Everything had been going so well. She’d been to see me on campus. She spent Thanksgiving with my family. She put up with my grandparents and washed dishes with my mother. Even more than that, she was starting to open up about her childhood. Things between Bella and me hadn’t been perfect but they had been better—so much so that I couldn’t wrap my head around what was happening.

“I’m sorry, Edward. I thought I could get past it. I wanted to more than anything, but I just…can’t. This isn’t working for me.”

“Get past what? My age?”

“Your age, your idealism, your insecurity, your background—that coupled with the physical distance between us is too much.”

“Physical distance? Are you fucking kidding me? I come home to you every weekend.” I shook my head in disbelief. “You know what? That’s fine. I’ll transfer to Penn. We can live together here or in the city. It doesn’t matter to me. I don’t need to live on campus, Bella. I just need you.”

She said nothing.

Physical distance.

She didn’t mean it that way, did she?

“Look, I know our sex life hasn’t always been fulfilling for you, but I’m still new to this. I know I’ll get better. Just tell me what I need to do.”

“This brings us back to reason number three—your insecurity.”

I was only insecure when it came to us, and if this conversation was any indication, I had good reason.

“I’m willing to work on this.”

“Edward, no. You don’t get it. It’s not working; we’re not working.” She wouldn’t even look at me. “I think it’s best we have a clean break.”

She left the room, and when she returned, she placed a bag at my feet.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“It should be everything. I never kept anything of mine at your parents’ home or in Princeton, so there should be no need to prolong this. We won’t have to see each other again.”

Was this actually happening?

It couldn’t be; she would never just dump me. Would she?

“So this is it? Just like that?”


She would.

“You said you loved me,” I muttered, more to myself than to her.

“I loved being with you, and the sex was amazing. But love?” She shrugged. “I’m not capable of love, Edward. I thought you knew that.”

“You’re lying.”

“No, I’m not.”

“Then look at me and say it.”

I stood up and grabbed her upper arms, forcing her to look at me. She winced, and I pulled my hands away; I didn’t want to hurt her. For a moment, she stayed frozen in place. Her eyes were closed and her shoulders hunched defensively, and I wondered if maybe I had hurt her. I felt her hot breath against my neck as she exhaled, relaxing her stance. When she opened her eyes, all emotion was gone from her face.

“I don’t want you, Edward.”

Part of me wanted to plead with her, to try to convince her I could be all she’d ever need if she would just let me. I couldn’t bring myself to do it, though. I needed to retain what little dignity I had left. When I shut my mouth tightly so the words couldn’t come out on their own, I noticed my lips were wet and salty. Until that moment, I hadn’t realized I’d been crying.

Without looking at her, I picked up the bag and moved to the front door, pausing with my hand on the blackened brass knob. I wasn’t going to beg, but just in case this really was the end, I wanted her to know.

“I’ll always want you, Bella.” My throat was closing and my chest felt tight; it was hard for me to speak. “I’ll never stop loving you.”

I pulled the door open and shut it quickly behind me. Fearing a fate similar to that of Lot’s wife, I didn’t look back.

“I knew this would happen. I feel like I’ve been watching a train wreck in slow motion for months now. I just didn’t expect it to be this bad.”

“You knew?”

“She was going to panic sooner or later; it’s all she knows.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“What good would that have done? Really, Carlisle.”

“I could have had more conversations with him. Maybe mentally prepared him…”

“He wouldn’t have listened. I would know.”

“God, Esme, how the hell am I supposed to bring him back to school tomorrow?”

“Because you have to.”

“He’s in no shape. With the exception of Angela, he doesn’t even really have friends there. He spent all his time here.”

“That’s why he has to go.”

The walls in this house were too thin.

From inside my bedroom, I yelled, “I can hear every word you’re saying.”

I wasn’t sure where they went, but I was spared the rest of their commentary.

From: J. Carlisle Cullen IV
Subject: Checking in on you
Date: November 30, 2009 8:44 PM EST
To: Edward Cullen

Just making sure you made it back to campus okay.

From: Edward Cullen
Subject: Re: Checking in on you
Date: November 30, 2009 8:47 PM EST
To: J. Carlisle Cullen IV

I made it here.

“Dude, you look like shit. Rough weekend?”

I wasn’t sure how long Mike had been back, but it didn’t take long for him to start annoying me.

“Bella and I broke up. I don’t want to discuss it.”

“Sorry, man. Tough break. Hey, my phone’s dead. Can I borrow yours while it charges?”

“Sure, whatever. It’s on my desk.”

“Where?” he asked.

“In front of the picture of Bella and me.”


“Hey, Mike, while you’re in there, can you put the picture in the closet somewhere?”


“I don’t know, somewhere I won’t see it.” I thought for a moment about places in the closet I would never go. I didn’t want to happen upon it unintentionally. “Put it where you keep your coke.”

From: Emmett McCarty
Subject: E-A-G-L-E-S!
Date: November 30, 2009 10:43 PM EST
To: Edward Cullen

I know you don’t want to talk about it, and that’s okay. But if you change your mind, I’m here for you, man. Whenever.

Thirty-two new text messages? Huh?

My heart pounded in my chest and my hands shook as I started scrolling through them. It would be just like Bella to tell me she was sorry in a text.

Except these were from numbers I didn’t recognize.

Ew, gross.

When’s the party?

I thought you were packing more than that.

Ever hear of manscaping?

Whoa. What?

I checked my outbox. A picture of an unidentified cock had been sent to over fifty recipients with the message, “Now up for grabs. Who wants to squeeze it?”

Oh, no. He didn’t.

“Mike!” I yelled.

He yawned as he came in from the common room. “What?”

I held up my phone. “What the hell did you do?”

“I was just trying to procure you some rebound pussy.”

“I want you to send an explanation that it wasn’t me and an apology to every girl you sent that picture to.”

He laughed. “Not going to happen.”

I was in no mood for his shit. I undid my jeans and turned to his bed.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

I allowed my urine to speak on my behalf. “Your weed is next. Oh, and I’ll be checking your outbox.”

I didn’t have to ask Mike a second time.

Mike texted and changed his sheets while Tyler and I took bong hits in the common area. The weed made me feel oddly calm, which I decided was better than not feeling anything at all.

From: J. Carlisle Cullen IV
Subject: Re: Checking in on you
Date: November 30, 2009 11:35 PM EST
To: Edward Cullen

Your mother and I made an appointment for you to speak to one of the campus counselors Friday afternoon. We know you don’t have class then; there’s no reason for you not to go.

Edward, I get that you’re hurt. I know that you miss her. But you have to let yourself live.

I looked away from my laptop and studied the surface of my desk. One of the best moments of my life took place on this desk. I thought of the day I moved in, when Bella came to see me. I stripped her out of her suit and she made love to me. Except it wasn’t making love, because according to her, she never loved me. What we did was fuck.

And now I was fucked.

I pushed aside the dime bag and empty beer cans and pressed my nose to the wood, wondering if I would be able to smell her on it. Of course, I couldn’t.

Living was going to be easy; feeling would be another matter altogether.


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  1. on 07 Jul 2010 at 10:03 amluckyduck0076

    Awe. :( Cry. Tear. Tear. So fucking sad!! I want to know what the HELL Bella was thinking? I bet she was scared she realized she does want a commitment from Edward.


  2. on 01 Sep 2010 at 2:56 pmizziey

    i was dreading this chapter. and mike’s an ass. good for edward. looking forward to meeting kate.