*^*A Taste of Honey*^* ~ SoapyMayhem
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Chapter 25 **Breaking**
"What… no… that can't be right. I spoke to Nurse Cope just a week ago - she said he was doing well… I don't understand," I rambled, still unable to accept what he just told me.
There has to be some mistake. Charlie wouldn't… without… why would he do that to Isabella… his fucking daughter?
"There was a note," he sighed reluctantly.
"Goddammit… what kind of a fucking, negligent operation are you people running there? He's a sick man - he should have been fucking monitored. What the fuck happened?" I seethed, feeling rage and sadness seeping from every pore. Logically, I knew the man on the phone hadn't done anything wrong, but he was the only person I could blame at the moment, and since Charlie wouldn't be around for me to punch for what he'd so thoughtlessly done to his daughter, this guy was the most convenient substitute I could find.
"P-please, sir, I just called to inform you s-so you could come down to the center and... well... so you c-could notify Mr. Swan's f-family. We tried to reach his umm… daughter, but there was no answer at the residence. You were the only other contact we had," he stuttered, obviously trying to keep his shit together.
His regretful tone struck a nerve, as the sadness I felt seemed to overpower the anger. All I could think about was Isabella and that my baby girl was now an orphan.
I hadn't even realized I was moving until my back was pressed against the wall, the cool surface, sending a violent chill straight to the core of my very being. Unable to grasp a coherent thought, my body slumped and slid down till I was sitting on the floor.
Bewildered, I scrubbed my hand over my face, feeling as if I'd just aged ten years.
Just as quickly as the pain and sadness came, a sort of numbness seeped in strengthening me for what I knew I'd have to do.
"Thank you for letting us know, Arthur. Miss Swan and I will make arrangements for the body to be picked up, and someone will be by to collect his personal effects and that... letter," I told him calmly before ending the call.
For what felt like hours, I sat there trying to figure out how I was going to tell my girl what happened. I didn't stay numb for long. The thought of her losing her happiness, that spark of life was enough to make me nauseous. Would she still be able to attend school in two weeks? Would her father's death open up old wounds from the loss of her mother?
I couldn't begin to fathom how she was going to react to all this.
How was I even supposed to tell her?
I briefly thought of waking her up and dragging her to the airport so we could go to Italy early and just pretend I never received that fucking call. The idea was so tempting, but I knew she'd never forgive me if I did something like that.
There was also the fact that I'd never be able to hide it from her - she knew me so well, she'd sense that something bad had happened.
There wasn't a doubt in my mind that she would notice the look of anguish on my face. She'd see it from a mile away.
"Edward?" I looked up startled and fearful at the voice calling out to me. I actually sighed in relief when I saw that it was just Alice. I noticed the overnight bag in her hand realizing that she must have been coming back from Jasper's place. After this morning's news, my future brother-in-law's travel plans to fly out to London this afternoon were the last thing on my mind. "What are you doing? What's wrong?"
Her voice sounded tiny and afraid, so much like when she was that fragile fifteen-year-old who had just lost her mother.
Damn, even Alice can tell that I'm losing it. I suppose the fact that I've been siting here in the floor with my head in my hands is a bit of a giveaway. Alice wasn't the most observant person… was grief that clearly etched on my face?
I looked up at her blankly, unable to force the words from my mouth.
How the fuck are you supposed to break the news to Isabella if you can't even tell your own sister?
Just fucking say the damn words.
I closed my eyes tightly, trying to let the numbness seep in again. "Dad and I helped Isabella's father get into rehab… he was… he was depressed, and he… he killed himself last night," I rasped, my voice thick with too many emotions.
"No… God," Alice gasped, her slender hand covered her mouth as she stared at me in disbelief. Her hazel eyes were brimming with tears, as I was certain she was thinking about our mother and how that could have very easily been our father - remembering his struggles with depression and alcoholism. Suddenly a look of fierce determination washed over her face "I should check on Bella."
"No," I shouted grabbing at her hand. "She… she doesn't know yet. I just found out myself."
Alice slumped down next to me, taking my hand in hers, in a show of compassion and support. I offered her a small sad smile before leaning against her to put my head on her shoulder, grateful that she would let me draw some strength after all the unkind words we'd shared over the last few years.
"When are you going to tell her?" Alice whispered, running her fingers through my hair, in a gesture that was surprisingly comforting.
"I wish I didn't have to, but probably, the sooner the better. She's still sleeping though, and I want her to get as much rest as possible because I honestly have no idea how she's going to react," I replied. No matter what, I knew she was going to feel drained both emotionally and physically and the more sleep she got now, the better.
"Look, I'm going to try to make this as easy as possible for her. I've got to make some calls and arrangements. I'm not leaving, but I'm going out to the garage to sit in one of the cars." Alice looked at me, her face drawn in confusion. "I can't risk her hearing something before I have a chance to explain."
"What do I do if I see her? I don't think I can stop myself from bursting into tears," Alice said, doing just that. I hugged her close, letting her wipe her wet face on my t-shirt.
"Make yourself scarce for a while - go shopping, go to the spa, whatever - you can even bill it to me. I need Isabella alone when I talk to her," I decided.
"You shouldn't put such a burden on yourself, Edward. I mean, maybe I'm not the best person for the job, but at least let Dad or Esme know… or doesn't Isabella have any family that can come be with her?" Alice's words brought on a whole new different set of issues to worry about - Isabella's family.
I knew she had an aunt on her mother's side who lived in Arizona or something, but other than that, Isabella said she hadn't really met any of her distant relatives.
"Look… I appreciate your concern, but just let me handle this for now and if I need help, I'll call Dad or Esme," I replied quietly. "I need to make some calls now, but thank you… for… you know… being here for me."
Alice wrapped her arms around my neck, nearly choking me with her strength. "I love you, bubba," she whispered tearfully. I hadn't heard her call me that in more than a decade.
"I love you to, alley cat."
"It's been a while since I planned a funeral, so how the fuck should I know?" I replied, letting annoyance seep into my tone. Conner kept naming off different funeral parlors in the area as if I would recognize the name and know which one was the best. "Just find a place that's nice, but not ridiculously over-priced or ostentatious. Neither Miss Swan nor her father would appreciate anything too fancy."
Conner mentioned a few places he would call and promised that he would make all the necessary arrangements to have the body sent over as soon as a suitable place was found. As much as I hoped she wouldn't even consider it, I knew there was a chance that Isabella might want to see Charlie's body before the funeral home got to him, so I had to call the rehab center back. I needed to know what exactly happened and the state his body was in.
Already feeling exhausted, I listened as Nurse Cope tearfully apologized that Charlie even had the opportunity to do what he did. According to her, he hadn't been considered a risk, nor was he on any kind of suicide watch. She stated that the only noticeable difference in his recent behavior was in the last few days there was a sudden lack of participation in discussions and the few times she'd seen him he could be found staring at the window in a sort of daze.
When I questioned her about what happened - I could hear her struggling to say the words. Apparently Charlie had tied his bed sheet around his neck and the headboard and used it to asphyxiate himself. Despite my urging for the possibility that it was all a mistake or some strange freak accident, the letter and nature of his death left no room for misinterpretation.
As for the contents of the letter, the hospital found it sealed with Isabella's name printed on the envelope. Every fiber of my being, longed to protect her from this - to shield her from learning anything of these matters, but I knew I couldn't hide this from her, not for long.
Moments after I got off the phone with Nurse Cope, Alice entered the garage, her overnight bag, clutched tightly. She gave me a nod before getting in her car and driving away. One glance at the clock told me everything - everything I didn't really want to hear - it was nearly time for Isabella to wake up.
Deciding that it would be best if she didn't wake up alone, I slowly made my way up to my bedroom. The door to my bedroom felt cold, the metal heavy in my hand, taking every ounce of emotional strength I had to force the nob to turn and walk forward.
I don't think I can do this.
Isabella rested peacefully, even more so than I'd seen her in a while. I couldn't help but assume that her relaxed state was somehow related to last night's decision to finally visit Charlie.
The memory of her determination brought a fresh wave of tears to my eyes - knowing that she was going to be wracked with guilt that her decision hadn't come soon enough - that she didn't get to say goodbye.
Sensing my presence, Isabella began to stir and after a moment she stretched and yawned like a contented cat before sitting up, giving me a breathtaking smile. I tried to smile back, but it just wasn't working.
"Edward? What's wrong?" he voice was deeply concerned, letting me know what a terrible actor I was. How I managed to make it as a politician, I'd never know.
"Baby, why don't you get dressed and come downstairs with me," I suggested solemnly, unable to meet her eyes "We need to talk."
"Edward?" she breathed, her voice weak and worried. "Are you... are you breaking up with me?"
I nearly choked on the ridiculousness of her words. Though, I supposed my serious tone and request to 'talk' might have given her the wrong idea. "God, no Isabella - I love you, baby girl. I'm never letting you go... it's just something... let's just talk downstairs okay?"
She seemed to relax only marginally before climbing out of bed to get dressed. For once, I was grateful that my cock wasn't reacting to the sight of her naked body - now was not the time to be fooling around.
I assumed that probably wouldn't be happening for some time anyway. Not that I'd expect it to or even be disappointed if it didn't, I just knew it would probably be a while before Isabella felt like making love again, but I could be patient - show her that what we had was more than just sex, that I could be there for her through the tough times - that I could be a partner, a shoulder to cry on - someone worthy of her love and trust.
Faster than I'd hoped, Isabella had thrown on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt and slipped into her red converse tennis shoes - I was glad she'd dressed in normal clothes, as I had a feeling we'd be leaving immediately to go to the rehab clinic.
Silently, Isabella followed me to the kitchen. I didn't want her anywhere near our bedroom when I told her the news. I wanted to keep that room the way it was - filled with happy, beautiful, and loving memories. The news of her father's death could very well taint those memories, and I couldn't allow that.
"Edward, what's wrong - you're scaring me," she whispered, before anxiously biting her bottom lip.
"Come here, baby," I replied, opening my arms for her, comforting her the only way I knew how - keeping her close. "I'm so sorry baby. The last thing I want is to hurt you, but I'm afraid that in this case it's quite unavoidable."
Stop stalling. You have to tell her.
I closed my eyes, wishing for the strength to do this - to be there for her - to break her heart.
Ignoring the confused look on her face, I pressed forward, knowing that I had to just get it over with.
"I spoke to the rehab clinic this morning and they said…" I started. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
Fucking tell her.
Scrubbing my hand over my face, I braced myself.
"Edward?" Isabella whimpered, her eyes filled with worry. I looked into her eyes, the words that I needed to say running through my head.
A choking sob left her lips - she knows - she gets it.
"W-what happened?" she gasped, her eyes wide and bewildered.
"They said… he umm… he died sometime in the night," I told her, wishing like hell I could leave it at that - that she didn't have to be told that he'd done it to himself. My need to protect her was almost overpowering, filling my head with ideas. That I could tell the clinic to hide Charlie's note - to make up a lie - say he choked to death, was given the wrong pills - anything but the truth.
But I loved Isabella more than that. To let her live her life believing a lie - it would be so, so wrong, and when she discovered the truth, she'd hate me.
"H-he's… he's… dead? My Dad's dead?" she repeated disbelievingly, her fingers digging painfully into my arm.
Could I keep the truth secret? Was it worth the risk to protect her?
Did I have so little faith in Isabella's strength?
Just because she was young, didn't mean she couldn't handle this. It wasn't for me to decide.
Just say it.
"He… did it to himself," I said gruffly, and I felt like fucking punching myself for letting my anger at Charlie seep through. It was fucking selfish.
At my words, Isabella began shaking her head in disbelief, still she hadn't cried.
"He wouldn't… why would he do that?" she asked me, her tone shifting, becoming angry and sad.
I pulled Isabella closer, thankful that she was accepting my comfort and closeness. "The clinic said that he left a note for you. We can go there and pick it up, and if you need to see him…"
I trailed off, finding myself at a loss for words.
Isabella nodded against my chest before climbing off my lap and wordlessly leaving the room.
I wasn't sure whether she wanted me to follow or not, but when I heard the sounds of her retching coming from the bathroom down the hall, I couldn't help but go and check on her.
"It's all gonna be okay, baby," I soothed, rubbing her back with one hand, and gathering her long hair with the other.
It wasn't long after our conversation that Isabella was ready to go to the clinic. For the most part she'd been quiet, barely mumbling a few words at a time. She'd declined my offer of breakfast - which was understandable.
Over and over I had to stop myself from asking if she was okay. For one, I knew she wasn't and if she said she was - she'd be lying. I decided to simply focus on making sure she knew I was there to support her and be whatever she wanted, needed.
The drive to the clinic seemed to pass by in a flash, filling my stomach with dread. I had no idea how Isabella was going to react when she saw her father's body, or to the contents of the letter. She was always very quiet when it came to matters about her family - which was why I was surprised when she adamantly declined the offer to see him before before the funeral. When I confronted her about her decision, she said she wasn't ready, and frankly I was pretty thankful for that.
I had no idea what kind of state he'd be in, but I certainly knew that no matter what she'd have the memory of him looking like that etched in her mind forever.
"Mr. Swan left this letter for you, dear." Mrs. Cope looked entirely out of her element. It was likely that she'd never had to deal with this situation before - whether she had or not though, it probably wasn't something she'd get over easily.
"I don't want it," Isabella spat, her face twisted with anger, as the older woman attempted to give her Charlie's suicide note.
Honestly, I'd been expecting Isabella to break down by now. I thought she'd be a sobbing mess, and would want to tear into the letter looking for some kind of explanation. Instead, her words shocked me, her tone showing nothing but anger and irritation. It was very difficult to think of ways to comfort her when she looked as if she wanted nothing more than to punch someone.
"Why don't I take the letter for now, and we'll hang onto it… just in case," I suggested, careful to keep my voice slightly wary, not wanting to be on the pointy end of Isabella's anger.
Her dark eyes softened minimally when they met mine, and thankfully she didn't snap at me. Slowly, she looked down at the letter in my hand with absolute disgust and disdain before nodding her consent and looking away, her gaze focused on the light pouring from a nearby window.
"Can we get out of here now?" she asked tiredly, her voice quiet and mostly void of emotion.
"Sure," I replied gently, taking the box with Charlie's stuff he brought to the clinic - a couple photographs of Isabella and a beautiful hazel-eyed woman I assumed to be her mother. Other than those there wasn't much else, a watch, a pack of chewing gum, and the clothes he was wearing when Carlisle and I dropped him off just a few short weeks ago. I placed his letter in the box, wondering if Isabella would ever read it.
"I've made arrangements for the body to be picked up later today," I quietly informed Mrs. Cope, before telling her that Isabella and I needed to leave. It was obvious the older woman was uncomfortable - she looked like she was ready to bolt out of there at any second especially after Isabella snapped at her.
On our way back to the car, I began to worry that she might not want me stepping in and handling her business "I meant to tell you that… I took it upon myself to begin handling some of the arrangements for a funeral. Of course nothing is set in stone - you're welcome to have as much or as little involvement in planning and making choices as you'd like."
"I just want you to know I'm here for you, and if you want, Conner and I will take care of everything - contacting family and friends, writing the obituary, the flowers, everything for the funeral and burial…"
Isabella began to look a bit bewildered, likely imagining for the first time what planning a funeral actually entailed.
"Yeah, I don't… I don't think I could deal with that right now," she replied quietly.
"I understand… just let me take care of everything, sweet girl," I told her, pressing my lips to her forehead.
Odds were, since her mother's death didn't happen as sudden as her father's, more than likely Charlie had made all the necessary arrangements ahead of time for when Renee finally succumbed to her illness. As young as Isabella was at the time, she likely had no idea what all needed to be done - or the amount of money needed for that matter.
In this case, I felt it was my responsibility to take care of anything she'd let me and that meant financial concerns as well. It would probably be a while before she even thought about all the money involved and by that time, I would have already handled it. It was something I knew would probably upset her later on, but she had enough to worry about now as it was - taking care of this was some small comfort I could give her. Hopefully it would make things easier.
I waited till we got back to the estate before calling Conner since I didn't think Isabella would want to be around for that discussion. She seemed to appreciate my offer to give her some time alone, so I didn't even attempt to follow her when she said she was going upstairs.
It was the night before the funeral and Isabella had hardly spoken a word. She'd spent most of her time in my office, which had essentially become her studio. It was good that she was channeling her grief in a healthy way - expressing it through art, but she wasn't taking care of herself as well as I'd liked.
She didn't come down for meals, choosing to only eat when I brought her something. Then there were a few times I'd heard her up and around in the middle of the night, and I'd wake up the next day and notice a small amount of the day's leftovers would be eaten.
Still I felt like I was waiting for her the other shoe to drop - for her to breakdown and cry, yell and curse - demand to read that letter - that fucking letter that was tempting my curiosity beyond belief.
Had Charlie in any way blamed Isabella or become bitter that she hadn't come to see him? Was he loving and kind? Did he talk of the overwhelming grief that he couldn't seem to numb without a drink? Would he break Isabella's heart more than he already had?
It seemed I'd never know the answers to those questions.
I glanced at the clock as I lay in bed, wondering if Isabella might join me tonight. It was nearly midnight - by that time, odds were she was going to be up painting again tonight. No sooner than I had the thought, did I hear a knock at my bedroom door.
"Isabella?" I asked, knowing it was her, wondering why she thought she had to knock.
Hesitantly she opened the door, looking a little surprised for some reason.
"What wrong, sweetheart?" I asked as soon as I saw the odd look on her face.
"Nothing… I just missed you is all… I thought you'd be asleep," she muttered looking around as if she was in a place that was unfamiliar. The thought of her being uncomfortable with me made my chest ache.
"Were you hoping I'd be asleep?" I asked, trying to suppress the accusation in my tone.
Don't be selfish, Edward.
"I just… I don't know… I kind of just wanted to sleep," she replied looking at the floor.
Did she think I was going to force myself on her or something? Of course I was a very sexual person - with Isabella especially, but I had some fucking restraint. I wasn't that guy.
Of course I missed our intimacy, making love, and those fucking erotic playroom scenes, but I could handle not getting it every day. "We don't have to have sex, Isabella. I just want you to be comfortable, besides, I just miss holding you and talking," I explained, trying not to sound hurt.
"It's not umm… sex I was worried about," she said still looking away "Though, I don't particularly feel up to that either… it's just… I don't really feel like talking about… stuff… you know?" she replied quietly before worrying her bottom lip with her teeth.
"Come here, baby girl. Just… let me hold you," I said hopefully, mostly feeling like I just needed her close to me again.
Isabella walked over and curled up next to me, resting her head on my chest, making me grateful that she hadn't put up a fight.
Deciding to press my luck a little, I slowly slid wrapped my arms around her, holding her to me as like a child would hold their favorite stuffed animal or blanket.
God I missed her - the feeling of her soft curves pressed against me, her gentle whispered breathing, and that intoxicating smell that drove me crazy from the first moment she stood there in front of me looking like sin and innocence wrapped in a perfect little package.
Not wanting to act like the horny jackass that I was, I let my thoughts drift to what Isabella lost, knowing it would purge my mind of all the impure thoughts that her presence alone made run through my head.
I told her that tonight wouldn't be about sex and I meant it, no matter what other ideas my cock had.
It seemed like only a few moments passed before Isabella was sleeping soundly on my chest, puffing out little wisps of breath that tickled my skin. I quietly closed my eyes, deciding to follow her lead, and get some sleep.