The four of us walked through the sliding doors with a bag apiece. It was crowded, and people were rushing by. Some were on cell phones, some were talking to their companion, and others were saying goodbye to loved ones; just as I would be in a few moments. We remained silent as we walked to the check-in counter. There wasn’t much more to say. This separation had been planned for two months. We prepared as best we could already.
The wait in line was silent as well. Conversations buzzed around us, the desk workers spoke cheerily, and the PA system rattled off relevant flight information, but we didn’t talk. Honestly, I didn’t know what to say. Dad was okay with the whole thing, encouraged it even. He knew how rare of an opportunity this was and understood what this could mean for my career. Mom was being mom. She was excited for me but worried. Europe was far away. I wouldn’t necessarily be a phone call away because of the time difference, and she wouldn’t see me for the weekly family dinner or upcoming holidays, but, like Dad, she knew how much this could mean for me.
Then there was my angel. I pulled her into my side needing to feel her close. This would be hard for her, for both of us. Nine months was a long time to be away. We just celebrated our two-year anniversary the week prior. The longest we had been apart was two weeks. How could I survive nine months? I leaned over and kissed her temple. She looked up at me and smiled looking as breathtaking as always. I smiled back then tucked her further into my side.
I checked my bags, retrieved my boarding pass, and walked to the security checkpoint. They couldn’t go any further with me. This is where I would say goodbye. I dropped my carry-on bag and pulled her into a tight hug. This was a bad time to leave, especially considering I had just asked her to be my wife a mere three months ago. This should be the time we were planning the wedding, looking for a home, and all the other things that would begin our lives together. How could I consider leaving her?
“Love, I don’t have to go,” I said quietly into her ear.
“Yes, you do,” she said sternly. “Edward, we discussed this. It’s a wonderful opportunity.”
“Ask me to stay, Bella. Tell me you don’t want you to go.”
“Edward.” Her voice was strained; I immediately felt guilty. “I’m not going to keep you from this. If I ask you to stay, you’ll always wonder what could have been. I will not let you regret this or resent me, and you know that’s exactly how you will feel if you don’t get on that plane.”
“But I need to be here. We’ll be married two months after I return. There’s so much planning that needs to be done.” I felt her chuckle the sound warming my body.
“You know Alice won’t let anything fall behind. She started working on everything the day you proposed.”
“Then I need to be here as a buffer. I can protect you from her.” She tilted her head and kissed my neck. I shivered and hugged her tighter. Nine months without her kiss, my heart seized at that thought.
“No one can be protected from Alice, but I thank you for the concern.” She wasn’t going to let me stay. The thought both sadden me and made me love her even more if it were possible. She always put me first. She sighed; her breath fanned over my neck, then she placed her mouth near my ear to whisper. “Just promise you’ll come back to me.”
“Absolutely nothing could keep me away. I love you, Isabella. I love you more than anything.” I heard her sniffle quietly. She was trying so hard not the cry. She knew it would break my heart. As it were, my heart was already breaking.
“I love you too; forever and always.”
“Son,” I heard my dad say quietly. “You really must go now. You don’t want to miss your plane.” I pulled away from Bella reluctantly. Dad pulled me into a hug. “She’ll be fine, Edward. You both will. It isn’t a life time; you’ll be back before you know it.” I just nodded then looked to Mom. Her eyes were shining with unshed tears, and I knew it was a mixture of pride and apprehension. I pulled her into a hug.
“Oh, Edward,” she sighed. “I’m going to miss you.”
“I’ll miss you too, Mom,” I said quietly, “but I’ll call you when I can and send pictures. E-mail doesn’t have a time constraint. You can send me one whenever you want.”
“I know. We’ll be here, waiting for you.” I lowered my voice so only she could hear.
“Take care of her, Mom.” She knew whom I was talking about. Charlie was a wonderful father, but some things were meant to be done by a mother.
“I will. I love you, son.”
“I love you, too.” She held on longer, reluctant to let go.
“Esme, dear,” Dad said. “You have to let him go now.” We all chuckled as she let me go.
“I know, Carlisle.”
I turned around to see Bella standing with her hands behind her back, biting her bottom lip, and twisting one foot like a child that had just been scolded. I smiled at her demeanor. I wanted to take a picture and remember this moment for at least the next nine months. She smiled a small smile, and I could see the tears she was trying so hard to suppress. I jerked my head back beaconing her to come. She rushed forward and threw her arms around my neck. I wrapped my arms around her waist and lifted her.
I pressed my lips to hers in a hard, passionate kiss. I wouldn’t be able to do this for nine months so I wanted to leave her, and myself, with something to remember. I hoped to sear the feel of her into my mind, into my heart. She ran her tongue over my lips, and I opened willingly and eagerly. She slid her tongue into my mouth and moaned. I would commit her sounds to memory, too. We battled for dominance, but I soon won out. I took her mouth possessively. After a few moments, I pulled away. She was panting, her breath shallow and erratic. I kissed each eyelid, each cheek, her nose, and finally her mouth. I kissed her three times, short and chaste not wanting to let her go.
“Don’t forget to send me your address,” she said breathlessly. “I’ll write you.” I looked into her warm, chocolate eyes memorizing every detail of her face.
“I’ll write you, too,” I promised. She recently read a book of civil war love letters and found the idea romantic. She had insisted we write to each other.
“Continental Airlines Flight 767 to Paris, France, layover in Houston, Texas, now boarding,” a woman’s voice said over the PA system.
“That’s you. You have to go,” she said. I nodded and kissed her once more.
“I love you. I’ll call when I land in Paris.”
“I love you, too.” Her voice was low and cracked on the last word. I pulled her head down to kiss her forehead lingering for a moment, grabbed my carry-on, and then walked away. I cleared security then turned back. Mom had pulled Bella into a hug, and I could see her shoulders shaking. My heart clenched knowing I was the cause of her pain. She turned to look at me and smiled sadly.
“I love you,” I mouthed to her. Her smiled widened then she returned the sentiment. I turned back around to walk to my awaiting plane. The moment was bittersweet. I was on my way to spend nine months playing with the Paris Symphony Orchestra, but, at the same time, I was on my way to spend nine months away from my reason for existing. It was going to be a long, agonizing nine months.
8 July 2009
My Dearest Edward,
I hope this letter finds you in high spirits and excited for your upcoming debut performance. I can’t express how proud I am of you. I’ve always thought you played the piano so well. I’m so very excited that you are getting to share your gift. You’re going to touch so many lives with your music. Be proud, Edward. You’re extraordinary.
Carlisle, Esme, and I will be listening to the CD you made me the night of your debut. I wish I could be there for you, but this will have to do. We’ve been keeping each other company in your absence. We took lunch to your dad yesterday. His surgery ran late, but we were able to eat with him afterwards.
Alice is being Alice. She wants to take me shopping for the dress this weekend. She says we’ll go to Seattle so we have more options. She’s been asking for details on how I want my dress to look. I received a harsh scolding when I replied with, “I don’t really care.” I could be in jeans and a t-shirt and happy as long as you were waiting for me at the altar.
Oh Edward, I dreamt of our wedding last night. You looked perfect, but I never expected anything less. You had written your own vows and delivered them with ease and grace. I woke up feeling lighter and happier than any morning since you’ve been gone. Although you’ve only been away for seven days, I miss you more than words can convey. I ache for your touch, your smile. I must close here. I have to leave for work soon. I look forward to you letter. I love you so much.
Always and Forever,
I placed the letter down beside me on the couch. I ached for her too. I ached to feel her in my arms, to see her gorgeous smile, to hear her beautiful laughter. I was excited for the debut performance. Rehearsals had been long and grueling but so exhilarating and invigorating at the same time. The caliber with which each person played was extraordinary. I was so blessed and lucky to be here.
I looked around the quaint flat. I could picture Bella here. She would scurry around picking up my mindlessly discarded sheet music that didn’t get my approval. The kitchen would be occupied by her singing and swaying her hips as she cooked, and unknown song playing in her mind. I looked further left and saw the bed. I refused to picture her there. My ache for her was acute enough, no need to intensify it.
I picked up a pen and piece of paper to write her back. This wouldn’t be the first letter I attempted to write. Every time I picked up a pen, my mind would go blank. The first had started, “I miss you, you know.” I immediately discarded the paper. It sounded so disingenuine. I had started four other letters, all falling far short of the mark. I picked those letters up and eyed them. I hadn’t thrown them away with the intent to look at them and guarantee other letters not start that way. The letters felt heavy in my hand. Not because of their weight but for the fact they were unsent. She wanted letters, and I had yet to send her one. I poised the pen over the paper and prayed the right words would come.
14 July 2009
My Beautiful Bella,
Just the thought of hearing you say those words makes me yearn for you. Your confidence and pride in me is always astounding. How did I ever deserve you? I am excited about the debut performance. Rehearsal has been going long, but while it should be tiring, I leave more invigorated than when I arrive. All the musicians are amazing. I wish you could be here as well, love; more than anything. I’ll be thinking about you of course when I play. You’re my inspiration- always have been.
I’m glad Esme and Carlisle are there for you. They’re wonderful parents. I hope you three enjoy the CD. I’m sure Dad really enjoyed the lunch. He likes ‘showing off his girls,’ as he told me once. They love you, Bella. You’re as much their daughter as I’m their son. You fit into the family so perfectly.
Tell Alice I said not to overwhelm you. While I realize you don’t care about the dress, I know you’ll regret the jeans and t-shirt in fifty years when our grandchildren are looking at the wedding photos. No matter what you choose, you’ll look radiant and more beautiful than any bride in history.
Love, you have no idea how much my heart swells thinking about our wedding day. I cannot wait to see you walking down that aisle. The image I have keeps my sadness at bay on those tough nights. You’re going to be my wife, Bella. My wife. Those words are music to my ears, more beautiful than any symphony could produce.
I miss you. I miss your smile, your laughter. I conjure them up as much as possible. The happiness and contentment they bring are beyond measure. I hug a pillow to me at night, but it’s no substitute for you. God, if I could just wrap my arms around you, feel your warm body pressed to mine, kiss you goodnight. Maybe my nights wouldn’t be so restless and cold. I must leave for rehearsal soon. Please give my love to my parents and know that I’m sending all mine to you. I love you, Isabella.
Aching for you,
I tossed the pen on top of the unfinished letters and reread what I wrote. Bella was so eloquent when writing. I hoped my letter didn’t sound as unrefined and corny as it sounded in my head. Bella would find it beautiful, as she did anything of mine, and that was really all that mattered. She needed to understand the depth of what I felt for her. She was my everything. If I had had any lingering doubts, which I didn’t, but if I had, this trip would have washed them away. There was nothing in this moment I wanted more than Bella. It just solidified my resolve more.
I quickly addressed the envelope so I could mail it while heading to rehearsal. I slipped on my shoes, locked the door, and pocketed the keys before walking to the concert hall. Three days until the performance. Bella would call no doubt after the performance. We were scheduled to conclude the concert around 10:00pm. Understanding the need to mingle and schmooze, she would give me until 12:00am to get back to the flat which meant she would call around 3:00pm her time. Phone calls had been very hard to coordinate. With the time difference, her hectic schedule and planning the wedding, and my erratic rehearsal schedule, the calls had been few and far between. I couldn’t wait to hear her voice.
The cacophony of tuning instruments greeted me as I walked into the concert hall. I always found it ironic how awful the orchestra sounded just before a concert, then the beauty when all was in accord. I greeted a few people while I took my place on stage. The maestro was looking over the score with the violins and making a few changes. I got comfortable, ready for whatever today’s rehearsal would bring. Bella stayed on my mind, her smile clearly etched in my mind.
7 September 2009
My Future Husband,
Edward, it hurts me to say this, but I found it. I found a dress. I realize this is a great feat, as Alice told me I was already behind schedule, but it hurts. You’re not here. My longing for you was intense today. I understand that you wouldn’t have been with me to see the dress, but you’re still not here. I’m moving forward without you next to me, and it’s the worst feeling. I miss you terribly.
I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be shoveling this on you. I know it’s not your fault, and I would never ask you to come home. You’re living a dream; you deserve this. I’m so very sorry. It’s just been a hard day. Tomorrow will be easier.
Oh! I found a video someone uploaded to YouTube of one of your concerts. Edward, you were brilliant. It was so beautiful. I’m so, so proud of you. Carlisle and Esme watched it as well. Esme forwarded it to everyone in her Garden Club. Carlisle sent it to everyone he knows in the hospital. You’re loved, Edward. I hope you realize that.
Alice has grand plans for your parents’ backyard. She said it’s the perfect location for the ceremony. She says I have to makes a decision on colors for the wedding. What would you like? I just want it to be over with, to finally be your wife.
Jasper and Emmett have been a little lost without you. :) They don’t know what to do with a missing Musketeer. Rosalie is trying to keep Emmett occupied but poor Jasper. With Alice working on the wedding, he’s been left to his own devices. It’s actually quite endearing, but don’t tell them I said that.
I’ll wrap up this letter. I feel so out of sorts today. Hopefully tomorrow will bring clarity and a sense of relief. How are you, Edward? Truly? I hope to talk to you soon. Maybe your voice is what I need right now. I love you.
Always and Forever,
I placed the letter on the stack of her other eight letters and picked up the picture frame on the end table. Bella looked beautiful beyond words. It was from the day I proposed. She was wearing a pair of my black boxers, one of my white wife beaters, and she was laying on my bed a book in hand. The sparkling engagement ring could be seen clearly against the black cover of the book. A small, tender smile graced her flawless face. My heart seized. I was hurting her. I traced her face with a finger wishing more than anything that she were here with me.
I looked at the letter again and ran my finger over it. I could feel where her tears had fallen. The paper was a bit crinkled and the ink splotched. It must have been a hard day. I had those days, too, but I couldn’t call her or write her and let her know. This separation was hard enough for her. I didn’t want to add to her weariness. Her letter hadn’t flowed as well as her others, a clear sign of the emotional state she must have been in when writing. I needed to talk to her, comfort her, reassure her. I checked the clock. 6:00am. Perfect. I picked up the phone and called home, eager to hear her voice.
“Hello,” her beautiful voice floated through the receiver.
“Hello, love,” I breathed. Hearing her did more for my heart than it should. It had been too long since we talked. “Happy birthday.”
“Oh Edward.” I could hear the smile in her voice. “I appreciate the sentiment, but you’re a day early.”
“It is your birthday here.” She was still fuzzy with the time difference.
“Oh. Well thank you. What are you doing calling me at this hour? You should be getting as much sleep as possible. You have a concert tonight.”
“I wanted to talk to my fiancée. Is that a crime?” She sighed longingly. I could feel the tension slowly leaving my shoulders that had built up over the past few days.
“Not at all. I love you.”
“I love you, too.” I leaned back against the couch holding her picture in my hand gently. “I just read your letter. I am so sorry I’m doing this to you.” I swore I would never hurt her, and that’s exactly what I had been doing.
“No! You have nothing to be sorry about.” She rushed to reassure me. “It was just a bad day. There was nothing you could have done about it.”
“It hurts being away from you. I could come home. I don’t need to be here. I need you. I’m just too far from where you are. I wanna come home.”
“Edward, sweetie, we’ve talked about this. After this you’ll be able to do whatever you want. This is always something you’ve dreamt about doing. I want you to fulfill all your dreams. Nine months is a long time, but it’s nothing compared to the lifetime I get with you. We’re allowed to have moments of longing, moments of weakness, but Edward, only for a moment. Just focus on getting through the day, then the next day, then the next day. Before you know it, April will be here, and I’ll be back in your arms.” I pinched the bridge of my nose between my thumb and forefinger.
“I know, love. I promise to stay.” I let out a long breath searching for a way to change the subject. “Did you get your present?”
“I thought I told you no presents.” Her voice was so adorable when it became stern. I smiled able to clearly picture her scowling visage at this moment.
“You did tell me no presents. I chose not to listen. It should be there today or tomorrow.” She huffed. “Isabella, I cherish the day you were born. Without it, I would never have found my soulmate. Don’t argue with me. Let me celebrate you.”
“Edward, you make it so hard to argue with you.” She giggled and I reveled in the sound.
“Well, good. Open it as soon as you get it. I hope you love it.”
“I’m sure I will.” Her sentence tapered off into a yawn.
“Go to sleep, love. Dream sweet dreams.”
“As long as you’re in them they will be. I love you.”
“Always and forever. Bye, love.” I hung up feeling a bit refreshed. One day at a time. Today I would focus on making it through the concert.
I signed for the box and bid the deliveryman a good evening. I wasn’t expecting any packages but couldn’t stop the goofy grin when I recognized Bella’s handwriting. I should have known she would time it perfectly to arrive on Christmas Day. My happiness was short lived as I realized it was another holiday without her. I sighed and sat down the package taunting me. I was eager to know what she got me, but I wanted to wait until we were on the phone with one another.
The day went by slowly. I didn’t have a rehearsal today. We were leaving in two days to fly to Rome where the Symphony Orchestra would perform a concert. I pulled out the photos of my family and friends I kept by the bed and took them to the living room to look through. The two pictures of the entire group, Rosalie, Emmett, Alice, Jasper, Bella, and me, were taken at last year’s Fourth of July celebration. The first was all of us in a large dog pile. Emmett had stolen the last cupcake and we all planned on fighting him for it. He ran and the pursuit was on. Unfortunately nobody won. The cupcake ended up between Emmett and the ground with all of us piled on top of him.
The second one was a typical ‘friends’ pose. We were coupled up, girls in front, guys behind their girlfriend. The girls had the arms wrapped around each other’s necks while we had our arms wrapped around our girl. It looked almost uncomfortable but honestly was the most comfortable we’ve felt. We were a close-knit group, almost more than friends. I could count on any of them to be there for me, any time, any day.
The next few pictures were of Mom, Dad, and one of Bella with Charlie. Charlie never was a fan of the camera so this was a rare photo of the two. Bella looked so relaxed and so at ease, and Charlie, for once, looked that way too. He was sitting in his favorite recliner in his living room watching a game I presume. Bella was leaning against his legs, his hand resting on her head. It was a very tender moment that I think the two of them weren’t even aware of. Sometimes, he did things that were so subconsciously parental. If I ever said anything about it, he’d deny it. The phone brought me out of my memory, and I answered quickly.
“Hi,” she said quietly. I had to strain to hear her.
“Love? Are you there?”
“I’m-” She cleared her throat. “I’m here.”
“It’s so wonderful to hear your voice.” She sniffled. “Love, please don’t cry.”
“Oh Edward,” she took in a sharp breath, “I’m so sorry. I swore I wouldn’t cry.” She took a moment to compose herself. “Did you get your gift?”
“I did. Did you get yours?”
“I did. Did you like yours?” I pulled the box onto my lap.
“I haven’t opened it yet. I wanted to wait and do it with you.” I heard her crying pick up again.
“Me too.” I smiled, loving that we were so predictable. What I wouldn’t give to be there with her.
14 February 2010
My Wonderful Fiancée,
I haven’t wanted you home more this trip than today. I see all the Valentine’s decorations, so many hearts. All it does is remind me, my heart’s not here. It’s oceans away, with you. Hold it close, Edward. Protect it. It’s never felt this vulnerable.
I love you. I love you with every breath, every blink, and every step. I love you more than I could possibly imagine loving anything or anyone. You’re not my perfect match, you’re the other half of me; you’re part of me. I don’t feel whole with you gone.
I yearn for you every day. I can’t wait to be back in your arms, and it’s less than two months away. I haven’t spoken to you in what feels like ages. I pray all is well. I miss you, I love you, and I can’t wait to see you.
Always and Forever,
14 February 2010
My Beautiful Bella,
I’m aching for you today, and it’s being shoved in my face that I can’t hold you, touch you, kiss you, love you properly. I’m so sorry I did this to you, love. You deserve to have someone that’s going to be there for you always, and I’m falling miserably short of that line. I hope you can forgive me one day.
I love you, Bella. I truly do. More than the air I breathe and the water I drink, I love you. I can’t wait to be there, face-to-face, and tell you in person, to hold you and kiss you as I say it. Words are not enough though to describe the depth of my feelings for you. I can’t wait to make you my wife. The day is too far away. Less than two months, love, and I’ll be back. Once I’m there, I’m never leaving you again. This separation is too much. I love you, Bella, with everything I have.
Sending all my love,
The days passed slowly. It was 30 March, and it felt as if 1 April would never come. My bags were packed and already shipped home. I didn’t want to worry about anything when I stepped off that plane save for my carry-on and finding my way to Bella. I needed to feel her in my arms more than anything. I made another sweep of the apartment to check for anything I might have forgotten. Of course, there was nothing left. I had done this numerous times. Upon that realization, my mind was made up.
I was only here for two more days to sign paperwork. I called the office and talked about getting my paperwork done early. They said I could come by in an hour to sign off. There had been a last minute cancellation. I gathered my wallet and keys and almost skipped to the offices. I was twenty minutes early and waited patiently for the appointed time. They let me in ten minutes early and within the hour I had paid my rent, returned the key, and was in a cab to the airport. It took about twenty minutes to get my ticket changed for the soonest flight.
I waited two hours until my plane finally boarded. The ten-hour flight was grueling. I forgot to buy any sleeping pills before arriving at the airport, and I was so keyed up, I couldn’t sleep. I looked through the magazine the plane provided. I watched the in-flight movie. I played games on my laptop until the battery went dead. I was excited to get off the plane in New York, even if it meant running from one end of the airport to the other to catch the connecting flight. While I was running, I sent two texts. The first I sent to my dad: At Sea-Tac at 8:42 tonight. Bring my girls. The second I sent to my Bella: I’ll be home tonight. I’m coming back home. I shut my phone off as I stepped onto the plane.
My leg bounced the entire flight from New York to Seattle. Knowing she was mere hours away from me only made the wait harder. The flight attendant asked if I was okay on multiple occasions. She had seen plenty of people freak out, and I’m sure I looked no better off. I found myself biting my nails a few times, the anticipation almost overwhelming. The man next to me, bless him, was ignoring my antics most of the way. We were about twenty minutes from landing when he finally spoke up.
“Are you okay, son?” he asked concernedly.
“I’m wonderful,” I answered with a wide grin. He looked at me curiously. “Really, I am. I’ve been gone for nine months with work. I’m about to see my fiancée for the first time in ages.” He smiled at me knowingly.
“No wonder you’re so anxious. What’s her name?”
“What a beautiful name. Tell me about your Bella.” For the duration of the flight I told him about the love of my life. We landed smoothly and taxied to a gate.
“Thank you for the distraction. It was much appreciated.”
“Thank you for telling me about your girl. Congratulations on being home, and good luck.” I smiled at him in return before hurrying off the plane.
I only had the carry-on to worry about so I bypassed baggage claim and headed toward the front doors. I wanted to run but held myself back. I didn’t want to run into anyone. It would be my luck to knock someone down. I didn’t want anything holding me back from her longer. I spotted her before she spotted me and stopped. She was so stunning. Her hair was a little shorter than before I left. The natural red highlights of her hair was more prominent and her face was glowing. I frowned a little when I saw how small she was. She had lost weight, a little too much weight, but she was still so beautiful.
Her eyes finally caught mine and her smile bloomed. She waved as she bounced up and down in her spot. I could see my mother and father behind her, Carlisle holding Esme to him. I smiled back at her and took off at a fast walk. She started running toward me. She was within reach when her foot caught on air and she tripped. I grabbed her and pulled her close to my chest, crushing her in a hug. I chuckled at her clumsiness. It was so endearingly Bella.
“I promised to always catch you,” I whispered in her ear. She pulled back and crushed her lips to mine as we held each other tight. I wasted no time in massaging her tongue with mine. We both moaned and deepened the kiss. I pulled back after a few moments remembering one, we needed to breathe, and two, we were still in the airport. I rested my forehead against hers and stared into those gorgeous chocolate eyes I had missed so much. “I love you.” I watched as tears streamed down her cheeks.
“I love you too,” she whispered, the emotion thick in her voice. She reached up and brushed away tears I hadn’t realized leaked onto my face. “I love you so much.” I pressed my lips to hers tenderly and lingered a moment.
“Let’s go home.”