DISCLAIMER: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. I’m here having fun.
Chapter 19: The Letting Go
I’m thrilled when my work visa and residence permit arrives, making my stay here more permanent. It’s been two months since I landed in Berlin, and I’m settling into work and my new home with Hilda and Rosalie nicely when the texts begin.
Perhaps he’s lonely, but I snort at the impossibility of that thought and try to ignore his attempt at a conversation, since I’ve said all I need to say. Instead, I reach out to a friend who is more like a sister and I will always need in my life.
The six-hour time difference means it’s late, after midnight for me, while she’s just made it home from work.
“Tell me about life in Berlin.”
“Angela, it’s incredible. Everything here feels more real—raw and gritty. As if I’m on the frontlines and on the cusp of something groundbreaking rather than stuck in an office building only focused on my next deadline. I understand why Carlisle travels so much.”
“How’s your boss?”
“Generous and kind.” I giggle. “Incredibly sexy.”
“Like Emmett sexy?”
A smile spreads across my face at her admission. He’s always had a bit of a crush on Angela, and I’m happy to know that he hasn’t gone unnoticed by her. “No, definitely higher levels than that.”
“You’ll have to send me a picture. Are you getting along with your roommates?”
“Absolutely. Rosalie is a dream, but her work is just unbelievable. One picture captures so much. Wait until you see it. We’re working on a project together.”
“And your other roommate?”
“Hilda. Oh, God where to start.” Let’s hope the bottle of wine we shared earlier doesn’t reveal too much truth as I can hardly hold back. We spent most of the evening kissing and cuddling on the couch, sharing the details of our day apart while working on different stories. But now, she’s at the dining table, typing away, and I’m calling Angela from our bedroom.
I have my own bedroom in her apartment, but I have yet to sleep a single night there, choosing only to use it to store my clothes and other items I brought to Berlin. It feels good she wants to share it with me and has no trouble making me an important part of her life. We just click. She makes me feel not only needed but wanted.
My attraction to her wasn’t something I ever expected happening, but it grows stronger every day. There’s no hiding our relationship, which is easy and refreshing. I never have to wonder how she feels or what she’s thinking because she is always open and honest, leaving no room for any insecurities.
“Ang, she is so badass and doesn’t give a shit what anyone thinks. She’s strong and confident. She knows who she is, and heaven help anyone who crosses her. I’m always in awe of her network of friends, and I know deep down, I wish I were more like her in every way. She’s so free and passionate—purposeful about everything she does.”
“You sound quite smitten.”
And turned on at the thought of Hilda in the other room, waiting for me to finish my call so we can crawl into bed together. “I am definitely that. I can’t wait for you to meet her.”
“Hmmm, we’ll see. I saw your dad the other day.”
“You did?” I’m surprised.
“Yes, Ben and I saw him out at a restaurant with Nora. I think they’re still going strong.”
“Good. I want him to be happy, and if she does that for him, then I’m all for it. I haven’t talked to him in a while since I’m sure he’s busy.”
“We only said ‘hi’ briefly, but he looks good.”
I laugh. “You sound like Dem.”
“I doubt that. Have you heard from him?”
“Yes, he said he’s moving clubs. A new one is opening in Coral Way. He’s excited.”
“We should go watch his show when you’re back.”
I’m silent at the suggestion, since I’m only beginning to hit my stride here. “Ang, I’m not sure when that will be.”
“Are we talking months?”
“Uh, my residence permit is for three years.”
“Three years? You aren’t coming back for three years?”
“Like I said, I don’t know.”
“What if something major happens, like I get married or have a baby? Are you going to miss those events?”
“Did Ben ask?”
“No! But maybe I should, if it will get your ass back here, if only for a visit. I miss you so damn much. We’ve been together for years and it’s weird not having you here.”
“Ang, I miss you too.”
“I know you have to do this, Bella, and I’m sorry for sounding so clingy. Maybe I should ask Ben to move in with me.”
“Does it feel like the right thing to do?”
“Yes, I love him so much. I don’t know what I’m waiting for because when you know what you want, why wait, right?”
“Sounds like you have it figured out.”
“I have some other news you should probably hear.”
“Why does that sound ominous?”
“It’s a mix. I found out who Katie Marshall is… as in Katie Marshall-Yorkie. She’s married to Eric Yorkie and also happens to be someone’s ex.”
“It’s okay; you can say his name,” I reassure, but that uneasy feeling in my stomach at the mention of him never seems to diminish.
“It turns out those pictures we saw on the D.C’s Daily Chatter’s website had Eric cropped out.”
“Why am I not surprised? Now that I think back on it, I believe it was someone named ‘Eric’ who I replaced on the show. Maybe they’re all friends.”
“Because some people actually have mature relationships with their exes? Maybe you should take note, Bella. I would say with 100% certainty that Edward was there with Katie and Eric—her husband.”
I swallow down the lump in my throat. “He keeps texting and emailing. I believe there are a few voicemails too.”
“Finally, it took him long enough to get his head out of his ass. I can’t believe he waited until you were gone, but it probably took him that long to find his balls. Did you listen to what he had to say or simply tell him to go to hell?”
“Uh… I haven’t responded yet.”
“You’re ignoring him?”
“I’m at a loss how to respond. I start feeling like a better version of my old self, then bam, it’s like a grenade at the beginning of my day and I’m completely lost after that. I suspect he only texts or emails when he’s in bed or alone. It sucks that’s the only time when he thinks about me, which is one of the reasons why it wasn’t working between us. Maybe I should block his number and email.”
“Don’t do that. Your heart doesn’t want you to do that and you know it. You love him, and what if he loves you? Why would you want to throw that chance away?”
“I don’t know, Ang. What if loving someone isn’t enough? Or maybe he loves a lot of someones. We never got the words out after a year together. A year.”
“Did you feel like you wanted to say them, but didn’t because you were already hiding your relationship?”
“That’s what I thought. There was another post on the Daily Chatter recently you should know about. It was one of those blind items where they don’t share the names, but everyone knows who it is.”
“I can’t believe you’re still reading that site. I don’t dare take a peek.”
“I’m kind of addicted, but it’s probably good I filter it for you.”
There’s a long pause as I wait for the details. “Well?”
“There’s a vague post about a foursome on the rocks—a husband, wife, her sister, and the wife’s boyfriend.”
“Oh, God. I knew it.”
“Apparently, the husband and boyfriend were overheard arguing about the wife, as the sister was threatening to expose all in an effort to break up the marriage and keep the husband for herself.”
“Holy shit. I’m so glad I’m not there for that.”
“Now, remember, it doesn’t mean Edward’s actually her boyfriend and Irina could be using him to get what she wants. She and Tanya are masters of manipulation.”
“Maybe that’s why he’s contacting me?” I mumble to myself, groaning at a new realization. “Oh, God, Ang. A single Tanya, now there’s a frightening thought. If she hasn’t landed Edward before now, after the divorce, she will be relentless and ready to swoop in at any vulnerable moment.”
“She can’t be that bad.”
“You’re entitled to your own opinion.”
“I know, but when we hate, we hate together. I’ll always have your back, Bella.”
“I love you.”
“I love you too. I better let you get to sleep. Maybe I’ll talk with you in a week?”
“Sounds like a plan. I’ll look forward to it. Bye, Ang.”
“Good night, Bella.”
I end the call, plug my phone into my charger, and wait on the bed as I listen to Hilda move around the apartment, shutting everything down for the night. I consider ripping off my shirt and underwear, thinking she may enjoy finding me completely nude in bed, but I don’t get a chance before she enters the bedroom, turning off the last of the lights.
I watch as she unbuttons her jeans, pushing them from her legs and leaves on only her T-shirt and underwear. She crawls across the bed until she’s hovering above me. “Now, you are all mine?” She kisses the tip of my nose.
My hands start at her waist, then move upward until I’m cupping her chest over the thin T-shirt, squeezing her breasts. “Yes, all yours.”
She moans when the nails of my thumbs flick across her nipples, and I urge her to move higher on my body. I alternate sucking her nipples over her shirt.
“Zo good, Bella.” She grinds against me, seeking the friction I know she so desperately needs.
I pull away from her chest. “Higher.”
She moves until she’s straddling my mouth and my tongue reaches out to touch her cloth-covered clit, licking at the wet spot while my hands squeeze her ass cheeks.
My tentative licks aren’t enough for either of us, and I slide her underwear to the side, then my hands urge her closer to my mouth. “Hold on to the headboard.”
Her legs shift and widen when she moves, and I immediately dive in licking and sucking everywhere my mouth will reach.
I use my fingers to trace between her legs, coating them with her wetness until I pause sliding a single finger in her opening, beginning a slow, gentle pace, fucking her with my finger.
“Bella, pleaze,” she begs, then gasps when I ease a second finger inside her, never faltering when I suck her into my mouth as my tongue swirls across her clit.
“Mmmmm.” I moan when my fingers glide more easily and readjust my position until I’m lapping the wetness of her opening, shoving my tongue inside her, thrusting it in and out as far as it will reach.
“Ohhh.” Her hips tilt back and forth furiously across my mouth and tongue as I brace my hands on the backs of her thighs, holding her tightly.
I hang on as she rides my face and work my tongue diligently where she needs it most. Her body seizes, but I continue to draw out her pleasure until she is too sensitive for me to continue.
“You’re a fast learner.” She chuckles, peeling off her T-shirt and dropping it on the floor.
I pause between licks not wanting to miss a single bit. “I have an excellent teacher.”
She pulls away from my face and settles next to me on the bed until we’re spooning with her front to my back.
Her arms wrap around me as one hand reaches under my shirt, squeezing my breast, and the other slides under the edge of my panties between my legs.
“Zo vet.” A fingertip toys with my clit as my hips thrust forward seeking more.
I’m worked up from making her come, and I know she’ll have me out of control in no time at all.
With one hand, Hilda pulls my shirt from my body, tossing it to the floor, then plucks at my nipples while her mouth sucks on my neck and a second finger rubs me with increased fervor.
“Oh, God.” My back arches as my ass moves against her, loving the feel of her bare breasts rubbing against my back.
Her fingers are precise, playing me like a fine instrument as I feel the distinct pressure of teeth marks, then sucking on the side of my neck.
I gasp, stilling as my orgasm begins and her fingers continue, massaging my clit to completion as I’m tumbling through waves of euphoria.
I glance down to where she’s touching me, and I watch her hand move lower under my panties to my opening where her fingers slide easily in and out of my body.
“Oh, Hilda.” My eyes close in a wash of submission at the rush of feelings she creates.
She leaves a trail of kisses along my back and shoulder until she urges me to roll from my side and onto my back with her hand still buried between my legs as her fingers pick up their pace.
“Again,” she requests. Her mouth moves along my neck, assaulting it with her kisses, and I’m compliant to her demanding lips, tilting my head back and giving her greater access. “I’ll make you come again.”
Her mouth lowers to my chest, sucking my nipples as I grab onto her arm, needing to hold on to her, and moan when the overwhelming feeling to come builds once more.
“Mark me,” I beg as my hips tilt, writhing against her hand. “Please.”
My nipple falls from her mouth as her half-lidded eyes find mine. “Zo everyone can zee or only me?”
“Everyone.” I guide her head back to my neck where she increases her efforts. My hand laces through her hair as I hold her in place and encourage, “Harder.”
She obliges, and the sting from the suction of her mouth leaves me feeling victorious while two of her fingers fuck me vigorously, pushing me near the edge and barreling headfirst into another orgasm.
“Bella.” Hilda moves back to my chest, sucking and nibbling my nipples. Her fingers and mouth never relent until I fall over the edge of a second release.
Her hand slows, bringing me down slowly while her tongue pushes past my lips, sharing gentle kisses until I’m a pile of mush and at her mercy again.
She pulls away, admiring her mark in the only light of the moon pouring through the window, as her fingertip traces along my neck and over the spot she’s left. Her eyes find mine and her smile is contagious as a lazy one spreads across my lips. I feel drugged from the endorphins pulsing through my body and can no longer keep my eyes open, drifting along the edge of dreamland.
“Zleep, beautiful Bella,” she whispers, wrapping her body around mine. “I vill love you again tomorrow.”
“If we can’t get in, then I will never find them, Bella.” Binyamin sags against the wall in defeat before we’ve made any new progress.
He’s been searching for his mother, Amina, and sister, Saarah Aldeen, who left Syria, while he was attending college in England. Binyamin fled Syria years ago when he was given two choices: join ISIS or die. With a little money, he successfully made his way to his destination through the Balkan route, but not without enduring his own share of heartache along the way.
During his time in England, he received word from a childhood friend who said his mother and sister were headed to Germany from Turkey. But it has been years without contact and he’s afraid they didn’t survive the trip. With Hungary establishing a rigid, permanent border made of high razor topped fencing with Serbia, a new Western Balkan route has emerged, and now he fears for their safety, if they were to attempt this dangerous route.
We got a tip that there are lists held in this office of refugee affairs that may hold the key to finding his family or at least give him some answers. This is the location where they turn the original handwritten lists from years ago into computer-generated ones. The lists then become easily searchable, but it’s a slow process and not available to the public or anyone outside of the office. Volunteers from years ago were overwhelmed with processing the numbers of asylum seekers and resorted to handwritten logbooks.
We aren’t exactly here on business, since this particular trip is personal, but with some persistent prodding, Binyamin has confided in me what he’s been doing with all of his free time outside of work. He requested access to search the logbooks, but was denied, giving him no reason or explanation. After seeing his disappointment at the setback, Rosalie and I offered to do everything possible to assist him, and it turns out she’s a master locksmith. Her skills have been essential in getting us this far, and I have faith she’ll come through again.
“Binyamin, if they’re in Germany, we’ll find them. We’ll use Hilda’s connections if we need them or figure out a way to get inside the camps here. This isn’t over by a long shot. Once Rosalie unlocks the door, we can get into the office and have unfettered access to the lists until morning. I’m hoping between the three of us searching, they will tell us which camp they are in and where to find them.”
“If they made it. My mother doesn’t speak English or German and we don’t have enough time to go through everything so closely. What if what she told them and what they wrote were two different things? What if they used different versions of their names to protect me or themselves?”
“There are Arabic translators.”
“Now, but not then when they may have arrived.”
“We have to stay positive that they made it. She’s strong like you. Remember that. Are you sure your father isn’t with them?”
Binyamin shakes his head. “He joined the Free Syrian Army when it all began and was fighting with those who opposed the President. There have been massacres for years of innocents and opposition fighters. No one knows where he is. He could be anywhere, but if they have left the camps in Turkey, then I believe he could be dead and they were coming to find me. What if they are sick or hurt?”
“Let’s worry about that when we find them.”
Rosalie returns around the corner with a smile on her face and waves for us to follow her as we move silently through the open door of another room. We may not be able to create another opportunity like this one, and I’m hoping we will find Binyamin’s answers.
Once we’re safely enclosed in the dark room, I point my flashlight around and realize the magnitude of our task at hand. There are hundreds of books lining the walls, and I open one to find logs of handwritten pages. I can figure out some of the writing, but still need help translating most German. “Todesursache?”
“Cause of death,” Binyamin whispers, pouring over the pages of a logbook.
“Shit,” I mutter, re-shelving the book, moving to a different section in favor of another. I’m not about to give up hope by searching through the death lists. I have to believe they are still alive, and only after we’ve gone through the other lists will I consider going back to those.
The hours tick by and we’re no closer to finding Binyamin’s family than we were when we began. We carefully return everything to its original location and leave the building undetected, agreeing to part ways for a few hours of sleep until we all need to arrive for work.
Hilda is gone when Rosalie and I return to our apartment. I collapse exhausted from our overnight search, but my mind won’t calm, as it races through other avenues and possibilities for how we may locate Binyamin’s mother and sister. Someone somewhere has to know something, and I’m determined to find out. We need the ability to search all refugee camps, and not just those in Berlin, but all of Germany and neighboring countries.
A/N: Huge thank yous to LizziePaige, Honeymoon Edward, purpleC305, and Midnight Cougar for their help with this story. xx
Bella is settling into life in Berlin and finding a balance between her personal and work lives. While she’s trying to let go and move on from her relationship with Edward, that is easier said than done.