Pressing for Love
The author does not own any publicly recognizable entities herein. No copyright infringement is intended.
Sometimes she preferred working at the steam presses, even though it was miserable work and she could feel the heat of the steam scalding her face and hands. Sometimes if she was careless, she'd catch her fingertips against the hot plates and burn them. When she worked the steam press it was better because her back was to the windows and she wasn't distracted by the outside world. She didn't see the shift of daylight as the dawn broke over Washington Square and transitioned through each stage of the day towards sunset.
She didn't see the clouds move through the sky, or the rain or snow pelting the arched windows. She didn't see the days of her life passing by in a cloud of steam and cotton fiber dust.
But that was alright. That meant she focused on her job. She counted the seconds each piece was pressed, counted the pieces she made and assured herself that her pay wouldn't be docked for a scorched piece of cuff or collar, front piece or back piece. Center the cuff, pull down the lever and let the steam press do its job. Pile the pieces, twenty-five at a time next to the machine, keeping count to make sure she was meeting her quota. Her eyes would drift to the clock over the elevator towards the Washington Place exit after every fourth pile. On a good day, one hundred cuffs or collars would equal fifteen minutes. Four hundred cuffs or collars meant an hour. After sixteen hundred, she would get fifteen minutes to eat the sandwich that she packed and wrapped in waxed cloth and kept in her coat pocket, which lay neatly with her hat and small handbag, on the floor under the machine. Then it was back to work. If she was ahead of herself by at least fifty pieces, she'd get to take a quick break around noon. She'd run and use the water closet on the fifth floor and rush back up to the tenth before falling behind. But only if she was ahead of herself by at least fifty pieces.
Her day ended at seven. In the cold winter that meant it was already dark when she stepped out onto the sidewalk. The new electric street lights that lined Cooper Union Square gave off a noticeable buzz, drowned out only by the sound of chatter as the exhausted workers finally gave voice to whatever thoughts they'd held in for the last nine hours. Foremen docked them for speaking on the job- unless it was required as part of their duties, which it rarely was.
She heard her name over the din of the exiting workers and saw a small hand covered in brown leather jumping up over the hats of the ladies as they streamed down the sidewalk. She couldn't help but smile.
"Alice," she said, the smile spreading over her face even as she felt the cold air sting her overheated cheeks.
"You're still coming with me, right?" Mary Alice Brandon was a force with which to be reckoned. She'd heard about the meeting at Cooper Union. Local 25 of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union was holding a general meeting regarding workers' rights for all employees of The Triangle Company (some of whom had already gone on strike) -and opening it to all other garment workers regarding workers rights. Alice had latched onto the idea of reforming the system.
For weeks there had been murmurs as workers had passed each other in the narrow aisles of the factory. The women exchanged quick whispers about those that had joined the picket lines and the increased violence that they faced. It was rumored that the bosses had hired thugs to beat the striking workers, and prostitutes to join the picket lines so that the police would have no choice but to arrest any woman with them for being street walkers. Each day for nearly two months since the limited strike began, the murmurs grew louder. Things needed to change, and it was clear that a more widespread movement would be the only way.
"Yes, Alice, I promised I would go, but only if we were home by midnight. That's when my father needs to leave for the docks, and Mama doesn't like to be home alone at night."
Alice hooked her arm through Bella's and let out a happy squeal. How anyone could be so happy after a thirteen hour shift, Bella had no idea. Her arms ached and her neck was sore. She felt closer to her mother's age of thirty-six than her own seventeen years.
"Come on!" Alice said cheerfully pulling her across Waverley Place, "We can walk through the park."
The daylight had long faded as the two young women joined scores of others as they headed east through the park and past the famous white arch. Bella was slightly sad that it was no longer lined with lights from the Hudson-Fulton Festival that had taken place during the late summer. That had been a sight to see. The lights had been strung everywhere, turning night into day for weeks. Even the Brooklyn Bridge had been lit and people had spent those few weeks meandering through the streets to marvel at everything. Even though the lights were no longer there the park still had a lot of foot traffic from nearby New York University. There were many young men wearing smart suits walking the same way they were engaging the women in conversation. Alice, ever the chatter bug spoke with them, but Bella kept her eyes on the sidewalk, too shy to answer. Soon they reached Cooper Union and saw that the line for entrance reached down and around the building. As the line slowly moved and they approached the entrance, Alice tugged on Bella's sleeve.
"Look at that Bella," Alice said coming to a halt at the sight of a young man in uniform with curly blond hair stepping out of a well equipped black motor car.
He turned and held out his hand to help a young woman down from the passenger carriage. "Look at that hat! And that dress!" Alice sighed. "One day, I will have that!"
Bella followed Alice's eye line, which was clearly focused on the man in uniform.
"The hat, the dress, the motor car, or the man?" Bella asked wryly.
"Any of them," Alice laughed and waved her hand towards the couple. "How about all of them?" She turned to Bella and they both broke out in laughter.
"Come on Mary Alice," Bella pulled her along and Alice couldn't help but look at the blond couple as they fell in behind them.
"Isabella Swan, one day, I'm going to get you to admit that you have dreams and aspirations about something more than spending your days bent over a steam iron at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company."
"That is my dream, Mary Alice Brandon. To not spend my days bent over a steam iron anywhere, ever again." They both laughed as they walked up the stairs and into Cooper Union.
"Edward. Esme." Major Jasper Whitlock greeted the brother and sister as they found their seats inside Cooper Union.
"Rosalie, I'm surprised you made it." Edward Mason said from behind his sister Esme as he reached out and shook the Major's hand.
"Well, Esme has been talking about this pet project of hers for days, so I thought I'd see what she was all fired up about." Rosalie looked around the meeting room, her cool blue eyes assessing the crowd of mostly young women speaking in Yiddish and Italian, or with heavy Irish accents or the occasional dreadful lower class New York accent bleeding through.
Edward got the impression that if she could, she would be any where in the world other than here. Most likely, her older brother Carlisle had insisted she come. Carlisle, Esme's husband, was on the board of the Anti-Tubercular committee for the city and worked as a doctor at St. Vincent's Hospital. He worked long hard hours after his shifts visiting the tenements of the city to help eradicate the disease. As a medical student himself, Edward applauded his brother-in-law's actions and looked forward to the time that he could work along side him. When Carlisle and Esme had gotten married, Carlisle's progressive political leanings had rubbed off on his young brother in law. Only fifteen at the time, Edward had been impressionable, and looked up to the young doctor. Edward and Esme had been orphaned for three years at the point, and at first Edward had been wary that Carlisle was only interested in Esme for her inheritance. But soon it became obvious that theirs was a love match and Carlisle loved Esme despite her fortune, not because of it. Their marriage had caused a ripple in New York society, and even now they were still on the fringes of Mrs. Astor's Four Hundred despite their wealth and family history as true Knickerbockers.
It was through Carlisle that they'd made the acquaintance of Major Jasper Whitlock. He'd been a doctor with the Army Medical Corps stationed in Panama, working alongside Colonel William Gorgas towards eradicating yellow fever and malaria. Now he was stationed in the city working with Carlisle on other airborne illnesses. Carlisle had hoped that his sister Rosalie would make a match with the handsome military officer, but those hopes had been dashed rather quickly. While Rosalie had no problem being escorted around town by him, she had her sights set much higher in society, namely Royce King III, whose father was a real estate magnate in the city and a crony of JP Morgan.
The din of voices in the hall grew louder and further conversation amongst their party became too difficult to maintain, so Edward found himself looking around the room.
Most of the attendees were either students who held progressive political views, or young women, younger than himself even at twenty, not more than teenagers really. He could tell that they lived much harder lives than he had, and that aged them prematurely. They carried themselves proudly and he admired that greatly. There was no anger in the air, just steely determination. He couldn't help but think that it was because it was women leading this movement. If it were, say the stevedores, the atmosphere would be completely different. But these women, from different nations and religions, were banding together to help make the world a better place.
Esme had told him about the reasons behind this meeting, and it was all the talk on campus amongst the political set; the workers were demanding better wages and working conditions, shorter work days and set salaries instead of piece work. There were some that were calling for full out unionization of the garment industry and the word strike was whispered from person to person as if it were a sin to say it too loud.
Edward and Esme had arrived early so that they could secure seats for their party. They sat about midway through the audience, on the outside aisle. He turned and looked to his left and realized that there were more people than seats. There were two young women standing at the end of their row and Edward's ingrained sense of propriety demanded that he stand.
"Esme, Rose, would you mind moving down?" he asked as he stood. Jasper quickly gleaned his intent and also stood.
"Ladies," Jasper drawled in his southern accent as he gestured towards the two seats that were now available.
"Oh," the smaller of the two stood and stared at Jasper for a moment before she smiled demurely. "We couldn't," she said looking down.
"We insist," Edward said looking at her companion. For a second he felt as if he'd been poleaxed as her brown eyes met his. He didn't know what it was about her, but something called to him. Her hair was an unremarkable brown, hidden mostly under a hideous black hat.
She dressed simply in a white shirtwaist and black skirt and was clutching a black coat in her arms. But her eyes…her eyes met his and he felt as if the world was suddenly righted, although he'd never been aware that it wasn't on its axis. She blushed bright red and looked away from him, mumbling her thanks. He wanted to reach out to her, say something, anything, just to prolong their contact.
Her friend smiled at Jasper and sat next to Esme who smiled at her in turn. And then she stepped past him to take a seat and stumbled slightly. Edward took her arm to steady her and felt as if he were truly alive for the first time in his life.
"Beg your pardon miss," he said holding on to her until she steadied.
"Th-thank you," she said quietly, meeting his eyes once again. He nodded and smiled, and with reluctance let her arm go so she could sit. He took his place next to Jasper against the wall and soon the meeting came to order. He couldn't help but divide his attention between the speakers and the young woman sitting on the aisle.
Bella could feel that the eyes of the young man standing next to the wall were on her. She was trying to pay attention to the speakers who were making the case of the workers plight with passion while the union leaders spoke of prudence and caution. However the young man's green eyes blazed through her and the hair on the back of her neck was prickling. She desperately wanted to turn and look at him, but was too embarrassed. He was dressed so finely, in a black suit and his coat was draped over his arm. She could just see that out of the corner of her eye. It was such fine wool. Bella knew that he came from money, but the difference didn't matter to her heart, which was beating a mile a minute. Oh how she wished she could have done more than just blushed and stammered at him. And when he held her hand..?
The young woman who sat next to Alice was the one they had seen get out of the fancy motor car. Her dress was a beautiful blue fabric the color of a summer storm cloud. Bella could only assume it was silk by the way it flowed. Bella sat stiffly, feeling the hole in the toe of her stockings and her fingers played with the fraying seam on her skirt. She took a deep breath and looked around, taking note that most people in the hall were dressed more like her and she took a bit of comfort in that. It was clear that the foursome surrounding them were here in the spirit of social activism and had no real connection to the world of the working people, the immigrants and the dock workers.
"Bella! Look!" Alice grabbed her arm and nearly stood up as she craned her neck towards the stage and thankfully broke Bella away from her useless thoughts.
Working her way slowly up the steps towards the podium was a young woman with whom both Alice and Bella had worked. Her name was Clara Lemlich, a Russian Jew who'd been one of the most outspoken of their co-workers at the factory. She had lead the small group of workers out on strike in September and she'd been beaten while picketing, the bruises were barely faded from her face as she slowly walked across the stage with a barely hidden limp.
She began to speak in Yiddish.
"What?" The redheaded woman sitting next to Alice whispered. "What is she saying?"
Alice began to translate, and the two finely dressed women leaned in to hear her. The two young men leaned over Bella to hear what Alice was saying, and Bella could just catch the slightest hint of the young man's cologne.
"I have listened to all the speakers, and I have no further patience for talk. I am a working girl, one of those striking against intolerable conditions. I am tired of listening to speakers who talk in generalities. What we are here for is to decide whether or not to strike. I make a motion that we go out on a general strike."
As soon as she finished speaking there was a murmur through the half of the crowd that spoke Yiddish. The uproar and cheering grew louder as her words were translated from one to another until all understood what the incredibly young woman had said. People, Alice among them, got to their feet to cheer, clap, and chant strike, strike, strike!
Bella stood, but didn't cheer. The thought of walking out on her job had her paralyzed with fear. The two dollars a day she brought home helped pay for her families' necessities. Her father's salary went towards their rent on the two room apartment. The money her mother made taking in laundry helped, but it was Bella's pay that afforded them to eat. How could she possibly walk away from a job, no matter how miserable it was?
After Clara was done speaking, a vote was taken, and it was decided that a general strike was the way to go. An oath was sworn, and as much as it pained her, Bella took it.
"If I turn traitor to the cause I now pledge may this hand wither from the arm I now raise."
Her heart was pounding. Bella stood slowly as the crowd began to exit.
"Are you going to do it?" She heard the finely dressed young man asked from beside her. "Are you going to strike?" His concern etched clearly on his face as if he knew what it meant to her.
"I…I don't know," she answered him honestly. He gave her a small smile that gave her courage.
"Of course we are Bella," Alice said from next to her, still bouncing with excitement from the emotion of the crowd around them.
"Alice…" Bella said quietly, willing her friend to be quiet.
"Bella! We swore an oath! You know as well as I do, that we can't go on this way." She turned towards the blond woman as she spoke.
"Why don't you just find a different job, a better job? Though from what I have read, you won't find anything better than the Triangle Company." The blond woman said as she stood up next to Alice.
Bella realized that this woman had no idea what she was saying. She was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt that she meant well, but Alice couldn't be stopped.
"There are no better jobs for people like us." Alice said, her voice rising in passion. "Yes, The Triangle Shirtwaist Company is the biggest and most modern factory in the garment industry. I started working at a different factory when I was fifteen."
The two young men winced at that, and the red headed woman's face took on a pinched look.
She continued. "At my old job, I used to have to carry my own sewing machine with me to work and back everyday, it was foot pedal operated. But at the Triangle Company, we have electric machines! Do you know how much easier that makes it? We went from making thirty-four pieces an hour to well over a hundred, though the owners take that into account when they do your piece count at the end of the day. It's not as if we get more money per piece now. While it makes things easier, you have no idea how awful it is. We're not allowed to talk to one another. We're not allowed to sing, or hum. If we do, our pay is docked. If we damage a piece of fabric, or break a sewing needle, our pay is docked."
She held up her hand and the nail of her index finger was black and a scab was visible on her finger tip.
"I did this two days ago, ran the machine right through my finger. I was docked for damaging the collar that I was sewing. I wrapped it in a scrap of fabric to keep from bleeding on anything else. At the end of the day, when I was leaving, I had to unwrap it and throw that piece of scrap material in the scrap bucket, or I would have been fired for taking materials out with me."
"I…" the blonde said, eyes wide, not knowing what to say, but Alice wasn't done.
"Tomorrow morning, I want you to wake up when the sun rises and go down to your kitchen, if you know where that is, and set a large pot of water to boil. Once it's boiling, I want you to stand over it and lift it up over your head every thirty seconds for four hours. Only then are you allowed to eat, but you have to do it still standing over that pot of boiling water, and you can only take five minutes to use the facilities. You are not allowed to talk; you are not allowed to move away from that pot of boiling water, no matter what always lifting it over your head, every thirty seconds, until the sun sets. But do it knowing, that you are in the best kitchen, so you should be grateful for the privilege. That's what Bella does, every day for thirteen hours working the steam presses. Do you know what she gets paid for the privilege of working at Triangle? Two dollars a day. Unless she burns a piece then that comes out of her pay. She's gotten very good at not burning pieces."
Bella felt all their eyes swing her way and she could feel the blush rise on her cheeks.
"Thank you for explaining that to us Miss…" the redheaded woman said from behind the blonde.
"Brandon. Mary Alice Brandon," Alice supplied. "And this is Isabella Swan." Alice said taking Bella's arm and pulling her close.
"I'm Esme Masen Cullen," The redhead said as if her name should mean something to them, as she stuck out her hand. Alice took it. "I'm so very interested in your cause. This is my sister-in-law, Rosalie Cullen," she motioned to the blonde who nodded, chastised by Alice's speech. "This is Major Jasper Whitlock, and my brother, Edward Masen," Mrs. Cullen introduced the men and Alice almost swooned when the Major took her hand.
"Miss Brandon," he said taking her hand. "Miss Swan," he inclined his head towards Bella, but didn't release Alice's hand.
"Ladies," Edward Masen inclined his head towards both women, but his eyes stayed on Bella, who could only look down at her scuffed boots and shuffle uncomfortably.
Bella was vaguely aware of the conversation that Esme was having with Alice and Major Whitlock, about how she spoke Yiddish because of the years she spent working with the Eastern European Jewish girls and her out-going personality.
"I also speak Russian, some German and a bit of Italian because of Bella's mother," Alice pulled Bella closer to her side, and Bella felt Edward's eyes staring at her again.
"And do you speak Yiddish, Miss Swan?" Edward asked her.
"Uh, a little. But mostly just English and Italian. My mother is Italian," she said quietly feeling stupid because Alice had just said that. Edward leaned towards her to hear her over the din of the waning crowd and was about to say something when his sister spoke.
"Italiano? Carlisle and I went to Venice on our honeymoon," Mrs. Cullen said, her voice excited. "Have you ever been?"
"Um, no. I was born on the lower east side," Bella said apologetically. "My mother left when she was a little girl. I don't think we have any family still there."
"Esme, we should be going. Carlisle will be home soon and expecting us for dinner." Rosalie said suddenly.
"Oh well, I suppose you're right Rose. Thank you Miss Brandon, Miss Swan for giving us a better insight into the issues facing the garment workers. I wish you both the best of luck, and please know that you have my support for what it's worth." Bella could tell she meant that earnestly, there was no patronizing in her tone at all and she couldn't help but be buoyed by that.
She fervently wished that Mrs. Cullen's support was worth the two dollars a day that would be missing from her families coffers, but knew that was in vane. She nodded politely however and smiled at the elegant woman.
"Edward? Are you coming?" Rosalie asked him, giving the two garment workers the barest of glances as she moved past them.
"No actually. I have some work still to do for an upcoming exam, but I'll be home later. I'm sure Jasper will be more than happy to see you and Esme home."
Jasper was currently in conversation with Alice, and hadn't heard him.
"I'm sure we'll be perfectly fine without him, won't we Rose?" Esme said before moving to give her brother a kiss on the cheek. With that, the two women moved down the aisle and out the door.
"Alice, we should go," Bella said tugging on her sleeve, interrupting her conversation with Major Whitlock.
"But Bella…" Alice said, clearly not wanting to leave just yet.
"I'd be more than happy to see you home Miss Brandon," the major offered and looked to Edward.
"Miss Swan, please? Let me see you home?" Edward offered.
"Oh, I wouldn't want to take you away from your studies," Bella was mortified by the idea of him walking her home and seeing the tenement where she shared two rooms with her parents in the Bowery.
"It's nothing that can't wait, and it would be my pleasure," Edward said and held out his arm for her.
"I'll see you tomorrow Bella," Alice said happily from Major Whitlock's side.
Edward motioned for Bella to move ahead of him and she walked up the aisle to the door. She paused in the vestibule to don her thread bare coat, noticing as he put on his, which was made of the finest wool she'd ever seen. Once he put on his hat, he held his arm out for her. "Shall we?" He asked.
"Thank you," she put her hand in the crook of his elbow and walked down the stairs with him.
Edward couldn't help but think he was going mad. He could swear he felt the heat of Bella's small hand through the layers of clothes on his arm, but that was impossible. He noticed that she was wearing thread bare black woolen gloves, and then noticed that the cuff of her coat was frayed. He felt guilty for the fine clothes he was wearing, but knew that she would take great offense at that.
"Um, this way," Bella said motioning south on towards the Bowery.
"How long have you worked at the Triangle Company?" Edward asked as the crossed 6th street.
"Almost a year," Bella answered. "My mother worked there, but she was sick and couldn't work anymore. She talked the foremen into letting me work for her."
"How old are you?" he couldn't help but ask.
"Seventeen," Bella said defensively and then shot back, "How old are you?"
"Twenty," Edward said on a laugh, liking that she showed spirit. "I'm a student at New York University. I'm hoping to follow in my brother in law Carlisle's footsteps and become a doctor."
"A doctor? You must be very smart," Bella said and then blushed.
"Hopefully smart enough," Edward laughed.
"I never went to school. My father taught me to read and do math, but, school? I never," She crinkled her nose and shook her head.
"Well, I'd say you're lucky. When I was younger I couldn't wait to get out of my lessons, and now I've doomed myself to at least six more years between this and medical school."
"Six years?" Bella said and let out a wry laugh. "I don't know what I'll be doing six days from now, let alone six years."
They were both quiet as they walked down the Bowery and Bella motioned to the left to turn onto Delancey Street.
"Are you really going to strike?" Edward asked her again.
Bella sighed. "I don't know," She said, and then, "Yes," her voice was firm.
"What will happen if you do?" He asked.
"I'll go onto the picket line, I guess. Join the rest of them."
"That's very dangerous," he said, thinking of the stories of the protests that he'd read about, beatings and intimidation, reports of corrupt police officers arresting protesters with impunity. The stories in some newspapers made it seem that they were ungrateful radicals, looking for hand outs. However, from what he'd seen tonight, he knew that wasn't the case.
"Nothing will change if no one takes a stand to change it," she said. There was strength in her voice now.
"I admire you Bella," Edward said after a moment, and met her surprised look with a smile.
"You have everything to lose, yet you're risking everything, to stand up to something much bigger than yourself, and to say that it's not right, it's not fair and it needs to change. You're making a stand for your ideals."
"Well, let's just hope that everyone else agrees with you and the strike ends quickly," she shivered and pulled her coat around her tighter as a gust of wind blew down the street. "It's only going to get colder as winter comes, and ideals don't exactly pay for coal to heat my family's apartment," her lips quirked into a smile and he couldn't help but laugh at her spirit.
When she joined in with him, he felt his heart quicken.
"But I am serious," he told her as they turned down another side street. "I admire what you are doing. You are making a change in the world, trying to right a wrong. There are so many people in this world who just go along and put their heads down, just get through. But what's the point of that?" He asked rhetorically and Bella hmm'ed her agreement.
"I think that's why I want to be a doctor. My brother-in-law, Carlisle, came into Esme and my life at a time when I was lost, confused by the death of my parents. He was so warm and caring, not only to Esme, but to me. And then I realized he is that way with his patients, at the hospital and down here and in other places in the city where the disadvantaged live. He gives the same care to them as he would to Mrs. Astor or Mr. Vanderbilt."
Bella let out a small laugh. "You say their names as if you know them," Bella looked up at him. "Oh my, you do, don't you?"
"Well…" Edward hedged and shrugged his shoulders and Bella stopped walking, Edward took a step or two before he realized she'd stopped and turned to stare at him.
"You know the Astor's and the Vanderbilt's…" she shook her head. "Why are you here, with me?" Her voice was filled with wonder and genuine curiosity.
Edward stepped in front of her and took her hands in his. "Because the first time I saw you, something called out to me. It was as if your soul reached out and sang to mine."
"We belong to different worlds." Bella shook her head and looked down at their joined hands, hers in tattered woolen gloves, and his in fine kid leather. "You speak of becoming a doctor, of high society. I'll be lucky if I can help my parents afford our rent this month."
"None of that matters." Edward began and gently squeezed Bella's hands when she began to protest. "It doesn't matter. I'm just a man, you're just a woman. The rest of it is….window dressing."
"Isabella," a male voice called out and the both looked away from each other.
A tall dark haired mustachioed man was coming down the stairs of a tenement on their left. His eyes narrowed when he saw Bella's hands in Edward's.
"Your mother's waiting upstairs for you."
"Oh," Bella said and took her hand from Edward's arm. He missed it immediately. "Edward Masen, this is my father Charlie Swan. This is Edward Masen, he was at Cooper Union tonight and offered to see me home," She explained to her father.
Charlie Swan eyed Edward up and down, and his gaze was glacial as he reluctantly took the hand Edward offered without a word.
"What was decided?" Mr. Swan asked.
Bella bit her lip and then said quietly, "Strike."
"Damn," her father said just as quietly. "Well," he let out a sigh. "We'll get through it. Alright then, go on up to your mother. I have to get to work," he turned and walked towards the river, his shoulders back, head held high.
"He works down at the docks," Bella explained motioning towards the retreated figure.
"Right," Edward nodded, not knowing what else to say. "Thank you, for allowing me to see you home."
"Thank you for seeing me home. It was nice meeting you," she turned to go up the stairs, only stopping when Edward called her name.
"May I see you again?" He asked, coming up to the first step. With her standing on the third step, they were the same height.
"Why?" She asked shaking her head, her brow crinkling adorably.
"What do you mean, why?" He asked, truly confused.
"I saw the car that drove your sister and Miss Cullen to Cooper Union. I saw the way they were dressed, the way you're dressed. You come from a family where becoming a doctor is normal. I've never gone to school, my parents have never gone to school, and I live in a tenement in the Bowery…so, yes. Why?"
"I don't know," Edward answered honestly. "Maybe because I've never met anyone like you. Anyone as strong as you are, anyone willing to risk what you're risking, and doing it fearlessly."
"Fearlessly?" Bella laughed. "Hardly. I'm scared to death about what's about to happen."
"But you're going to do it anyway," he said.
"Yes I am," she said firmly.
"And that's why I want to see you again," he took her hand in his. She let out a breath that sounded halfway between a sob and a sigh.
"I think I'm going to be busy for the next little while on a picket line."
"Well, then I'll know where to find I will find you, I will see you again. This isn't goodbye," he lifted her hand to his lips and pressed a kiss to the back of it.
"Good night Isabella Swan," he squeezed her hand once and then turned and walked away.