Edward must have felt the emptiness inside me. He tightened his hold on me and shielded me from the world with his wings. He had wings. He chuckled. “I have wings, Bella. I’m shocked that you are so blasé about it.”
“They’re gorgeous, but why are your wings black?” I asked, tracing one of the feathers. “Is it because of what happened?”
“No. Our wings are as unique as we are. Alice’s are delicate, shimmery and white. Her mate’s wings are a shade of cream, with black at the tips of the feathers,” Edward explained. “And they’re not black. They’re charcoal.”
I giggled. “Minor technicalities.” But, my smile faded. “I could just show you my past and you’d know everything.”
“Bella, you don’t have to tell me anything,” Edward whispered, his fingers trailing along my jawline. I remembered when my jaw was broken from one of my foster fathers when I tried to fight back.
“I want to. You’re the first person who has truly cared for me, about me in my entire life,” I whispered. “My mom was a junkie and died from an overdose. I was moved into group home and then into a slew of foster homes, each one worse than the last. I was physically abused, beaten within an inch of my life for just breathing. When I got older, my foster dads and foster brothers saw me as a conquest, not taking no for an answer.”
“No man has that right,” Edward snarled. “You were a child.”
“Once I had tits, I was fair game,” I deadpanned. “The first time I was raped, I had just turned fourteen. My foster father was drunk and he mistook me for his wife. I begged him to stop, but he said that it was too late and that I needed to just deal with it. He was not gentle and I bled for days, weeks. He liked what he did so much, that he continued to do it, almost nightly.”
“Did you tell anyone?” Edward asked, his voice pained and his eyes swirling with emotion.
“I did, but nothing happened. That was until there was a random home visit. One of their other foster children had missed too many days of school. Upon further inspection of the home, it was not deemed a suitable place for any further placements. I showed the social worker my bloodied sheets that I was forced to sleep on because Rick felt I needed a reminder of my place in the home. I was just his whore,” I spat. “I spoke with the police, but nothing happened. There was no physical evidence …”
“The sheets,” Edward breathed.
“The cops gave me some bullshit story saying that since I didn’t press charges or submit to a rape exam, there was nothing they could do,” I sneered. “Being a child, I believed them and was shuffled off to my next foster home where I was beaten by my foster mom.”
“How many homes were you in?” Edward asked, holding me closer to his body.
“I lost count at ten,” I said. “Each one worse than the next. My bones were broken, my spirit shattered and my innocence ripped away. Never once did someone say that they loved me. I learned that I could only rely on myself. It was the only person that was trustworthy. If I shared a secret, it was broadcast. If I showed weakness, I was exploited. If I loved, I was battered and reminded that I wasn’t worthy of love.” I shifted and moved out of Edward’s arms, reaching for a bottle of water. When I was finished, I was back in his embrace and he nuzzled my neck with his nose. It was weird to have someone act so demonstratively with me. I was used to harsh blows, punches, choking, anger, revulsion. Edward’s caresses were almost reverent. Protective. Loving.