‘.. asked to go with them.’
‘That’s wonderful, Bella.’
The brunette sighed, crossing her arms in front of her chest and turning to look at him, giving him a stern look. ‘What’s going on?’
‘Nothing. What should be?’
She sighed again, softly. ’I don’t know, I am sorry. You just seem a little distant these days. You are absent-minded, you hardly listen and I… you never call me ‘love’ anymore. I am sorry,’ she shook her head.
Edward was surprised to find out that she had noticed, since he’d tried to act as if nothing was the matter. She was right, though. He had found it increasingly harder to stay in the present, to pay attention and found himself less inclined to touch the human girl. What had caused the shift, he did not know, but he knew that something had changed. ’I thought you didn’t like me calling you ‘love’?’
‘It’s not just that.. I mean, you don’t touch me anymore, either.’
He didn’t answer, knowing that she was right – hoping against hopes that she would just drop the topic.
Her face grew pensive and she looked anywhere but at him. ‘Is it.. is it because of Dalia? Do you miss her?’
Thinking about it, Edward realized that his brother had been right. He was indeed a fool for letting her go. She was his best friend and he’d missed her from the very moment she’d stepped out of their embrace. It was a physical ache that was a constant reminder of her leave. He knew it was the right thing to do, however. Dalia deserved a life lived to the fullest, shared with a man who could give her the world.
But although she deserved it, Edward couldn’t help but have the selfish wish of not wanting her to ever marry anyone. He didn’t want her to fall asleep next to someone else, that person’s hand softly stroking her red locks. He didn’t want her to tease and joke with someone else, didn’t want someone else to be the Fitz to her Lizzy. But most especially, he didn’t want her to look at anyone else the way she looked at him. It was incredibly selfish of him, yet he could not deny the feelings within him. She was his Dalia, even though he could never have her in that way.
‘I get it. I mean, you two were practically always together.’
Hearing Bella say that, it reminded Edward of that last, faithful day. It had been a rather sunny one and all of Forks had spent their days outdoors, trying desperately to tan as much as was possible in those few hours. Dalia had stayed in, however, if only to be able to call with him, because she missed him. He’d found it endearing, but had never actually told her. In the phone conversation, she’d told him about her dissatisfaction with how little the two of them saw each other, but he’d brushed it off. But now he found himself thinking, wondering.
Had she been right? Had his relationship with Bella, indeed, come between their friendship? Before he could think the matter over any further, the brunette surprised him by continuing.
’I don’t think she liked me very much, though. It made me uneasy. She made me uneasy sometimes, seeing her around you so much.’
Somehow that little comment angered him, but he tried to keep his temper under control. He didn’t like the way she was talking about his best friend, as if the girl had done her any wrong, but he knew that he would regret it if he’d lash out against Bella. ‘She saved your life.’
‘I know that!’ she quickly said, caught off guard by his accusing tone. ‘And I am still grateful for that. But it’s just..’ she sighed, lowering her head even more. ‘You looked so much freer around her, happier. It made me wonder if I truly was the one you wanted.’
Normally, Edward would have killed himself over making his love insecure, of making her feel unworthy. But for some reason, he couldn’t. He couldn’t go through another round of apologies, another thousand reassurances and promises only to have the same thing happen the next day. Not today. ‘I’ve got to go. I am sorry.’ And without waiting for an answer, he disappeared.
I sighed softly, knowing that my week of freedom had almost come to an end. In less than a day, I would be on my way back to Los Angeles, where I would become one of those hopeless children of the state. I mean, nobody’s going to adopt a 17-year old girl. Worst of all of this was that I would probably never see Jeren or the Cullens again.
‘You’re truly an idiot,’ Jeren shook her head while she told me her conclusion – again.
‘Yes, I got your opinion of me the first twenty times.’
‘No, but really. I mean, I knew you were an idiot before – hell, otherwise we’d have never become friends – but I only recently realized just how screwed up you really are.’
I threw her a look from my mattress on the floor. ‘That I don’t want to force people into adopting me is not screwed up.’
‘It’s not forcing if they want it! I saw the way they looked at you, those people obviously liked you.’
‘There’s a difference between liking somebody and wanting to adopt them so they spend every second at your house, in your face, breathing in your air.’ I sighed. ‘Really Jeren, I would much rather be adopted by the Cullens, too. And if I’d be given the choice, I would say yes without a second thought. But you know that I can’t just use their pity to adopt me.’
Jeren sighed, too, and put a hand through her brown hair. ‘I know.. But it would just be so much..-’
‘Better,’ I nodded. ‘I know.’
‘I tried blackmailing my parents into adopting you as well,’ she giggled.
Pulling up an eyebrow, I couldn’t help but laugh at her antics. I mean, you can’t just dislike Jeren, no matter what stunt she pulled. ‘What did they do?’
‘They blackmailed me back.’ She said, shaking her head disapprovingly. ‘Just can’t trust parents these days. Always ready to stab you in the back.’
We both laughed and I laid myself down on the pillow, staring up at the ceiling. ‘Promise me we’ll still see each other.’
‘Of course, idiot,’ she yawned ‘I will stalk the hell out of you if you ignore even just one of my text messages. And don’t even think about getting a new best friend. I’ll track her down and kill her.’
‘That’s settled then,’ Jeren yawned again and I heard her turning beneath her sheets. ‘Sleep well, Dalia.’
‘Sleep well, Jeren.’
I listened as her breathing flattened out into a soft, steady rhythm. She would sometimes talk in her sleep, mostly about her strange, incoherent dreams. It was kind of cute, I guess. In any case, it was better than the nightmares that would wake me up sometimes. Or, what was worse, when they didn’t.
Tossing beneath the blankets, I found I was too restless to sleep. I was nervous for what would await me back in LA. I didn’t know what to expect and, in a way, I didn’t want to know either. As long as my life would not go too Annie on me, I would be fine. However, I would be lying if I’d said the orphanage was the only thing on my mind – or the most important, for that matter.
Despite what Jeren might have thought, I had wished desperately for the Cullens to adopt me. But of course, they hadn’t. Like I said, there is a big difference between liking someone enough to spend time with them and liking them enough to take them into your house. For the Cullen family, I obviously fell into that first category. I shouldn’t have been so surprised – or heartbroken – about it, though. Adopting a kid is a big decision and I would be a large burden for their vampire-y lifestyle. And yet, despite all of that, there had been a small part of me that had hoped, wished, for them to do so. This made it only more difficult to accept it when they truly weren’t going to.
Ever since Forks, I had felt like a part of me was missing. Like somehow, I had left a part of my heart in that embrace with Edward. I had always known I loved him. Even in those first moments, when he had been dead-set on killing me, there had been something inside of me that had felt mesmerized by him. He had always had my heart and he would always have it, even if the feeling was not mutual. For although Edward had repeatedly told me how much he loved me as well, there was always that small, six letter word that would drive a stake through my heart. Friend.
That’s all I ever was to him. A friend. A second choice. And yet I couldn’t help but make him my first priority. Even now, my body hurt just to be separated from him. My arms longing to be wrapped around him, my hands missing the soft feel of his bronze hair. He was anything and everything that I wanted, needed. He was my Fitzwilliam Darcy.
But I wasn’t his Elizabeth Bennet.