Chapter Eleven: Hail Damage
A/N: This chapter was one of the very first scenes, along with the prologue, that came to my mind when I started to write Summerboy. I'm very excited to have it play out. I'd like to quickly note that this chapter is a little intense, so please be cautious when reading. Thanks to kisbydog for beta'ing this chapter.
"IT found me again. I thought I could ignore IT. There are four other freshman in here, two hundred female. Plus all the other grades. But he whispers to me. I can smell him over the noise of the metal shop and I drop my poster and the masking tape and I want to throw up and I can smell him and I run and he remembers and he knows. He whispers in my ear."- Melinda, Chapter: Naming The Monster, "Speak".
I stare moodily at my translucent vodka shot before throwing it back. My face screws up at the horrid taste. "I seriously hope one of these days that vodka starts to taste nice," I say after a moment.
Alice laughs in reply. "I doubt it."
We're sitting on a large piece of driftwood, far away enough from the party that it's a bit of a walk to approach us, but close enough that we can still hear the music. Someone's having sex in the dunes above us, I think. The loud bass thumps out of Jacob's stereo in the back of his Rabbit.
Alice watches me as I take my last shot – the last of my three lovely, strong shots of vodka. Alice, smartly, has put our one-quarter-left water bottle deep into her handbag. I lick my lips. I'm a little bit more than tipsy; I'm on the verge of wasted.
I find that I can still construct a sentence though, and carry a conversation. Alice and I agree that it was kind of a dickhead move originally for Edward to bring Tanya – I'd invited him – but I eventually have to concede that I'd stressed to him it was not a date (and it actually wasn't) and that he probably wanted to cheer his best friend up, who'd been having a hard time. I could only hope that she didn't try to drunkenly make out with him to Sweet Home Alabama or something. I then try and usher Alice to go over and make out – ahem – talk with Jasper Hale, but Alice just laughs and says maybe later. She's trying to play it cool, which I think is a pretty good way to go.
I nearly jump out of my drunken skin when my phone vibrates in my pocket, and then my ringtone sounds. I heave myself up off the driftwood, stumble over the wet sand, and stare at the screen a little way away from Alice and our driftwood.
It's a number I don't recognise. A lot of five's. "I don't know you…" I mumble, and doggedly hit the 'receive call' button. "…Heeeelllo?"
"Isabella? Is that you?"
And my worldjuststops.
There is no beach. There is no party. There is no me. Phil's voice and breath is in my right ear. I don't know if his words are slurred or sober, vengeful or broken. I wrench my cell away, end the call, and press my 'hang up' button until it switches off. I wish my fingers would bleed.
I want to throw my phone into the ocean. Anything for Phil to not come near me again.
Alice calls my name. She sounds concerned. I look back at her to see she's standing before the driftwood and choke out, "He called me. Phil called me. He broke the SAPO."
Alice horrified expression freezes but she walks over to me. "Oh, goodness, Bella –"
Tears well in my eyes and make mascara tracks down my face. "What do I do?" I whisper.
"Did you delete the number?"
"No, I just turned my cell off." I thrust the phone into Alice's determining hands. "I don't want to touch it," I say. My voice is wobbly. I feel faint. I clasp my forehead, pushing back my hair off my face. The chilled wind is a welcome feeling. In the background of my life, everyone cheers as their new favourite dance song comes on.
"Bella?" Edward is trudging through the wet sand over to us. I gasp something like, "Oh, God, not now," in response.
Alice looks like there's some sort of strength welling up inside her. I think we both know that I'm about to break apart and that she needs to hold us both up. She clutches my black little cell in a death grip and yells at Edward fiercely, "Go away!
In between the shaking and the tears, I feel proud. Alice wouldn't normally be so brave, standing up to someone she barely knew.
Edward stubbornly marches over to us. Alice grips me around my waist as I sway. The sand crunches against my sandals. Crunch, crunch, crunch.
Isabella? How did he get my number? Is that you?
"I said go away, Edward, she doesn't want to see you right now."
"What's happened to her? Why is she crying? Bella, what happened? Let me-"
He reaches for me and I back-peddle in a flash. "No!" I yelp out helplessly. I try to say what happened, but I can't, I can't-
"Phil phoned and broke the restraining order rules she has on him, okay!" Alice replies shrilly after a moment. The tension is thick and the wintry wind is cold. "Now back off. She doesn't need your drama right now."
Alice turns to face me fully. She smooths her small thumb against my cheek. "Bella, sweetie? What do you want to do?"
I feel like I'm breaking up inside. I'm shaking all over. "I want to go home," I mumble, like a broken and lost child.
Alice nods in reply. "Okay, Bella. Um, I'll go – Oh, gosh, hey Rosalie! Rosalie!"
The sound of sand moving tells me that my lovely and tough friend is rushing over here. I notice that Rose is wearing skinny jeans and I think, wow, that was smart, because it's actually getting really cold tonight.
Alice explains to situation, and Rosalie's voice gets dangerously low. Did she keep the number? What did he say? I'll go get Jasper and he can drive her home.
"No." The negative response comes from Edward. "She should go to the police tonight. Bella, you should tell the cops so they can handle it."
I swallow my salty tears for a moment. "I-I don't want to. I'm s-so…so messed up. I want to go home." My voice cracks and my mouth tastes like old vodka. "Alice, please take me home…"
Edward comes over and supports me by holding onto my upper arms. He looks straight into my eyes. His are all green and clear.
I feel like I might throw up. I taste of jelly shots and creeping touches. "If you go to the police now, they can catch Phil right away," he says to me firmly. "Let me help you."
But I push him away. "No," I sob. "I don't want your help, I don't deserve it; I just want to get out of here. Just leave me ALONE, Edward."
I sound like a drunk little girl. And I am. I moan as pain lashes through my chest. Memories ghost my mind. His hands fiddle with the straps of my white t-shirt…
Edward doesn't budge. I push against him uselessly. Words tumble out of my mouth like my tongue has no grip on them. "Go. Away. I don't want to talk to you about this. You don't get it. Find some other girl to have a summer fling with. Go have a fling with Tanya! Just let. Me. Go." Something like ice falls over me and traps my heart. I become dizzy with panic. Phil's closing in on me. He's touching my breasts through my shirt and stealing my breath and he's got me. I can barely sound out my next words. "I just need to get out of here!"
Edward raises his voice as his anger grows at the situation. At me. "What the fuck? When are you going to understand that I'm not going anywhere? Or, you know what, maybe I finally should. I mean, what's the point of coming back after every year, keeping my distance for someone who won't admit she loves me the way I love her?" he yells. "I knew the idea of commitment scared you because your mum royally fucked your dad over. If you would have asked me to be there for you to call you during these past three years, I would have done it. I want to be here for you now, Bella. I want you to let me in." He punctuates his final sentence with his arms dropped to his sides in a defeated gesture. "I can't wait any longer."
I don't know how my head or my heart can take any more pain at the moment.
Isabella? Is that you? Is that you? You? You? You?
I can't wait any longer.
I can hear Rosalie screaming at Edward - something about being a bastard, saying stupid things, and a panic attack. I think I'm hyperventilating, or something. I suck in too much air because suddenly there's no breath in my body. My world wobbles, and Alice somehow directs me to sit down on a piece of driftwood with her. I do as she says when she tells me to put my head between my knees. She tries to make me breathe right.
It's forever, or maybe five minutes later, when Edward dares to come near me. My head is tucked into Alice's embrace. Rosalie sits next to me, not touching. I'm glad she's just there.
Edward takes a deep breath, and I lift my weary head to meet his gaze. He swears in a low voice. "Fuck, I – Look, I'm not sorry for what I just said, but I really could have picked better timing. Emmett and I will drive you home, okay? Everything's going to be fine. I promise."
Edward sits down with me as Rosalie runs to get Emmett. He goes to cradle my face in his hands, realizes I'll probably freak, and instead squeezes my cold, shaking hands. "It's okay, Bella. It's okay," he tells me over and over again, like a mantra. It hypnotizes me as I gasp gasp gasp for air, because I can't breathe breathe breathe. "He's not here, he's not going to get you. We're going to take you home to your dad where you'll be safe. Shh. Calm down. I've got you, Bella. I've got you."
The interior of Edward's car is jet black, the night sky shadowing us. Emmett drives. Edward sits in the front seat. Alice tries to soothe me, saying, 'Shhh.' My sniffles and ragged breathing almost eclipse the Cullen brothers' argumentative whispering about what to do when we get to my house. I don't really know what I'm saying. I'm saying I'm scared. I ask how Tanya will get back to Edward's, and I add her to my guilty conscience. Edward reassures me that she has her own car and will ind her way back in the morning. He adds that Jasper took Rosalie home. I apologize to Alice repeatedly because her mom's probably going to kill her for not going home. Alice tells me her mom can go fuck herself. She hugs me tighter.
I find a place on the car floor to fixate my gaze, and sure enough, the car ride is fast as my panic slowly starts to subside. We get to my house, and someone unlocks the door with my keys. The living room lights are on. Someone calls for my dad in a panicked voice.
"Bella?" Charlie rushes over to my shaking form and grips my upper arm. He doesn't speak with the voice of an authoritative cop. He speaks with the voice of a father. "What happened to her?" he demands quietly.
Another sob racks through my body.
"I'm s-sorry, Daddy," I blurt out. How ashamed, frightened, and sick I feel scares me.
I can't look in his eyes. I shrink back into Alice's form. She tells the boys to explain it, and she takes me up to my room. As we walk up the stairs, I turn my hunched form around to see Emmett explaining to my dad what has happened. Edward looks as white as the sand we walked on tonight.
The lights are bright as Alice flicks them on. My thick duvet looks like the perfect deep purple sea to drown myself in. My head hurts from all the crying, but I can't stop as I shakily lie down and curl up in a ball, my head resting on my pillow. I just want to be alone. But all I want is for someone to be with me.
"Alice," I whimper, then swallow thickly. She kicks off her shoes, takes off her earrings, turns my bedroom light out, and pulls the covers over us. Alice clutches my waist with her tiny arm, holding me close and safe. She cries with me.
I fall asleep, exhausted, and dead to the world when Charlie comes in an hour later, smoothing my hair sadly, and thanking Alice for helping his little girl home.
I'm sixteen. There is no air left in my lungs, no breath to be caught in my throat. There is water, and there is darkness.
Then, pain rattles through my body as I choke and splutter and cough sea-salty water. There is air to be breathed; I'm back in the canoe. I heave and gasp for air as I twist my body around. Edward had me on my side, the way they taught him in lifeguard training.
Edward pumped air back into my lungs and pushed a beat back into my heart. He saved me.
It takes another year to realize that whenever I'm drowning, he's always there, reaching in the murky water for my ice-cold grip. He knows, he asks, he reassures, he hugs; he's there.
Edward Cullen is like some fucked up real-life metaphor.
He's always there to save me.
A/N: A few people have expressed they don't know how much Bella wants to be with Edward, so I thought I'd say this: I think by now it's obvious that she does – it's just that their romance isn't the sole focus of this story. Her life doesn't revolve around 'Oooh, do I let down my walls and let Edward in my life?' It's more, 'How do I let him in my life when I have trouble with my life myself?' Let me know what you think of this chapter!