Behind Closed Doors – C28

DISCLAIMER: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. I’m here having fun.

-BCD-

Chapter 28: The Reunion Part 2

Edward leaves the bathroom, closing the door behind him. I take my time, enjoying the comfort of the plush towels, spreading lotion over every inch of my skin, and sliding on my favorite pajamas. The growling of my stomach reminds me I need to call room service and eat before I pass out. I didn’t eat much at the luncheon today as my stomach was in knots over the ceremony, and the unexpected arrival of Edward didn’t help my appetite either.

Opening the bathroom door, I move toward the desk, searching for the room service menu, only to find Edward sitting in a chair next to the bed balancing it on his knee.

“Can I borrow that?”

“Sure.” He hands me the leather-bound menu, watching me as I sit on the edge of the bed. I flip open the menu, scanning the selections.

“Are you still joining me for dinner?”

“I already ordered for both of us.” He clears his throat. “I thought it would be a good idea to get some food on the way. You didn’t eat much earlier.”

I’m a little defensive at him making choices for me, which isn’t a good start toward a new friendship together, if that’s what he’s thinking. “How did you know what I wanted?”

“I’m sorry. I should have waited.” He stands from his chair, and within seconds, has the phone receiver in hand ready to make the call. “What would you like? I’ll call and change the order.”

“I don’t know. I can’t decide between the roast chicken or the burger.”

There’s a knock on the door of my room and Edward hangs up the phone then moves to answer it. “Sit tight. I’ll get the door.”

I hear a male voice from the hallway and notice he has a cart.

“Good evening, sir.”

“That was fast.”

Edward accepts the leather holder with the bill and signs quickly.

“The kitchen isn’t busy yet. Would you like for me to—?”

“No, thanks. I’ve got it. Have a good night.”

“You too, sir.”

Edward pushes the room service cart to the end of the bed where I’m sitting.

“Are you hungry?”

“Yes. What did you order?”

He unveils the domes from each place setting. “One of your choices: the burger and fries. And when you thought it couldn’t get any better—the roast chicken with fingerling potatoes. Which one do you want or we can split them and share? It doesn’t matter to me, but make sure you save room for…” Edward removes the plastic wrap from another plate and sets it in the center of the cart. “…a slice of blackout cake.”

“Edward—” Not only did he pick exactly what I would order, but he remembered my love for all things chocolate.

“Better than squid ink, right?” He smirks, giving me a glimpse at the man I once knew and adding some levity to both of our moods.

“Yes. This looks delicious and a million times better than squid ink.” I can’t wait. Grabbing a fork, I take the first bite, moaning as the rich ganache melts on my tongue. “What’s happened to the cocky TV host I used to know? You’ve gone soft.”

The playful look on his face fades and he pauses, choosing his words with great care. “He’s been chewing on the same bite of humble pie for the past year.”

“I’m sorry that was… I don’t…”

His shoulders slump, and he shakes his head. “Bella, when we found out you were kidnapped… and they released the still from the video… I… We didn’t know so many things for a long time, and what the White House shared was… I would guess minimizing the gravity of the situation.”

I lower my voice, trying to will away the tears, which are threatening as my throat tightens. “It’s been a tough year.”

He nods. “For both of us.”

“Maybe that conversation can wait. I think we have other things to talk about, if you would like to continue?” I suggest.

“Okay. I want to go back and talk about your position on the whole marriage and children issue, but first, let’s eat. Would you like another glass of wine or would you prefer some ice water?”

“The wine would be great, but I’ll take a glass of water too.”

Edward busies himself with getting my drinks. “Tell me about your co-workers. That’s probably a safe subject, right?”

Oh, God.

This conversation is nothing but a minefield as we go from one subject to the next.

Finishing my bite, I start with one of the easiest. “You met Rose. We’re roommates, and you’ve seen her photos, if you’ve read my articles. She’s incredibly talented.”

“Yes, she is.” Edward moves the desk chair opposite of where I’m sitting and raises the sides of the cart, locking them into position and creating a small round table.

“Everything smells great. I’ll take the burger, if that’s okay?” I say.

“Sure. So, is Rose your only roommate?”

“No. We used to have another. Her name is Hilda, but she moved out last month and in with her fiancé, Alistair, who also is the head of the Post’s Berlin office.”

“Your boss,” he concludes. “Is she a journalist too?”

“Yes to both. He’s Scottish and Hilda is German.” I shrug, trying to play it cool about their relationship. “It’s an interesting match and they… they are expecting a baby in two months.”

Edward observes me closely. “Marriage and a child.”

I nod, ready to move on to someone else. “Binyamin is Syrian. He’s been looking for his mother and sister who were lost for years when they fled Syria. We got the good news that he found them recently based on some information Rose and I had from… uh… this never gets easier… from our time away.”

“I’m sorry, Bella. It all seems to be interrelated. I had no idea. We can talk about something else, if you would prefer.”

“No, it’s fine. There’s also Siobhan and her daughter, Maggie, who are Irish. I’ve met Siobhan’s husband William a few times. And finally, George who is from England.” I skip elaborating about George, as there is no reason to revisit that situation either. “It’s a small group, but an interesting blend of nationalities. Everyone was welcoming when I arrived, and I’ve formed great friendships as we lean on one another to collaborate for our articles.”

“Maybe I can meet them one day.”

“I don’t know. Maybe…”

“Do you like Berlin?”

“I do. It’s a city with a rich history and understated beauty. I haven’t had a chance to do any of the touristy things. There are a lot of castles throughout German countryside, which I’ve only seen from a distance, but they look like something straight out of a fairy tale.”

“How long do you plan to stay?” Edward asks between bites of chicken and potatoes.

“I have two years left on my residence permit. I, uh, I have an interview with The Times next week while we’re here in New York.”

“You do?”

I chuckle, sneaking another large bite of cake. “Yeah, win one Pulitzer and they suddenly would like to talk.”

“I’m not sure what more they could offer you than what The Post isn’t already doing.”

“I don’t either. Carlisle says I should keep an open mind, but when it comes to The Times he’s biased.” I watch Edward, wanting to clarify a few points in our past and hoping he will be truthful with my change of subject. “I want to ask about when we were seeing each other.”

“Okay.”

“I thought we agreed on exclusivity, but after doing your show, were you and Tanya involved behind my back? Because that morning in the green room, she was busy staking a claim on you as she said—”

“No. No, we weren’t.”

He’s quick to cut off my explanation, which makes me more suspicious that he’s not sharing the whole story, but I finish my thought.

“In the studio, she was very… aggressive before our segment and during the break.”

“She’s always been persistent about getting what she wants.”

“And she wanted you, as did every woman in the building. It was an eye-opening experience.”

“I’m sorry if you were hurt by everything you heard, Bella. I never cheated. You know how I feel about my father and his treatment of my mother. I would never do that to you. But I made mistakes with Tanya after you left and stupidly got pulled into her divorce.”

Please don’t go into any details about you and Tanya, I silently beg. I know I can’t handle hearing about the two of them together, even though I’m well aware I wasn’t abstaining from any relationships with other people. At least he doesn’t know them, which is the reason for my hesitancy at the idea of introducing him to my co-workers.

I’m eager to let him off the hook and explain myself further. “We broke up and there were absolutely no signs of reconciliation in our future after I left. I ended it because I couldn’t keep the secrets or continue telling the lies any longer. We needed to trust each other to make our relationship work, and I was at my breaking point. The women were everywhere buzzing about you, and Shelly was leaking stories to the Daily Chatter. You were so good at not letting any of it bother you, and I was like a dam finally bursting under the pressure.”

“Shelly was leaking stories?”

“I don’t know who else it could have been, but I was the fool who was reading about other women spending their time with you on outings I knew we made together. Who else would have known? Like I said, Shelly hates me and was determined to drive a wedge between us. And it worked. I broke first. I know we said we would always be honest with one another when something was bothering us, and I’m sorry I failed to keep that promise. The Daily Chatter‘s gossip was wearing me down to where I didn’t know what to believe, and I didn’t want to point out my growing insecurities.”

“And I want to eliminate those for both of us by getting married.”

“Do you really believe a piece of paper would do that? There are no guarantees, Edward. Relationships end all the time for various reasons with or without the binding of a marriage license. Look at Tanya.”

“But it’s you and me. I had faith in us. I still do. Look at us. We’re here sharing dinner and clearing the air after a year apart.”

I shake my head. “I don’t see myself ever getting married. I love my life and my job with no plans to give those up for anyone, especially for a child. I’ve worked too hard for years to get where I am now, and I know that probably sounds selfish—”

He interrupts. “I’m not proposing you do that, but I would like to have a better understanding of what you need in order for us to move forward.”

“And I’m trying to explain. In my opinion, not every woman should be a mother. I believe I’m one of those, and I’m okay with my decision. But if having children is a deal breaker for you, then maybe you shouldn’t waste your time with me and find someone who can give you what you’re missing.”

We’re both quiet contemplating the implications of my words as we finish our meals and I take my last bites of chocolate cake.

“Are you finished?” Edward points toward my half-eaten burger.

“Yes, I think that’s all I can eat. I hope you don’t mind my lying down? After a bath, two glasses of wine, and a full belly, I’m not sure how much longer I can stay awake.”

“Okay. I should go soon. Let me push the cart back out in the hallway. Go ahead and crawl under the covers.”

Edward makes quick work of removing the remains of our meals, then returns to the chair next to the bed; thankfully, maintaining a distance between us.

When he doesn’t restart our conversation, I decide to let him off the hook. “I understand if you’re having second thoughts, Edward. It’s okay. It’s a lot to digest.”

“Bella, I’m not having second thoughts, but it seems I need to rethink how to establish a partnership with you, if marriage isn’t an option. I just want to verify, you’re not opposed to dating?”

I shrug. “Dating is fine.”

He gives me a sly smile. “Would you like to meet for a breakfast date in the morning? Don’t worry; I haven’t forgotten my promised date from earlier today to take you to a hockey game. We’ll do that whenever you’re in D.C. again and have time.”

“Okay, breakfast tomorrow sounds great.” I grin.

“I promise, there will be many more dates on the not-so-distant horizon. Can I ask you something else?”

“Sure.”

“What about living together?” he asks. “I mentioned it earlier and you didn’t shoot it down immediately. So, is that a possibility?”

“Maybe at some point in the future.”

“What if we worked together? Would you be opposed to something like that?”

“You want to leave television?” I ask through a yawn.

“I know I want you, and if I need a different job, then I’ll get one.”

“Oh, Edward. You don’t know what you’re saying. Privately, I’m a mess. Sometimes I wake up and don’t know where I am. The lack of control freaks me out. There are nightmares too. Publicly, I have a target on my back and I’m always looking over my shoulder for what lurks around every corner and who I may offend with the most innocent of statements.”

“And I still want you—the year apart solidified that for me.” He smiles softly. “I love everything about you, Bella, especially your messes. We all have fears, and I know, while I can’t truly understand what you’ve been through, I want to be there for you in every way. Let’s both sleep on everything we’ve discussed and pick this up in the morning. You need your rest, and I’ll bring breakfast.”

He stands from the chair, then walks around the bed and leans over, brushing his lips across my forehead, leaving a gentle kiss.

“I’ll see you in the morning. Is eight o’clock too early?”

“No, it’s fine. Good night, Edward.”

“Good night, Bella. Sweet dreams.” He smiles, but hesitates for a moment.

It’s barely a faint whisper, but I hear it. Then he moves toward the door, giving me one last wave, leaving my room for the night.

At the sound of the door closing, I turn off the light near the bed and whisper into the darkness. “I love you too.”

A/N: Huge thank yous to LizziePaige, Honeymoon Edward, purpleC305, and Midnight Cougar for their help with this story. xx

They have so much to discuss, and their conversation will continue next chapter with a breakfast date.