Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Could Be Worse, RIght?

Could Be Worse, Right?  Chapter 1 - Here

What happens when you never had anything?

What happens when you can suddenly buy anything you could ever possibly want?
What if you decide to exercise that power...the power of the all mighty dollar?

What happens when you decide to buy another human being?


What do you do when your stupid decision catches up with you?

What do you do when the one mistake you wish you could take back is irreversible?

I'm Edward Cullen. I've fucked up, big time.

And I don't know how to make it right.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

CBWR? Epilogue

Author’s notes:
This epilogue is dedicated to my fabulous beta, DK.  It’s just her sort of ending. ;)
I have a fucking mortgage.
“Edward…Edward!  Ugh!”
I blink my eyes a couple of times and feel Bella’s hands against my arm, shoving at me.
“Get off of me,” she groans.  “For goodness sakes, I can hardly breathe, I have to pee, and I need to get ready for work!”
I’ve managed to roll over on top of her in my sleep…again.  I can’t help it –she’s soft and warm and comfortable.
Fucking sue me.
I roll over onto my back, releasing my beautiful wife from my heavy sleep-grip.  She climbs out of bed and runs for the bathroom, nearly tripping over the stack of boxes next to the door.  I had shoved them up closer to the dresser the night before, but they still stick out into the doorway a bit.  I will have to make the bedroom unpacking a priority for today.
Unpacking in our first, real house.
Not an apartment.
I have a fucking mortgage.
The house is not anything grand – just a two bedroom ranch with a kitchen big enough to eat in and a good sized living room.  It has two full bathrooms, too, which is all kinds of awesome.  I’ve managed to furnish a lot of it from yard sales and Goodwill, so the look is a little eclectic to say the least, but still homey.  It’s kind of amazing the kinds of things you can find for very little money when you spend the time looking.
I’ve got the time.
It’s been hard to hold down a job, so I tend to have a decent amount of time on my hands, at least during the school months.  In the summer I’ve been pretty lucky picking up construction or landscaping work.  Even that can be difficult, because I refuse to work under the table.  I’m not taking any chances what-so-ever.  I don’t even go over the speed limit.  When I find the work, I make enough during those months to at least keep us going without too much stress.
Bella is sitting on the toilet in plain view of the bed.  She never closes the door, and it drives me insane.  She always says she just doesn’t think about it and she’s always waiting until the last possible second before peeing, anyway.  Apparently, closing the door just takes too much time.
I reach my arms up over my head and stretch as I listen to the sound of Bella turning on the shower, and I start coming up with my mental list of things to do today.  The toilet in the hall still needs some repair, and there is an outlet in the living room I should replace or at least tighten.  Yeah, the house is a bit of a fixer-upper, but at least the timing was good for buying this place, and it was a foreclosure auction, so we got it for half of what it was worth.  Also, since I’m not working, I have plenty of time for the house stuff.  When you don’t have the money for a plumber or electrician to be at your beck and call, it’s amazing how much shit you can learn to do on your own.
I scratch my stomach and wriggle around in bed a bit – stretching my legs and my neck.  I’m still groggy, but I hear the sound of a fire engine approaching, so I know I won’t be able to stay in bed much longer.  I push myself up and sit on the edge of the bed and run my hands through my hair as I yawn.  Bella walks out of the bathroom with her hair in a towel and nothing else.  I’m immediately awake now, or at least part of me is. 
I push my lazy ass off the bed and go to her, wrapping my arms around her from behind.
“Hey baby,” I growl against her neck.  She giggles and writhes against me, which just gets my dick harder as it comes into contact with her bare ass through my boxers.
“You make it very hard to get dressed,” she comments.
“You make it very hard by being undressed,” I retort as I grind against her backside.  I keep kissing along her shoulder.  “I got nine inches just waiting for you, baby…”
“Oh please,” Bella snorts.
“What?” I ask, honestly confused by what is so funny.  If it is a quickie, there is enough time so she won’t be late for school.
“Nine inches,” she repeats as she shakes her head.
“What the fuck?” I say, my eyes narrowing.  I grasp her hips and push against her and repeat.  “Nine inches.  I measured it.”
Bella turns her head and looks up at me.  Her lips as smashed together, but still turning up at the corners as she holds in a laugh.
“What?” I demand.
“Were you looking at the correct side of the ruler?” she asks, and this time she has to bite her lip to keep it in.
Oh very funny.
“I most certainly was!” I snap back.  I’m not really pissed, but I’m not happy, either.
“Edward, darling,” she says in her most patronizing teacher voice.  Her finger traces a line up the front of my boxers.  “I love your big, beautiful cock, but it’s not nine inches long.”
“It is, too.”
“Did you start measuring at your balls?” she asks with her brows raised.
“Oh I am not putting up with this shit,” I say as I grab her and pull her back down on the bed.   “I’ll just have to show you – again.”
I lie on my back and pull her on top of me, pushing up against her heat and holding tightly to her hips.  She leans over me and plants little kisses up the center of my chest.
“Maybe I’ll just make you count the inches as they go in,” I murmured into her ear.
“You know that isn’t going to work,” she says with a nod towards the open bedroom door.  The fire engine sounds are getting closer.  I release her hips and sigh, allowing her to get back up, throw on her normal teacher attire, and start drying her hair.  A minute later, the sound increases as a red fire engine bursts through the bedroom door.
“I can’t believe you bought him that thing,” Bella scolds me.
“What?  It cost a quarter at the yard sale down the street!  He loves it!”
“I’m not talking about the cost, that thing is so loud!”
“Woo woo woo!”
Our son, Anthony, crawls behind the plastic truck as he rolls it into the room, repeatedly hitting the little button on the top, which makes the siren sound go off again.  He’s wearing nothing but his “big boy” underwear, and happily announces that he is not only dry, but already went potty by himself.
“That’s my big boy!” Bella says with a smile.  She lifts him into her arms and rubs noses with him.  My heart begins to pound as I watch them together.  Bella is so loving and attentive to his every need, and it just makes me smile every time I see them.  They gaze at each other with identical, deep brown eyes.  Their looks also match – showing their adoration of each other and a love that can be felt across the room.
It’s indescribable.
I take Anthony from Bella’s arms and place him back down on the carpet near the truck.
“I think there’s a fire in the kitchen!” I announce.  Anthony takes the bait, and I follow him and the truck out the door and down the hall on all fours, leaving Bella the chance to finish getting ready for work while I get Anthony his breakfast.
I find cereal and bowls for everyone, while Anthony pretends to put out a raging fire on the leg of the kitchen table.  There isn’t time to cook Bella a proper breakfast, so I start thinking about what I can make her for dinner as I pack her lunch.  She comes out of the bedroom, looking too fucking hot in her teacher clothes.  It was a good thing she went with elementary education instead of high school or college.  It would drive me nuts if I thought hormonal guys were looking at her all day.  Anthony digs into his Fruity-O’s and Bella eats her raison bran.  Yuck.  That shit reminds me of prison food, and I do not need that reminder.  I pour rice milk over my corn flakes and chow down.
“Mom’s planning on coming over Sunday about noon,” Bella tells me as she finishes breakfast and places her bowl in the sink.  I know this, and I nod slowly.  It sucks because it’s a weekend day, when Bella doesn’t have to work, but I’ll muddle through.
“I’ll make sure I’m out of the house before then,” I tell her between bites.  Our five year wedding anniversary will be in a few weeks, but Bella’s mother hasn’t said much of anything to me other than “may I speak to Bella” when I happen to pick up the phone.  She’ll be in the same room with me if she absolutely has to be – like Anthony’s birthday – but she doesn’t like it.  I try to just get out of the way so she can visit with Bella and Anthony without the tension. 
“Yeah, babe?”
“She said she would like you to stay…if you want.”
I stop shoveling cereal into my face and stare at my wife.  I’m pretty sure there is milk dripping off my chin.  She doesn’t appear to be joking – not that she would joke about this particular topic.
“She really said that?”
“She really did.”
“Honestly?  I think it was the Christmas picture of you and Anthony.   She said something about how much he obviously worships you, and that maybe it was about time she at least thought about giving you a chance.  For his sake.”
“No shit?”
“Don’t swear!” Bella snapped as she looked over to Anthony.  “You know he’s going to pick up on that.”
“Sorry, babe.”  I try to look properly chastised, but I don’t think she buys it.  I go back to thinking about Renee’s impending visit, and try to wrap my head around what it would be like if she didn’t outwardly loathe me.  It was bad enough that when people who were only acquaintances got wind of my ex-con status, they would stop talking to us or having anything to do with us.  “Wow.”
“I know, right?” Bella shakes her head, takes Anthony’s empty bowl and rinses it out while he goes back to fighting fires down the hallway.  “Just when you think some people will never change.”
I refrain from commenting, but still mull it over in my head a bit.  Anyone can change, if they decide they want to.  This I know.
"I thought she was generally still pissed at my lack of job," I point out.
Bella puts the dishes down and comes over to me, placing her hand on my shoulder.
"You have a job," she says as she stares into my eyes.  "You're a daddy."
I smile, because I know she is right and we've had this conversation before.  It is a big job, and it's the best one in the world.
“I have to get going,” Bella reaches over and runs her hand across my face as she leans against my shoulder.  Her touch can still pretty much halt me in my tracks – there is nothing better.  I close my eyes a little and just revel in the feeling as I wrap my arms around her for a quick hug before she has to go.
I hand her lunch in a sack, and she gives me a quick kiss before she heads out the door.  Images of the Cleaver’s run through my head, but with Ward vacuuming and asking June what she’d like for dinner instead of the other way around.  Maybe I should feel emasculated by the whole situation, but I don’t. 
I really don’t think I could be any happier.
We moved to Arizona as soon as Bella got word she was going to get the job.  She was teaching third grade at a private school, and we were really trying to get ourselves together away from the looks we received in her hometown and the occasional media barrage living in the same general area where I went to prison.  Even after my parole was over, community service complete and my name of the registered sex offenders listing, there was no escaping some level of it.
You can’t just lie about that shit, not all the time.  People found out.  Some judged, some didn’t.  You had to take what you got.  Starting over – again – was never easy, but we made the best of it.  I never saw any of my business associates again, which also suited me fine.  Sometimes Bella would get pissed off about all the money they had taken from me, but I really didn’t want it.  Blood money.  I’m not him anymore.  Besides, Bella only brought that up when the bills got a little tight.  I tried to make sure that didn’t happen.
Renee retired and moved here to Phoenix the year after Anthony was born, so it made sense to be in the same area.  Bella still needed her mom’s support, and Anthony needed his grandmother in his life.  She was his only extended family after all.
“What ‘cha got there, buddy?” I ask as Anthony bounds into the room with his hands grasping colorful plastic items.  He holds a small red boat up with one hand and two little plastic sailor guys in the other.  The people have round bottoms and fit in the molded holes on the boat, so they can be sailed around in the tub.
“Bath!” he calls out.  I laugh, pick Anthony up, and toss him over my shoulder.  He giggles, squeals, and conks me on the head with the plastic boat.
I can’t explain why, but bathing Anthony is my favorite thing to do in the whole freaking world.  He loves taking his little boats in the water, and there is something about just caring for him in such a way that makes my heart soar.  It started in the first few hours after he was born, while the doctor was checking on Bella, and the nurse asked me if I’d like to wash my son.
My son.
I smile to myself.
“Potty first,” I remind him.  He tries to spend time convincing me that he doesn’t have to go, but I eventually win by tossing a handful of generic Cheerios into the toilet and teaching him to sink them.
Hey, we’re guys!
Fu…well…um…just sue us, okay?
I lower Anthony into the warm water and get just the right amount of name-brand baby bath and baby shampoo to get him cleaned up and ready for the day.  It is the one thing I refuse to skimp on.  I watch him float the little boat around, knocking the plastic people into the water, rescuing them, and knocking them overboard again, as I wash his hair and make sure the spots behind his ears are clean.
I never stop smiling.
I have a house, a fantastic son, and Bella as my wife.  Yeah, people who find out about our past tend to get pretty judgmental, and finding work for me is always going to be a hardship.  There’s a beat up Chevy truck in the driveway, and not a fancy, expensive car.   We don’t have a lot of things or a lot of money, but we have each other, we have Anthony, and we have love.
As far as I am concerned, it couldn’t be better.
And in this, I know I am right.
No reason to ask.
Story End Notes:
And so ends the story of Doofusward turned Edward Swan.
I hope you enjoyed it!  I really am completely overwhelmed by the response this story got, from beginning to end.  I’m glad there were people willing to ignore the drama and keep reading.  I’m very thankful to everyone who supported me through the rough times, encouraged me, and kept me going. 
Extra, extra thanks to Just Robin for helping me get this site together (well…okay...doing it all.  I’m useless!), Lolypop82 for her fabulous manips to go with the story (can’t have those on FFN, huh?), and all the people who made banners, rec’d and reviewed this story, and generally pimped it out.
As far as those who bailed either early or late – they missed a fun ride.  I’m a roller coaster person myself, and will choose to leave the carousels to others.  Nothing wrong with going in a circle on a plastic horse – I’d just rather be flying down a hill with a ridiculous grade getting airtime.  That’s just me.  Might be you, too. 
Until the next one…
Savage – out.
Stop by the twilighted forum and say your *sniff!* farewells!

Now to answer a few questions people have had:
Am I going to make this whole story available for download in PDF?  No.  At least, I don’t plan to. 
Are you going to take down this blog now that the story is done?  No, I plan to leave it right where it is.
Are you going to do a sequel?  No.  It’s done.  They’re having a wonderful life.  There is no more story to tell.
Are you going to do any outtakes?  Not in the current plan.  Unless I get inspired by some charity, I don’t see this happening.
Are you going to do another story with this sort of posting schedule?  Maybe.  We’ll see.  It’s been fun, but kind of stressful, too.  Not in a bad way, but I do need a break.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

CBWR? Chapter 100

Author’s notes:
The end is nigh!  And I don’t mean the rapture!  
FYI – this still counts as a 100 chapter story.  There won’t be a chapter 101 – there will just be an epilogue called “Epilogue”, not chapter 101.  Ha!
As if I was going to argue.
Chapter 100:
“It’s not much,” Bella said softly as her eyes dropped down to the floor.
I reached over and took his chin with my fingers, tilting her eyes to mine and placing a soft kiss on her lips.  How could I explain to her how much this place meant to me?  My words were – as usual - inadequate.
“It’s home,” I eventually whispered to her.
She broke into a smile, and a tear started to escape from the corner of her eye…again.  I swear she had been crying for two days straight, ever since I walked out of prison.  At least for the most part they had been happy tears.  I crouched down a little and grabbed her up into my arms so I could carry her over the threshold.
The apartment Bella had been living in since she graduated probably would have been considered small by most people, but when you spend over seven years in a ten foot by ten foot cell, a modest studio apartment seems pretty damn spacious.  It had a dividing wall that separated out a bedroom area from the living area, a small kitchen and a bathroom.
Just the idea of peeing in private was pretty damn fantastic if you asked me.
I decided taking a really good look around the place was going to have to wait, because my new wife was probably going to do something to me that would cause her incarceration if I didn’t make love to her immediately.  I carried her straight over to the bed, dropped her into the center of it, and then crawled on top of her.
Bella giggled as my fingers stroked over her sides and down to her legs.  I reached for the bottom of her simple white dress and pulled it up, smiling broadly as I found the garter wrapped around her thigh.  I kneeled beside her and pulled it off with my teeth.  I was pretty sure that was what the groom was supposed to do at a reception, and I was trying my best to make the most of our simple wedding.  We had it in small chapel, with Pastor Lee refusing to let me pay him anything for his services or the chapel rental.  Seth stood beside me and when it was time, he handed me the gold ring with the little row of three small diamonds on top of it.  Bella’s mother, Renee stood beside her, though she refused to even look at me.  I didn’t care – she was there for Bella, which was all that mattered.
I did hold my breath when Pastor Lee asked if there was any reason we shouldn’t get married.
Renee didn’t say anything.
I flicked the garter up towards the headboard with my finger, and then grabbed Bella’s ankle so I could start kissing her from bottom to top.  Well…I actually only got about half way before I was distracted, and hung out there for a while as Bella screamed and moaned about how fantastic my tongue was.  Her hips bucked against my face and I tasted her sweet, sweet nectar.  I’d have to taste the rest of her body later, because I needed to join with her as soon as fucking possible.
Bella reached down to the edge of her dress, which was nearly up to her breasts, and pulled it up and over her head.  I reached behind her back to help her with the clasp on her bra, freeing her beautiful breasts for my hands to rediscover.
Bella went to work on my shirt buttons, getting through them pretty quick so she could push the shirt off my shoulders.
“Holy shit, Edward!” Bella murmured as her hands traveled from my shoulders down my arms.  “You weren’t this…um…buff before!”
I laughed.
“Well, I had a lot of extra time in the gym these past few years,” I reminded her.
 She blushed, and started apologizing.
“No,” I whispered to her.  “Don’t be sorry.  I can only hope I changed more on the inside than I did on the outside.”
“You have,” she said quietly back to me.  Her eyes glistened – first with tears, and then with humor – as she ran her fingertips over my chest.  “And I like both sets of changes.”
“Well, my insides and outsides completely belong to you now, Mrs. Swan,” I told her.  “So do with them what you will.”
Yeah, Mrs. Swan.  In prison it cost me fifteen dollars to change my last name from Cullen to Swan.  It would have cost Bella over two hundred if she was to change her name to Cullen on the outside.  Besides, I needed the fresh start, and a new name made sense.  Taking Bella’s name made even more sense to me, because she was the one that changed me.
She smirked and reached down to the button of my Dockers.  She popped it open and slid the zipper down before she pushed them off my hips, taking the boxes with them.  After I kicked them off my feet, ridding myself of shoes and socks as well, Bella’s hand ran up my thigh until she wrapped her fingers around me.
“Holy shit…Bella…that feels so fucking good.”
Her fingers moved lightly from the tip of my cock down to the base, then over my balls.  It felt way too good, and I couldn’t breathe right.  I started moaning.
“You gotta stop, baby,” I told her.  “I don’t want to come on your hand…not this time.”
She smiled and bit down on her lip, but released my cock so I could take an actual breath again.  She wrapped her arms around my waist and squeezed, holding me tight as I started nuzzling at her breasts.
The feeling of Bella’s fingers against the skin of my back was incredible.  It was almost as good as having them on my dick.  She ran them up to my shoulders, then all the way down to my hips, and back again.  I focused on her nipples, playing with one of them between my thumb and forefinger while sucking and licking the other.  I switched, and Bella’s hands suddenly dropped father down, grabbing my ass and squeezing it.
“I want you,” she said urgently.  Her fingers dug in, and she seemed to be trying to pull my backside up so I could get lined up for a little something more.  Her hips lifted off the bed and pushed against mine, grinding herself against my cock.  “Now!”
As if I was going to argue.
I lifted myself up a little and moved forward, positioning my knees between her legs and lining my cock up with her entrance.  I placed my lips against hers, my tongue tracing over her mouth as I slowly pushed the head of my cock into her.  I paused, breathed deep, and slid the rest of the way home.
The feeling of being inside of her again was absolutely indescribable.  To be buried once again in her warm, wet, silky flesh was like I imagined walking through the gates of Heaven must feel like.  Her body gripped me, holding me inside as I shifted my hips back and forth against her.  It had been so, so long…and even though I had been here before, it was different.   Knowing she was here as my wife – for real this time – because she truly wished to be, made the sensations so much sweeter.  I felt the tension building inside of me all too soon, and I slowed my pace to make it last.  Bella’s hands found my hair, and she pulled my lips to hers.
“Don’t hold back,” she mumbled against my mouth.  “Please…don’t stop.  We have a lifetime for this.”
“Oh, God…Bella,” I whispered as I moved my mouth over the edge of her jaw.  “I love you so much…so much…”
“I love you, Edward,” she moaned back to me.
My pace increased again, and as I rocked back and forth inside of her I let the pressure over take me, and spilled inside of her as I cried out her name over and over again.  My arms wrapped around her shoulders and I held her to me, kissing her tear-covered cheeks, her eyes, and her nose.
Eventually I rolled to my side, taking her with me and wrapping my arms around her to hold her close.  I didn’t ever want to let her go.  Bella snuggled into my chest and her hand reached up to my face as she ran her fingers over me, lulling me into the most restful sleep I had experienced in – quite literally – years.  If I could just keep her close to me for the rest of forever, that would definitely be a mighty fine thing.
I wasn’t stupid…well… I wasn’t stupid anymore.  I knew the times ahead of us were going to be tough.  Hopefully they would be made easier because we would have each other in a much more real sense now.  I loved her, and by some miracle, she loved me, too.
Could be worse, right?
The End
Chapter end notes:
There ya go.  Who would have thought so long ago that this Reformed Doofusward could have pulled it off?  Scooby snacks for everyone!
Name change – I originally thought he’d change his name after his parole was up, but when I started looking up ex-cons changing their names, I found this article about inmates changing their name on the tax payers dollar.  Thought it was kind of interesting, so I added it in that way.  Fucking sue me.  LOL
I would say there will be a short epi, but I think it’s going to be pretty long.  Should be out tomorrow or the next day. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

CBWR? Chapter 99

Author’s notes:
I always liked the story 101 Dalmatians, so this also works with my OCD. 
Yeah, this got too long.  Two more chapters to come, unless the next one gets too long, or…oh hell.  It’s still almost done.
"The state will hear from Mister Cullen."
Chapter 99
I scratched at the back of my head and tried not to yank at my hair too much.  I was practically sweating bullets, and wished I had skipped breakfast. 
“What if they don’t…”
“We’ve been over this,” Irina’s calming voice attempted to reassure me.  “This is your first parole hearing.  The chances of being granted parole is not great, so you have to be prepared for anything.  You’ve got good people on your side here, so just say what you need to say, and we’ll see what happens.”
I nodded.  I knew she was right, but that didn’t stop me from wanting to tear my hair out while I waited.  I didn't know what made me more nervous - the fact that the direction of my life could drastically change over the next couple of hours or because I would be in the same room with Bella.
In person.
She was going to be here any minute, and seeing her in the flesh – not through the glass in the visitor’s cubicles – was just about as exciting as the idea of getting out. Since that day five years ago, I hadn’t been in the same room with her - not really, anyway.  Not somewhere where I could actually maybe touch her.  My heart pounded at the thought.  
I tried to remember what Irina told me yesterday.  I knew the chances of early parole weren't great, and I didn't want to get my hopes up.   As much as that was true, I was far more concerned about Bella.  I didn't want her to be disappointed when they said no.  She was going to see it as a huge set back, and I didn’t want to see the hurt and frustration in her eyes.  She had such high hopes, and I was far more terrified of her being crushed if parole was denied than the idea of another six months.
As if she could hear me thinking about her, Bella walked in the far side of the room along with the public attorney assigned to my case, my social worker - Nahuel Martinez, and Frank Banner – the head of the work program in the prison.  She was dressed in a modest kind of jumper dress and looking all kinds of beautiful.   Our eyes met for the briefest moment before the door on the opposite side of the room opened, and five people walked in, including the warden - two men, three women.
I swallowed hard, and tried to keep my focus towards those who were to decide my fate.  The woman in the center chair, who said her name was Emily Young, opened up the file folder in front of her and started to read.
"Parole hearing for inmate 2427289, Edward Cullen. Served six years, seven months of a ten to fifteen year sentence for second degree rape.  Five hundred twelve days earned for behavior, been involved in extensive counseling for the past five years..."
She went on a bit, and I tried to at least look like I was paying attention, when I was really shaking in my fucking boots.  I was beyond terrified.  I’d faced death dozens of times, but never felt like this before.  I didn’t feel this scared when I walked into this place.  I guess that kind of went to show how much I had learned.
Okay, so my hopes were up.
Fucking sue me.
"The state will hear from Mister Cullen."
As many times as Irina and I had talked about it, and as many times as I had practiced it in my head, I still wasn’t ready.  I stood up slowly and tried to wipe the sweat off my palms as I rose.
“I…um…I’m Edward Cullen…”  Okay, fucking brilliant start.  “Sorry…you know that…”
Shit – this was not starting well!
I tried a long slow breath to calm myself down so I could focus, and then I tried again.
“When I got here I was in a pretty bad place, and I had done something really…um…horrible.   I understood that when I plead guilty.  At the time, I didn’t really want to hurt anyone…I just didn’t understand.  Once I realized it, I knew I had to pay for what I had done.”
“I’ve spent my time here trying to figure myself out,” I continued.  “My counselor has been really awesome for that.  She’s helped me figure out how I got screwed up in the first place, and I’m really trying to make sure that I don’t get back in that place again.  I want to go out there and be a real person…um…with a wife and a house and maybe even a whole family some day.  I want to get a real, legitimate job and just do things they way you’re supposed to do them.”
I took one last, long, deep breath and looked at the parole board straight on.
“I don’t plan on ever being back here again.  I have a simply incredible woman who’s agreed to marry me despite what I’ve put her through, and I just want the chance to be the best husband I can be for her, the best person I can be for society, and the best man I can be…for myself.”
I mumbled something like thank you, and then quickly sat back down before I fell over.  I felt Irina’s hand on my arm trying to steady me and glanced up to her smile.  I guess I hadn’t done too badly.  She spoke next, talking about my progress in therapy and how far I had come since she first met me.
“The state will now hear from the victim, Isabella Swan.”
I turned to her and watched her stand slowly.  She glanced to me for a second, but then straightened her shoulders and stared into the faces before her. 
I had no idea what she was going to say, and out of all the words spilled forth from her mouth – talking about everything I had accomplished while I was here in prison, from helping to support her, getting my GED, to going to therapy – it was the last few sentences that would live with me forever.
“Edward Cullen today is not the same man who raped me all those years ago.  The person who raped me was nothing more than a scared little boy who had no idea how to relate to people or how to care about them.  He is a different person today, and one who I believe will continue to learn to grow and love in the years to come.  He had paid for his crime against me, and I have forgiven him.  He now deserves the chance to prove that he can be the loving, generous man who has always been locked away in his heart.”
She sat back down and held her hands clasped together in her lap, looking straight down at the table.  It was killing me to not be able to go to her – to hold her and tell her I was there for her.  I closed my eyes and tried to imagine myself doing it, hoping that if I thought about it hard enough it would eventually come true.
Banner talked next about how much I had done in the kitchens – improving the nutritional value of inmates’ meals without increasing their prices, and helping them to earn some sort of high grade for such shit from the state.  I barely heard any of it, because all I could hear was Bella’s voice echoing in my mind, and all I could see was her picture-perfect profile out of the corner of my eye.
The parole board looked back and forth at each other, leaned in and made some hushed comments, wrote things on papers to pass around, and eventually seemed to come to some sort of consensus.
Way too soon.
Emily Young looked up and me as she unfolded the paper in her hands. 
“Edward Cullen, in light of your heinous crime as well as the handful of infractions during your time here – one of which was serious – I am inclined to not consider you as a candidate for early parole.”
I felt every muscle in my body tighten up, and I couldn’t breathe.  I heard Bella’s slight intake of breath and saw her hand move to cover her mouth out of the corner of my eye.
“However,” Ms. Young continued, “considering the recommendation from your counselor, and the eloquent words of your victim, this parole board has decided to grant your request.”
“Yes!” I shouted, and I had to place my hands against the table to keep myself from falling over.  Bella was thanking God over and over again, and even Irina was beaming from ear to ear.  I would have just gotten up and gone over to Bella, who now had tears running down her face, but Ms Young banged her gavel heavily on the table, silencing us all.
“Mister Cullen,” she continued.  “There are several conditions of your parole, which will be provided to you in detail, but there are a few I want to go over with you now.  You will be required to visit with your assigned parole officer weekly for a two year period from your release.”
I nodded emphatically.  Two years, once a week visits – shit, once a day visits – I didn’t fucking care.
“You are not to leave this state.  You will be required to actively seek employment, and maintain that employment during this time as well.  You will continue your treatment with Ms. Denali, and you will also be placed on the national sexual offenders listing for this period of time.”
I took a deep breath.  I knew that was to come, and it was something I had talked about both with Bella and Irina.  It was going to make it very hard for Bella to get a full-time job as a school teacher when she had a husband on the list, and…and…
Wait…what did she say?
“Period of time?”  I heard myself repeat.
“Correct,” she said.  “For a period of two years.  As long as you meet all the conditions of your parole and keep to the restrictions of your parole, you will no longer be required to attend counseling, you may relocate out of state, and you will be removed from the listing at that time.”
“It’s not…not permanent?”
“I’ve reviewed your case extensively, Mister Cullen,” Ms. Young told me.  “The reason for the sex offenders listing is to provide the public with information to keep their families safe from repeat offenders.  Between the details of your exact crime and the notes from Irina Denali, I do not believe you are likely to be a repeat offender.  You aren’t going to prove me wrong, are you?”
“No!”  I tried to catch my breath.  “No, ma’am!”
“Good.”  She held the papers out in front of her and tapped them down on the desk until they were all even.  “Congratulations, Mister Cullen.  Release date set for one week from today.”
She picked up an ink stamp and slammed it down against the paper before pushing it off to the guy on her left, standing up, and leaving the room.
I just sat there in shock until I felt Bella’s fingers against my cheek.  I turned into her, wrapping my arms around her waist and placing my face into her stomach.  Her hands wrapped around my head, and her fingers stroked my hair.
“I love you,” I mumbled against the fabric of her dress.
“I love you too, Edward,” she replied.  “One week, and I’m going to be yours forever.
Sweeter words had never been spoken, right?
Chapter end notes:
Just a few more things to wrap up with the next chapter, which should be the last “Real” chapter before the epi.
Stop by the forum and give a shout!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

CBWR? Chapter 98

Author's Notes:
My desire to wrap this up at chapter 100 is getting you some much longer chapters.  LOL
As many of you have guessed/moaned about - there's some time jump here.
“Write to Bella’s mother?  Fuck no.”
Chapter 98:
“I’m gonna miss you, but not this place!” Seth said with a chuckle as he and I stood next to my cell door, prepared to leave and head back out into the real world..
“Yeah, well, you just make sure you don’t end up back in here, okay?” I told him.
“Yeah, I know – I’m turning over a new leaf and all that shit.”
Embry walked up then, his normally hap-hazard hair slicked back flat against his head.
“What the fuck is up with that?” Seth laughed.
“I’m properly groomed to be our boy’s protector now!” Embry said with a laugh.  He clasped his hand on my shoulder.
I rolled my eyes, but couldn’t help but laugh along with them.  We finished saying goodbye to Seth, and he walked down the aisle to freedom.  Embry and I went out to the yard, where he offered me a smoke.
“I should quit,” I said as I lit one up.
Fucking sue me.
“What for?”
“Bella hates it,” I said with a smirk.
“Can’t let the woman run your life,” Embry commented.
“If she’ll let me be in hers, I’m perfectly happy with having her run mine.”
“Where is she now?”
“Back in Washington,” I said.  “She’s trying to work shit out with her mom and get her school credits transferred and shit.  She’s supposed to start at the state college here in the fall.”
“Did she find a place to live?”
“She got the financial aid to live on campus,” I told him.  “It might not be as cheap as an apartment with a bunch of people, but it includes all her meals and whatever as well, so it should be cheaper in the long run.”
“Good deal.”
“She thought so,” I said.  I took a drag off the smoke and watched some of the guys bouncing basketballs around.  The day Bella got her acceptance letter to the college just about twenty miles from where I was incarcerated, she couldn’t stand not being able to tell me in person and wasn’t patient enough to wait for a letter to arrive.  She actually called Irina and dictated the message to her instead.  She was so excited about it, but it still worried me.  It would cost a lot more, and there wasn’t a lot I could do to help.
“Shit, it’s almost ten,” Embry jumped off the bench and smashed his cigarette butt under his heel.  “I gotta go.”
“To work!” he beamed.
“Yeah, there’s a new program where we can work in different areas of the prison and actually earn a bit of money.  It’s not much, but it’s better than nothing.”
I talked to Irina about it the next day, and before I knew it, I was cooking vegetarian meals in the prison kitchen.  Killed two birds with one stone, and had something to start sending to Bella every month to help her out.
With Bella living close, I wouldn’t say the weeks started flying by or anything, but I had a lot more to look forward to.  I worked in the kitchen every day except for Sundays, which gave me something to actually get up and do.  I continued to see Irina once a week, and once I started eating a little better, I started working out in the gym as well – at least, when Embry could go with me.  Sometimes you just don’t tempt fate.
Bella came during visiting hours every Wednesday and Sunday.
Those days were the best.
Most of the time we talked through the letters we sent.  Once she started putting my ID number and cell block on the envelope, they started getting to me a lot faster, though I swear they must sit on the warden’s desk for a week before they get distributed.  He’s probably the asshole reading them, too.  I wrote her every day.  Usually it was just about whatever bullshit was going on around me, but other times it was about my talks with Irina, how well my medication was helping, and what plans I wanted to make with her when I got out.
I wouldn’t have been so willing to say that life was good, but it was better than it ever had been before – even when I was a kick-ass fucking insanely rich gun-runner.  I didn’t have anything to speak of, and I couldn’t leave, but I didn’t feel like I was alone all the time.
As time went by, the stack of letters from Bella eventually had to be moved from under my pillow to a satchel Irina acquired for me.  I still kept the most recent six in my pocket.  I easily had over a thousand letters, and I had all my favorites marked so I could go back and read them over and over again.  Bella said mine were in a shoebox in her room.  Then she said they were in two shoeboxes.  Then she had to buy more shoes.
She was doing really well in school, working towards a degree in teaching.  She was a little behind because of all the bullshit I put her through, but she still thought she’d get out in good time.
Be finished, not get out.
So as I marked my six year anniversary in the state penitentiary, Bella started preparing to leave college and get a job in the real world.  I had managed to send her enough money from my kitchen work to get a small apartment, though she ended up needing a roommate anyway.  I didn’t really mind that so much – it was good for her to have someone else around her.  I worried about her being alone.
I wished I could really be right there next to her through it all, but I took a deep breath, reminded myself that if none of this had happened I never would have become the person I was now – a person worthy of being in her life.
“How are you doing today?”
“Annoyed with myself.”  I plopped down in the chair across from Irina.
“What has you annoyed?”
“Bella’s all done with student teaching and graduates in two weeks,” I said.  “I wanted to be able to give her a ring.  Even if I could actually order one over the internet or something, I don’t have the money to do it.  Cooking is only getting me seventy-five bucks a month, and I always send that to her anyway.  Even if I kept it all, it would take me the rest of my sentence to get her a nice one.  It’s pissing me off.  I want to give her something.”
“The ring is just a symbol, Edward,” Irina told me.  “Bella already accepted your proposal.  There are a lot of ways you can symbolize how you feel about her.  What else can you do?”
“I don’t have a fucking clue, that’s why I’m pissed.”
“Think about it,” she said, like I hadn’t already been doing that.  “I think Bella would appreciate any symbol from you, not just one that costs money.”
“I guess.”
“While we’re on the subject, did you talk to her about the wedding date?”
“Yeah, but we’re not exactly seeing eye-to-eye on that one.”
“Have you listened to her reasons?”
“Yeah, and I get it – I do,” I sat back and rubbed my hand against my jaw.  “I know the kinds of things we’d be able to do…you know…”
“Conjugal visits.”
“Well…yeah.”  I couldn’t look her in the eye.  “But I just…I can’t even imagine taking her back to a trailer to…to do that.  She deserves better than that.  She keeps saying she doesn’t care, and she needs the physical contact.  Believe me, I want to give in, but I know it would mean so much more to her if our real wedding was after I got out.”
“When is your earliest parole hearing?”  As if she wasn’t keeping track herself.  Ha!
“With my behavior record, I have a little less than four hundred days off,” I told her.  “So I can be eligible for parole in fourteen months.”
“It’s a long time, I know, but we’ve already gotten this far, and if I get out then…I just think it would be so much better.”
“But you haven’t convinced her.”
I laughed.
“She’s seriously stubborn,” I said.  “Besides, her mom is not exactly in favor of the whole thing, you know?  Not that I blame her.  I’m sure if I was her I’d want to rip my balls off, too.”
“Have you ever written her?”
“Write to Bella’s mother?  Fuck no.”  I gave a short little laugh and shook my head in disbelief.
“Why not?”
“Because she hates me, for starters.  I am sitting here now for raping her daughter, as you may remember.”
“And how does her daughter feel about you?”
I just sat there and stared at her for a minute.  I guess I kind of knew what she was getting at, but I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do with the information.
“You are going to run into people once you get out of here,” Irina said.  “People who are going to look at you, know you are a convicted felon, and make judgments based on that.  People who are going to find out you are on the sexual predators listing because your crime was against a minor.  You are going to have to learn to deal with that.  What better place to start than with Bella’s mother?”
“You are seriously trying to throw me into the deep end here,” I pointed out.
“You already know how to swim,” she shot back at me.  “You’re communicating with people, you have friends, you’ve set goals, and attained some of them.  You’re ready for the diving board, Edward.”
My eyebrows smashed together as I tried to think about what she was saying.  We’d talked about some of this before – about being on the list and how people were going to view me when I got out.  I had at least thought about that, but Bella’s mother?  She didn’t speak to Bella for nearly a year after she moved out here, and their relationship was still on rocky ground now.  She didn’t even want to acknowledge my existence. 
I tried to put it out of my mind once the session was over – there was just no way could I say anything to Bella’s mother – but it wouldn’t leave my head.  Even went I sat outside after dinner, just smoking and trying to clear my head, the idea of writing to Bella’s mother kept creeping back.
I stomped out my cigarette and decided it was time to jump into the pool.
I was feeling strangely nervous when I handed over the two papers I planned to give to Bella for graduation.  Well, one was for her.  The other one had another purpose.
“I wish I had a frame for it,” I said when Irina held up the picture I had drawn years ago of two hands clasped together.
“You don’t need it,” she said.  “But maybe I can come up with something for you.”
“Seriously?” I asked.  “I mean – if you could find something, I could pay you back, as long as it wasn’t too expensive.  I mean, I’ve been saving back a little, because I want to get her a ring eventually, and I want to be able to pay for it myself.  I have about sixty bucks though…”
“Let’s worry about that when the time comes, okay?”  Irina smiled at me and then reached for the other paper.  I sat back and felt my chest go tight.  I tried slow breathing for a minute, and it helped a bit.  As Irina opened up the second paper, the words I had written appeared in my mind.
Dear Ms. Renee Swan,
I realize you probably never expected to hear from me, but if I want to turn my life around, one of the things I have to do at least attempt to make some amends.  I’ve put all my energy in doing this for Bella, but I’ve neglected the person I have hurt almost as much.
There is nothing I can possibly say or do to make up for the pain I have caused you and your family.  All I can do is assure you that if it was within my power, I would take it all back.  I cannot bring myself to ask for your forgiveness, because I do not deserve it, but please believe I’m truly sorry for what I have done.
I love Bella with all my heart and soul.  As ashamed as I am now for the decisions that brought her to me, I cannot regret having her in my life.  She woke me up, and the events that followed have turned me into a different person.   It is with that in mind that I ask something of you, even though I have no real right to do so.
I know tradition holds that I ask for your permission to marry your daughter, but since Bella has already accepted, I will ask instead for you to please, for Bella’s sake, bless our marriage.  You are very important to her, and I know she is very important to you.  Having you in her life is paramount to her healing.  Even if you don’t want to have anything to do with me, please be there when we get married.  It would mean so much to her to have you there.  You wouldn’t ever have to see me again – I would make sure you and Bella could see each other anytime you wanted without me being in the way.
With all my heart and soul, I swear to you that I am a different person now.  I’m a better person, and I want to spend whatever life I have making Bella happy.  I know things will always be a little difficult for us because of what I’ve done and where I am now, but I promise to make the best of it.  I’m not perfect by anyone’s standards, but I will try to be the best husband I can possibly be.  Bella deserves nothing less.
Edward Cullen
“Edward…”  Irina’s voice trailed off as she looked up from the letter and met my eyes.  I had to look away, afraid of how she might react to it.
“Is it stupid?” I asked quietly.
“It most certainly is not,” Irina said, her voice just a little bit scolding.
“Do you think she’ll say yes?  I mean, do you think she’ll come to the wedding and shit?
“I don’t know, Edward.”  Irina placed both papers on the desk in front of me again.  “You can never be too sure how someone is going to react, regardless of how sincere you may be.  But I do think this is a very important part of mending yourself.”
I guess I did okay, right?

Chapter End Notes:

Making amends = very important.  For yourself as well as those you have hurt.  Scooby snacks all around again!

Two more chapters to go!  AT least they're going to be long ones.  LOL

I expect one tomorrow, then the final (can you believe it??) chapter on Saturday.

CBWR? Chapter 97

Author’s notes:
I am not my own
For I have been made new
Please don’t let me go
I desperately need you
Owl City – Meteor Shower
“I never told you anything.”
Chapter 97
Three days on suicide watch at a local hospital wasn’t really all that bad, except that I was under constant surveillance by both the hospital staff and a prison guard.  I was cuffed to the bed, which also sucked, big-time. 
Bella wasn’t allowed to visit.
Irina came to talk to me every day though, and she told me sometimes it took a giant step backwards in order to be able to move forward again.  She didn’t hide the fact that she was still pretty ticked off at me for considering what I had tried to do…well, not really tried…thought about…whatever.
I didn’t know if I really would have pulled the trigger or not.  Everything was kind of a blur in my memories – at least until Bella was there.
Irina also gave me a little detail of what happened that day.  She had been walking out of the building and heading home when she heard someone arguing with the front desk about visiting Edward Cullen.  She recognized Bella from the media accounts of my trial, though I hadn’t known Irina had ever looked any of that up.  Irina went up to Bella to talk to her, and to find out why she was coming to visit me.  Once Bella received my letter, she realized our messages had gotten crossed in the mail.  She pawned the wedding ring I had given her all that time ago to get a plane ticket to come and talk to me in person.  While they were talking, Irina was called about me being in her office with a gun.  She took the chance, and brought Bella in with her.
After my little ordeal in Irina’s office, Bella had to be taken out of the inmate’s area while I was placed back in cuffs.  It just about tore me in half.  I was about five seconds from being sedated when Irina reminded me that people did get visitors here, and if I wanted to be able to see her again I’d better shut the fuck up and start cooperating.
“Soon,” Bella whispered against my cheek.  “I love you.”
“I love you,” I replied, surprised at how easily the words came now – like the tiny hole in the dam that suddenly gives way to the flooding waters.
After the hospital stay, I was put on anti-depressants and my therapy sessions were increased to twice a week.  I also had to spend a week in solitary.
No visitors there, either.
It was kind of strange how anxious it made me feel not to be able to see anyone except Irina, when the day before all of this happened I hadn’t cared about visitors at all.  I didn’t even are about seeing other inmates, but I found I was missing the presence of both Seth and Embry, and not just because I could trade food with them.
Irina was still allowed to conduct our session from solitary, at least, but the guard had to be in there with us, so there really wasn’t much point.  I didn’t really want to talk about shit in front of that guy, and Irina picked up on that pretty quickly.  She kept our talks about what I was eating, if I was taking my medication when I was supposed to, and whether or not I still felt like I wanted to die.
My goals for getting out of prison were going to become the focus of the rest of my therapy – where I wanted to be, where Bella wanted to be, and how we were going to work together to make that happen.  Obviously, when the two of us were trying to deal with it alone we were not very successful.
After I was brought back into the normal prison population, I was allowed visitors on Wednesdays and Sundays.  Bella was there the first day I could see her.  It was only through Plexiglas, but I would take it.
I picked up the little handset on the pegboard wall, and Bella did the same.
“I love you,” we both said at the same time.  Bella’s cheeks turned red, and I couldn’t help but smile.  It made my face feel weird – I don’t think I had done that in a while.  For the longest time, we just looked at each other, but it wasn’t awkward at all – it just felt good.
“I’ve got a long way to go,” I finally said.  “But I’m going to do it, okay?  I swear to you, I’m going to be better when I’m out of here.”
“I will be, too,” she responded.  She took a deep breath and wiped a tear from the corner of her eye.  “It’s not going to be easy, is it?”
“Nothing worthwhile ever is,” I said.  “At least, that what Irina keeps tell me.”
“She’s your counselor,” Bella said with a nod.   “I like her.”
“I do, too,” I responded.  I reached up and ran my hand through my hair.  I didn’t want to hold anything back.  Irina said that was important – I needed to tell her everything.  “Um…she had the doctor put me on some pills.  For the depression.”
“Good.”  Bella’s hand reached forward and her fingers pressed against the Plexiglas.  I raised my free hand up and placed my fingers on the other side, lining up with hers.
“How are you?” I asked, and then had to kind of laugh at how lame the question was.  “I mean, really?  I know I must have…scared you.  Being like that.  With everything you said in your letter…shit, Bella – I had no idea-”
“I know you didn’t,” she said with a nod.  “How could you if I never told you?”
“I never told you anything.”
“No, you didn’t.”
“I’m sorry.”
“You’ve already apologized, Edward.  You don’t have to apologize for it again every time it’s brought up.  At some point, you have to let go.”
“Now you sound like Irina.”  I smiled and pushed my fingertips against the glass a little harder.
“It’s what Sue keeps tell me,” Bella said.  “She’s my counselor.”
We just looked at each other for another minute, which was when the guard came up and give me my five minute warning.
“Bella…” My voice trailed off as I took a deep breath.  “I’ve still got a long time in here.  I’m not going to ask you to put your life on hold to wait for me.  It’s not fair to ask you to do that.  I have pretty much nothing to offer you as long as I’m here, and by the time I get out…shit, Bella – you could be thirty by then.”
“I know you aren’t asking me to,” Bella said.  “That doesn’t mean I won’t do it anyway.”
I took a breath, and it felt like my lungs were actually working correctly for the first time in a very long time.  I was still torn – the selfish part of me that wanted her to wait, and the other parts that wanted to say I wasn’t good enough for her.
But I was going to be.
I was going to make sure I was the kind of man she needed me to be before I got out of here.
“You still have to do what you need to do for yourself, too,” I told her.  “You have to finish college and have a life outside of me.”
“I know.”  Bella sighed.  “I’ve been trying.”
“I’ll try to help you,” I promised.  “Anyway I can – just tell me what you need from me.”
“Don’t close me out,” she said immediately.  “Don’t do what I did, and sugar-coat everything.  I want to know how you really are.”
“You too, right?”
“Right.”  Her eyes locked with mine, and I was captivated by her gaze.  I could have just looked at her for the rest of my sentence.  No problem.
“Time’s up, Cullen.”  The guard tapped the edge of the wall.
“What do we do from here?” I asked her.
“What do you want to do?”  She really did sound like a fucking therapist.
“I want to figure out what I need to do to still have you in my life when I leave here,” I told her.  “If you want me to be, anyway.”
“I do,” she responded immediately.  “How do we make it work?”
“I don’t know,” I admitted.  “But I’m going to figure it out.”
 Where there’s a will there’s a way, right?
Chapter end notes:
They are both learning, right?
Scooby snacks all around!
100 chapters is still my target.  Not sure if that will be the exact number, but it calls to my OCD.  Nice, round number…mmmmm….