After Mattie's memorial, Bella crashed in my car. Esme suggested that we go out to eat but I had to put the kibosh on it. I knew Bella would be exhausted. Her quiet snores proved it.
I drove us back to her apartment and with Charlie's help, carried her up to her place. She didn't even move when I carried her. Her face was serene. Her breathing was even. God, she was beautiful. I removed her coat and suit jacket once I carried her into her bedroom. I debated whether or not to remove her pants. I decided against it. Yes, I had seen Bella in her skimpy bra and panties earlier, but I didn't want to push my luck. With a tender kiss, I left her bedroom.
Charlie was sitting on her couch, holding his head in his hands. "I'm blame myself, Edward," he murmured.
I hung up her coat and mine. I sat down next to Charlie and furrowed my brow. "You didn't do this to her, Charlie. James did," I soothed.
"I should have said something, done more to protect her. James was an asshole in high school. So was his father. I was called to their home several times for domestic violence. Arguments that got out of control. James' mother refused to press charges," Charlie said miserably. "I should have known…He broke my baby girl. I could kill him. I wanted to. Each day he sat in the courtroom with his smug grin on his face, I wanted to take my gun and shoot him in cold blood for what he did to her."
"Charlie, Bella doesn't blame you," I said as I rubbed his shoulder.
"You have a daughter, Edward. You'd do anything to protect her, right?"
"I would," I answered.
"If someone was hurting your baby girl, you'd kill for her. Make the bastard pay for what he did. I couldn't even do that," Charlie cried. "It was some stupid, fucking technicality that got James the sentence he received. Seven years is NOTHING for what he did. He should die in that prison. But he won't."
New Year's Eve