Author: TheRainGirl PM
Over the past year, coffee girl Bella has fallen in love with hot-shot business man, Jacob. When a tragic accident lands him in a coma, she receives an accidental upgrade to fiancee. Once his family arrives, Bella realizes she's in way over her head.Rated: Fiction M - English - Bella & Edward - Words: 15,099 - Reviews: 11 - Favs: 22 - Follows: 8 - Published: 06-29-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7131607
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N- I loved writing this piece for the Tsunami compilation with Sunshinegal3. I hope she'll let me write with her again!
Full Summary: In this light-hearted romance, Bella falls in love with Jake from afar. Every day he comes in for his usual coffee and scone, and every day he flirts and she swoons. He's the perfect man as far as she can see - happy, beautiful, intelligent, and looks amazing in a suit. Then, on the day he finally makes her fantasies come true and asks her out, he has a terrible accident. Upon arrival to the hospital, he slips into a coma. She stays by him because of an accidental upgrade from coffee girl to fiancee'. When Jake's family shows up, she realizes she's in over her head. There's a lovely mother, a gracious father, a beautiful sister, and... a brother.
Disclaimer: You may notice this is similar to the movie While You Were Sleeping – that's because it was our inspiration. All things Twilight belong to Stephenie Meyer.
Songs used in this piece: "A Drop In the Ocean," by Ron Pope and "God Damn, You're Beautiful," by Chester See.
His robust laughter rings in my ears yet again, making my heart beat alarmingly fast. Before he even came in today, I had made the decision to finally just suck it up and walk around the counter. My reward? The beautiful man I've been flirting with and falling in love with from afar just asked me out on a date. Be still, my heart.
Picking up his coffee in one hand and his laptop bag in the other, he says he'll pick me up after work and take me to dinner. The smile I've been swooning over for weeks stuns me yet again as we get to the door. It's quiet in the shop today, the rain keeping a lot of folks from their midday caffeine run.
"I'll see you at five, Jacob." His name happily rolls off my lips. I've wanted to know his name for so long. His bright eyes crinkle at the corners as he pulls the door open and the little bell up top chimes. I can't help the wide smile on my face and I know my cheeks will start hurting soon. I just can't seem to care when he smiles at me like that and makes all the butterflies and ladybugs and crickets bounce around inside my stomach. He's just so beautiful. And he likes me.
"I look forward to it, Isabella." He winks and I don't even care that he used my full name, which I usually hate. He gets his umbrella situated and then walks out onto the sidewalk. I know he'll turn quickly and cross traffic because I've been watching him do this for nearly a year. Every day he comes in for a black coffee and scone by eight in the morning. At lunchtime he comes in for his refill, then dashes between the cabs and the delivery trucks and makes his way back to his office across the boulevard from my coffee shop.
I stand at the door of my shop, protected from the rain by my little storefront awning, watching his broad back as he turns from me under his umbrella and steps off the curb between two idling cabs. He turns back again and calls out, "Until tonight!" I giggle like a school girl and wave. My giddiness gives way to panic as a blur catches my eye right beyond one of the cabs in line.
"Jacob!" I scream, rushing away from the shop. "Watch out!"
He looks to me, smiling, as the large SUV flies past and slams into the beautiful man in the suit who is to take me to dinner tonight.
Screeching tires, the putrid smell of burnt rubber, and blood. A lot of blood. That's all that flashes through my head on repeat.
I fumble for my cell phone while I kneel in the cold water next to my unconscious dream man. Several people have stopped to assist; one is checking for a pulse, one is also on his phone, another is screaming at the yuppie bastard who was driving too fast while texting and hit Jacob.
"911, what is your emergency?" a bored voice answers.
"Please help, there's been an accident, a man. He was hit by a car." I wait for the operator to ask questions and I answer with what I know and give her my information. She says that paramedics are on the way. Help arrives moments later, although it feels like days. People in uniforms help Jacob, assessing him and I get pushed to the side while they work. I'm still on my knees nearby, looking on helplessly. I just can't get up; I don't want to get up. From where I sit, all I can focus on is his beautiful, now expressionless, face. His radiant smile is gone, and shiny maroon liquid runs across his forehead and into his dark brown hair.
I'm pulled from my silent prayers and offerings to a God I don't know in hopes of saving the beautiful man by one of the paramedics asking me if I'm okay and if I was also hit or injured. When I shake my head no, he starts to push the gurney carrying Jacob toward a waiting ambulance.
"Can I go with him?" I ask the man in the blue uniform.
"Are you his wife or fiancee'?" he says, looking at my hand for confirmation. "Family only."
"I'm his fiancee'." It rolls out of my mouth before I can stop it. "We just got engaged," I sputter, covering for my lack of ring.
He considers this for a moment before nodding his head. "Come on then, we've got to get him to the emergency room. You can ride in back, but stay seated and make sure your belt is on. We're going to go as quickly as we can."
The ride to the hospital is nothing but a blur. I spend the entire ride holding his hand and again offering everything I have or ever will have for his safety. The clean stench of the hospital is what I notice first as they wheel him into emergency. I'm told to find a seat and a nurse brings me his paperwork, asking me to fill it out. When I look at her like she has two heads, I'm reminded that as his fiancee', I need to fill everything out.
"I...I don't have his insurance stuff or anything," I stumble as I look at the kind, warm smiling nurse.
"We'll get his wallet for you as soon as we can, okay?" I nod and stare at the form on top. Name, Birthday, Address...
I know nothing of the beautiful boy.
After what feels like hours later, I'm given the chance to go back and see Jacob. I jump out of the chair, nearly knocking down a little old lady shuffling by with a walker. A nurse brings me and my blank clipboard of paperwork to an area lined with blue curtains. She pulls one back to reveal the beautiful boy. I can't help the gasp that escapes me as I take in his appearance. His head is bandaged, arm is in a cast, leg is in a cast, bruises are everywhere...
"He's pretty banged up," the nurse says with a sigh, crossing her arms in front of her chest. "His right side took one hell of a beating and he was knocked unconscious by the impact. His brain has some significant swelling and trauma, so he may be out for a while." All I can do is nod dumbly. She clears her throat and makes her way toward the door. "As soon as you can finish, we'll need that paperwork please," she says, her warm smile intact.
Again I nod and when she's gone, I find his wallet and begin filling out the forms. I smile as I look at his driver's license. Jacob Cullen. My eyes widen when I see his birthdate. He's only twenty-five? He's three years younger than me. Not that it matters, but it's interesting to know. Of course, I had assumed that he would tell me these things himself. Once I finally complete the forms, I place the clipboard on his bedside table and plop down into the chair next to him. I tentatively reach over and place my hand on top of his.
"Oh, Jacob," I murmur, rubbing my thumb over his knuckles. "Why you?" I lay my head down on my forearm, the idea of closing my eyes for just a few moments becoming more appealing. Just for a few minutes...
"Miss?" I'm roused from a light sleep, my head still laying on the bed next to Jacob. As I look up, I notice that his nurse has returned.
"We need to move him to his room," she informs me gently. "We'll get you a cot, okay?"
I jump out of my chair, shaking my head quickly. "No, I should go."
"Nonsense," she protests. "You want to be near your man. That's okay. He's still critical, but we'll allow you to stay with him. Let us get him situated and then we'll come get you. Okay, hon?" She directs me to another waiting room with a quiet television playing in a corner. I'm barely comfortable in a chair when she returns for me and deposits me in a single room with Jacob still attached to machines but in a bigger bed. I swallow hard when I notice the small cot in the corner. I need to get out of here. However, that thought is pushed away the second I look at Jacob. I can't just leave him here by himself. With a sigh, I pad over to the cot and lie down. It's not my Tempurpedic, that's for sure, but it's better than the waiting room chair. With one last glance at Jacob, this handsome guy that I hardly even know, my heavy eyelids finally close.
"Do you think we should wake her?" A light, soft voice tickles at the back of my head.
"She might be a nurse or something." Another voice, a little more alto, joins the little voice.
Then I'm startled awake by a deeper, more masculine voice. "She's not a nurse, she's wearing an apron."
"Shh. She's waking up."
I open my eyes and there are three people staring at me. A beautiful man with a white coat, dark blonde hair and big blue eyes towers over the two women that are with him. One is very petite, with features similar to Jacob's. The dark hair is the same as his, but her eyes are green. The woman next to her is taller and very slender, and her eyes are a dark color like Jacob's but her hair has a reddish tint to it.
"We didn't mean to scare you, miss," the taller lady says softly. "We're here to see Jacob."
Before I can say anything the kind, warm nurse returns with a clipboard. "Oh, I'm so glad they got a hold of you, Dr. Cullen. I have no idea why it took so long for someone to contact you. I didn't want to wake his girl, so I just let her nap and figured you'd all be along. Do you want to look over his charts?" She stands there expectantly as they all stare at me. "Dr. C?" she questions.
"Oh yes, please." He takes the chart then looks back at me with the same look the women have - utter confusion.
"I need to go," I stammer, coming to a sitting position. "He needs to spend time with his family. I'm sorry I intruded."
The kind nurse interrupts me again. "Intrude? Oh honey, in-laws can be nasty, but trust me, you have nothing to worry about when you and Jacob get hitched. The Cullens are a perfect family to marry into," she says with a pat to my shoulder before wandering back out. I blanch at her words, as does the woman I assume is Jacob's mother.
"Marry?" she asks to the room in general.
"Oh for heaven's sake! The man does nothing but work and whore around for the past few years, and now we find out he has a fiancee'? From a nurse?" The little woman practically shrieks.
"I- I- he's-" I don't know where to go with this. What have I gotten myself into?
"It's okay," the other woman assures me. "She's not mad at you in the least. We...we're just surprised. I'm Esme, Jacob's mother." She shakes my hand softly. "This is Carlisle, Jacob's father, and that's Alice, his sister." She points to the still unsettled tiny woman. "Please, tell us, what's your name?"
"What a lovely name, dear. Short for Isabella?" The doctor/father questions me and I instantly feel comfortable with him. His face is kind and he seems genuinely interested in me.
"Yes, sir." I nod.
"You are beautiful," Jacob's mother says sweetly and I blush furiously. Another nurse comes in, breaking the awkward silence, and begins speaking to Dr. and Mrs. Cullen about Jacob and I feel like I'm intruding. I glance around the room, trying to avoid eye contact with anyone.
"I think I'll go get some coffee," I announce as I stand, anxious for a moment alone to compose my thoughts. "Would anyone like some?"
"I'll go with you, Bella. I'd like to get to know you if you'll be my sister some day." Nearly tripping over air, I make my way into the hall and head toward the vending machines with the little sister hot on my heels. I groan inwardly when she follows me all the way down the hall.
"So," she drawls once we reach the coffee machine. "You and Jacob, huh?"
"Yep." I bite my lower lip and dig a few coins out of my apron. I can feel her eyes on me while I deposit the coins into the machine. After I make my selection, the machine whirs to life and I shift my weight between my feet impatiently. Come on, hurry up...
"How long have you two known each other?" she continues, breaking the silence.
My eyes dart to the side. Yep, she's still gawking at me. "Almost a year," I answer quietly.
"Hmm," is her only reply. I bite my lip and stare at the machine, willing it to go faster. It seems to work because seconds later, my cheap seventy-five cent coffee is ready. I pick it up cautiously, and doing my best to side-step Alice, hurry back towards Jacob's room.
"Hey!" Alice calls out from behind me. Letting out a sigh, I stop and hear her tiny footsteps rushing to catch up to me. I turn around and cock an eyebrow, silently asking what the hell she wants. She's not exactly on my good side at the moment. "I'm not trying to be rude, or anything," she says. I immediately feel guilty; the poor girl looks almost nervous. "It's just that my brother has never been a one-woman kind of guy. He's not exactly known for long-term relationships, not even with his own family," she adds, rolling her eyes. "So imagine our surprise when we find out that he's not only been dating someone, but getting married? It's kind of crazy."
I look down at my feet, fidgeting with my cup of coffee. There's obviously a lot that I never knew about this guy. "Oh," is all I can manage to say.
Alice reaches out and places her hand on my wrist. "I'm sorry," she says sincerely. "I'm not trying to freak you out or anything. I'm sure he really does love you." I look up to see her smiling sweetly at me, and I manage a small smile in return. "Jacob is a great guy. He's just got a lot of growing up to do."
She turns back to the machine to get another cup, and I make my way back to the room just as the nurse is walking out. We all sit in an uncomfortable silence, only broken by the beeping coming from machines.
"Bella," Esme begins tentatively, "I know this wasn't the best way to meet, but would you be okay with meeting me for lunch or something? I know Alice and I would love to get to know you better and you can meet with Carlisle and Jake's brother, Edward." Her smile is so genuine and warm. "I know you'll want to be here with Jake, but it would really mean a lot to me. I'd like to get to know you better."
Nervously, I shift my gaze around the room. Jacob is still lying so still, unresponsive. Alice and her father are speaking quietly in a corner. "I need to get back to the shop," I say quietly. "I kind of just ran out on my assistant, so she's probably worried sick."
"You'll be back to sleep here tonight though, right?" she asks innocently.
"Um..." I am so eloquent. What the hell am I going to do now? "I think so. I need to go check on my cat and my shop though."
With an understanding smile, she reaches into her purse. "Here's my number," she says, offering me a small card. "Call me when you head back here and I'll make sure I'm here with you. We'll trade off sitting with him, okay? That way if he wakes up, someone will be here. Is that all right? I don't want to step on your toes." She pauses for a moment and looks down at her hands. "We, uh...we haven't had a lot of contact with Jacob since he got the new job. He doesn't exactly keep in touch." Her voice wavers a bit and I have the urge to reach out and grasp her hand, so I do. "But I still love my baby very much."
"You should be here." Not me, I think.
"And so should you, sweetheart." She brushes her warm, soft hand along my cheek in such a motherly way, I have the urge to call my own mom and tell her I love her.
"I'll be back in a bit then," I acquiesce. I don't know why I agree to come back, but I just can't tell her no; it would hurt to do so.
I take a cab back to the shop and help close up. I explain to Jane that I may be in and out sporadically and she says she'll do whatever I need, for which I am so thankful. After getting to my place and feeding my blonde tabby, Caius, I pack a small bag and head back. Strangely, I feel anxious to return. It's not out of fear - I'm actually feeling a need to be there. I have to get back to that hospital as soon as possible. Maybe I've officially lost it. I'm not only excited to see a man in a coma, but also the family who thinks I'm engaged to said man in a coma.
Yeah, I'm pretty sure I've lost it.
As I walk up the corridor back to Jacob's room, I hear people talking just around the corner. Hearing my name, I stop.
"What do you mean Jacob's engaged?" a hostile voice shouts. "Who is he engaged to? Tanya? Leah? Heidi? Irina?" Who are all those women? Why would Jacob ask me out if he was dating so many other people?
"Keep your voice down!" another man hisses. "I said her name is Isabella. We don't know much of her. You know your brother is very private." I hear a snort. "She was here when we got here, sound asleep on a cot that one of the nurses brought her. She seems sweet, Edward."
"Sweet?" Edward scoffs. "One of Jake's gold-diggers? I sincerely doubt that. She's probably knocked up and he had to ask her to marry him. Does she have a ring? She's probably just after his money like the others." His words send ice through my veins. After his money? I've been silently in love with the man for a year. I'm in love with his smile. I'm in love with his laughter. I'm in love with... with just him.
Deciding that I'm done listening to whoever this bastard is, I turn the corner quickly but stop short as I take in the scene in front of Jacob's hospital room. Dr. Cullen is leaning toward a man just as tall as he. This man is a mess of reddish brown hair with broad shoulders like Jacob and green eyes like Alice. The brother. And he's stunning.
"Isabella, I'm so glad you're back," Dr. Cullen says, greeting me with a smile. "We were just heading home, but Esme wanted to see you again before we left. She's just inside." I look from Dr. Cullen's face to the brother then back quickly and make to step inside. "Oh, Isabella, this is Jake's older brother, Edward."
Looking back trying very hard not to stare, I don't smile and say quietly, "Nice to meet you." Then I make my getaway into the hospital room occupied with my new, unconscious fiance'.
Just as the door closes behind me, alerting Esme to my arrival, I hear from the hall, "Excellent job, son. I'm sure she heard you."
Esme and I sit next to Jacob and she peppers me with questions that it would seem a mother would already know about her son's fiancee'. She doesn't seem to mind, though; she actually seems happy to be sitting with me and learning about me. I tell her about my shop and how my parents live hours away. I even tell her about my cat.
Edward and Dr. Cullen return to the room after about twenty minutes, and Edward stands awkwardly near his brother across the bed from where I sit with Esme. I don't miss the pained expression on Edward's face as he looks down at his brother. Esme stands quickly and rushes to hug her son. Instantly, his face soothes and I hear him take a deep, shaky breath. I feel incredibly guilty for intruding on such a private moment. I really should not be here. When I look back up at Edward's face, his eyes are open and he's staring right at me. The intensity of his stare weakens my knees even though I'm sitting, and my stomach flips like it does when Jacob comes in every morning. Looking away quickly, I find a spot outside of the window to stare at. I hear Dr. Cullen speaking to a nurse and Esme speaking in a hushed tone to Edward or Jacob, but I keep my eyes trained out the window and the fading light bouncing off the white building beside the hospital.
"We need to go, Isabella," Esme says sweetly, touching my shoulder with her hand. "Carlisle needs to rest before he's on rounds tomorrow. I'll come in with him though and sit a bit so you can take care of things, okay?" I nod then glance at Edward. He's still standing above Jacob, gazing down at him. He might be beautiful, but he's no Jacob.
Esme calls out to Edward as she and Carlisle step into the hallway. I assume he's leaving, so I turn toward Jacob and stare down at his peaceful face, where a large bandage sits on the right side of his head. Running my fingers from the bandage across his temple to his cheek, the heat from his skin nearly burns my fingertips. Stifling a yawn with my other hand, I continue taking inventory of his wounds. I run my fingers along his neck and shoulder, over the sling holding his collarbone and arm together. I stop at his hand laying against his chest and fiddle with his long, warm fingers. I have always wanted to be close enough to him to hold his hand and sadly, my wish has come true. Be careful what you wish for, my subconscious chides.
"I'm sorry." My head snaps up, at first thinking it's Jacob, but his face is still serene in sleep. I look over to the door and there stands Edward, looking bashful and maybe even a bit remorseful.
I must appear shocked because he steps tentatively toward me and sits in the chair on the opposite side of the bed. Again he says, "I'm sorry, Isabella. You just...you have to understand." He takes a deep breath, holding it for a beat longer than necessary before slowly letting it out. "My brother and I, we don't get along," he continues after a moment. "He and I are very different. He's become some corporate GI Joe and I'm the exact opposite of that. Of course, that doesn't change the fact that I love my brother, even if we don't see eye to eye on anything anymore. I've always done best to protect him." With this statement he looks up at me then back down. "My brother hasn't always had the best taste in women. Many of the girls he brought home during college were after his trust fund or his pretty face and not much else. He's never thought with his brain in regards to the opposite sex, I guess you could say."
"This bothers you about him?" I ask without thinking.
Surprisingly, he's not offended and continues, "I guess it didn't bother me much when we were younger. Neither one of us has ever had a problem finding girls, to be honest." His lips turn up in a very cute smile. "Of course, I guess it was only a matter of time before he zeroed in on one that I loved."
My head snaps up and I just stare at him while he stares at Jacob.
"Her name was Tanya," he tells me, his voice significantly lower. "We'd been together a few months and I brought her home for Thanksgiving. My first serious girlfriend. Jacob came home with one of his football buddies from college, and my sister brought her now fiance home to meet the family as well." His lips shift into a sad smile and then he takes a deep breath. "Guess she didn't care which one of us she got as long as she landed one. I didn't realize that perfect Tanya had eyes for anyone else... until I caught her and my baby brother in a compromising position in my parents' laundry room."
I can't hold back my gasp. Sitting there stunned, I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do. I'm not sure why he's opened up to me like this, but I'm suddenly very aware of Jacob's presence even if he's unconscious.
"Why are you telling me this?" I question in a hushed voice, bringing Edward's attention away from his brother.
He shrugs. "I don't know," he admits. "I just feel like you need to know the truth. Honesty is very important." My stomach clenches at his words. It is very important.
Needing to break the tension and his locked stare that is making me slightly uncomfortable, I ask the first thing that pops into my addled brain - what he does for a living.
His face brightens, and I'm met with his first genuine smile of the day. His smile is breathtaking. "I sing. Play guitar, piano, whatever needs to be played."
"You're a musician?"
"And I write music," he adds. "I've even sold a few songs."
"Wow. That's incredible." I'm smiling and I realize I'm no longer playing with Jacob's fingers.
"What do you do, Isabella?" He leans back, relaxing his elbows on the sides of his chair. His smile causes me to grin wider and blush like an idiot.
"Bella," I blurt out.
He scrunches his eyebrows in confusion. "I'm sorry?"
Chill out, Bella. He's just a guy. "Bella," I repeat more calmly. "I, uh, prefer Bella. I'm only Isabella on legal documents or when my mom's mad at me."
"Well, Bella," he says with a smile, "what do you do for a living?"
"I own the coffee shop across from Jacob's office building. Black Swan Cafe."
"Seriously?" He leans forward in his chair, folding his hands in front of him. "You have the most amazing croissants. The ones with the chocolate, right?"
"You've been to my shop?" I ask incredulously. How could I have never noticed him before? There's no way I would forget a face like his.
"I have. I've met clients there before when they want to meet downtown. It's a lovely place. You must be very proud." I nod and smile more, making my cheeks hurt. We spend hours talking. We discuss his family, where we come from, my parents, his latest project scoring a movie, his sister's wedding, and everything in between. He even tells me he's wanted to play in the once a month open mic nights at my cafe. I encourage him and he says he'll think about it then quickly changes the subject. His blush and head duck makes me smile so widely. His bashfulness is nothing short of adorable. We talk and talk and I don't think we have an awkward silence throughout the night.
"Isabella?" I cringe against the intrusion. I'm dreaming of chocolate croissants and acoustic guitar music. "Sweetheart, wake up," the soft voice entreats again and I force my eyes open. Esme is sitting beside me with her hand on my shoulder. I'm lying on the cot, wrapped in a blanket. Sitting up, I try to figure out if I put myself to bed, but then I see Edward. He's sleeping in a chair, rather uncomfortably, with his head propped on his arm and his feet in another chair.
"Has he been here all night?" Esme whispers, glancing toward the sleeping brother.
"I'm not sure," I answer uncertainly. "The last thing I remember is talking and now you're waking me up."
"He loves his brother very much," she muses, still gazing at Edward.
I nod and decide to get up and make myself look like I didn't just spend the night on a hospital cot. By the time I return from the bathroom, Edward is awake and talking with his mother and father about Jacob's condition.
"Oh, Isabella! You'll want to hear this." Esme waves me over and grasps my hand when I'm by her side.
Hesitantly, Carlisle begins, "The doctors want to do another scan today. They're wanting to make sure he's not suffering dangerous swelling. They may have to do surgery if the swelling doesn't start receding."
I feel my knees get wobbly and Edward grabs my arm to help me into the chair he was sleeping in. "Bella! You okay? Dad?" His voice is shaky.
"Are you feeling sick, dear?" Carlisle asks with his fingers at my pulse and his eyes on his watch. "Your heart rate is quite elevated."
"I'm okay," I tell them, although I'm struggling to breathe. "I just wasn't expecting him to have to have surgery."
"It's fairly routine," Carlisle assures me. "The best neurologist in the state, Dr. Banner, is on his way down and he'll see the scans and make a decision. We just have to wait and see." As he squeezes my hand reassuringly, I lean toward believing him. "I need to finish rounds. Call me if you all need anything or if his condition changes, alright?" He smiles at me and his wife, then claps Edward on the shoulder. "Walk with me, son," he requests. With one last worried glance at me, Edward nods and follows his father into the hall.
Esme and I visit a bit longer, although most of the time is spent gazing at Jacob. Esme tells me stories of her three children and all the funny and naughty things they did like climbing trees or tying Alice to said tree. She says Jacob wanted to do and be everything Edward was, that he idolized his brother. She starts to talk about Edward and Jacob's high school competitiveness, but drifts off when she brings up a fist-fight over a girl. I'm starting to feel as if I didn't know this guy at all. Jumping from woman to woman, stealing his brother's girlfriend...that doesn't seem like the Jacob I know. Do I even know him? It's a bit disheartening.
When a nurse comes in to change Jacob's bandages, I drive back to my apartment to take a hot shower and change my clothes. After making sure that Caius has plenty of food, I head to the shop to get my mind off of wounds, bruises, parents, and brothers. Handsome brothers. Brothers with smoldering green eyes that play guitar.
"Good morning, Bella!" Jane greets me brightly when I walk into the shop.
"Morning, Jane." I make my way to the display counter and take inventory of the freshly baked goods that Jane has already put out for the morning. A smile crosses my face as I notice the chocolate croissants.
"...the dream guy?"
I shake my head and look back to Jane, who's staring at me expectantly. "I'm sorry, what?"
She rolls her eyes and picks up a rag to clean up a spot of spilled coffee next to the register. "I asked how the dream guy is doing."
Dream...? Oh yeah. My "fiance." I shrug and swallow thickly, trudging over to the register. Leaning onto the counter, I take a deep breath. "They may have to do surgery," I inform her softly, the memory of a completely helpless Jacob flooding my mind. Tears prick the corners of my eyes, but I blink them away quickly. "A specialist is coming to see him to determine just how bad the swelling in his brain is."
"Oh, Bella." Jane reaches over and places her hand on top of mine. "I'm so sorry."
"Thanks." Taking a deep breath, I glance around the shop once more. Everything appears to be running smoothly. "I guess I'll get back to the hospital and see if there's been any update."
"Do what you have to do, Bella. Things are just fine here."
"All right. Have a good day, Jane. Let me know if you need anything." I give her a small wave and grab a bag from the counter before making my way outside to my car. Closing my eyes, I take a few cleansing breaths. The past twenty-four hours have just been unreal. First, the guy that I've been crazy about was hit by a freaking car right in front of my eyes. Then, for some unknown reason I told everyone that I'm his fiancee'. I honestly have no idea what I was thinking. Word vomit at its finest, that's for sure.
Shaking my head, I start the car and head toward the hospital. Jacob's family is awesome, for lack of a better word. His sister is a bit...much...but she seems nice. His mother is the sweetest woman I've ever met, and his father always appears so calm and composed. And then there's the brother. Edward. Strangely, I haven't been able to get him out of my head since last night. There's just something about his eyes; they seem to see right through me. It's as if he can see into my soul with one simple glance.
Once I park my car in the hospital parking lot, I rush inside and head up to Jacob's room. I knock softly on the closed door, surprised when a smooth voice says, "Come in." Edward. My heart races as I push the door ajar and step inside the room. Edward is in the same seat that he rested in last night, still wearing the same clothes. But other than him...the room is empty. My eyes dart back and forth before landing on Edward.
"Where is he?"
He jerks his head toward the door with a yawn. "The specialist is here. They took him out to run the tests my dad was talking about."
"Oh," I reply in a small voice. I rock back on my heels, looking around uncomfortably. "Should I...?" Edward glances up at me with a questioning look, so I point towards the door.
"Not at all!" he blurts out. I stare at him, somewhat amused, as he clears his throat and settles back into his chair. "I mean, he'll probably be back soon. You can hang out in here. If you want me to leave..."
"No, no," I assure him, a smile tugging at the corners of my mouth. I walk over and hand him a white bag. He looks at me with a confused smile, then opens the bag.
"You brought me croissants? Thank you." I just smile then drop my head and cross the room, sitting in the same chair I occupied last night. The only difference is that there's now no bed separating us, only a few feet. I chance a look at Edward, only to catch him staring at me. Feeling a blush heat my cheeks, I bite my lip and hang my head again. What could he possibly be so interested in?
"Your eyes are very pretty," he says quietly, catching me completely by surprise.
My eyes dart up to meet his, and I can't help the tiny smile that forms. He smirks and looks down at his hands, which are folded loosely in his lap. "You have a nice smile, too."
I'm at a complete loss for words right now. I've never been good with compliments, but for some reason the flattery I feel is magnified because it came from him. "Thank you. You do too," I say quietly. He grins and nods, then an unreadable expression clouds his face. He almost appears to be...disappointed? Uncomfortable with the onset of silence, I dig into my purse, looking for my phone for some sort of entertainment.
"I'm sorry," he blurts out, startling me. I jump, causing my purse to fall on the floor and the contents spill out. Great. Way to go, spaz.
"I'm sorry," he repeats, jumping out of his chair and squatting down near me. "I wasn't trying to be like, forward or anything."
Shaking the feelings out of my head, I state, "Don't worry about it." I crouch down on the floor, doing my best to scoop all of my belongings back into my purse. He goes back to helping me gather all the random things that fell out. Thank God I didn't put any tampons in here today. He chuckles a little as he hands me my phone, causing me to look at him in confusion. "What?"
"Nothing," he answers, although there's amusement in his voice.
"Seriously, what?" I ask again, feeling a bit insulted. Both of us stand and I continue to stare at him while shoving my phone into my purse. I can tell he's trying not to smile and although I'm irked that I don't know what he's smiling about, I can't help but smile back at him.
He shakes his head, running his hand through his hair. I'm pretty sure that I drool a little as I think about running my own hand through that hair. "I just haven't seen anyone with a flip phone in like, two years."
My mouth drops open as I look down at my beloved phone. Sure, it's a little old, but I don't think it deserves to be laughed at. "There's nothing wrong with my phone," I grumble as I plop back into my chair. Yeah, I'm pouting like a five year old. Sue me. "What kind do you have, anyway?"
His hand dips into his pocket and pulls out an iPhone. Of course. Everybody and their mother has a freaking iPhone these days. "Don't look at me like that," he says playfully. I glance up at him from under my eyelashes and can't hold back my smile. "There are a lot of pluses to having one of these."
"Yeah, yeah, they're all the rage," I tease. "I didn't take you for yuppy scum, Edward." I smile widely at his mock offense.
He smirks and taps the screen a few times, and within seconds the sounds of Kings of Leon are filling the room. I roll my eyes as a big, cheesy grin forms on his face. Boys and their toys. "Can your dinky little phone do that?" he asks.
"That's what I have an iPod for." I counter. "There's no reason for me to have music on my phone, too."
His face turns serious as he looks back at his phone, touching the screen a few more times. "But do you carry your iPod everywhere?" he asks condescendingly. "What if the mood strikes, and you don't have it with you? You would, however, have this."
I look him up and down a couple of times, a bit confused as to what he's talking about. "Mood for what?"
He taps the screen one final time, and the velvet voice of Ron Pope echos around us. "The mood for dancing." With a smile, he carefully sets the phone down on the floor beside him and holds his hand out to me.
I stare at his outstretched hand for a moment, stunned. No one has ever even asked me to dance, and the first request comes in a hospital room. He clears his throat, and my eyes dart up to his face. He raises his eyebrows and smiles warmly. My stomach flips as I gaze into his eyes, which are soft and inviting. Tentatively, I reach out and take his hand. He pulls me to him and lets go of my hand, wrapping his arms around my waist. Immediately my body temperature rises. Feeling his body next to mine gives me a sense of nervous calm. I don't know how to explain it, but I don't want it to go away.
"I've never really danced," I admit breathlessly, hooking my arms around his neck.
"No worries," he murmurs, leaning his forehead down to rest against mine. "Just move to the music." His proximity to me is making me slightly dizzy.
I swallow thickly and close my eyes, doing just that. This song is beautiful, one of my favorites. As I lose myself in the lyrics, another voice brings me back to the moment. Opening my eyes, I realize that Edward is singing along softly.
I was praying that you and me might end up together
It's like wishing for rain as I stand in the desert
But I'm holding you closer than most,
Cause you are my heaven.
And not only is he singing...he's looking directly into my eyes as he does. My heart feels like it's about to pound out of my chest as I take in the intensity of his gaze. It's like he's actually singing to me. But he couldn't be...could he?
And still I can't let you be
Most nights I hardly sleep
Don't seek what you don't need from me.
His voice grows more quiet with the last word, and my breath hitches as his face comes closer to mine. Everything else in the room disappears; all I can focus on are the soft, pouty lips that are inching closer to mine and the heat of his body pressed against me. Right as I feel the warmth of his breath on my face, he pulls away suddenly. He practically throws himself across the room, leaving me standing here like a complete idiot. What just happened here?
He turns to face the wall, and I can see his shoulders rising and falling with each breath he takes. The perfect moment that we had created is long gone, the room silent now that the song is over. My mouth opens then closes a few times as I try to come up with something to say. He turns back around slowly, shaking his head. "I'm...so sorry," he says in little more than a whisper.
My eyebrows scrunch in confusion as I take in his anguished expression. "Why are you sorry?" I wanted him to kiss me. Why would he possibly be sorry?
His eyes widen as he looks directly at me. "Um, maybe because you're engaged to my brother?" He shakes his head again and runs his hand over his face. "I'm a moron," he grumbles.
I haven't regretted my charade any more than I do at this moment. As much as I care about Jacob, he's quite honestly the last thing on my mind right now. The man currently at the forefront of my thoughts is not my "fiance," but his brother. It's official - I'm definitely going to hell for this.
Poor Edward just looks tortured as he paces in front of me, mumbling to himself.
I make my way toward him, hoping to reassure him in some way. However, just as his eyes meet mine, the nurses bring Jacob back into the room. One nurse rambles off some information about the tests they did before scurrying out, saying the doctor will be by later when he has results. I turn back to Edward, but he's heading toward the door.
"Where are you going?" I'm shocked by the sadness in my voice.
"I have to get away. Away from here. I need to think," he stutters without truly looking at me. He seems as if he's talking more to a spot on the wall than me.
"Edward-" I start, but he levels me with one look. His eyes say it all - sadness and pain reflect in pools of jade. No other words come to me, and all I can do is let him walk away. I've already done enough.
Over the next week, it seems like I'm never alone with Jacob. Someone from the Cullen family is always with me at the hospital. The nurses come in to check on me often. I think Dr. Cullen asked them to keep an eye on me. A few times I hear him in the hall speaking with nurses before he comes in. A few times, I've heard a nurse mention that Jake's gotten flowers or there are messages, always from women, at the front desk, but Dr. Cullen always comes in sans flowers or messages. I'm not sure how I feel about Jake asking me out when he had so many other women on tap. Strangely, I'm not as hurt as I should be.
Edward even stays with me, which shocks the hell out of me. The first time that I see him after the dancing/almost kissing episode, he just smiles sadly and acts as if it never happened. It hurts, but I suppose that I understand. I can't imagine what's going through his mind right now. He's always kind, always interested, even asks me questions...but it's nothing like those first few days. Even with the awkward feeling inside, I still laugh every time we're together and I look forward to going to the hospital. I know it's sick and wrong, but spending time with Jacob's family, especially Edward, has become the highlight of my days. I usually check in on Caius once a day and Jane several times by phone and go take care of inventory and money management at the cafe, but I always find myself rushing back here.
Edward still stays with me every night. Well, he stays with Jacob; I just happen to be there as well. Every time I try to make an excuse to stay at my home, his family insists that I stay. Even Edward asks me to stay. When his family leaves us to hold our vigil over Jacob at night, no one questions our being there alone. The nurses have brought Edward a cot as well, which sits near the foot of Jacob's bed. Edward doesn't sleep much. Usually when I'm drifting off, he's still sitting up strumming his acoustic guitar and humming or softly crooning. Many nights I fall asleep to him singing. Deep inside, I feel my heart ache because I wish he were singing to me.
We had a conversation about how music can help in therapy, and he even said he saw a research article about music helping plants grow. When I suggested he play for his brother, he just shook his head. However, when I said I'd like to hear him, he got a beautiful twinkle in his eyes. When I arrived the next day after work, my arms full of croissants and coffee, Edward had his guitar with him.
Edward is immensely talented and ridiculously humble about that talent. His music is incredible and I feel blessed to sit with him as he plays. I try to stay up every night as he plays, but inevitably, I fall asleep listening to the chords melding with his voice. Despite my best attempts to stay awake, tonight is no exception.
"Where is he?"
What the hell? Is there a banshee in the room? My eyes pop open, there's no light from outside so it must be very late, and dart around the room only to settle on some very blond girl standing in the doorway. She's quite pretty, from what I can make out in the darkness. Once she turns the light on and nearly blinds me, however, I want to go crazy on her ass. Edward stares at her incredulously as she stalks into the room.
"Can we help you with something?" I ask groggily, sitting up on my cot.
Her eyes are wide as she gazes at Jacob. "There's my Jakey," she coos, ignoring me. She rushes over to his bedside, running her fingers through his hair. "Oh, Jakey, how are you feeling?"
Edward and I glance at each other, sharing a total "what is her deal?" look. He shifts in his seat so that he's facing her. "Um, hello?" he calls out, waving his hand in the air. I hold back a giggle as she turns around, glaring at him. "Who are you?"
She narrows her eyes at Edward and practically snarls. "I'm Kate, Jake's girl," she says as if it's the most obvious thing in the world.
Ah, nice. Yet another reminder of Jacob's extracurricular activities. Edward's face turns furious as he jumps out of his chair and stomps over to his brother's bed and snatches away the pillow that Kate has started to fluff. "I don't know what my brother has told you," he begins sharply, "but he is engaged. To that gorgeous girl right over there." He points directly at me, and Kate and I both go rigid with shock. She glares at me before looking down at Jacob. "You haven't changed a bit, you bastard!" She huffs dramatically and turns on her heel to storm out of the room.
"Asshole," Edward mutters, plopping back into his chair. He shakes his hand and runs his hand over his face.
I shift uncomfortably, feeling every single drop of the tension in the room. "Um, thank you?" I say uncertainly.
He glances up at me for a brief second before forcing a smile. "Yeah, well...I don't know what her deal was," he mumbles.
"She thinks she's Jake's girlfriend," I whisper, looking down at my hands. Yeah, this is incredibly awkward. Is she Jacob's girlfriend? If so, then I feel really bad right now. No wait, if he had a girlfriend, why would he ask me out? Why would he have girls calling the hospital to check on him and flowers being sent to him every day from different people?
Edward snorts. "Which is why I called him an asshole," he tells me. "Even when he's unconscious, he's screwing with women's hearts."
With a sigh, I lie back down on my cot. This situation gets more and more complicated with each passing day. "Sorry," he offers quietly.
"Don't worry about it." With that, I close my eyes and drift off to sleep once more.
In the darkened morning light, I wake hearing Edward strumming his guitar. My eyelids become heavy again and as I allow them to close, the images in my mind scan over the past weeks. Love. The concept of such a simple word is what got me here in the first place. How could I have thought that I actually loved Jacob? I hardly even knew the guy. Even though I saw him daily for nearly a year, it was not enough to truly know and love him. Yet here I am, wearing the mask of his grief-stricken fiancee'. Sure, he's a nice guy, and I'm sure that he could make wonderful boyfriend material...someday. From what I've learned of him, he's not exactly interested in being tied down right now. While that realization should have made a girl in "love" heartbroken, it didn't. There's only one reason why the news doesn't completely break me, and that reason is Edward. In the last week I've been asked more questions by Edward than all the weeks and months I saw Jacob combined. Days with Edward equal more than months with Jacob. I know it in my heart.
I once compared Jacob to the sun, lighting up everything around him. Well, if he's the sun, then Edward is the moon, the stars, and everything in between. He has sensitivity and depth that intrigues me more and more each time I talk to him. There is a twinkle in his eye that makes my heart feel like it's about to leap out of my chest. That crooked grin of his may be seen as cocky to some, but it simply makes me weak in the knees. When we look at each other, it's as if we're peering into the other's deepest thoughts. If that isn't love, then I don't know what is. The only problem...he knows me as Isabella, his little brother's fiancee'. I would kill for him to know me as Bella, the girl whose heart melts every time he walks into the room. I can't help the sniffle that escapes as I try to hold back my sobs. This is just great. I finally meet the real guy of my dreams, and I'm supposed to be off limits. I've already messed it up by lying to him. Way to screw things up royally, Swan.
Edward's smooth voice startles me, and I pop up to a sitting position. "Yeah?" I croak out, wiping at my eyes frantically.
He scrunches his eyebrows, obviously concerned. "Are you okay?" he asks softly.
I nod quickly, wiping my nose with the sleeve of my shirt. "I'm fine," I lie.
He gives me a small smile and glances over at Jacob. "He'll be okay," he says quietly. He shifts his gaze back down to his guitar and continues playing softly.
I'm not crying because of him, I think dejectedly. He keeps his head down while I continue to stare at him. He seems completely relaxed as he plays his music, obviously in his element. I can't help but to wonder what he thinks about while he plays, or if he even thinks at all. Maybe it just flows naturally for him.
He glances back up at me, his lips forming a sad smile. "You probably shouldn't look at me like that," he says so quietly that I can barely hear him.
"Why not?" I ask just as quietly.
He gazes at me for another moment before looking back down at his guitar. "Because I don't know if I'll be able to walk away again." He takes a deep breath and closes his eyes, as if he's deep in thought. "'Don't seek what you don't need from me'," he states, repeating a line from "our" song. When he opens his eyes, I can see just how conflicted he is. This is just as hard on him as it is on me.
I laugh softly and look down at my hands, vaguely aware of the tears falling down my cheeks. "You, uh...you don't know what I need, Edward."
Footsteps come toward me, and seconds later the cot squeaks as Edward tentatively sits down beside me. "What..." He clears his throat, seemingly nervous. "What do you need, Bella?"
"Love," I whisper simply. I swallow audibly, still looking down at my hands. I'm almost scared to look at Edward.
He scoots a little closer to me until his leg is brushing against mine. I can feel his hesitation before his hand rests on the small of my back. Before I can stop myself, I lean over to lay my head on his shoulder. He takes in a sharp breath, but doesn't protest. "Then why are you marrying my brother?" he asks quietly.
Now would be a good time to tell the truth. Now would be a good time to just come clean, and hopefully not drive Edward away. It would be a good time...if I weren't such a coward. Instead, all I can say is, "I don't know."
Edward nudges my chin slightly until I lift my head to face him. He doesn't speak - all he does is gaze at me for a moment. His hand moves to the nape of my neck and, without a word, pulls me to him gently. My lips part as they finally come in contact with his. His kiss is soft, sensual, as his lips move with mine perfectly. Feeling the tip of his tongue slowly meet with mine, I moan slightly. His lips are soft against mine as he kisses me a few more times and when he pulls back my heart clenches with disappointment. I honestly have no idea how I've lived my life without him in it.
"Edward?" I hear a rough voice say behind me. My eyes pop open, as do Edward's, and I slowly turn around to see Jacob struggling to sit upright. He's awake.
"Jacob!" Edward and I both yell.
I jump up and rush to his side. He squints at me in confusion before asking, "Isabella?" He seems to remember me. Part of me was kind of hoping he'd have amnesia.
As I explain the accident to him, Edward just stands across the room with his arms folded across his chest. The sunrise filtering through the windows causes him to look almost ethereal. I think it's weird that he hasn't come to the bed to greet his brother. He's just watching us, his eyes darting back and forth between us.
Jacob finally looks away from me and up at Edward. "What are you doing here, Edward?" His voice is surprisingly cold.
Edward, not looking at all affronted, says, "I was worried about my brother." Jacob snorts in disbelief. The feeling in the room has changed from relief that Jacob is awake to a nervous anxious feeling that makes my stomach hurt.
"I'm going to go get Dad," Edward informs us curtly before walking out.
"I'll be right back, okay?" I tell Jacob. "I'll explain everything you've missed. We really need to talk." I know I should be talking to Jacob about how I pretended to be his fiancee', but the look on Edward's face concerns me more right now.
I rush into the hall and call his name but he doesn't stop. I jog to catch up to him and grab his arm. "What's going on?" I ask accusingly. "I know you don't get along all that well, but your brother just woke up from a coma!"
Standing in front of him so he can't walk around me, I glare at him and he takes a deep breath.
"Yes, my brother. Your fiance'," he adds, raising an eyebrow. "Your fiance'... the guy who just called you 'Isabella'. That fiance', Bella?" My breath catches in my throat. I have no rebuttal. He stares at me for a beat longer then turns to move around me.
I watch helplessly as he walks down the hall toward his dad's office, then make my way back to Jacob's room. I'm determined to explain everything. It's time to come clean.
As I open the door to his room I hear Esme's voice. Of course, she's always here first thing in the morning. "You picked such a lovely girl to marry, Jacob," she's saying enthusiastically. "She's so kind and she loves you so much. She has barely left your side. She and Edward have been here everyday."
"Yes, every day and every night."
He contemplates this information for a moment, then asks, "I'm engaged?"
"Yes, to a beautiful girl with a beautiful heart. Your dad said that you may have some trouble remembering details or recalling recent events with such a trauma to your head. You can't force it, though."
"This doesn't sound right. I would think I'd remember something like dating and asking the girl from the coffee shop to marry me." He groans as he shifts in his bed. "Has Irina or Kate been here? What about my office? Someone called them, right? Damn it, the last thing I remember is going to get coffee after the mediation I had."
Esme pats his hand softly. "Well, that's a good place to start. I'm sure spending time with Isabella will jog your memories, sweetheart. No one else has been by except the owner of your firm once, no one else." She emphasizes the last part. "Just relax and try not to stress out." I guess she doesn't plan on telling him about his overzealous wannabe nurse.
As their conversation winds down, I hear Edward and Carlisle coming down the hall so I step into the room. "Your dad is on his way in to check on you," I say softly. I quickly sit down in a chair across the room, but Jacob asks me to come to him. He has me sit on the edge of his bed, our hips touching. "So you're my fiancee'?" he asks with a cocky grin. "I'm sorry I don't remember."
I try to say something, but he leans over and kisses me. I have wanted this kiss for a year. I have wanted his lips on mine for so long and I had built it up in my head so much so that I am taken aback by how little emotion I feel right at the moment.
"I see the happy couple is reunited!" Carlisle says from the doorway. I look up and see Edward behind him. His eyes are cold, not their usual warm green that make my heart skip beats and my stomach flutter. He turns quickly and disappears from view. Making to stand up, I shift in the bed, but Jacob grabs my arm and asks me to stay while Carlisle checks him out.
"I'll sit here then." I plant myself in the chair next to his bed. Edward's chair. I watch as Carlisle does a preliminary check, then Dr. Banner comes in to ask more questions and makes arrangements for another MRI and CT Scan. They both say he's doing remarkably well but will need physical therapy to make sure his arm and leg will be okay.
Esme fusses over him and flits around the room fixing, pouring, arranging, and just being a mom. I try to focus on her rather than Jacob, but every time I look toward him, he's staring at me like a puzzle he can't figure out. I have no idea how to explain that this puzzle has no pieces. I'm just a liar and once he figures it all out he will be so angry - just like Edward.
Edward. My heart squeezes at the thought of how angry he was with me. I hurt him with my lies just like I will hurt Jacob and the other Cullens when I come clean.
Finally, after what feels like forever, the nurses come to take Jacob to run the tests. He asks if I can go with him but they say there's no room and they'll need to move quickly. I actually sigh in relief.
Making my way down to my car, I head home. When I get there, I sag against the inside of my closed front door and Caius curls up into my lap. As I hang my head and let the tears fall, I can't help that my mind drifts to Edward. I've ruined everything.
Chirping. I hear chirping. Damn it, my phone. I look around and realize I'm still curled up with Caius on the floor. My phone is sounding, but I can't find it in my pockets or the jacket I'm still wearing.
Caius sulks off with a whine because I've messed up his sleeping spot. When I stand, my bones pop and crack, I feel much much older today, inside and out. Finding my purse near my door, I fish through it until I find my phone and see I have four missed calls and several texts. Jane.
"Your fiance's mom just stopped by looking for you. Got something you want to tell me?"
I text her back that I'll be in soon, then shower and change. Today, I will figure all this out. I have to figure it out.
Taking a deep breath, I push open the door to the shop and relish for just a moment in the jingle of the bell at the top of the door. I move quickly behind the counter and see Jane helping a customer, so I slip on my apron and get to work without greeting her. When she wraps up their exchange, she saunters over to me and I look up to see a maniacal grin on her face.
"Not now, Jane." I'm not usually snippy, but I'm just not in the mood right now. I need to work and get all of this out of my head so I can deal with it properly...later.
Throwing myself into my work, I'm taking orders and making drinks and keeping myself busy.
"Isabella?" I glance up to see Esme standing in front of me.
"Hi Esme," I greet her, forcing a smile. "How is everything? Is Jacob all right?" I ask while trying to help a small girl with her hot chocolate.
"We missed you today. Jacob was asking about you." Her voice is concerned and it makes me look up. "Are you okay?"
Taking a deep breath, I reply, "Yes, things were just crazy around here. I needed to be here."
"I understand, dear. They'll be releasing Jacob tomorrow. I've asked him to stay with us for a bit, just to make sure his physical therapy goes well. He'd like to get back to work but Dr. Banner thinks with the slight swelling still there and the memory loss, he'd like to keep him out of work at least a week."
I nod, not really knowing what else to do here. "Isabella, something's wrong. I can tell." My head shoots up, locking eyes with her. "I know that I'm not your mother...yet." She smiles. "If you need to talk, you can come to me."
Oh, my heart. "Thank you, Esme. I'll be heading to the hospital soon, okay?"
She smiles and says she'll be heading over soon, she just needs to pick up some things for Jacob at his office.
"Would you like something to drink before you go?" I offer.
"Sure, how about a mocha?"
I work quickly and then bring it over to her as she sits near the counter. "Esme?"
She looks up at me sweetly after taking a sip. "This is so good, Isabella."
"Thank you. Please, call me Bella."
"Bella. Edward calls you Bella."
Taking in a deep breath, I nod.
"Could I have a chocolate croissant?" she asks as she tries to hand me a ten dollar bill. I wave her off then go grab her treat.
"This is fantastic. Edward was right." Why does she keep bringing up Edward? "Both my sons are really good boys," she muses. "They are vastly different, but I love them both so very much. I've only ever wanted them to be happy. You make my son happy, Bella." I can't help but notice that she doesn't mention which son.
"Esme-" I try again. This time she takes a deep breath, as if she's waiting for me to divulge my secret. When her eyes meet mine, I just can't do it. I can't hurt her. "Thank you for being so kind to me," I say, letting out a heavy sigh.
"Of course, dear. I'll see you at the hospital." She touches my hand briefly then heads out.
Jane quickly takes over and pushes me out the door. "Fix your shit, boss. Come back later when you aren't all possessed and mopey." I can't help but smile at her.
"Call if you need anything, okay?" She nods and I head out, as Jane so eloquently put it, to fix my shit.
The hospital room is a flurry of people. All of the Cullens seem to be here, minus the one I'd most like to see. Alice is packing Jacob's things, Esme is hovering over Jacob and Dr. Cullen is speaking with Dr. Banner and a nurse. I truly feel like I'm intruding, but Alice sees me at the door that's propped open and calls out to me making everyone stop and turn toward me.
"Isabella, come here," Jacob says with a genuine smile. "I had a memory today. Of you."
"Yes. We were at the counter of the coffee shop talking about having dinner. You were smiling and blushing. It was very cute." He leans in and kisses me on the lips. He makes to deepen the kiss, but I pull back. "Don't worry, the doctor wants me to spend time with you so it will jog my memory. I bet kissing you will help immensely." He gives me a cheeky grin, the one that used to melt my heart at the cafe. Now it makes my heart drop into my stomach.
Looking up at his busy, caring family, I realize that I have to fix this. Now.
"Jacob, we need to talk."
Alice hears me and asks if we are going to talk wedding stuff. She says she has lots of great ideas since she's almost done planning her wedding with Jasper and would like to help us as much as she can. Jacob immediately starts asking questions about the proposal and why I don't have a ring. The questions are coming too fast and I feel my head swimming. I hear Esme ask if I'm okay and I just snap.
"No. I'm not okay."
"Isabella, what's wrong?" Jacob asks me in a kind way that makes what I'm about to say even harder.
"I'm not your fiancee', Jacob."
Insert collective gasp here. You could hear a pin drop in this room. I keep my eyes on Jacob, as he processes the information, taking in his features. The soft, happy smile that warmed his cheeks slowly drops into a scowl.
Jacob breaks the silence first. "What do you mean, Isabella?"
"I wanted to go with you on the ambulance," I explain quietly, avoiding his eyes. "The paramedics wouldn't let me because I wasn't family. I panicked. You've never mentioned your family. I didn't think they would be here."
Jacob interrupts me, a confused, angry look on his face. "You lied to me. To my family. How could you do that?"
"I didn't know how amazing you all were. I didn't realize I'd fall in love with all of you. I'm so, so sorry. To all of you."
"Well, now this make sense." I hear Alice say. Confused, I look to her and see Esme holding her hand. They both seem to be glaring at me.
"Jacob's heart rate shouldn't be elevated quite so high. Maybe we need to clear out the room for a bit, okay?" I hear Carlisle ask from behind me.
I know what that means.
"I'm sorry," I whisper, walking toward the still open door. Ramming my shoulder into someone, I hear a voice call out my name, but I don't look around, don't stop. I just move toward the exit and out to my car.
Somehow I make it back to my house and into my bed. I force myself to lie there. When I finally run out of tears, my body succumbs to sleep. And I sleep hard.
"Get your ass up." Cracking one eye open, I see Jane standing at the foot of my bed. She looks haggard and a smidgen pissed.
"I will not go away. I've been dealing with customers like mad. Somehow your shop got some press or something; Black Swan's been filled with people for days. I had to ask my sister to come help me because you wouldn't answer your phone. Do you know how hard it is to get Rose out of bed before nine in the morning? You owe me a raise. Now, get up. It's been three days since I've heard from you."
"I just want to lie here, please."
"I understand, but you have a business to run. Plus, we have the monthly open mic night tomorrow. You know I need your help with that stuff. I can't do it all alone. If you don't come help soon, part-time Rose will become full-time pain in my ass, and we can't have that. I'll kill her. And her boyfriend keeps eating all the cookies."
"Why would you let Emmett behind the counter?" Sitting up in bed, I can only imagine how much money he's eaten. I grumble and get up. Jane says she's heading back to the cafe and that I should meet her there. She threatens that if I'm not there within the hour she'll let Emmett have free reign. I move quickly.
By the time I get to the shop, it's the lunch rush hour. We work hard getting all the orders and food made and out and it feels good to get back in the swing of it all. I needed this. I might have screwed up a bunch of things, but I still have Black Swan. And it seems to be doing well. A lot more people are here than usual for one o'clock on a Thursday.
Once the crowd thins and I've sufficiently chased Emmett out of the refrigerator, I decide not to go home, but to keep myself busy. I clean like the devil is following me around. I want this place to shine like the top of the Chrysler building. Jane gives me dirty looks as I direct her, while Rose complains that she wants to go home, but I tell her she has to work off Emmett's food. She whines about how she'll be here forever and I just throw a rag at her.
When customers come in, Jane and Rose both fight over who gets to help them and I just continue to scrub, polish, sanitize, and clean everything I can reach. I even organize and clean out what's left of the fridge and freezer. Rose will be working forever. I ask her to call Emmett back so he can help me clean the windows and she gets a devious smile. At least she can order him around a bit. When he arrives with a ladder, she rushes to him, planting a big kiss on his lips and he scoops her up like he hasn't seen her in days. I look away and flush at the thought of being that in love. Shaking my head to clear the thoughts away, I return to my regimen of scrubbing the hurt away.
Jane and Rose leave after locking up and I stay in the cafe. I mop the floors and clean every table twice. Around midnight, I finally head home and crash immediately. When I wake up the next morning, I'm still wearing my dirty apron, but I feel better. I will survive.
Friday is a blur and we are again more than our usual busy in the morning rush and the lunch coffee refueling time. Strangely, around the late afternoon we have another rush which rarely happens. There must be something good happening downtown tonight. I notice people aren't leaving though, and many are milling about inside and out on our small patio. Emmett comes in to help set up the sound equipment for the open mic night, and Rose and Jane both help me make extra snacks for the crowd that seems determined to be a part of this night's activity.
"Bella?" I hear a familiar happy voice, and when I look up I see Alice smiling at me.
"What are you doing here?" I ask tentatively.
She smiles kindly and says, "I came for a croissant. And I need to be here since I put in my column that I would be here tonight." That would explain the people. I forgot that Alice was a journalist for the Style section of the paper.
"Oh, okay." I seem to be dumb-founded. I get her a croissant and take her money without really thinking about it. Her face is so sweet and happy when I hand her back her change. "Thank you for mentioning the cafe."
"I hear it will be a hell of a show." Her kind smile changes slightly, now looking more devious.
Another customer distracts me, but I see she wanders over to a tall dirty blonde man who kisses her softly. That must be her beloved Jasper. She shares her croissant with him as they find seats near the makeshift stage.
Open mic night is supposed to start about seven, so I make my way over to the stage so I can get the festivities started. Once I get to the microphone though, I look out into the small crowd assembled in my cafe and notice some familiar faces. Not only is Alice here, but I see Jacob, Esme, and Carlisle tucked away at the back. I look around to see if Edward is here, but I don't see his mop of reddish brown hair. I frown a bit.
Taking a calming breath, I welcome everyone to Black Swan's monthly open mic night and ask everyone to silence their cell phones and to enjoy themselves. The first act of the night is a slam poet. Demetri is here every month and he'll spend his ten minutes slamming the government or standing up against some malicious intent by "the man." I wander back to the counter and help the stragglers with their drinks and food. I listen as minstrels and poets work their magic on the crowd all while helping customers. I let Jane and Rose both go sit in the audience and enjoy themselves with their boyfriends, Alec and Emmett. I glance over to Alice or Esme every so often. They both look to be enjoying themselves, content smiles on their faces, their hands tucked into the grasps of their significant others. The happy couples make me sigh audibly. Keeping myself busy is the name of the game for the evening.
"How about a famous chocolate croissant?" I startle to see Jacob smiling at me. His sunshine smile. He's still banged up, but he's able to walk with a brace and is managing well with the sling.
"I- uh, sure." I wrap the large croissant and settle it into the hand with the sling. He thanks me then takes a large piece off and pops it into his mouth.
"This is as good as Edward said it was." I stand there fairly flabbergasted. Definitely wasn't expecting him to say that.
I take a large gulp, then say, "Look, Jacob. I can't tell you how sorry I am."
"Don't apologize." He smiles, waving me off. "Just promise me you'll hear him out."
"Hear who out?"
Jacob starts to step away with the same devious grin Alice had. I head around the counter to stop him, but a beautiful voice singing stops me dead in my tracks.
On the days I can't see your eyes,
I don't even want to open mine.
On the days I can't see your smile,
Well I'd rather sit, wait the while.
I'm afraid to look, but it is as if my body and mind are not one and I turn toward the voice. There sits Edward. He's strumming his guitar and singing, but his eyes - his eyes are locked on me.
For the days I know you'll be near,
'Cause a day without you just isn't fair.
See the days I can hear you voice,
I'm left without a choice.
His velvet voice cracks just a little bit at the end and it causes my feet to start to move. I weave in between tables and find myself in front of him as he sings the chorus in a way that has my heart pounding.
I can't find the words to explain,
Just how much you got me going insane.
When you speak to me sometimes you'll find,
Oh. I stutter my words, I say nevermind.
His green eyes are intensely gazing and I can't think of anything but getting closer to him. I watch his lips form the words that are pushing my heart to beat faster. I feel like I can't get in enough oxygen, but I don't care. I just want to stare at him.
'Cause even when you just walk by,
Well I look around to seem occupied.
'Cause I'm trying so hard to hide,
Yeah, all these feelings inside.
His beautiful voice melts into the chorus again and he won't let my gaze drop. I feel naked and bare in front of him and I have no concept of the people around us. In my head it's just him. Just me. Us.
God damn you're beautiful to me. Oh.
You're everything. Yeah, that's beautiful
Yes to me, Oh.
Yes to me, Oh.
He finishes the last note and sets his guitar on a stand near where he was sitting. I'm still standing right in front of him, not sure what I should do next. My heart wants just him and only him.
"Bella," he whispers as he walks forward to me. Like a magnet to its opposite, I push forward. I'm not sure of what I want, but it's obvious I need to be near him.
"Can we talk? Will you listen to me?"
I nod and he takes my hand. His soft fingers lace with mine and he pulls me through the crowd and tables. I realize that the cafe has gone completely silent, even with all the bodies inside. I glance to the right and see Alice with the rest of the Cullens, all of them with bright smiles on their faces. Esme is pushing tears from her eyes.
Edward leads me through the door onto the patio. It's drizzling outside so no one is still sitting at these tables. He gestures toward one of the chairs, silently asking me to sit. I don't even care about the water that seep into my jeans as do so.
He kneels in front of me, and I can't help my jaw dropping.
"Bella, I'm sorry."
"No, no. I'm sorry, Edward." His eyes are searching mine and I can't figure out what I need or what he needs so I lean forward and drop to my knees pushing the chair away from me. I lace my fingers with his, mirroring his pose.
"Stop, Bella. Just hear me out, okay?" I close my mouth and nod.
"From the moment I saw you, I just knew you were the one. Everything about you made my heart beat faster and when I found out you were Jacob's... it just killed me. I would never stoop so low as to put the moves on my brother's girl, but I was seriously contemplating it. I wanted you. And then I pushed you away. If I had met you one day on the street, I would have asked you out for a cup of coffee and we would've talked like we had in the hospital, stayed up all night talking. I wouldn't have let you go."
He takes another deep breath and continues. "You were in a bad situation, you didn't mean for it to happen. I get that. You were just being you, being the good person you are. I can't fault you for that. I hate lying, but I know you didn't mean any harm by what you did."
His eyes never break their connection with mine and I don't even want to blink. The wind is pushing the rain under the awning and we're both kneeling in puddles. I can feel the cold water pooling around my knees and hitting me in the face, but I just don't care. I grip Edward's hands tighter in mine and absorb his beautiful face which is illuminated by the street lights.
"Tell me we can work this out, Bella." I hear the slight panic in his voice. "Please tell me you aren't gone for good?"
I think for a moment about what he's asking. He wants me? He wants me and me alone. He's willing to forgive me the lies. My heart aches as I realize how much he cares for me. He loves me like I love him.
"I'm in love with you, Edward." His face breaks into a gorgeous full smile, his face lighting up and his eyes sparkling a bit. He is such a beautiful man.
"I'm in love with you, too, Bella. So much. I want you. Just you." My stomach is doing flips and I can't control myself, I push forward and claim his lips with mine. Weaving my fingers into his hair, I pull slightly and he moans quietly, then slips his tongue into my mouth. My chest is pushing against his with every panting breath I take. I can't seem to get close enough though and I grip his hair harder, pulling him to me. His hands push at the small of my back and I move even closer to him, resting my chest and stomach against his. I feel like no matter how close I get it will never be enough.
We finally break the kiss, reluctantly, and he rests his forehead against mine. "Can we go somewhere? To talk?"
"Edward, would you like to get a cup of coffee with me?" I can't help my smile and I laugh a bit when he snorts.
"Yes, Bella. I would love to get a cup of coffee with you. I hear this place makes a mean cup." He gestures with his thumb to the cafe.
"I've heard great things about their croissants. Can I treat you?"
He nods and helps me to my feet. "Every second with you is a treat."
I laugh again. "Let's see how you feel after twenty years of this crazy." I giggle while pointing at myself.
"It will be my pleasure." Never letting go of my hand, he kisses my neck then holds the door open for me, the little bell jingling slightly.
A/N: Thanks so much for donating to Fandom 4 Tsunami!