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Story Notes:
This is a mirror piece of Eclipse Chapter 27 (Needs) pages 605-611.

Twilighted beta:vjgm

Author's Chapter Notes:

Disclaimer: All recognizable characters and plot are the property of Stephenie Meyer. Most dialogue appears in Stephenie Meyer's great book, Eclipse. No copyright infringement intended.


Witness

Edward’s POV

Alice’s phone call warned me of what was to come.

“Edward, she is on her way home,” she said. ”She’s crying uncontrollably. She’s stopped driving, so she’s safe now. She’ll be all right, but you have to go to her. Be strong, Edward, she loves you.” Alice added, emphasizing her last words.

“Thank you,” I replied as I quickly ran to find my Bella.

I do not know exactly how long it took me to find her, but as soon as I saw her truck parked on the side of the road, I felt ambivalent. I wanted to go to her, but a voice inside made me unsure.

Is she still YOUR Bella? She may have decided to be with that…dog. What if she doesn’t want to see you? What if she wants to be left alone?

Images of those desolate months I was away from her flew back into my memory. I cannot live without her. I know that now. Should she choose him, will I be able to accept that? Could I even survive being away from her a second time?

Be strong, Edward, she loves you. Alice’s words played over and over in my mind, encouraging me.

Within seconds, I was by her truck. I quickly opened the door, and the image of Bella that greeted me, will be engraved in my mind forever.

If I could dream at all, I imagine that the image I just saw can be described as my worst nightmare. Bella was slumped in her seat, her face in her hands, her eyes closed as tears flowed like a strong waterfall. Her face was pale and her body heaved with the exhaustion of crying. I had never seen her cry like that; I had never seen anyone cry like that.

I leaned over to take her into my arms to offer comfort; she fell into my arms, although my presence seemed to have made Bella’s crying worse. She sobbed even harder as I held her; I felt her body grow stiff and rigid against my chest. Am I holding her properly? Am I hurting her? What kind of fiancé am I? I can’t even comfort her safely! Wait… am I still her fiancé?

Bella’s crying continued in rhythmic rises and falls. For a few moments, her sobs would seem to taper off, only to resume, tears flowing, a short while later. What I would give to hear her thoughts, to know how I can comfort her the way she would want to be!

After some time had passed, I gently lifted her so I could sit on the driver’s seat of the truck. I sat her down carefully beside me and continued to hold her. It is a good thing that her truck did not have separate passenger and driver seats; she could comfortably lean on me as she cried.

I briefly thought of humming her lullaby; that usually comforted her. But something in me - my human side, perhaps - advised against it. The lullaby will make it worse. Just hold her. After a while, her crying seemed to have diminished.

She started to speak. “Ch…ar…lie” she said tearfully. She was having a difficult time speaking as her body racked involuntarily with sobs.

“Are you ready to go home to Charlie?” I asked, though I did not think she was ready in the slightest.

My question unleashed another rush of tears. I let her be; I may no longer understand human feelings the way I used to, but I knew how to be still. I am patient; I could stay here beside her, holding her forever, if that were what she needed.

“I…I need to….go….home….to Ch..ar…lie,” she sobbed.

“Are you sure?” I asked.

“It’s..get…ting late,” she replied. “I do not want…him to call Billy. He needs…to…know that…I am….alright,” she added.

“Alright, then. I’ll drive you.” I responded as I set the truck into motion. The entire trip, I kept my arm wrapped around her; I could see she needed time to stifle her tears. I hated driving slowly, but I deliberately drove under her truck’s speed limit to allow her time to regain her composure. Nevertheless, even upon our arrival, her face still reflected pain.

“Please, wait for me upstairs,” she mumbled when we were in front of the house. I hugged her lightly once again before going straight to her bedroom. There, I would wait.

I heard Bella enter the house head straight for the stairwell. She was halfway up the stairs when Charlie called her.

“Bella?” he called. I was hoping she’ll give me an update about Jacob, I heard him say to himself. Why is she running up the stairs so quickly?

“What happened? Is Jacob…?” Charlie demanded of her.

“He’s fine, he’s fine,” she replied; I heard her clearly, thanks to her room’s close proximity to the stairs.

“What happened to you?” Charlie asked, concerned. My goodness, she looks awful! Did Edward break up with her again? I’m going to talk to Carlisle about that son of his! He has to stop toying with my daughter!

“Nothing, Dad,” Bella replied. “I… just had to talk to Jacob about… some things that were… difficult,” she added.

“Was this really the best time?” he asked. She must have finally told Jacob no. I would have wanted Jacob to be her boyfriend. Edward had better know how much Bella loves him. If he breaks her heart again, I don’t care if Carlisle’s a good man. I’ll…

“Probably not, Dad,” she responded, “but I didn’t have any alternatives—it just got to the point where I had to choose… Sometimes, there isn’t any way to compromise.” She added.

“How did he handle it?” Charlie probed. Bella did not reply. Jacob must be crushed. Poor boy…physically and emotionally injured. He’s too young to experience heartbreak…I hope he’s better at handling it than Bella was. I can’t even think about that time when Edward left…

“I hope you didn’t mess up his recovery,” Charlie admonished.

“He’s a quick healer,” Bella said. “I’ll be in my room,” she added.

“’Kay,” Charlie replied. I can see her tears forming. I do not know how to handle this. Maybe I should call Renee… but the last time, Bella got so angry… I’ll just observe her tonight and decide in the morning.

My reading Charlie’s mind was cut short after Bella entered her room. I noticed that she was grasping her charm bracelet, probably intending to take it off. I quickly stopped her.

“No, Bella. It’s part of who you are.” I whispered.

Bella’s tears started to fall once again after what was, without a doubt, a supreme effort to restrain herself while talking to her father. I quickly pulled her into my arms as she sobbed uncontrollably.

Even if I hated the fact that Bella wore Jacob’s charm, I know that I led her to that. When I made the stupidest decision of my life, Jacob was there to comfort her. I cannot pretend to understand her feelings towards Jacob but I can understand why Jacob fell for her. How could he resist? Her innate goodness, her selflessness, her trust, her ability to love unconditionally…She can make any man want to be better just to be good enough for her…

Oh, how much I love her.

Suddenly, Bella started to cry hysterically. I do not know what came over her, but she started to kick her legs and bang clenched fists on her bed. Her swollen eyes looked up at me with an expression I could not fathom. Then, she cried again. I did not know what to say. Maybe we need to bring her to the hospital, Carlisle is there now, she was displaying symptoms of a nervous breakdown. How will I explain my presence to her father?

Slowly, though, her hysteria gave way to a quiet exhaustion. She must be extremely tired from the emotional distress. Slowly, she started to drift off to sleep.

While Bella slept, I thought deeply about what I had witnessed. I had never seen Bella cry the way she did for Jacob. She must feel very guilty or I must have underestimated her feelings for him. I know she has feelings for Jacob but are they strong enough for her to breakdown like this? Maybe Jacob was right when he said that she loved him too but did not know it. He even suggested that if I were not around, she would be happy with him by now. Was he right? After seeing what transpired tonight, I could not deny that possibility.

Even if it were to break me and probably lead to my death, I cannot undo the past. I am responsible for putting Bella in this situation. I could not deny what I had witnessed tonight, but I can try to make things right. Yes, she has agreed to marry me. Still, the circumstances around her agreement were more of a compromise than a real acceptance. I may as well have tricked her into agreeing. I am a monster.

I have to make things right. I have to be sure. When she is ready, I will offer her the choice once again. This time, no compromises…no conditions…no guilt.

Time, for vampires, passes without much concern, although Bella stirred frequently throughout the night. Soon, I noticed the morning light slip in through Bella’s room. Dreading to see her anguish again, but also hoping for an end to her disturbed slumber, I wait for her to wake. When she did, her eyes were dry.

“Hey,” Bella said. Her voice was hoarse.

I watched her for a moment, trying to read her expression. She sensed my worry.

“No, I’m fine. That won’t happen again,” she said in an assuring tone.

Somehow, I did not feel assured. I could not wait any longer. I had to know what was on her mind. I had to ask her now.

I held my love’s face in between my hands. I looked into her beautiful brown eyes.

“Bella…are you sure?” I asked. “Did you make the right choice? I’ve never seen you in so much pain…” my voice trailed off.

She put her finger on my lips to stop me from speaking.

“Yes,” she replied.

“I don’t know… If it hurts you so much, how can it possibly be the right thing for you?” I asked.

“Edward. I know who I can’t live without.” she said with conviction.

At times, love and need may be confused from one other.

“But…” I started.

“You don’t understand,” Bella explained. “You may be brave enough or strong enough to live without me, if that’s what’s best. But I could never be that self-sacrificing. I have to be with you. It’s the only way I can live.”

I can’t live without you, too. But will you ever get over the pain of losing Jacob? After last night, I don’t think…

I must have looked unconvinced because Bella suddenly asked me to do something for her.

“Hand me that book, will you?” Bella asked, pointing to a dog-eared copy of Wuthering Heights on a bookshelf off the side of her bed. Why would Bella want to read a book about doomed love? I thought to myself as I handed her the book.

“This again?” I asked.

“I just wanted to find this one part I remembered…to see how she said it…” Bella flipped through the pages of the book.

“Cathy’s a monster, but there were a few things she got right,” she muttered almost to herself as she knowingly searched through the pages until she found what she was looking for. She read the lines quietly.

“If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger.” She lifted her head from the book and looked at me.

“I know exactly what she means. And I know who I can’t live without.” Bella said as she looked into my eyes.

What have I done to deserve her? All my life, I shall endeavor to make her feel the way she makes me feel…

I took the book from her hand and tossed it across the room. I wrapped my arms around her waist.

“Heathcliff had his moments, too,” I said and quoted, “I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!”

You are my life. You made me believe I have a soul… I thought as I looked into her eyes.

“Yes,” she agreed. “That’s my point.”

“Bella, I can’t stand for you to be miserable. Maybe…” I said as my insecurity surged over me again. She quickly stopped me.

“No, Edward. I’ve made a real mess of things, and I’m going to have to live with that. But I know what I want and what I need…and what I’m going to do now.”

“What are we going to do now?” I inquired.

She smiled at my emphasis of the word “we.”

“We are going to see Alice.”
Chapter End Notes:

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