January 1, 2001
I flip the lock on the door and throw myself onto my bed. What the hell is wrong with me? Carlisle didn’t do anything I haven’t wanted him to do for weeks—months, if I wanted to be honest. I should be making out with him right now—and I would be if I hadn’t looked at him and seen Edward—something that happens far more often than I care to admit.
Just when I think I can’t feel any shittier about myself, I hear the stereo from Carlisle’s room.
He only listens to R.E.M. when he’s really upset. I want to knock on his door and tell him it’s not him, it’s me. Even though it’s the truth, I think it would only fuck things up more. Shit. Anything I say will fuck things up more.
Since talking to him is clearly not an option, I pick up a pen and paper and do the next best thing. When I’m happy with what I’ve written, I slide it under his door.
I go back to my room to wait.
January 4, 2001
I make sure Carlisle doesn’t see me when I walk into the pub. It’s easy enough; he’s busy playing that inescapable Rob Thomas song. He claims he started taking gigs again because he needs the money if he wants to open his own restaurant sometime this decade, but I know better. Performing relaxes him. Ever since he was promoted at Jude’s, he needs all the help with that he can get.
I slide onto a barstool way in the back. I’ve seen him play more times than I can count, but I could watch him forever. It’s not because he’s gorgeous, though he is. Even while performing, there’s something about him that’s just so real. After Edward’s contrived coolness, it’s fascinating to see a guy let himself feel.
The song ends, and Carlisle puts down his guitar. “In college, I used to have a weekly gig at this country dive bar near campus. I don’t think I’ve played this song since I stopped playing there, but it’s been floating around my head all week.” With a shrug and a smile, he scoots over onto the piano bench and starts to sing.
I hate country music, but this song… it’s exactly how I feel about Edward. Then Carlisle gets to the second verse–
And I never drew one response from you
all because you were failed by some guy you never knew
‘Cause I’ve done everything I know to try to make you mine
And I think it’s gonna hurt me for a long, long time.
And I realize it’s also how Carlisle feels about me. By the end of the song, my face is wet and my beer is empty. The band takes a break between sets, so I ask the bartender to close out my tab. The last thing I want is for Carlisle to see me like this.
Before I can settle up, I hear him behind me.
“I’ll have a Honker’s, please.”
He leans on the bar, his hand right beside my glass. I can’t help staring at his fingers. They’re long, like Edward’s.
“Hey, Iz,” he says. “I wasn’t expecting you to be here tonight.”
“I got off work early, and well…” It’s not the time or the place, but I can’t help it. “I missed you. Anyway, that song you just played…I loved it.”
He snorts. “Right. I guess that’s why you cried through it.”
I smack him lightly on the shoulder. “That’s not why I was crying.”
I don’t want to tell him it reminded me of Edward. Besides, if he read the letter I wrote him, he’d probably know that. Except it’s been days, and he hasn’t mentioned it…
“Hey, did you get the note I left you a few days ago?”
He nods. I wait for him to elaborate, but he doesn’t. Fuck.
“Yeah.” I shrug.
“The song made you think of Edward.”
I shift on my stool and start picking apart my cuticle with my thumbnail.
Rolling his eyes, he mutters, “Of course it would. Look, Iz, I know you consider me your best friend and I’m sure in time I’ll be able to hear how a song I sang about you reminds you of him, but for now I just…can’t.”
“I didn’t mean it that way–”
“I should get back to work.” Shaking his head, he throws a ten onto the bar. “I’ll see you at home.”
December 25, 2009
When I tell the front desk whom we’re here to see, a security guard escorts us past the waiting room to an unmarked door on the other end of the corridor.
He uses his badge to unlock it, then whisks us inside. Edward’s talking on his phone, pacing around the room.
“Excuse me, Senator,” the guard says. “They say they’re family.”
“They are; it’s fine.” Edward nods at Carlisle before turning back to his phone call. “I don’t know how you could keep this from me…. Goddamn it, Jasper! Her heart stopped! I don’t give a fuck what she said she wanted, if you loved her … Look, we don’t have time for this. What else do you know?”
He takes a pen from his pocket and looks at me, mouthing the word paper.When I shake my head, he starts to write on the wall.
“Who is her doctor in Washington? … Okay. … I’ll call back if I need anything else.” He shoves his phone into his pocket but continues scribbling notes on the wallpaper.
The next thing I know, the pen is flying across the room and Edward’s sinking to the floor, covering his face with his hands.
I get down on my knees and wrap my arms around him. “What did Jasper say?”
He drops his hands; the expression on his face tells me everything I need to know.
“She can’t,” I whisper. “I mean…not after…”
As much as I don’t want to believe it, it all makes sense—her insistence I come to D.C., how tired she was over Thanksgiving, that she didn’t mind that I spent most of my visit working through stuff with Edward.
“What is it?” Carlisle asks.
“Breast cancer.” Edward rises to his feet, pulling me with him. “I should go find her doctors. They were running tests…”
Sarah stands up and moves toward the door. “I’ll take care of that. You stay here.”
Edward turns to her. “Ms. Crawforth?”
She stops. “Yes?”
“Earlier at dinner…” He sighs. “We would have lost her if not for you.” He looks at Carlisle. “Both of you.”
“It was nothing,” she says, then hurries out into the corridor, pulling the door closed behind her.
Edward opens his mouth as if he’s about to say something, but his words don’t come. His tears, however, do.
I pull him back into my arms, holding him as tightly as I can.
He doesn’t take his eyes off Carlisle. “I know it’s been…just…thank you.”
It doesn’t matter if he’s choking on his words; Carlisle’s expression softens, and I know he understands. He comes toward us and lays his hand on Edward’s shoulder.
From time to time I glance at my phone thinking we’ve been here for hours, only to realize just a minute or two have passed since the last time I looked. I think if I let myself cry, at least I’d feel as if I were doing something. But Edward is managing to keep calm and, even though he took a Klonopin, I don’t want to do anything that could jeopardize his composure. Even so, I don’t know how long I can keep myself together.
“I’m going to get all of us some coffee,” Sarah says, rising to her feet.
“Do you want me to come with you, Ma?” Carlisle asks.
“No, you stay here,” she says. “I can manage.”
Two minutes have passed when there’s a knock at the door.
“That was fast.” I get up to let Sarah back in, but when I open the door, it isn’t her standing in the corridor.
I take a deep breath and swallow hard. “Hello, Mr . Cullen.”
“Good evening, Isabella.” He looks over my shoulder at Edward. “If you don’t mind, I’d like to have a word with my son.”
Edward rolls his eyes. “Which one?” he says icily.
William’s eyes settle on Carlisle. He must feel as if he’s looking at a younger version of himself. If this surprises him at all, it doesn’t show on his face. Truth be told, nothing shows on his face.
The room is silent until Sarah appears in the doorway.
“I wasn’t sure how Edward took his, so I got a little of everything.” She stops in her tracks when she sees Mr. Cullen.
“Hello, William,” she says.
The bite in her voice makes me shiver. I look over at Carlisle; he’s staring at William, his face one part fascination to two parts horror.
If William’s at all affected by seeing the son he never knew, I don’t see it. He nods at Sarah then turns back to Carlisle.
This time William doesn’t bother hiding his contempt. “I’d like a moment alone with Edward, please.”