June 1, 1998
“The master of arts in comparative literature?” Alice turns from my computer and looks at me, her face forming an expression which seems to indicate her desire for me to elaborate.
“Just something my advisor suggested I look at. You can close the browser window.”
“I didn’t know you were thinking about grad school.”
That’s the thing—I think all the time. The problem is that I’m no closer to knowing what I want to do than I was when I was a freshman three years ago.
“There are a few programs she feels would be a good fit for me. I mean, it’s more or less been my field of study. I’ve completed the necessary coursework. If my GREs fall into the right range…” I shrug. “I’m just starting to research it all.”
“You don’t seem too enthusiastic.”
“I love the idea of studying literature and delving more deeply into foreign languages. I’m not sure what I’d do when I graduate besides get a Ph.D. I don’t really see myself teaching. Add to that the required time studying abroad…”
“Right.” She rolls her eyes. “Because it’s so terrible to be forced to spend some time in Europe.”
When Edward was talking about going with me, there was nothing I wanted more. Then he accepted a two-year clerkship with a federal judge, making it impossible for him to go anywhere with me unless I take a year off while he finishes his obligations.
“Seeing Paris by myself doesn’t appeal to me—not at all.” I leave out how doubtful I am that my relationship with Edward could survive that kind of separation. Though I may not know what I want to do with my life, I know I want to spend it with him.
“You’re going to apply anyway, right? Who knows? In the next few months, you could change your mind.”
“Oh, I’m definitely applying.”
I don’t think my mind will change, but I haven’t given up hope his mind will.
December 11, 2009
Lifting his hand from my leg, Edward moves as far away from me as the backseat of a Lincoln Town Car will permit.
“It’s seems unbelievable, I know–”
“So Carlisle was in Fly Club at Harvard? Small world. In that case, you’re right—we are brothers. It’s quite possible we’ve already met. Do you know what year he graduated?” Angling his head toward the driver, he rotates his arm at the elbow in a silent request for me to go along with it.
If there’s one thing living with Edward taught me, it’s the importance of keeping lies as vague as possible.
“Uh, sometime in the nineties? He’s a little older than you–”
“How long have you known we had the same fa–uh–affiliation?”
“A few weeks.”
“Ah.” He doesn’t touch me or talk to me for the rest of the drive.
For a while I stare at him, but the blank expression on his face makes me uncomfortable, so I turn andlook out my window. As the city lights flash by, I brace myself for the inevitable meltdown I suspect will occur the moment we’re alone.
Except it doesn’t.
Once inside my apartment, I hang up our coats and strip off my suit jacket. With each second he spends standing frozen in place with his luggage at his feet, my anxiety increases tenfold. Needing to do something, I pour him a double shot of Jack, which he downs. He hands me the empty glass then claps his hands together in front of his chest.
“Why don’t you give me a tour?”
It’s the last thing I expected him to say.
He shrugs. “If I’m going to be staying here for the next few weeks, it would be helpful to know where everything is.”
For a moment, I think maybe he misheard what I said in the car—or at the very least, failed to grasp the meaning of my words. Then I remember his Harvard Final Club ruse and the way his demeanor changed after asking me how long I’ve known. Assuming he needs some more time to process everything, I decide not to push.
“Okay.” I head toward the kitchen, gesturing for him to follow me. “It’s really not all that big.”
When there’s no evidence of movement behind me, I look over my shoulder. Edward is standing exactly where I left him, his eyes fixated on a photo of Carlisle, Esme, and me hanging on the wall of my foyer.
“Were you a bridesmaid?”
“I could be wrong, but I assumed this was taken at their wedding…”
“No, you’re right—it was.”
“So were you a bridesmaid?”
“Oh,” I say, finally understanding. “No, I was Carlisle’s best man.”
His intake of breath is audible, and though his eyes widen, he still doesn’t look at me. I open my mouth to ask if he’s angry I didn’t tell him right away, but close it before any sound comes out, too afraid of what his answer will be.
“I…” He shakes his head, sighing. “He looks more like my father than I do.”
Time passes; I’m not sure how much. When he finally turns to me, he’s wearing the same smile he wore through most of his Senatorial campaign.
Even then, I knew it was fake.
“Never mind that,” he says, “I’d like to see where you cook, as well as where you’d like me to sleep.”
“You don’t want to talk about it?”
“Cooking? Sure. I don’t think sleeping would make an interesting topic of conversation.”
“You know what I mean.”
“Actually, I don’t.”
“That Carlisle is your brother.”
“There isn’t much to say about that.”
“You’re awfully calm about this.”
“I already knew he existed.” He shrugged. “Now would you please show me where you’d like me to sleep? It’s been a rough day…”
“You didn’t feel that way an hour ago.”
“Fine. It’s been a rough hour. The end result is the same regardless; I’m worn out and need it to be over with.”
I close my eyes, sighing. “This is exactly what I was afraid of.”
“What? That I wouldn’t feel like staying up all night?”
“That you’d go off somewhere–”
“What are you talking about? I’m right here–”
“Then what’s with all this where-you-would-like-me-to-sleep bullshit? You know where I want you–”
“Is that what all this is about?” He shrugs out of his jacket and tosses it to the couch. Seconds later, his tie, shirt, and belt follow suit. “All you had to do was ask.”
He storms down the hallway, but I count to ten before following. I find him in my bedroom, barefoot and stepping out of his pants.
“This isn’t going to work.”
He looks at his crotch then back at me, a smug smile on his face. “Sure it will—it just needs some time to warm up. The sooner you take off your clothes, the sooner it’ll be ready to go.”
“What, would you rather I do it for you?”
“Please, Edward. Just…stop.”
“What?” He throws up his hands, shrugging. “God damn it, Bella! What the hell do you want from me?”
“You! But this time, you can’t hold anything back.”
“Fine.” He pulls my shirt from the waistband of my skirt and rips it open.
Before I can protest, his tongue is in my mouth. He moves forward; I stumble backward. My bra is off, my back’s against the wall, and his kiss is greedy almost to the point it’s violent. I’m dizzy and wet. My body wants this more than anything.
His mouth slides across my cheek to my earlobe, licking and sucking, grazing my skin with his teeth. I don’t notice my skirt is bunched up around my hips until his thumbs are inside the waistband of my tights, pulling them down to my knees.
“I need you,” he says.
“You’ve always had me.”
He uses his foot to push my tights to the floor, and it’s as if Thanksgiving never happened. The past fourteen years haven’t happened. I may as well be eighteen years old, standing in an alley in a blue dress that makes me feel like whore, willing to do whatever he thinks will make him feel better. Except I now know what he wants won’t work—that he can spend the rest of his life fucking me against walls, but it will never knock down the ones he’s built up around himself.
“But I’ve never had you,” I say. “At least, not all of you…”
With my hand on his chest, I gently push him away.
“I don’t understand,” he says.
I study his face. His eyes and cheeks are red, and though I realize he’s probably drunk, I don’t let it stop me.
“Tell me what’s wrong.”
“You’re unbelievable,” he mutters under his breathing shaking his head. “Fine then. You really want to know?”
He hides his face with his hands, and when he lowers them, his intelligible groan becomes a roar.
“I’m god-damned furious!”
“My father. You. Myself. Mostly myself.”
“Why at yourself?”
“For letting the two of you have all the power!”
He falls to the floor, pulling me with him. Though his sobs are violent, Each time I try to put my arm around him, he pushes me away. It isn’t until his rage subsides to his grief that I dare try to touch him again. After a while, he actually lets me.