Wednesday, May 18, 2011

CBWR? Chapter 96

Author’s notes:
Hang on tight. 
Get the tissues. 
Faith.
Trust.
You made it this far.
My finger brushed the edge of the trigger.
 ____________________________________
Chapter 96:
I didn’t even know it was Christmas Eve until people started going on about how dinner was going to be catered in from some charity or another.  Turkey and all the trimmings.  The idea made my stomach turn.  I went to dinner anyway, had some sweet potatoes and Seth handed me his roll in exchange for my turkey and stuffing.  Some new guy – Embry – sat with us.  He was just about as big as Seth, and Seth said he was “grooming him” to watch out for me when he was gone.  He seemed to think that phrase was pretty fucking funny, and laughed every time he said it.
We had free time for the rest of the day, so I went back to my cell to grab my smokes and head outside.  There was a letter sitting on my bed that hadn’t been there before.  I reached out, turned it over and saw the Washington postage cancelation.  I opened it slowly.
Edward,
I guess I have given up.  I should have listened to everyone else all along.  You have been getting my letters – I got the registered letter card back from the last one, and it was signed by the warden at the penitentiary.  You obviously aren’t writing me back, and I can only assume that means you don’t want to hear from me.
I’m sorry about everything, but I have to start moving on.
Bella
My stomach clenched so hard, I doubled over – fighting to keep what I had just eaten in my stomach. 
She didn’t sign it “love.”  She wasn’t writing again.  How long ago did she send this?  I flipped it over, and saw it was dated four weeks ago – about one week after I had sent her mine.
How could I have been so, so fucking stupid?
Two years, and I never wrote her.  Not even a fucking card on her birthday.  Nothing.  I did nothing.
I waited too long.
I dropped to my knees on the floor.  My breathing was coming way too fast, and my heart felt like it was trying to jump right out of my chest.  I could barely stand, and I was definitely in danger of just passing out. 
Two years.
Two fucking years.
 I needed to see Irina.
I pushed myself off the floor and went as quickly as I could to her office, not even sure if she would still be there.  When I walked past the infirmary, I couldn’t believe how many people were in there – inmates and guards alike.  Even the guard that usually stood at the door to Irina’s office was inside, trying to herd prisoners and bedpans.
People were puking everywhere. 
I mean everywhere.
I heard the words “food poisoning” and “salmonella” being thrown around.
I walked a step into the room, looking around at the chaos of people throwing up, rolling around on the overfilled cots and chairs, screaming that they were dying, or that they needed to go to the hospital, and the guards trying to keep some kind of order while they themselves were turning green and clutching their stomachs.  I looked around to see if Irina was there, but she wasn’t.  I could see the door to her office from where I was, and it was open, but no one was inside.
That’s when I saw it, and everything became crystal fucking clear.
The guard had his back to me.  His Beretta was unclipped from its holster and just a couple of feet away from me.
A guy puked on his shoes right about then, and he didn’t even notice when I lifted it.
The cool metal felt good in my hands, like it was supposed to be there, like it had purpose. 
I backed up slowly, making sure I didn’t draw attention to myself.  I slipped into Irina’s office and shut the door, and then I pushed the desk up against it, wedging it tight.  I dropped down to the floor in the back corner of the room, the gun held tight in my hands, even though they were still shaking.
I had nothing.  My businesses were gone – taken over by Emmett and Alice or just folded up because of where I was.  I had learned just enough between the time all of this started and now to know that buying shit was never, ever going to mean anything to me again anyway.  I also know there was only one thing…one person…who meant anything at all to me. 
And she was gone now, too.
I leaned forward, tipping the barrel of the gun up towards the ceiling and resting my chin on top of it.  I was so fucking tired.  I was tired of trying to pretend I could get better.  I was tired of trying to think I could pick of the pieces of my shattered, so-called life.  I was tired of trying to think and believe that there was any reason for me to continue.
There was banging on the door, but I barely heard it.  People were yelling my name, yelling for the warden, yelling for Irina.  I glanced up at the camera in the corner of the office and sighed.  My whole body felt cold, and there was pressure in my head and behind my eyes.  It hurt, and I was so fucking tired of hurting.
But I didn’t hurt like she had.  Hospitals, money, her dad…
I heard a strange, unfamiliar sound from my throat.
The racket outside the door continued.  I heard different voices, then they went away, and there were new ones again.  The phone rang, but I didn’t answer it.  People started talking to me through the doorway, but I didn’t listen to what they were saying.
The noise of the door shattering right off its hinges made me jump a little, but I didn’t look up.  I closed my eyes and felt the sharp point of the barrel dig deeper into my jaw.  I tilted my head forward slightly, and when I licked my lips I could taste the black metal on my tongue.  I closed my eyes even tighter.  My finger brushed the edge of the trigger.
 “Give me the gun, Edward,” she said.
The sweetest, most incredible sound in the entire world.
My eyes opened, and I saw dusty black and white converse shoes near my feet.
“Please, Edward,” Bella whispered.  “Please give it to me.”
My throat seized up, and I could feel tears pouring down my face at her hushed words.  All this time, and I had never cried, not once.   Not for her, not for me – not for anyone. 
“There’s no…no…reason…” I choked out, but I couldn’t finish my thought or my sentence.
“Give it to me,” she repeated, and I opened my eyes enough to see her crouch down in front of me.  “Please?”
My hands were shaking again, and all I could do was choke out barely intelligible syllables at her.
“I’m sorry!  I’m sorry!  I wanted to write you – I swear I did.  I wanted to so much, and I didn’t know what I should do…please…I’m sorry, Bella…I’m sorry!  I’m sorry!”
“Shh…”
I watched her hand wrap around the barrel, and my fingers loosened.  She pulled the weapon out of my hand and away from me.  It felt like my body was trying to collapse in on itself.  My eyes ached in a way I had never felt before, and I couldn’t stop the tears from falling out of them.
“Not yet…give her a minute first.  It will be better.”  I heard Irina’s soft voice near the door.
Bella reached up her hand and put the gun on top of the desk.  Another hand grabbed it away, but I had no idea whose it was.  I didn’t know anything at that moment, because that was when she touched me.
And my world shifted on its axis, tilted, spun, whirled around until its direction was true, straight, and certain.  Everything else felt like it just melted away in that moment – the prison, what I had done to her, what I had done to us – it all evaporated as her hand reached up and ran over the side of my face.
Her scent enveloped me, her breath caressed me, and her skin called me home.  I felt her arm around my shoulders as she pulled my head to her chest.  I wrapped my arms around her back, and she pulled me even tighter against her.
“I’m so, so sorry,” I cried into her T-shirt.  Knowing that timing meant nothing, and that whatever needed to be said had to be said now, I finally uttered the words that had scared me more than anything else in the world ever had.
“I love you!  I always did…I should have told you!  I love you!  I love you!”
“It’s all right, Edward…it’s all right…I’m here now,” I felt her lips against the top of my head.  “I love you too, Edward.  I should have told you, too.  I never stopped loving you…never.”
I wanted to ask her the how and the why of her being here, but I was afraid I would break whatever spell I was under.  Maybe it was too late – maybe I had pulled the trigger, and by the grace of whatever God there is, I had been brought to heaven…
I had atoned for my sins, right?
_____________________________
Chapter end notes:
Suspend your disbelief, people!  If canon Bella can run across a fountain through a crowd of people just before Edward walks into the sun, the prison counselor can keep the guards at bay while a prisoner with a gun gets comforted by his girl!
Um…still more realistic than a hybrid baby?
Oh fine!
Artistic license!!
You’ll get the explanation of how she got there and all that in the next chapter, coming tomorrow.

CBWR? Chapter 95

Author’s notes:
Hang in there with me just a bit longer, peeps! 
“Are you ready?”
 _________________________________
Chapter 95:
I pulled Bella’s last letter out of my pocket and opened it up, trying to keep my heart from pounding in my chest at the same time.
Edward,
I talked to my therapist last week.  She always knew I was writing you, but I wouldn’t really talk about it.  This time, when she asked me what I had told you, I decided to tell her what was in my letters.  I figured it didn’t really matter.  But after I told her, she asked me a question and it made me think.  You see, I only told you about the things that I thought you would want to hear, and not everything that has been going on.  She asked me what you would really want to hear, and what things I maybe should have been telling you, but wasn’t.  She told me if I was going to keep writing to you, I needed to be more honest about it, because not telling you everything we doing a disservice to us both.
I thought about it a lot, and I think she was right.  I haven’t been honest with you, because I know where you are has to be horrible, and I didn’t want to make you feel any worse.  But I owe it to you to be honest, so here it goes. 
I’ve been hospitalized three times for depression and suicide attempts.  I don’t think I ever intended to kill myself, really, but I just didn’t know how to cope with everything.  I’ve been on medication and in intensive therapy since I got out the last time.  I only barely finished high school because my parents hired tutors to help me get through my exams, and the school let me take them late. 
Between the tutors, the hospitalizations, and health insurance that doesn’t think mental problems are worth covering, I pretty much ruined my family financially.  I’m still struggling with a ton of guilt because of that, and because of what I did to you.  I keep being told neither are my fault, and some days I agree, other days I don’t.   I still have nightmares.
The only job I have been able to keep is the library job.  I can’t always make myself get up I in the morning, so I lost the one at the sporting goods store.  The library was always really flexible about when I came in, and as long as I got my hours in during the weekend, they didn’t really care what time I showed up.
My dad died of a heart attack two months ago.  I blame myself for that, too.  I know how much stress I have put on him over the past year and a half, and I know that hasn’t helped.  Mom keeps telling me he always had high blood pressure, but I know everything that happened to her and to me took their toll on him as well. 
I did get into the community college.  I went there partially due to money, but also because I graduated late and didn’t get any applications in on time.  I trying to study to be a teacher, but the classes are still pretty rough on me. 
I’m still trying to get enough money together to come and visit you, but I need at least $500, and I’m pretty sure my mom would kill me if I used it for plane fair instead of schoolbooks right now.  Once the insurance money comes through from my Dad’s policy, I hope I will have enough, but they say that can take up to a year.
I’m starting to think that you may not write me back.  I don’t know why.  I don’t even know for sure if you are getting any of my letters.  I still hope you are okay.  I still think about you every day.  People still tell me I shouldn’t, but I can’t help how I feel.
Some days I’m angry at you.  I’m angry because of everything you did that started all of this.  I’m angry because I haven’t heard from you at all.  I’m angry that you plead guilty, when you probably could have found a way to get off, or at least end up with a lesser charge.  I also know you did it for me.
As for right now, mostly I’m confused.  My therapist said you should have received at least some of my letters, and you could have written me back at the library, even if my dad had been throwing them out.  I don’t know what I should do.  She keeps telling me I have to move on with my life – finish school, go out on dates, be myself.  I try – I really do.  I have some good friends who have supported me a lot.  Not about everything, but they’re just worried about me.  
 I just wish I knew what you were thinking.  Maybe you are getting my letters, and you just aren’t responding.  Maybe you aren’t even reading them.  Maybe I am stupid and na├»ve, like so many people have said I am. 
If you can, please write me back.
Love,
Bella

“Edward?”
“Yeah,” I mumbled back.  My hands were shaking and making the paper shake, too.
“Are you ready?”
“I still don’t know what to say.”
“What if she walked into this room right now?” Irina asked.  “What would you do?”
I had to think about that one.
“Tell her that her friends and her family are right, and she should move on.”  I rubbed my fingers into my temples.  “And that I love her and I don’t want her to ever give up on me.”
“Those two things don’t really fit together very well,” Irina said.
“I know.”
“Let’s see what we can come up with, okay?”
I don’t know how long it took us to write it, but Irina cancelled her group session to help me finish it.  I started over at least ten times, changing my mind on the wording, and wanting to not have too many pencil scratching all over it.  When it was done, I read it again and again. 
Bella,
I don’t know what to say to you.  That’s why I haven’t written.  I wanted to – please believe that – but I’ve not been in a good place at all, and I just didn’t know how to respond.  Sometimes I don’t get your letters for at a month or more, and I think whatever I might have said then doesn’t make any difference now. 
Everything I just said was just an excuse.  I didn’t write you because I was afraid to write you.  I don’t want to tell you what it’s like here.  I don’t want to fuck up your life any more than I already have.  I can’t figure out how anything I do or say now could possibly make anything better for you, except to say that I’m sorry.
I’m sorry for everything I did, and for all the things it caused.  I’m sorry I hurt you, and that I hurt your family.  I plead guilty because I deserve to be here for what I did to you.  I don’t expect you or anyone else to forgive me for what I’ve done. 
I’ve been in therapy, too.  I want to get better.  I want to be better, so when I get out of here, maybe I can be something…more.  I don’t really know what that means right now, but I’m trying to figure it out.
Please spend your money on your education.  As much as I want to see you, it’s more important right now.
Edward
I debated over how to sign it for at least twenty minutes.  I didn’t want to tell her I loved her in a fucking letter.  I didn’t want to tell her at all, and at the same time I wanted to fucking scream it loud enough that she could hear me all the way across the continent.  I wanted to tell her I hoped she would still be in my life once this was over, but I didn’t want her to feel like she had to be.
“Are you sure this is everything you want to say?”
“Is there something else I should say?”
“That’s not for me to decide, Edward,” she said with a shake of her head.  “I can help you come up with the questions, but the answers have to come from you.”
“I think this is it.”  I looked up at her and tried to get some sort of read on her, but I never really could.  “Am I fucking it up?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Okay,” I let out a breath.  “This is it, then.”
Irina offered to take it and mail it for me.
She would understand, right?
 ________________________________
Chapter End notes:
Next chapter is coming up in just a few minutes.  That will be it for tonight.  I think at this point we’re very close to the end, and I believe I’m going to wrap it up right at chapter 100.  Can you stay with me just a bit longer?
The twilighted thread has EXPLODED over the past couple of days.  I have to admit, though I have only barely been able to keep up with it, the amount of passion some of you have for this characters is really overwhelming.  Thank you!

CBWR? Chapter 94

Author’s notes:
Loving the chatter on twitter and on the twilighted forum!  You guys come up with a bunch of awesome ideas and theories!  It keeps me on my toes!
For those who wondered - no, I did not draw the hands - just found the pic on google. I never could draw hands - LOL
“Forget about me.”
 ____________________________
Chapter 94:
I tried not to look at Irina’s face as she read the letters Bella sent to me.  I didn’t know what she would think, or what she would say, and the whole damn thing made me nervous as hell.
“Edward, our session is almost up,” she finally said.  I still didn’t look up.  “May I hold on to these?”
“No!”  I looked up at her then, nearly jumped out of my chair and grabbed for the ones sitting on her desk.  She held one hand up in surrender mode, and the other held out Bella’s letter.  I grabbed it away from her, and sat back down, holding them tightly in my hands.
The door slammed open behind me, and the guard who monitors the cameras put his hand on my shoulder, held me against the back of the chair, and asked if there was a problem.  Irina just shook her head no, and told him everything was fine.  He looked down at me.
“You gonna behave yourself, Cullen?” he asked.
“Yeah, sure,” I responded.
He left after getting more reassurance from Irina, and she took a deep breath, letting it out slowly.
“They must be pretty important to you,” she commented.
I didn’t see any reason to respond, so I didn’t.  Our session ended, and I went back to my normal routine.  Smoke, eat a little, try to sleep, wake, smoke, do it all again.
“Do you want to talk about the letters?”
It was the first thing she said after hello.
“What’s to say?” I asked.
“You said you didn’t receive the first one until you had been here for some time,” she said.  “What were you thinking about Bella before you saw it?”
“I wasn’t.”
“You weren’t what?”
“Thinking.”
“How about after you received it?” she pressed.
I scratched the back of my neck and fiddled with my hair.
“I guess I was glad she was okay,” I said.  Irina didn’t respond, which usually meant she was going to just sit there until I said something else.  I sighed and took a breath.  “I was relieved, at first.  Then I was just…I don’t know…I guess I thought she had forgotten about me.”
“Do you think Bella could forget about you?  You both went through a lot together.”
“Yeah.”  More silence from the other side of the desk.  “I wish she could.”
“Could what?”
“Forget about me.”
“Why do you want that?”
“Because if she did, she’d forget all the other shit, too.  She said she was in therapy or whatever, and I didn’t want her to have to…live through all of that again and again.  If she forgot me, she’d be…better off.”
“The letters you have received from her are obviously very important to you, considering your reaction to parting with them last week.  It is your connection not only to Bella, but to the outside world as a whole.   You’re holding on to them like some kind of lifeline.”
“She is my life,” I said quietly.
“She is thousands of miles away without the financial means to see you,” Irina pointed out.  “I don’t know what the detail of her therapy contains, but I’m not surprised she has been advised not to contact you.”
“Why not?”
“Because at some point, you both need to heal,” she said.  “What have you said in letters back to her?”
I shrugged, and I felt a chill go up my spine.
“Edward, you don’t have to tell me, but I think it might help.”
“I haven’t sent her any,” I admitted.
“You haven’t responded to her at all?  In a year and a half?”
I shook my head.
“Why not?”
“I don’t know what to say to her.”
The silence led to pen tapping this time.
“Have you received any other letters or visitors since you arrived?”
“No,” I said.  I wasn’t going to count the visit from Alice.
“Would you like to?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean there are a lot of programs available here where people from the outside – usually church groups – write to inmates.  It’s kind of a pen-pal program, if you will.  You could be signed up to receive letters from these kids of groups.  It can help to have that kind of contact with others.”
“No,” I said without really thinking about it.
“Edward, a large part of your problem has to do with connecting to people,” she said.  Yeah, yeah, I’d heard this since I first talked about my childhood.  “You don’t have any relationships with other inmates except for Seth, who will be out in six months.  You don’t have any one contacting you outside of your victim.  You need to learn how to deal with people if you are ever going to get to the point where you want to be.”
I didn’t respond this time – I didn’t know what to say.  After a minute, Irina opened up one of her desk drawers and placed a green, cellophane wrapped something on the desk in front of me.
“What’s that?”
“It’s a veggie wrap,” she responded.  “I brought it for lunch, but I wasn’t hungry enough to eat it.  Would you like it?”
Damn if my stomach didn’t growl right about then.  Lunch had been non-existent.  I looked over to see Irina smiling a little, like she was trying to hold it in.  I closed my eyes and shook my head, then reached over and opened the damn thing up.  It was actually really good.
“Fine,” I told her when I was done with it.  “I’ll be a fucking pen-pal.”
“Have you thought anymore about getting your GED?” Irina asked.
We had talked about it a few times, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to or not.  She kept asking me about it, though, and I finally asked what the point of it would be.
“Part of being able to lead a normal life includes getting a job,” she said.  “Without a GED, and with your background, how are you going to do that?”
I sighed and sat back.
“I did run a legitimate company,” I finally said.
“Which has since dissolved,” she reminded me.
“I still ran it – that’s kind of a resume, isn’t it?”
She tilted her head and raised her eyebrows. 
“Fine,” I relented.  “I’ll do it.”
I passed on the first try.
Sessions with Irina were the only thing I actually looked forward to in the entire week.  It both made the other six days go slower and faster at the same time.  I swear to God, that woman had talked me into doing a hundred things I never would have considered, including petitioning for vegetarian options on the prison menu.  I had yet to be successful, but she hadn’t let me give up yet.  There was only one thing she hadn’t talked me into, and that was writing any letters.
“Did you get a letter this week?” she asked.
“Yeah,” I responded.
“From?”
“Pastor Lee,” I told her.
“That’s the third one from him, correct?”
“Yeah.”
“Have you written back yet?”
“I started to,” I told her.
“It’s not a pen-pal program if you don’t write back,” she reminded me…again. 
“I don’t know what to say.”
“This all goes back to connecting with people, Edward,” she said.  “You don’t have to have some kind of phenomenal insight to share in order to just respond to someone.  Just try writing what you did all day, or what you might like to do when you get out.”
“Yeah, that would be all kind of interesting,” I snorted.  Set sarcasm to kill.
“It doesn’t have to be interesting,” she said…again.  “Talk about the weather.  Talk about the food.  Talk about Seth, current events – anything.”
“Every time I say something it’s wrong,” I told her.  “If…if I piss him off…I mean, I’m not religious or anything.  If I piss him off with something I say…he might…”
I trailed off.
“He might what?” she prompted.
“Stop writing to me.”
I glanced up at her, feeling the tightness in my chest now that I had admitted the reason.  My hands were starting the shake, and I placed one of them over my pocket – trying to get some contact with Bella’s letters that lived there.  The same six had been in there for two months now.
“You haven’t received any more letters from Bella, have you?”
“Not since that last one.”  I swallowed hard, trying to keep my voice in check.
Since the first one I had received, I had gotten at least one from her every month.  The last one I received had been over two months ago, and the tone of it had changed drastically.  I still kept it in my pocket, but I never read it again.
“You still haven’t written to her.”
“No.”  I put my hands back on my thighs and stared at them.  “I still don’t know what to say.”
Pen tapping.  There was a lot of that going on recently.
“Do you want me to help you write it?”
I swallowed again – hard.  My hands clenched and unclenched, and I cleared my throat before speaking again.
“Would you?”
“I would be happy to.”
It couldn’t be that hard, right?
 __________________________
Chapter end notes:
Bella’s letter will be in the next chapter – promise.
A work about timeline – yes, we have jumped ahead a bit.  Edward is approaching the second anniversary of his incarceration.  He is making a bit of progress, don’t cha think?
There may be another update tonight – we’ll see.

CBWR? Chapter 93

Auythor's notes:
See what happens when I wake up to hot manips?  I get up and write!  Remember that Lolypop82!  Her fabulous manips have been added to chapters 87 and 88 - check them out!
“You’re a vegetarian?”
________________________________
Chapter 93
We talked for weeks.
I don’t think I had ever talked so much in my life.  Sometimes I had to stop and drink half a bottle of water before I could talk anymore. 
I told Irina everything I could remember about growing up in the trailer.  I told her about dropping out of school and driving the trucks full of gun shipments.  I told her about taking over the business through blood and threats of blood.
She always asked the same questions – whether I was talking about my mom making lunch, my dad yelling, or putting a bullet in someone’s scull – what were you thinking at the time?  How did you feel about it afterwards?
The answer with always the same.
Nothing.
“Until you bought Bella.”
“Until I bought Bella.”
“What was different?”
“At first?  Nothing, really,” I told her.  I mean, I was frustrated and ticked off about the whole thing, because I was so unprepared.  I was used to being prepared for whatever was going to happen, and I wasn’t.  I’d fucked it up.  I didn’t even have any clothes or anything for her.”
“At what point did you begin to feel guilty for what you had done?”
“Right after I raped her.”
Irina leaned back a little and started tapping her pen rapidly against the edge of the desk.  I had come to notice that she did this when she was trying to figure out how to phrase her question.
“You didn’t recognize the act as rape at the time,” she pointed out.  “Why do you think you felt guilty then?”
“It’s when she started having nightmares.”  I leaned forward and put my elbows on my knees.  I rubbed my fingers into my eyes.  I didn’t understand how talking could give me headaches, but it sure as hell did.
“I think we’re about done for today,” Irina said.  “You look tired.”
I shrugged. 
“Are you eating any better?”
I shrugged again.  Still the fucking master.
”What did you eat for lunch?”
“There really wasn’t anything.”
She opened up a drawer and pulled out the menu schedule.
“It says here there was meatloaf, mashed potatoes with gravy and green beans,” she read from the form.  “Sounds like something.”
“I don’t…um…eat meat.”
“You’re a vegetarian?”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“So what did you eat?”
“I ate some of the beans.”
“This morning?” she pressed.
 “Cereal.”
“Last night?”
“Damn, woman,” I said, but I smiled at her a bit.  “I had a roll and…I don’t remember.  Peaches or pears or something.”
“Have you asked for vegetarian meals?”
I gave my shoulders a bit more of a workout, and Irina sighed and ended our session so she could go work with the group.  I had been excused from the group sessions, since Irina was working with me personally instead.  I went to the courtyard, smoked until we had to go back in, talked to Seth a little at dinner, where I tried to eat peas, but honestly – I never liked the fuckers.
I went to bed at lights out, looking over the latest letter from Bella for the fourteenth time.  I had received it two days ago, though it was obvious from the content it had been written six months ago.  I had received two others that weren’t as old as this one.
Hello Edward,
I graduated last week, and college is just around the corner.  I tried to find one that wasn’t too far from you, but there just isn’t any way I can afford to move right now.  I’m still hoping I’ll be able to move for my second year, but the first one will be at the community college near my hometown.  I got a better job that’s close to school so I can get more hours.  I’m living with my parents and saving everything.  I want to see you, and I’m trying – I really am.
I haven’t gotten any letters from you, and I’m pretty sure my dad has been taking them before I can find them.  He denied it, but I told him I knew they were throwing out my letters to you.  Funny – he admitted to that, but still denied throwing yours out.  I still work at the Port Angeles city library one weekend a month – could you trying writing me there?  I don’t think they would throw out a letter if I got one there.
 I miss you.  I hope you are okay.
Love,
Bella
I pushed the paper back underneath my pillow along with the others.  I always carried most of them with me, but the no longer fit in my pockets very well, and I didn’t want them noticed again.  Not after the last time.
During my next session with Irina, she found out about the letter from Bella.  She was not exactly thrilled at the whole idea.  Not at all, actually.
“What happened to your eye?”
“Fight,” I said with an award winning shrug.
“What were you fighting about?”
I didn’t answer.
“When you first arrived here, you were attacked,” she said about three minutes after hello.  “You spent a couple of days in the infirmary.”
“I’m not talking about that,” I said.  I tried to talk a slow breath, but it wasn’t working very well.
“You’ve been in two other fights since then,” she said.  “One of those was six months ago, the other last week.  You aren’t a prison brawler, Edward – why now?”
“He…tried to take something of mine.”
“What was it?”
I sighed and looked up to her blue eyes, and gave up.  She had her determined face on, and I had honestly not been very successful in getting away with silence when she had that look on her face.
“A letter.”
“Who wrote to you?”
“Bella.”
For the first time, Irina was silent without the assistance of pen tapping.
“She writes to you?”
“Yeah.”
“How often?”
“Once a month, usually,” I answered.  “It’s hard to tell, I usually get a couple of them at a time, and the last one I got was from six months ago.  I have fourteen of them all together.”
“May I read them?”
We locked gazes as a little mini debate club started yelling back and forth at each other in my head.  Was it betraying Bella to let someone else read them?  Would it help Irina understand, and then she could help me, and I could get out of here with a chance of at least being in her life in some way?  Would Bella be angry if someone else read them?  Would Irina be angry at me for keeping them from her?
I shook my head, trying to ward off the impending headache.
Fuck it.
I took out the six letters currently in my pocket and lay them down on the desk.
It couldn’t hurt, right?
___________________________
Chapter end notes: 
I really wrote this whole story to bring out the lack of vegetarian options in the US penal system.  It's true.  Well, all right - not just in the penal system.  Really though, from chapter one I intended Eddie to go veggie by the end.
How do you think Edward is prgressing in his little talks?  Do we like Irina?  Drop me a comment and tell me what you think, or stop by the thread and discuss theory. :)