|Punch Me, Love Me, Save Me
Author: ericastwilight PM
Edward Cullen is an alcoholic who hits rock bottom. One day, his sister Alice is handed a card – Only Call If Desperate & ALL Else Has Failed. She makes the call that will change her brother's life. His savior? Bella Swan.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Angst - Bella & Edward - Chapters: 20 - Words: 103,960 - Reviews: 3,270 - Favs: 2,663 - Follows: 3,266 - Updated: 06-11-13 - Published: 02-02-09 - id: 4837391
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
****I NEED TO STRESS THAT THIS IS A MATURE FIC THAT DEALS WITH SENSITIVE SUBJECT****
I have decided since its been over two years since the last update and a need to edit, that I'll re-post starting from the first chapter. Along with these edits, I'll add new scenes so it will feel like a new story. If you reviewed the first time around you will have trouble doing so now, you can review via PM, as a guest, Facebook under Erica Writes Fiction or on Twitter ericastwilight.
I hope you all understand and that you'll come back to read it. On my profile are epub, mobi and pdf files of the old version that I've now removed.If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. I'd like to thank kyla713, she'll be betaing this story.
Punch Me, Love Me, Save Me
Chapter One – The Call
The house came into view, beautiful with a landscaped front yard and brick façade. The brakes whined in Alice's car, causing her to curse under her breath. She drove up the driveway of her parents' house, feeling a bit tired from a full day of shopping.
It was, after all, one of her favorite pastimes. Her mother always used to joke that she would make a great personal shopper. The five-foot nothing fashion and design college graduate was almost at that goal after two successful interviews.
That's a good thing, she thought. She couldn't handle living with her parents anymore. Nearly twenty-five years old, and still living at home, seriously cut into her social life.
At least she paid rent, unlike her older brother, Edward. Not that he could hold down a job to pay their parents back anything he owed them. Free access to his trust fund since that he reached twenty-five years earlier, hardly helped matters, at almost thirty, he still lived at home. Alice sighed, suddenly worried that he hadn't come home the night before. She would have to track him down once she found her phone and put her stuff inside.
"I'll probably find him at the motel again," she hissed under her breath, shuddering at those memories of the vile day. There were some things a sister should not see, and that included her brother in bed with the local gold-digging whore. That redheaded bitch saw more action than McDonald's claim of over "One Billion Served." Alice snorted at the thought, sobered when she had to remind her brother to get health check up again. Who knew what kind of diseases that woman had up inside her?
She hit the garage door opener on her visor and watched the door open, surprised to see smoke billowing out. What the hell? Sitting in the garage was Edward's BMW, on, with him in it.
Oh, God no!
Alice panicked, putting her car in park and throwing her whole body against the door. The only thought in her mind was to get to him, because nothing else mattered.
"Edward!" she screamed at the top of her lungs. She ran inside the garage, pulling the front of her soft pink sweater over her mouth and nose, trying not to breathe in the fumes from the exhaust. The air was pungent with it, forcing a cough from her lips.
Edward was slumped over the steering wheel, his bronze hair matted with blood, a startling contrast against his pale white forehead.
"Edward!" she screamed again, trying for the door, only to find it was locked. She banged on the glass, but it was obvious that he was unconscious. She screamed until her throat was raw, but to no avail. He couldn't hear her. He couldn't wake up. Refusing to dwell on what that could mean, she looked around the garage and found her father's toolbox. Inside, she found a large red monkey wrench and swung it, hitting the top edge of the glass as she was taught by her father, and watched the window shatter.
Glass rained down, looking as if it poured out the window. Plink, plink, plink, each tiny sound resonated through the garage. Alice felt dizzy from the fumes but pushed through it, all that mattered was getting her brother out.
"Edward," Alice cried, feeling hot tears run down her face, saturating through the sweater that still covered her nose and mouth. She hadn't even realized she'd started crying.
Tossing the wrench to the side, she ignored as it clattered on the cement. She heard him moan softly as his head fell back against the headrest for a second before it fell down to his chest. She unlocked the door from the inside, cutting her wrist in the process. Again, she pushed past the pain and swung the door open.
Luckily, Edward was wearing his seat belt. Whatever caused the blood on his head could've been worse if he hadn't worn it. She turned off the car quickly and slipped his belt off him. A bout of achy coughs plagued her for several seconds, making her more aware that he still hadn't awakened completely.
What if I'm too late? My parents will never survive losing another. "Edward," she choked out, pulling at his body. "Oof…damn, you're heavy." Alice continued to complain to an unconscious Edward. She told herself that if she talked to him, maybe he'd answer back. Somehow, she managed to slip his body onto the garage floor, but hit his head in the process. "Shit." More brain damage would not help him in the least, she realized, she'd check for bumps once she got him into the open air.
She struggled but managed to drag his six-three frame outside of the garage. Her fingers quickly sought out his neck under the clothes he wore, checking for his pulse.
He was alive.
At that realization, she sobbed on his chest, knowing what this meant. He had fallen off the wagon again.
How can I help someone that won't help himself?
Determined to do something, she knew she had to get him some help. With her mouth and nose still covered she ran back into the garage and grabbed his cell phone from the passenger seat, where he usually kept it while drive. She looked up through the front windshield. What she saw on the glass made all the breath in her lungs expel in a horrified gasp. There was blood, but there was nothing on Edward to indicate he'd been hurt seriously enough to cause there to be so much.
Ignoring her bloodshot blue eyes in the rearview mirror, she held her breath. Silently praying that she wouldn't find something; she walked to the front of his car. Her body trembled as she stepped cautiously toward the hood. On his fender, along the right side, there was a slight dent, but there was a blood splatter. It went across the hood of his car all the way to the front window on the driver's side.
Alice exhaled sharply. Her brother had hit something – or someone. Heart weary and horrified, she ran out of the garage and vomited in some bushes nearby. She heaved until there was nothing left, gagging only at the frightening images in her mind of what could've happened. She fell to her knees, tears streaking down her cheeks, and crawled toward Edward's body.
She clutched the front of his shirt and screamed, "Wake up, Edward! Come back, please come back!"
Why won't he wake up?
Suddenly, the driveway seemed a lot closer than it had been. She felt weak and noticed that the world was spinning around her. Looking down at her hands that seemed to sting, she realized why. She was quickly losing blood from her wrist.
She remembered something her brother said one time, when he was drunk. "If you want to do it right, you have cut up the arm, not across the wrist."
It had scared her so much to hear those words from him, that she made him promise not to talk to her about things like that and to speak to their father. That was the first time he was sent to a rehabilitation center.
Her skin was torn, jagged, and angry red from her wrist to just a few inches below her elbow. She couldn't tell how deep. Eyes suddenly too heavy to keep open, she felt a darkness begin to press all around her. She was so tired and cold, but she had to dial. Holding up Edward's cell phone up, she tried to find the numbers that she needed to call 9-1-1.
There was a sudden flash of light coming down the driveway, headlights. The darkness pressed harder as she collapsed on her brother's chest. Alice heard a voice, and knew everything would be okay. Thundering footsteps across the pavement, echoed further away as she continued to slip further into the dark.
"Alice! Alice!" she heard her father cry out and felt hands grabbing hold of her.
"Christ, Carlisle!" her uncle Garrett hissed as she turned to see him checking on Edward. Thank God, she thought, he was a doctor like her father, and knew he'd help her brother. "He needs oxygen!"
"Get him in the house, grab dad's tank from his bedroom," her dad said. "I need to get Ali to the hospital."
"They need a damn ambulance!" Edward's care was always a heated topic of discussion between all family members, especially her uncle and father.
"No." The word said so fiercely, she even flinched away from him. She knew her father would never allow his son to endure prison or some medical ward because of another incident. She wanted to yell at him, scream that he wasn't helping Edward.
Until she saw his worried face, she realized that it wasn't the time. In what felt like a year later, she succumbed to the dark.
Alice heard an annoying beeping sound nearby, wondering when she had changed her alarm tone on her phone. She groaned and wanted desperately to turn it off. However, when she reached for it, a hand stopped her from her goal.
"Who?" Her eyes fluttered open to a blinding white light. Mom changed the bulbs again.
"Well, hello there, sweetheart." A smooth southern accent graced her hearing. Alice turned her head to the side and looked at the face of an angel. He was tall, lean, and graced with long sandy blond hair and piercing blue eyes. He was beautiful.
"I would say you're an angel, but the blue scrubs tell me you're not," she whispered, finding that her voice was hoarse and dry. She found it hard to swallow the lump in her throat.
The room and bed she was in were unfamiliar and the constant 'beep, beep' of the machine beside her, told her exactly where she was, but why?
She looked at her wrist that hurt like hell and realized why she was at the hospital. The incident at home all came back in a rush of memories that scared her, eliciting a shiver a fear to move through her.
To finding her brother's car in the garage, surrounded by fatal fumes, her poor attempt of saving him, and the blood she had found. She had lost too much blood. She still had yet to talk to her father about what he'd said and done to cover up what really happened. What had they told the hospital staff, the police? She couldn't remember, but she did know it had been at least a day since she saved her brother.
A gentle laugh held her interest, shaking her from her memories, as she felt him take her hand again. "Well, no, I'm not an angel, but I am a messenger. I'm here to give you this." He slipped a piece of paper – a business card – in her hand. She blinked a few times and read it.
Only Call if Desperate & All Else Has Failed
"Who are you?" Alice asked as he took a step back. Someone in the hallway seemed to capture his attention, noticing how his hands clenched into fists at the heated words.
She could hear her father and her uncle argue, as they had been since her admission into the hospital. She remembered that they assured her that Edward was fine, recovering at home instead of in the hospital, as he should be. Even her mother Esme had taken her father's side. Why couldn't they see the damage they were causing by being his enablers?
"This has gone on long enough," Garrett hissed. "You've been enabling him for too long, covering up his indiscretions, funding his abuse of alcohol. No more, Carlisle. I've taken the measures needed to help him."
"I will not allow him to rot in prison," Carlisle argued.
"Yet, you let him rot within the prison walls of his own making."
That seemed to shut up her father. The blue-eyed God returned his attention to Alice, smiling sadly at her. The voices seemed to move further down the hallway, and they were no longer able to listen.
"Are you one of the measures?" she asked him, knowing the truth already in her heart.
He smiled and gave her a small nod, pointing at her card. "Jasper is the name. Call the number if you want to help your brother. I must warn you, it's not like other places he's been to before. He will be gone for three to six months, and you will not see or talk to him during that time, not unless my boss says it's okay. It will also cost you a pretty penny, too."
Money mattered little if it meant that her brother would get better. She knew her parents would feel the same way. All the other rehab facilities he'd been to before cost more than his car had.
She quirked an eyebrow because they both knew that her family was wealthy, causing his smile to widen slightly. If he knew about Edward, then he had to know that money wasn't a problem. He wouldn't be in her hospital room if he didn't know her family had the means to provide payment.
She stared at the card, her fingertip feeling the raised surface of the lettering. "Why are you doing this?"
The angel's smile turned sad, his eyes crinkling at the corners. "Because if I don't, the next time I see you, your brother will be in a casket or spending life in prison." He bowed slightly before smirking. "I hope I'll see you again, sweetheart."
Then he was gone.
Alice sighed and wondered if the last few minutes were merely a dream or the illusion of the medication in her system. Somehow, she knew Edward was okay. She'd feel otherwise if he wasn't. Jasper was right; she had to do something.
During a visit with her remorseful, heartbroken father and uncle, she made the call less than an hour later. She only wished her mother was on board; it hurt to know she did not agree with what they were attempting to do, and that was to save Edward.
I am always the last resort, not by choice, but because I am the person you meet when you reach rock bottom. I am the wake up call. I am the intervention. I am the reason you will wake and see tomorrow. I will see you through your darkest hours, and in the end, you will see that I have saved you.
Bella Swan muttered her mantra under her breath as she waited for the phone to ring. She knew it was coming. It was more a question of when than if. Alice Cullen had the card for less than an hour, and with the families she assisted, the call always came within the first six to eight hours.
It wasn't always easy to find the clients she often worked with, since she was unlisted and off any records. It had to be that way for all those involved for a multitude of reasons. With almost ninety percent of her former clients, she found them.
She had eyes and ears on every rehabilitation center on the west coast. It was the repeat guests that she looked for and had either Jasper or Emmett paying a visit to the addict's family.
Bella was anxious. She wasn't physically nervous, just genuinely on edge. She hadn't worked a case in almost four months. Although it was her job and she was dedicated to saving the addicts, each time felt like the very first. Each target was different; alcohol, drugs, you name it, she'd seen it.
For the tenth time, she checked the clock on the far wall, and drummed her nails on the desk. It was fifty-five minutes past the hour. The sun was setting, bringing the end to another day.
From there on out, for the addict, the days would cease to exist. It would be one mind-numbing hour after the other, each worse than the last.
She looked at her reflection in the mirror, wondering if her ghostly white skin would color under the baking sun this time around. Her dark brown hair was in a loose ponytail, struggling against the rubber band's hold. One thing she knew would darken were her freckles, as they do every summer at the center in the middle of a desert.
"Thanks, Mom," she said aloud, ignoring the twinge in her heart at the thought of her mother.
Bella jolted as the high, shrill ring of the phone shocked her out of her thoughts. She smoothed her hair back, mentally preparing to give up the next three to six months of her life.
Not that it mattered, because this—helping addicts cope with their addictions—was what she wanted to do. It was her calling.
When she answered the call, there was only silence on the other end. It was something she anticipated, most families were nervous since all they had was a card with her number.
"Alice Cullen, sister of Edward Cullen. The only way to save your brother is to answer me when I question you. Are we clear?"
There was shuddering breath on the other end before she answered, "Yes."
"Do you want your brother to live?"
"Of course," she gasped.
"Do you want him to be clean, sober, and live a long and happy life?" Bella asked, adding the icy tone to her voice. She had to be hard on them, be firm so that they wouldn't change their minds.
"More than anything," her voice broke slightly as she answered.
"My boys will be arriving at your brother's home soon. We ask that you do not inform Edward of our arrival, as the element of surprise tends to work in our favor. In fact, it is best that no one is there when my guys arrive. I hope you've made your peace with him now. It'll be some time before you and the rest of your family see him again. When he returns, with hope, he'll be the man he was meant to be."
The truth was that Bella's boys had already reached the Cullen residence. She was also well aware that the rest of the family was at the hospital and the estate staff was excused for some reason for a few days. Though the target's father said that he and his brother checked on him every hour, Carlisle would make sure no one would be home when her men arrived.
"He is worthy of redemption. He's just so lost. Thank you," Alice whispered, and Bella could hear the tears in her voice.
"Don't thank me yet. Thank me when he comes back to you able to cope with his addiction."
Bella placed the handset back on the receiver after going over some of the details and discussing payment with Alice and her father. She was happy that Alice decided to get the rest of the family involved so that they wouldn't have to worry about the authorities.
It was before they ended the call that Alice inquired about someone else and made a request. Normally, Bella wouldn't have even bothered but the poor woman was distraught enough over her brother.
A few minutes after that call, Bella pressed the speaker button on the phone base, selecting speed dial one. The phone rang three short rings before her right hand man greeted her.
"Swan," a calm male voice answered.
"Whitlock," she greeted.
"Hey sweet-cheeks, to what do I owe this immense pleasure?" he drawled. She felt her right eyebrow twitch. Ass. The man loved to push all her buttons.
"Not much G.I. Joe, or should I say, G. I. Jane," she teased, knowing that shit would just roll off his back.
"Did she call?" he asked.
Bella could hear the excitement in his voice and was positive it had little to do with the target and more about Alice. She hoped that the ass would do what she paid him to do and not think with his little head.
"Of course, the money is being transferred as we speak. I'm heading to the location right now," she said slowly.
She heard the harsh breath, as he turned serious again. "Who's at home? Do we know?"
"The family was still with Alice at the hospital." She started to gather up some paperwork, adding it to the file she started up for Edward. "According to the father, he's alone, still recovering."
"Bella, I think you should know what I overheard. Dear ol' Dad, patched him up instead of taking him to the hospital, and from what I understand, it's not the first time. I did some checking and it's pretty bad."
She sighed. "Tell me." With every word he said, the angrier she became. What Edward's family had done only served to enable him, to continue down the destructive and dark path. "I'll talk to his parents."
She'd more than talk to them, she'd tell them the fuck off. However, it would have to wait. She needed more information on Edward and his family, and that would take time to collect.
She walked over the fax machine and grabbed some of Edward's medical records that her nurse, Rosalie, had faxed to her. Her brightly colored notes nearly jump off the pages of plain text. She wondered how many times his father didn't take him to get proper medical attention. As a doctor, he should know better.
"I've seen the guy, Bella. He's pretty big. Are you sure you can handle him?" As a former target, Jasper got special leniency. However, it didn't mean he could get away with that kind of shit.
Bella had to be the tough as nails bitch to get the job done. "I handled you, asshole, and Emmett. So don't worry about me."
"Bella," he said. She could hear the worry in his voice, and she was thankful for it, but also slightly pissed. They had a job to do.
"Jasper! Quit fucking worrying and bring the damn target to me. I expect to see you in twenty-four hours." She smiled when she heard the apology he barely managed to grumble through the line.
"Wait, did Alice ask about me?" he asked but Bella had already hung up, laughing. Jasper already knew the game; she was the boss, and he had to get used to it. The back and forth between them, the constant arguing kept them both on their toes, and their heads on the goal.
Get clean, stay clean.
She flipped through the brief notes and found herself smiling, despite the anger that still simmered in her blood on Jasper's discovery.
Alice had asked about Jasper all right, leaving Bella every possible way to reach her. Though she'd probably live to regret it, she sent the information in a text to Jasper, including the alarm code for the Cullen house.
The case was going to be particularly hard, as his demons were reminiscent of her father's battle with alcoholism. After her mother had died, her father had descended the slippery path of grief with a bottle in each hand.
She'd watched it destroy Charlie and had vowed never to let it happen again. She was hell bent on helping people after she pulled Charlie out of the funk he'd been in after her mother's death. She set to work on opening her own treatment facility. It was strictly on a need-to-know basis, because she found that her methods, although harsh, to be effective.
I would not fail, not again.
Twenty-four hours and counting…