I stared at the phone in my hands, wondering once again if I should try and call Momma or not. Edward had left for work an hour ago, after I assured him that I would be alright on my own. With a sigh, I tilted my head back against the couch, looking up at the ceiling as my mind wandered to the conversation Esme and I had the day before. I hadn’t been certain about having her in the house all day, but in the end I had been very grateful for her presence.
She hadn’t pushed me – too much anyway – and eventually we had sat down and talked about what had happened. I’d told her everything – from talking to Momma and asking if we could all get together with the intent to come out to them, to the week spent with Edward and how it had made me feel to be more open when we were out in public, to Bella’s party and then going to the club afterward.
Esme had sat quietly next to me on the couch, listening to everything and letting me get it all off my chest. When I had gotten to the part where I had been beaten up, she had inhaled sharply and grabbed my hand in both of hers, but made no further move. I’d appreciated the fact that she didn’t interrupt. Once I was talking, I just wanted to get through it without pause – though I welcomed the comfort she gave. I told her what those men had said, what they had done to me. As I was describing it to her, my free hand automatically moved to hug my ribs, and I felt Esme squeeze my hand lightly.
I explained that I didn’t really remember much about how it all ended, being too focused on Edward and trying to figure out how my friends had known. When I said that I had been more worried about him than about myself at that point, I caught her smile as she shook her head slightly. I quirked a brow at her, but she remained quiet, allowing me to continue.
I told her about everything that had happened in the ER, about apologizing to Bella and how she had reacted to that. How everyone had stayed with us, supporting us and wanting to make sure we were all okay.
And then I told her about Momma and Daddy showing up and everything that followed. That was the moment where I could no longer hold my emotions in check and my tears had started to fall. Esme had let go of my hand then, only to scoot up next to me and pull me into her embrace. She held me as I repeated the words my father had spoken and when I told her how my mother had simply been unable to even look at me.
A small part of me wondered why I felt detached as I was relaying all of this to Esme. Even though I was crying and hurting over it, it was almost as if I were doing so for someone else. I still could not believe that Momma had turned away from me the way she had, not after the conversation she and I had had before they left for Houston. And Daddy…his words had hurt so much. The disgust on his face still haunted me. The utter hate in his eyes…hate that was now directed at me.
I just couldn’t comprehend it.
Esme held me for a few minutes after I stopped talking, rubbing my back gently as I struggled to calm down. When I did, she pulled away, only to take my hand in hers again. She placed her right hand on my cheek, wiping away some of the tears as she looked at me.
“Jasper, honey, I’m so sorry. If there was any way for me to take everything that happened away, I would do so in a heartbeat.”
I nodded. She wasn’t the first to have made that statement, and I knew she meant well, but it felt somewhat hollow all the same. I felt somewhat hollow. She sighed softly and seemed to be mulling over something.
“Jasper…have you considered that perhaps your mother didn’t turn away from you, as much as she might have anticipated her husband’s reaction and couldn’t face what she knew was coming?”
I stared at Esme as I let her words sink in. I hadn’t thought of it that way. If she was right, then that would mean there was still a chance that I hadn’t lost her. I frowned, looking down at my hands as I tried not to get my hopes up. Even if Esme was correct, there was still my father. He had made his opinions very clear – and I knew that Momma had never gone against him.
I wasn’t sure if she ever would – or even could.
When I didn’t say anything, Esme squeezed my hand, her voice soft as she spoke again. “Don’t give up hope just yet, sweetheart. Give her some time to come to terms with this new knowledge.”
I nodded again and thanked her for being there. She hugged me tight and said both she and Carlisle always would be. I excused myself after that, exhausted from all the emotions our talk had evoked in me and needing some time alone to process everything.
I had ended up falling asleep for several hours, and when I woke up, Rosalie was there. She and Esme seemed to get along famously, and it made me happy to see the two of them together. As I had walked closer, I was relieved to hear they were gossiping about Emmett, and not about everything that had happened.
After my talk with Esme, I was done trying to figure things out. I didn’t want to think about it anymore. Esme was right. If Momma had reacted because of what was coming, and not because of me, then she would – hopefully – come to terms with things and maybe contact me. If it was due to finding out about Edward and me, well… Either way, there was nothing I could do. I just had to wait.
Thankfully, Rose and Esme kept the conversations away from anything that had to do with my situation, and after a while, it had actually felt…normal. I was able to let some of the things go, at least for the time being.
When Carlisle arrived, he took me aside for a moment. He hugged me, saying that he was glad I wasn’t hurt too badly. He wanted me to know that if ever I needed to talk, he would be there for me. He also asked me if I thought it might be a good idea for him to talk to my father, since he had been in his place once. I told him I doubted it would do any good, and that for the time being it was probably better to let sleeping dogs lie. If there was still a chance Momma might turn around, I didn’t want to make things any more difficult than they already were.
Still, I appreciated the sentiment and had told him as much. After our talk, I had gone to help Esme and Rosalie cook dinner. Rose had teased me about the dinner she had help me make for Edward, and I ended up telling Carlisle and Esme about it…well, in general terms, at least. It felt a little weird to talk about Edward and me to his parents or even my sister, but none of them seemed to have issue with it. Everyone was just relaxed and joking comfortably.
It had felt good to laugh – I hadn’t laughed since Bella’s party. It almost made me feel as if life were normal again, and I was able to push away everything else for a while. When Edward had come home and we’d kissed, I had felt lighter than I had in days.
I was actually glad that the others had hung around for a few hours, allowing me to soak up some sense of normalcy again, but before long, I just needed to be with Edward. I hadn’t had contact with him during the day – as had become our habit – and I found myself craving him. I’d teased him a little, letting my fingers brush against him as I talked to Carlisle about history.
When everyone had left, I was both exhausted and relieved to be with Edward. I was sure he felt the same way as he wrapped me in his arms. Being there, I felt myself relax more, and breathing his scent both soothed and excited me. He was my home, my heart, and I needed to be able to both express that and feel it from him.
At first he was reluctant – I knew he was afraid he would hurt me again – but eventually he was able to let go. Making love hurt, but it had felt so good to find us again that I didn’t care. Afterward, I’d fallen asleep in his arms. I hadn’t woken up once.
I sighed deeply as I looked back down at my phone. I scrolled through the menu and stared at the entry “Home” for several minutes, having to hit a button to re-activate the screen. I knew Daddy would be at work at this hour, but I wasn’t sure if I should call or not. I wanted to talk to Momma, needed to know if she hated me as much as he did now, but at the same time, I was scared to know the answer.
Before I could talk myself out of it, I hit the call button and put the phone to my ear, holding my breath as it kept ringing. I wasn’t sure whether or not I wanted anyone to pick up. After seven rings, the phone kicked over to the answering machine, but I couldn’t bring myself to hang up.
“Hi, you’ve reached the Hale residence. We’re unable to answer your call right now…”
As I listened to Momma’s voice finish delivering the standard message, I felt the tears streaking down my face. When the beep came, I hung up and rested my head back against the couch again, my heart aching at the thought that she had been home but unwilling to talk to me.
You don’t know that. She could have been out of the house for all you know.
Wiping the tears away roughly, I put the phone on the table, determined not to call again. At least not today.
I picked up my laptop from the coffee table, pulling it back into my lap. I had e-mailed my teachers first thing in the morning to let them know what had happened. I’d felt a little strange writing to my professors about my sexual orientation, but as the police had explained that this was a federal crime and I would likely be needed for court appearances and the like, I’d thought it best to be up front. By noon, I’d heard from each of them, and their responses ranged from strictly businesslike to sympathetic, but each of them had asked to be kept informed. They’d also let me know that they would be willing to give extensions if I needed them, as long as I kept in touch.
I was hoping to get some work done, but after struggling for about an hour, I gave up. I remembered that I hadn’t logged in to my instant messenger yet and opened it up, typing in my password. As soon as I was online, Edward messaged me, wanting to know how I was doing. I felt a brief moment of exasperation, and I had to remind myself that though this was happening to me, it also affected him.
I reassured him that I was alright, and then we talked for a bit about nothing in particular. I didn’t tell him about trying to call my mother, knowing that it would only serve to worry him.
When he had to get back to work, I set about cleaning the apartment – not that it needed it, as I had cleaned it thoroughly before Bella’s party. As I worked, I studiously ignored the boxes and luggage that held my things – I wasn’t ready to deal with those just yet. Besides, I wasn’t sure what to do with them, where to put it all, so I thought it was better to wait for Edward to be home before going through it. Once I couldn’t find anything else that needed dusting or polishing – an exercise that took a longer than it should have – I decided to go take a shower. My ribs were hurting from the exertion, and it was beginning to piss me off.
I was in the shower for a lot longer than usual, allowing the warm water to soothe my aching muscles and wash away some of the gloom that wanted to settle on me. At least, I tried to. I had only just gotten dressed in lounge pants and a t-shirt when I heard the front door open.
I ran my fingers through my wet locks as I made my way to the living room. When I saw Edward putting down what looked to be a pizza box, I wasn’t sure if I felt relieved to not have to cook or annoyed that he didn’t seem to feel I was capable. He smiled at me as he looked up, his eyes darkening a little as they flitted over my body. I couldn’t help the crooked grin that formed as I saw the desire on his face. Maybe pizza isn’t so bad after all.
He walked up to me, wrapping his arms lightly around my waist as he pulled me closer. His eyes were on mine as he leaned in and kissed me tenderly. Slipping my own arms around his waist, I sighed softly into the kiss as I returned it. I didn’t think I would ever get enough of kissing Edward – of being with him.
He pulled back slightly, still smiling as he raised a hand to push my hair out of my face. He murmured softly, “You look so damn sexy.”
I rolled my eyes at him, grinning. He chuckled, pecking my lips before pulling me to the table.
“What? You do, baby. Deal with it.”
He pulled out a chair for me and waited for me to sit down before going into the kitchen.
“Yeah, yeah, whatever…” I lowered my voice as I added, “Not as sexy as you in a suit…”
He laughed, and I heard the fridge door open as he said, “I heard that!”
He came back with a couple of beers, handing me one as he sat down kitty corner from me. “I thought pizza might be nice. Didn’t feel like cooking or cleaning tonight.” He glanced at me with a soft smile, adding, “I just wanted to be able to relax with you tonight. Hope that’s okay?”
My eyes searched his, trying to gauge his sincerity as part of me still felt like he was trying to coddle me. I found no trace of it, though, so I smiled and nodded. “Of course. Did you have anything in particular in mind?”
He shook his head as he opened the box, grabbing a slice of all-meat pizza, saying, “Nope, maybe watch a movie or something?” before taking a bite.
“Sure, sounds good.”
We talked a little about how his day had gone, and he mentioned that they would be installing a new program tomorrow. He wasn’t sure if he would be able to log on at all, since he would have to check every computer they had and troubleshoot if needed.
We had just finished eating when his eyes lit up and he said, “Oh! I completely forgot to tell you yesterday…”
I sat back, frowning at him. “Tell me what?”
He leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table as he explained what had happened before class, how Jessica had insisted he give me a hug – which he actually got up to do, stating that he didn’t want to be remiss on his promise to the girl – and what her mother had told him after that. I was stunned and admittedly a little embarrassed to have been caught by one of our students. Still, it felt nice to hear the words of acceptance.
His face grew more serious when he went on to tell me about training afterward. His eyes were intent on mine as he conveyed the sentiments of the entire team, how they all had said that they were behind us a hundred percent. I felt my face harden as I listened to him. I hadn’t gone to training yesterday for obvious reasons, but also because I had been afraid to face everyone. They had all been privy to what had happened in the ER, and I was still mortified by it. I had worried that they would just feel sorry for me, and I couldn’t handle the idea of being faced with all their sympathetic looks. What Edward was telling me, though, was that they were worried and sympathetic, but also outraged on my behalf – on our behalf.
I blushed at the realization that I had sold them short, and I hated the fact that I had. I looked down at my hands, trying hard to keep my emotions in check – I did not want to cry…again. I was sick of it.
Edward put his hand over mine, squeezing it lightly. I raised my eyes to his with a sigh and saw that the small smile on his face didn’t quite reach his eyes.
“They’re all there for you, Jazz, for both of us. They know what happened, and they understand why you weren’t there yesterday.”
I frowned, lowering my eyes again as I thought about that. Coming to a decision, I looked up at him again. “Can you pick me up tomorrow?”
He frowned, shaking his head. “No, I can’t. I have to go straight from the office to the club tomorrow…sorry. I’m going to be cutting it close as is. Besides, you probably shouldn’t be training yet, anyway.”
I pulled my hands out from under his, sitting back against the chair as I scowled at him. “Don’t…I want to be there, Edward.”
He sighed, running his fingers through his hair as he watched me. “I don’t think you’ve healed enough to be able to do it, Jasper. I don’t want you to make things worse…”
I just shook my head, got up, and cleared the table. I wasn’t willing to argue about it. As I put everything away where it was supposed to be – which wasn’t much, since it was just the empty box and beer bottles – I took a moment to take a few deep breaths in order to calm down. The last thing I wanted to do tonight was get into a fight, or make Edward worry more than he did already.
Once I felt I had enough control over my emotions again, I grabbed another beer for Edward and a bottle of water for me – I wasn’t in the mood for more alcohol. When I walked back into the dining room, Edward was still sitting at the table, his arms resting on the surface as he held his head in his hands with his shoulders hunched like they were the other day.
I sighed softly as I walked up behind him, placing the beer bottle in front of him as I leaned down just enough so I could kiss the crown of his head as I did my best to ignore the way my ribs protested against the movement. I murmured softly, “Come on, what movie did you want to watch?” before pressing my lips into his hair again and straightening up, holding my hand out to him.
He sat up slowly, watching me warily for a moment as if waiting for me to do…something. I tilted my head toward the living room, giving him a half-smile, which he returned. After a moment or two, he let out a slow breath and stood up, taking my hand in one, his beer in the other as he walked to the couch.
He put his beer down on the coffee table and grabbed my bottle, placing it next to his. Taking my other hand in his, he pulled me to him, resting his forehead against mine. “I’m sorry…”
I shook my head and kissed him gently, cutting him off. “Don’t. Please? Let’s just watch a movie. I don’t want to think about it right now. Please, Edward?”
He released my hand with a soft sigh as he caressed my cheek with the back of his fingers. “Alright, Jasper.”
He had me sit down as he went to put in X-Men after going back and forth for a while. He took his usual spot on the couch but stretched his leg across the length of it behind my back and opened his arms to me with a soft smile. As soon as I was settled against him, his arms were around me, and he kissed my temple, whispering, “I love you.”
I turned my head so I could kiss him briefly, murmuring my love for him against his lips before relaxing into him and watching the movie. I tried to enjoy it and to just be with Edward, but my mind would simply not shut down, so I did my best to keep him from noticing. He didn’t say anything the rest of the night, so I was hopeful that I had been somewhat successful at least.
We went to bed once the movie was over – I was surprisingly tired after the day I’d had, though I felt more emotionally drained than physically.
The alarm woke me the next day, and I groaned, muttering for Edward to shut the damned thing off without even opening my eyes. I hadn’t slept well again, having woken up a couple of times from nightmares that I didn’t want to think about. Edward shut off the infernal noise and turned to me, kissing my temple as he whispered for me to go back to sleep. I was out again before I even felt him leave the bed.
When I finally woke up, I frowned when I saw that it was almost noon already. I had never in my life slept in that late before. My stomach growled, letting me know that it was definitely time to get up, so I put on my lounge pants again and padded into the kitchen to grab a bowl of cereal. I wasn’t in the mood to do anything more.
After washing the bowl and spoon and putting them in the rack, I decided to try and do some homework. I grabbed my laptop, settled down on the couch, and logged on to my instant messenger. Edward was on, but on idle, so I just shot him a message saying hello – there was no response, not that I had expected one. I signed in to my account for school to check on my classes, but after staring at the screen for half an hour, I gave up. I just couldn’t focus.
I checked to see that Edward’s status was still on idle before putting the laptop down on the coffee table. I felt restless, edgy. My phone was on the side table, and as soon as my eyes landed on it, I knew I had to try calling Momma again.
This time, the phone rang twice when I heard someone pick up on the other end, though no one spoke. I took a shuddering breath as I closed my eyes, praying that Esme was right. My voice wavered as I said, “Momma?”
Nothing. The only thing I could hear was someone breathing unevenly.
“Momma, please…please talk to me. I’m sorry…”
I didn’t know what else to say. What could I say? I just knew I had to say something, had to try and make this right, though somewhere deep down I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong.
Still nothing, just more labored breathing, though I thought I heard a soft cry, too. It broke my heart to think that she was crying because of me.
Maybe Esme was wrong. Maybe Momma really is ashamed of me…why else wouldn’t she be talking?
“Momma, please say something…anything…”
This time I could hear her crying clearly as she whispered, “Don’t call again.”
Anything but that. Momma, no…
I hunched forward, my free hand fisted over my heart as I fought to keep my own tears from falling.
There was a brief pause before she hung up, though I thought I heard her whisper, “I love you, son,” before the line went dead. I wasn’t sure because by that point, my tears had started for real as I felt my heart break all over again. I let my phone fall from my fingers as I slid back on the couch and curled into a ball, crying.
I had no idea how much time passed as I tried to pull myself together again. Part of me felt like just crawling to bed and hiding. Another part needed a physical release. I glanced at the clock finally and saw it was already two o’clock. Sitting up, I pulled my laptop to me, and once it was out of sleep-mode, I checked to see if Edward had gotten back to me yet. Apparently he had, as there was a message waiting for me, but all it said was that he was sorry to have missed me but that he had no time to talk.
Great. I rubbed my face, trying to ease some of the frustration that was building inside.
I need to go to practice, need to do something.
Jazzman: Edward, I know you’re busy…please, could you swing by and pick me up? I really want to go to practice. I need to go. I can be ready and waiting for you, just…
I stopped myself, irritated that I was practically begging him to let me go. I watched the screen for several minutes, hoping for an answer and getting edgier the longer it took to get one. A small part of me realized that this wasn’t like me, but I couldn’t seem to stop myself.
After checking my e-mail and catching up on the news, I went to get my things together. I had just put a couple of towels in my bag when the phone rang. I hurried to answer it, frowning when I realized I wasn’t sure how to answer since it was the house phone. We hadn’t exactly discussed any of the finer details of living together. So I opted for a simple, “Hello?”
“Hey, Jazz.” He sounded a bit stressed, even with just that short greeting, and I fleetingly wondered how badly his day was going.
He sighed, and I could imagine him running his fingers through his hair as he spoke. “Baby, I’m sorry. I really can’t swing by. Hell, at this point I don’t even know if I’ll be able to leave in time for class. I’ve called Bella already; she’s going to be there in case I can’t make it.”
I frowned. Why the hell did he call her and not me? I’m the one that subbed for him when he was gone…
I tried to keep my voice level. “Bella? I didn’t know she taught swimming, too.”
“Yeah, she helped out for a while before you moved here. She just doesn’t have time to do it anymore, at least not three days a week. Anyway…hang on a second, would you?”
I heard muffled voices on the other end, and then I heard the clicking of a keyboard. After about a minute, Edward came back on the line.
“Sorry about that…it’s kinda crazy here today.” He sighed, and I could hear something creak in the background – presumably his chair as he sat back in it. “Baby, I really don’t think you should be trying to practice just yet. You need to give yourself more time to heal…”
I bit back a growl as I pinched the bridge of my nose, closing my eyes in frustration. I managed to keep my flaring temper in check enough to pick up that someone had come into his office again. “Fine, whatever, Edward. Sounds like you’re busy, so I’ll let you go.”
I didn’t even give him a chance to respond as I hung up and put the phone back in its place.
Frustrated, I walked back to the couch and glanced at my laptop. Edward had left a message, but I was too angry to even want to see it. I closed my laptop with a snap, probably a lot harder than was wise.
I grabbed my phone, considering my options. I wanted to go to training, I knew that much. Edward had said Bella would go to teach our class, so I knew she was heading in. But I wasn’t ready to deal with the kids yet, and I was sure she would talk to Edward if I called her, since she would know that he hadn’t intended for me to even be at the club today. So she was out.
Emmett! I scrolled through my contacts until I found his number. He had said to call if I needed anything. Well, I needed a ride, and I was hoping he would give me one.
He picked up on the third ring. “McCarty speaking.”
“Hey Emmett, it’s Jasper.”
“Hey man, what’s up?”
I bit my lip, wondering for a split second if I really wanted to do this.
Yes, I do.
“Not much. Was wondering if I could get you to swing by here to pick me up for training today? Edward’s busy at work and says he’s not sure he’ll be able to get away on time.”
“Yeah, sure, shouldn’t be a problem. You sure you’re up for it, bro?”
My jaw clenched as I tried to keep from snapping at him. “I’m sure. I need to get out of the house for a while.”
“Alright man. I’ll be there. Be ready to roll at four thirty, okay?”
“Okay. Thanks, Em.”
“No problem. See you later.”
After we hung up, I went to get dressed as I had been in my lounge pants since I woke up. Once I had proper clothes on, I double checked I had everything in my bag and placed it by the door so I would be ready to go as soon as Emmett showed up. I still had some time to kill, so I put in the first disc of season one of Stargate SG-1, since I knew I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on reading.
I had made sure to set my alarm for a few minutes before four thirty. The second episode was midway through when it went off, which didn’t bother me too much as I had already seen the series anyway.
Emmett was pulling in front of the building right as I stepped through the door. He grinned at me as I got in the car. “Nice timing.”
I chuckled. “Thanks for picking me up.”
We got to the swimming hall with a few minutes to spare. I took my time getting showered and changed, not wanting to disrupt the class. When the whistle blew to indicate it was over, I was just walking into the hall. A few of the kids waved at me, and I smiled and waved back. I glanced over at Bella but didn’t let my eyes linger on her when I saw the strange look on her face.
Instead, I put my flip flops to the side and pulled my shirt off, tossing it aside before sliding into the water. It felt good to be immersed again, and I allowed myself to float for a while. The change in pressure to my body was a welcome one, and I felt myself begin to relax for the first time that day.
I heard the rest of the team milling around, some on the side and some going into the pool like I had. I tried to ignore them, not quite ready to face reality just yet. After a minute or two, I felt someone nudge my shoulder, and I opened my eyes to see Emmett next to me. I’d floated into the deep end, so I had to tread water to keep from going under as I asked him what was up. He was frowning, and he nodded toward the side in answer.
Following his gaze, I saw Edward standing at the edge of the pool, one hand on his hip, the other lodged in his hair as he looked at me. His jaw clenched a few times, and I wondered if he was going to say anything. He just shook his head with a look of disappointment on his face before he jumped in and swam to me.
His voice was low as he said, “You shouldn’t be here, Jasper. Please, sit this out.”
His eyes held a pained expression as he waited for a response. I shook my head determinedly. “I need to be here; I need to do something, Edward. I’m fine.”
He muttered under his breath for a moment, then turned to Emmett. “Goal, Emmett.”
Emmett frowned at Edward, then looked to me as if wondering what the hell was going on before he swam to goal. Without turning around, Edward called out. “Alice, bring a ball.”
When Alice swam up to us, she looked questioningly from me to Edward. His eyes remained on me as he said, “Alice, I need you to defend the goal. Don’t let Jasper get past you.”
She nodded, leaving the ball with Edward as she swam to take up her position. Edward still hadn’t looked away from me, his face hard though his eyes betrayed some of the emotions going through him.
He lowered his voice again. “You want to prove you can do this? Is that it, Jasper? Prove that you’re fine, like you keep telling me? Alright then.”
He swam a few feet from me, taking the ball with him as he went. He raised his voice enough so I could hear him clearly, tossing the ball hard to me as he spoke. Catching it, I tried to keep from wincing. “Score a goal, Jasper. I want you to pump-fake twice, and then hit your mark. Do it.”
I gave a tight nod, partially out of stubbornness because I was already starting to hurt from having tread water the entire time and partially because I was getting pissed off. I could feel the eyes of the rest of the team on me, and I hated it, so I tried to ignore them.
I focused instead on what Edward told me to do. I had to get past Alice to get close enough to goal to try and score. I knew why he had chosen her – she was one of our fastest swimmers and determined as hell when put to the task of keeping someone from scoring. It took several tries before I was able to find an opening, and when I tried to pump-fake, I gasped and dropped the ball, feeling as if I was being pummeled in the ribs again.
Edward was by my side in an instant. “Jasper, would you please let yourself heal before you hurt yourself worse?”
I glowered at him, still stubbornly refusing to give in. I might not be able to do everything, but damnit I could still do something. I could defend, help the others with their throws, anything!
His eyes blazed and his nostrils flared as he hit the water with his hand. His voice was tight and harsh as he spat out, “Goddamnit, Jasper! If you won’t listen to me as your boyfriend, you damn well better listen to me as your team captain! You. Are. Benched. Get out of the pool and don’t come back until you’re healed! I will not allow you to hurt yourself for a game. And I will not allow you to do anything to harm the team. Now go!”
For a split second, I was frozen on the spot – so to speak, at least. I couldn’t believe that he was doing this. When I didn’t make any move to leave, he added, “Don’t make me kick you off the team, because if that’s what it takes to get you to listen, I will. Please, Jasper…”
He would do that? He’d kick me off just to prove his point? My eyes searched his for answers, and what I found told me that yes, he would definitely follow through on that. Without a word, I swam to the shallow end and took the steps to get out of the pool, not trusting that I would be able to pull myself out of the water as I normally did.
No one spoke. No one approached me. The few faces I saw all held shock and disbelief, though whether that was because I had even shown up, or because Edward was throwing me out of the pool, I didn’t know. Nor did I care. I just wanted to get the hell away from them all.
My ears seemed to be ringing with his words, as if they were being played on a loop, and they just fueled my anger as I gathered my things and stormed off to the dressing room – I was livid. The only sounds to penetrate my mind was Edward’s “Goddamnit!” followed by a ball hitting a wall hard and bouncing along the ground.