and ask him, “Please, make him leave. I’ve requested he isn’t allowed in here.”

 

“Bella!” Edward cries out. “You’re awake.” He tries to make his way towards me. His arms are out as if he’s trying to wrap his arms around me and he’s telling me how sorry he is for everything…that he’s working on being better. That he wants to be better for me and our kids. 

 

Thankfully the hospital staff never let Edward make it within a foot of my bed. The doctors push him back away from me and when he tries to fight his way past them, an orderly with arms the size of tree trunks steps in to push him back towards the door.

 

“What’s going on? Why won’t you let me near my wife?” Edward shouts.

“Because I asked them to,” I reply, my voice barely more than a hoarse whisper. 

 

“Edward… look at what you’ve driven me to,” my words are slow as my brain processes what I want to say, and I do my best to make my voice sound cold and devoid of emotion - much like how Edward used to speak to me.

 

“I damn near killed myself Edward. Because of you. Because you’re not the husband I married all those years ago. I’m through being your doormat Edward. I need to take care of myself now. Make myself better for the sake of my children.”

 

I turn my head away from Edward as I start to cry, not wanting him to see me weak again, knowing I need to be strong now.

 

“Bella…baby please. I’m trying to be better. I’m in therapy. I’m working through things. I’ve read the journal you left and I understand now. I know I wasn’t fair or even remotely human towards you. I was a monster. But please… I want us to work through this. I love you Bella. I’d do anything…”

 

Edward’s grasping at straws, begging me to just listen to him, to hear him out so we can try to find our way out of this darkness together, but I cut him off before he can even finish talking, afraid that if I let him continue, I will cave and give in to what he’s saying, because good God I would love for his words to be true. It’s only after reminding myself that he’s said these things to me before and never truly followed through that I find the resolve I need to end the conversation.

 

“No Edward. Not this time. You gave up on me a long time ago. You promised me too many times that we would work on things and fix them, and not once did you ever follow through. Things only ever got worse. I have nothing to base any sort of trust in you on. So now… this time Edward… I’m giving up on you.”

 

Edward tries once more to plead with me, but I won’t have it.

 

“Please just go Edward,” I say as I stare him straight in the eyes, willing him to hear the conviction behind what I’m saying. “I don’t want to see you anymore. Don’t come back.”

 

After he’s gone, I ask the nurse to place a call for me to my attorney’s office. The nurse does as I ask, and about an hour later, Jane Saxon is walking into my room. I can see the sadness and pity briefly cross her face, before she sits down next to me.

 

“So, I’m glad to see you’re okay, but…care to tell me why you wanted me to come here?” Jane asks.

 

It’s one of the things I like about Jane. She’s no nonsense and cuts straight to the chase. It’s what makes her such a ruthless lawyer. 

 

“How much do you know about what landed me in this bed?” I ask her.

 

“I know enough,” Jane replies. “And based on the bits and pieces I’ve heard, I’m going to wager a bet that not everything in your marriage has been as wonderful as you and Edward have made it out to be.”

 

“No,” I answer, the word barely audible. “It’s as if I’ve been living a nightmare. I need the nightmare to stop Jane, and the only thing I can think of is to get out. The marriage was dead long ago and it almost killed me to try to stay in it. I can’t do it anymore. I need a divorce.”

 

“Okay then,” Jane says as she opens her briefcase and takes out a notepad. “Let’s get started.”

 

The next two hours are spent answering the questions Jane has for me. I know the doctors and nurses aren’t happy about her overstaying her time, but they also know she’s my attorney and dare not interfere. 

 

I’m exhausted by the time Jane and I are done, and am looking forward to trying to sleep, but she stops as she reaches the door.

 

“I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t at least ask once Bella.” She hesitates before continuing. “Are you sure? Are you one hundred percent sure this is the road you want to walk down? You and Edward have been married for fifteen years. Thats a lot to walk away from.”

 

I’m thrown off by the question. I think for a moment. Is this what I really want? No, it isn’t, but I know it is what I need. I’ve been given too many false and broken promises and I need a clean break. 

 

“Yes, Jane. I’m sure. It’s too late for my marriage. Edward’s already tried to apologize and tell me that he’ll change, but it’s too late. It’s too late for the apologies and the promises he’ll never keep. I need a chance at a fresh start…without Edward.”

 

“Thats what I thought. I just had to be sure.” She replies. “I’ll get everything drawn up. He’ll be served with the paperwork in about a week.”

 

I thank Jane as she leaves. Both nervous and relieved that I’ve begun the process of attempting to rebuild my broken life, I finally drift off to sleep.