What Have I Done
chuckled at his antics and we closed the door, shutting the cold December wind out, basking in the warmth that was home.
Football season ended in February with no spectacle as the Steelers didn't make it to the Super bowl this year, but that was fine by me. No game meant that I got to spend more time with Bella. My perfect, sweet, loving Bella. An involuntary grin spread across my face as I waited in line for my coffee as I thought back to the last couple of months. Bella had been getting stronger and happier with each passing day, though sometime, when it the rain was pelting down on our house, she would mellow significantly, remembering her father's home in Seattle, Washington. The doctors had told us that she would have random mood swings and depressed behavior since the initial shock of her father's death and her paralysis had worn off. Her completely selfless attitude would diminish as well when her self confidence rose and she stopped blaming herself for everything that happened.
But that had not happened yet and we hadn't experienced anything but happiness for the last two months, and for that I was grateful. My phone beeped shrilly, causing me to frown. Actually, everything wasn't perfect. Tanya's name flashed across my screen. I sighed as I contemplated answering it or not. On the last ring, I hesitantly picked up the phone and placed it against my ears. "What do you want Tanya?"
"I want you back Edward. I already told you that. I've contacted you several time Edward. You've talked to me before."
"Yeah, you have, and I've already told you that I don't want you back. I have Bella now and that means the world to me." As I said those words, I picked up my coffee cup and left Starbucks, opening the door as the wind rushed inside the warmth of the store. "I don't think you understand Tanya. I love her. Not you. And stop calling me. I don't want to talk to you."
"That's not true. You always pick up. And there was a time when you did love me!" she whined and I grimaced. That wasn't completely false. I did tell her that I loved her once upon a time, but looking back, it wasn't love, it was lust that had bloomed out of a close friendship. "Edward, you know that what we had was special!" she took a brief pause then giggled, continuing. "Don't you remember that night by the fire place? That little black number-" I rolled my eyes and cut her off.
"It isn't that difficult to feel lust Tanya. But it's not that way with Bella. I genuinely love her. I told you this, over and over again. The most you can possibly be to me is a friend T."
Silence was the only thing I heard on her side until I heard an exasperated sigh. "Okay, Ed, I get it. I won't get you back by being a bitch. But I do miss you and I really do want us to be friends still. Can we please try?"
Should I give her a chance? I thought back to when we had first met, to before Tanya had taken interest in me and I smiled, realizing that I had missed my old friend as well. "Yeah, I'd like that. I miss my friend, T."
"Great. Will you meet me for lunch today at that Italian bistro down town?"
I hesitated before answering. "I-I can't Tanya. I promised Bella that I'll meet her at home with lunch from Jason's Deli."
"Please? I haven't seen you since you started dating Bella. I miss you, and besides, it won't take that long. It's only about 11 right now, you can still make it to your house by 1."
I nodded. "Sure, why not. Get a reservation Tanya." I hung up my phone and smiled, happy to have my friend back again. Tanya wasn't a bad person, to me anyways, as long as she was reminded of her boundaries. She was the first real friend that I had made outside of my teammates and their family and girl friends and it was nice to be able to talk to someone and not worry about your whole group of friends judging you. If there was one thing that Tanya was good at was keeping my secrets private. "You're the luckiest man in the world Cullen," I muttered as I changed directions, heading off towards the La Bella Italia where my friend was waiting.
I checked my phone again for the time and sighed when I saw that it was already three o'clock, two hours after the reservation. I contemplated calling him, but talked myself out of it, thinking that it was just a late practice. Maybe his coach had held him back for extra training or something like that. The Super Bowl was coming up and he would have to train harder for the coach to be satisfied.
"Miss, are you sure I can't get you anything?" the waiter asked again and I shook my head.
"Just the check please," I murmured as I fiddled with my fingers. "I'll just go now."
"If you're sure miss." He walked away and I took another nervous sip out of my coffee and looked around the restaurant Edward was supposed to meet me at two hours ago.
"Where are you, Edward?" I wondered out loud, looking around the room at all the normal couples laughing and eating as they kissed and hugged and loved. My hand inadvertently twitched towards my phone and I gave up and started to dial his number. The phone rang twice before a familiar voice picked up.
"Hello?" it asked and I gasped in shock. "Hello?" The nasally, high-pitched voice of Tanya rang through and I cleared my throat.
"Hi, is Edward there? I really have to speak to him."
"Who is this?" she asked and I bit back the bitter tears.
"I'm his girlfriend, Bella. You remember me, right?"
"Oh yeah! Bella, the crippled. Yeah, listen, sorry Edward couldn't be there, he told me he had a lunch meeting with someone, and I guess that was you. We had a little problem at the restaurant we went to and he had to go and change clothes. Do you want me to tell him you called?" It was obvious by her tone and her language that she was trying to goad me into yelling at her and I almost did as I felt the tears prick fiercely and the blood started boiling in my body. Who does she think she is?
"Calm down Bella," I murmured, telling myself that this was just one of my mood swings the doctor had told me about. "Yeah, that'll be nice. Just tell him that I'll be waiting for him at our home. Bye Tanya, it was nice talking to you," I nearly snarled as I ended the call, frustrated. Why did Edward miss lunch with me to be with her? I didn't understand. He had told me that he had loved me, right? I sighed as I rolled myself across the side walk and hailed a cab. As the driver helped me into the backseat and folded the wheelchair, pure dread struck me. Was it because of me that he left?
The paralysis was something that he said didn't bother him, but was that really the case? What if… What if he wanted to leave me for Tanya? I felt my heart ice over but I quickly shook my head at the thought. Really Bella, that boy loves you, remember? Tanya was just an old friend. Yeah. They were just meeting as friends, I told myself and for the rest of the ride, I desperately tried to clear my head of all things concerning the she-devil.
I entered the house, locking the door behind me and rolled myself over to the living room where Alice was sitting with Jasper, watching America's Next Top Model. I rolled my eyes. Such an Alice thing to watch. "Hey guys," I chirped, hoping my voice wouldn't betray the turmoil burning in me. "What's up?"
"Nothing much. Where's Edward?" Jasper asked and I involuntarily flinched. Obviously, he had caught that. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing, really, I was just irrational with him and yelled at him. Really, nothing. We made up and he's going to go pick up something for me." I pursed my lips, hoping my lie was good enough for them. Edward's disappearing act had maddened and saddened me beyond belief, but if I were to tell them the truth, they would eat me alive with questions and eat him alive with threats and verbal beatings.
They both raised their brows but said nothing, not quite believing, but knowing that I wasn't in a mood to talk. "Bella, isn't it time for you're exercises today?" Alice asked and I sighed and nodded. Great, another bad thing to add to the list. Jasper nodded to confirm the schedule. Shortly after I had started my exercises, I found that sometimes, the pain of physical therapy was unendurable and I had gone to Jasper for emotional guidance. He motivated me to keep going, even though sometimes, learning to walk again really sucked.
"Yeah, it is. Don't worry, I'll get started. Which one of you want to help me this time?"
"I'll do it," Alice volunteered happily and wheeled me off to her room where the yoga mat was there. "So, the doctor said on the last visit that your legs are getting stronger. The nerves are starting to reconnect to the brain, right?" I nodded and I could literally feel her happiness radiating off of her. "That's great! So what did he say we could do again? Something about strength, I think."
"Yeah, I have to keep doing the leg exercises but now I can try putting some weight on it with someone or something holding most of my weight up." I paused for a while. "I'll need someone to help me with that. Avery maybe, but I was thinking Jasper. Will that be okay, Alice?" I asked tentatively and she smiled brightly.
"Of course! He'd love to help. Now let's get you started on your legs," she stated as she placed me gently on the floor. The pain in my legs had dulled significantly the more times that I had done this exercise, but it was evidently there and I let the burning pangs in my legs override all thoughts of Edward and Tanya for at least half an hour.
"I'm such an idiot!" my inner voice screamed at me as I ran through the crowds in Pittsburgh to my car, jumping in and starting the ignition. "Damn that darn beer," I mumbled, cursing at the midday traffic. "Damn waitress for spilling it on me and damn me for ever listening to Tanya." I sighed, remembering.
Flashback Two Hours
I walked up towards the quaint bistro Tanya had requested and waved at my old friend who was beaming up at me. I smiled back at her and sat down in the chair next to hers giving her a brief hug. "Hey Tanya."
"Edward! Oh I missed you!" she cried, still smiling. "So, what have you been up to?" she asked while flipping through her menu and as I looked through mine. "I'm recording another album, you know, since my manager says I've done enough work at that damn store I was at. It's going to be released in about a year."
"Really? That's cool. I haven't been doing much. Just hanging around Bella and relaxing since football season's over. Coach wants us to keep prepping for next season, but really? I'm going to take some time off to spend with her."
"How is she, by the way?"
"Good." My face turned stern. "You really hurt her with what you said to her, Tanya. I think you should apologize."
She sighed then looked down at her hands, nodding. "Yeah, I know," she said bashfully. "I was such a bitch to her Edward," she looked up at me with those familiar blue eyes and I searched them, looking for any signs of a lie. But before I could identify one, she turned her gaze away from me and back to her menu. "So what do you want?"
"Something small, I guess. I have to meet Bella for lunch in like an hour. I'll just have a beer. What about you?"
"Uh… a Caesar salad, I think. I don't know. My manager says that I've been eating too much. Not good for the public eye. Psh, I don't know Vicky's weird."
I frowned. "Don't listen to her. You're perfectly skinny enough. Better than that god forsaken other singers who are anorexic. God I hate them. Idiots."
She laughed. "I know. Besides, I can't go anorexic if I wanted to. I love food way too much," she said, but I caught a hint of falseness in her eyes. Maybe I was imagining things.
Just then, the waitress approached, her smile forced upon her face as she whipped out her pad and pen and started to take our order. "What can I get for you guys today?"
"I'll have a Miller Lite, please," I ordered and she nodded, jotting it down.
"And for you?"
"Caesar salad, but hold the croutons."
The waitress left, leaving Tanya and me alone once more. "So what brought this on?"
"What brought what on?" she asked, befuddled.
"Why did you contact me? I haven't talked to you since I started dating Angel."
Shit, I let that name slip. "I-I meant Bella." She nodded, a look of anger flashing across her face for a brief second but it disappeared almost as quickly as it had appeared.
"I just missed you, you know? You're my only real friend beside Kate and Irina and I'm pretty sure those bitches gossip about me behind my back," she said. Kate and Irina were two actresses she had worked with while filming her debut film. Apparently, the three of them had hit it off, but were always talking about each other to the press, leaking private information. I mentally snorted. Yeah, what good friends they are.
"Sort of, I guess." The two of us fell into an awkward silence. When the waitress returned with our food, I couldn't have been more grateful, but as she approached, her foot caught in Tanya's outstretched foot and the plate of food came flying in my direction. All I heard was Tanya's shriek as some beer splashed onto her and the resounding crash of the plate of salad landing on the floor and the bottle of beer spilling onto my pristine white shirt.
"You BITCH!" Tanya shrieked at the waitress who looked to be on the verge of crying. "And this was a new outfit too!"
"Tanya, let's just go," I muttered, trying to wring some of the alcohol out of my shirt and hair. "We'll go back to my place to change."
She looked at me with angry eyes and shook her head fiercely, her blonde curls spouting off pieces of salad. "No. I refuse. We are going back to my place so that I can change. I'll lend you one of my old boyfriend's clothes or something." The murderous look on her face dared her to challenge her decision and I knew that it was wise not to. I shrugged and soon, we were in her luxurious car, speeding to her apartment.
"Does this fit?" Tanya asked as she headed into her closet, pulling out a gray sweater. I pulled it on over my head and chuckled. "What?"
"I look like an elephant," I murmured and she rolled her eyes.
"You're a freak Edward," she answered back, looking at me strangely. It was my turn to ask questions.
"Nothing," she purred and as I tried to turn my head, I felt her lean arms wrap around my neck as she pushed me down to kiss her. The second her lips touched mine, I pulled back, pushing her away, sputtering in utter confusion.
"What the hell Tanya? You promised that you wouldn't try anything! I have a damn girl friend who I happen to love!"
"Well have you ever thought of me, Edward? Did you ever stop to think that maybe I loved you too? That you left me when I was falling in love with you and then you return with th-that replacement girl? You broke my fucking heart Edward! I'm just trying to piece it back together!"
"I'm sorry, but I'm not coming back to you! I love Bella, not you, and I will never love you Tanya! Grow the hell up and realize this!" With that, I stormed passed her, but she held me back, her voice nothing short of a whisper now.
"How would you feel?" she asked.
"How would you feel if your precious Bella left you? If she returns as if to give you a second chance and then runs off to another boy? What would you do?"
An eerie silence filled the room, neither saying anything. "I'd fight for her," I replied.
"Then what's so wrong with what I'm doing now, Edward? I'm fighting for you. The man I love. Just go Edward. But I will fight for you, even if it means hurting her in the process. Take my car and go. I'll pick it up later or have someone do that for me."
Her hands released my arm and I raced out of the house, grabbing her keys in the process. Driving down the road, I ran my hands over my hair and sighed. What the hell had just happened?
I burst through the front doors of my house and raced up the stairs to my room where I was sure to find Bella, but found that the door was locked. "Bella! Bella, please, open up! Bella please! I'm sorry!" I pounded on the door and on the other side; I heard the creaking of the floorboards as Bella wheeled herself over. The door opened to reveal my love. "Bella I'm so sorry that I was late, I just got caught up in a whole bunch of stuff and I just – I'm sorry."
"Stuff?" she asked, her voice hoarse as if she had been crying, her red brimmed eyes confirming that tears had been shed. "You mean Tanya? The girl who is obviously more important than me?"
"She answered your phone when I called her. I don't understand Edward, you tell me that you love me and yet, you just, just blow me off for your ex who obviously hates my guts. What? Are-are you scared to be seen with me? Is that why you stood me up at the restaurant?" Her voice cracked and trembled as she spoke, her eyes glistening once more.
I looked at horror at my Angle and got down to my knees so that I was looking directly into her chocolate brown eyes. "No, of course not, how could you think that? That I'm ashamed of you? What did I do to convey that feeling? I-I love you!"
She looked at me strangely as if to search me for the truth and shook her head slightly. "It was supposed to be our first date Edward. The first time that we were going to be something as a couple in public without the whole group. And you stood me up for that with another girl. What am I supposed to think? I-I just don't know Edward. I don't, I don't want this."
"Don't want what?"
"I don't want to just be stuck here as the other girl that you come to so that you'll look good for the people. Is that what I am? A charity case that will boost your humanitarian media outlook?"
"Stop it Bella!" I felt the anger bubbling up inside of me at the love of my life sitting before me, doubting herself. I felt a sharp pang of guilt. I had caused this. "I-I went to see Tanya because I-I missed her. Not romantically, but as a friend and so I thought that I had plenty of time to see her before I went to you, but then the waitress spilled her beer on me and Tanya. She wanted to go change real quickly and so I accompanied her to borrow one of her spare guy shirts. That's why I was late. I'm so sorry love if I made you feel like you were anything short of what you are. I love you."
Bella stared at me for a long time, tears spilling down her cheeks. "Is that it?"
I hesitated, but nodded.
"You lie," she whispered. "Your eyes gave it away. When you lie, your eyes turn hard and cold, like now. What happened Edward? What happened that was so bad that you can't tell me if you love me?"
"We kissed," I said softly, and Bella flinched, closing her eyes. "She-she grabbed me and made me Bella! I-I love you and it wasn't my fault. I was trying to be gentlemanly but she just misunderstood why I went to lunch with her. She loves me Bella!"
"But you don't love her," she whispered, rolling back into the room, clear, glistening rays to tears flowing gently down her beautiful face.
"And I don't think that you love me either. As just as I love you, it can't be true." She took in a shuddering breath as she started so close the door, her eyes glued to the floor. "I should have known better, anyways. The girl in the wheelchair against a supermodel. We all know who won," she said softly. Her eyes glanced up to meet mine once more. The moisture traveling down her cheeks felt like a stab in my own heart as I felt a drop fall down from my own eyes as I started to cry.
"So this is it?" I asked incredulous. "All of it, just gone?"
"I-I just don't know Edward!" she cried, finally bursting into open sobs. "I just don't know!" with that, the door slammed down on my face, leaving me out of her world, her heart shut out from mine. And even in the warmth of the house, I could feel the cold, deadening wind start to creep into my heart that was now broken into a thousand pieces. What had I done?