Disclaimer: Stephanie Meyer & Little Brown Publishing own all rights
He sat in the bar, waiting for her to show up. His watch read 7:29. It was the watch that she’d given him when he turned thirty. Twenty-nine minutes late. He’d arrived early, although he was trying desperately not to appear anxious. It seemed like she was always late, which hadn’t always been the case. She’d only recently developed the habit of running behind schedule. Just another indication that she didn’t care.
He’d emailed her and asked her to meet him there. Her reply was stiff but she agreed. It hadn’t been a clean break like he’d hoped. He craved her, felt the constant pull of her orbit even though he’d moved across town and taken up residence alone. He was forced to face the fact that he might never be free of her gravity. Half a lifetime in her glow, no matter how clouded and murky it may have been, was embedded too deeply in him. With a wave of his fingers, he signaled to the bartender to pour him another. It wasn’t the first time that night he’d made the gesture and, if the night continued the way it was going, it wouldn’t be the last. It was a way to numb himself from being brushed off by her. Again.
His sleek black cell phone sat on the bar and he flipped it open, wondering if he’d missed a call from her. It was ridiculous, of course; letting his feelings be dictated by her actions, hanging on her every whim. Even if he hadn’t heard the ring of the phone, he would have seen the screen light up. He almost fell into his old habit of dreaming up excuses for her, but he quickly quelled the thoughts of possible flat tires or being held up at work before they reached the surface.
Now that he had some distance, he was able to see that when they were together and things were working right, they were unstoppable. Other people didn’t know what to do with themselves when they would enter a room. They would stop and just watch them, gawking at their perfection. Yin and yang. Both beatific in their own right, both complimenting the other while standing as their own people.
If only they knew what to do with each other.
That’s what he’d never been able to figure out, how to make her wake the fuck up and see how wonderful they could be. While he sat there waiting he tried to isolate the reason for asking her to see him. It troubled him that aside from all the love and baggage and need for closure, the reason was to check up on her. Even if he hated loving her, he loved her nonetheless. Since he’d left, he had replayed the last argument again and again. It seemed pointless and nit-picky at the time, but after he left her to watch the rest of the marathon alone, he thought about why it had upset him so much. He couldn’t understand why she wasn’t willing to indulge him just for the sake of happiness and fucking harmony once in a while. That wasn’t the clincher, though. Seeing her in another guy’s shirt the next morning look ing pink cheeked and freshly fucked, completely shredded the last tatters of his tolerance and respect for her.
He sloshed back the last of his scotch and glanced at his watch. The watch she gave him.
Switching to beer, he ordered another drink, because he knew she wasn’t coming. He’d get a phone call tomorrow with a breezy apology and some excuse about who-gives-a-fuck. He contemplated downing his drink in one desperate guzzle or giving her until the top of the hour to show up. Making allowances again. He decided to sip his beer. Slowly. Determined to savor the taste of bitterness and wasted years.
He felt a hand slide gently over his shoulder followed by a seductive cooing voice in his ear. He looked up and saw dark wavy hair and rich tawny skin. She said her name was Leah. It didn’t matter to him. In the past he’d found comfort in their bodies but never in their conversation. He never asked their names. They were all alike, the tourist girls he bedded but kept secret from Rose. Just a momentary distraction, a means of releasing pent up energy. They were nothing more to him, because they weren’t her. Certainly none of them could take his mind off of being stood up by Rose that night. His snort and dismissive wave told Leah he wasn’t interested; he wanted to be left alone to focus all his misery on Rosalie as was his habit. Ignoring the inviting smiles of Leah and her friends, he looked at his watch again.
He paid the bartender and stood up, polishing off the last of the beer he’d ordered. Sloppily, he pushed his arms through his jacket and left the bar.
She wasn’t coming.
Rosalie’s legs pumped quickly and she slightly cursed at her choice in footwear as she walked toward the local dive bar. She’d thought about driving but then didn’t know what state she’d be in when the night was over. She never knew what state she’d be in when it came to Edward anymore. Her day at the land surveying office was monotonous, but monotony proved to be tiring and wore on her brain far more than a job that could actually stimulate. Her position as an administrative assistant consisted of her pushing papers and flirting her way through phone calls with dirty old men who considered her nothing more than eye candy when they came to visit.
Mr. Jenks showed up just as she was locking the doors to the office, calling her sweetheart and asking for her to run copies of a recent survey. She’d already stayed later than normal, having no reason to rush home any longer. Rosalie sighed at the request, taking the twenty page report to the large copier and feeding each piece through by hand. The copier was finicky and she knew that it would misbehave unless she paid it the proper attention it demanded.
She drove home, the home that she once shared with Edward, and changed clothes before heading back out again. She knew she was late and it would have been quicker to drive but she knew she could always talk him into giving her a ride home.
She’d been surprised when he had sent her an email asking to meet her at the bar that was once theirs. She answered with a quick yes, overjoyed that he’d contacted her, and got back to the work that had piled on her desk. She wished she had time to write more but her boss was breathing down her neck with important meetings. She wanted to tell him there was no meeting more important than hers with him but she knew he wouldn’t take kindly to that and jobs were hard to come by.
His email was certainly not expected. Since he had moved out, he didn’t initiate contact often. She was the one who called, who cajoled, who pressed. She felt out of control, a feeling she wasn’t accustomed to and didn’t like one bit. Instead of allowing Edward to know of her vulnerability, she fought harder to gain the upper hand, to get him back to where they once were.
Little did she know that he didn’t want to get back to where they once were, he wanted more.
Little did she know, she wanted more too. It was hard to sort through the feelings of what she did and didn’t want. She’d been so comfortable and so safe with him and his status as best friend, even the mere thought of more scared the shit out of her.
So the fact that he took the initiative to email her said something. She wasn’t sure exactly what, but something.
And now she was late. As she waited for a line of cars to pass, she pulled out her cell phone once again, stabbing at the buttons and thinking maybe if she pressed hard enough, the cell phone would come back to life. But the battery had been low since she’d forgotten to charge it overnight. He was always responsible for charging their phones; they used to live on the counter together and he’d always made sure that hers was plugged in before they went to sleep. A lot of things she took for granted fell by the wayside when he moved out shortly after the first of January. She made but one resolution.
Get him back.
She needed him back in her life and not only did she need him back in her life, she was willing to fight. She recalled The Princess Bride’s version of “to the death” being “to the pain.” She was already in so much pain, there could be nothing worse. It propelled her forward, her resolve only that much stronger. She would make this happen.
She tried to talk to Bella about Edward. After all, Edward was her brother-in-law, but she and Bella had known one another first. She was the one who introduced Bella and Jasper to each other. Bella only uttered words into her coffee like loyalty and taking sides. Rosalie snapped at her, telling her that where she and Edward were concerned, they’d always been on the same side. Edward just needed help remembering that. Bella shrugged and apologized, telling her she was on her own with that and then shifting under Rose’s unyielding stare. Bella couldn’t have looked more relieved when Jasper showed up a few minutes later to pick her up from the restaurant.
Jasper merely nodded at Rosalie. He didn’t say anything; he didn’t need to. The nod said enough. Do what you can to make this right. Make him better. She held his gaze and thought once again of her resolution as she watched Bella and Jasper walk toward the door.
Someone brushed past her and she realized the line of cars had long since passed. Picking up her pace again, she hurried into the crosswalk, toward the bright blaze of the movie store. She knew she was already late, although she wasn’t aware the exact time because she didn’t wear a watch and relied on her cell phone for the time. She was nearly past the movie store without a second thought but she still had New Years and The Twilight Zone and her resolution on her mind. Instead of walking past the entrance, she turned in, pushing her way past the heavy double glass paned doors. She made a beeline to the movies she saw for sale, finding the box set that she wanted. The Twilight Zone, Collection 1, To Serve Man. $53.99.
She didn’t have enough cash on her so she paid with her credit card, slipping the gift into her over-sized bag, before continuing on her five block journey to the bar. She knew that she was beyond late and her feet were miserable in her shoes, so she slipped them off and held them in one hand by their heels, running down the sidewalk in stockinged feet. Just before she reached the entryway of the bar, the shoes were dropped to the ground, sliding them on once again. She patted at her windblown hair, trying to make herself presentable for him. He was the only one she would ever do this for and she knew she had to tell him that. She had to tell him everything.
It was then she saw him. Shoulders hunched, hands in pockets, head bowed.