A/N: Hi and welcome back for chapter 2. I'm completely overwhelmed by the response to the first chapter. Thank you all so much for your support for this new story.
Again, I have to shout out a loud Thank You to The Lemonade Stand for recommending ITaV in their "What We're Reading" section. If you should ever be looking for something to read, theirs is the site to look. Or you should go there regularly and your TBR list will never run dry ;).
I don't want to ramble, I just want to give credit to the wonderful ladies who helped me get this story out there. LaPumuckl, NKubie, and Midnight Cougar, you are the best.
I don't own Twilight …
It Takes a Village – Chapter 2
After a Sunday of making plans for my future home with an interior designer, who happened to be my aunt, I was eager to get to work Monday morning. Not only was it the first day I'd be seeing my own patients, but I was hoping to run into Bella again.
To make sure I had an ample window of opportunity, I went to the coffee shop early. Then, instead of taking my coffee to go, I sat at a table close to the counter so I wouldn't miss Bella when she came in.
About five minutes later, she arrived, wearing a pair of tight black jeans, a red V-neck top, and ballerina flats. Unlike the other times I'd seen her, her hair was in a low ponytail, showing off her slender, white neck. I swallowed the drool collecting in my mouth at the thought of kissing, licking, and sucking the silky skin there.
With her gaze straight on the barista, she breezed in, smiling while ordering a tall vanilla latte. When the young woman behind the counter started to prepare her order, Bella let her eyes wander, her smile getting wider once they locked on mine.
"Morning, Edward," she greeted, strolling over to my table. "Stalking me again?"
I put down the paper I'd been reading as an alibi for sitting around alone. "Sure. That's the highlight of my day. I was hoping you'd give me a couple more pointers as to where else I could lie in wait for you."
Waving to the barista to let her know where she was, Bella pulled out a chair and sat down opposite me. "You've figured out my coffee schedule. I can't do anything about that. Now, why would I want to see you more often than a few minutes each morning?"
If it hadn't been for her flirtatious smile, I might have mistaken her words for a blow-off. Crossing one leg over the other, I smiled at her seductively. "Because I am delightful company."
Her melodic laugh filled the air around us, and as she threw back her head in amusement, she exposed even more of her delectable neck.
"You're awfully cocky," she replied with a twinkle in her eye.
"Anytime, if it makes you laugh like that."
I might have imagined it, but there was a buzz around us, filling the air with excitement. All too soon, her coffee was ready, and after a glimpse at her watch, Bella sighed.
"I'm sorry, but I have an appointment this morning. I need to get going. Same time, same place tomorrow?"
The hopeful tone of her voice made me smile wide.
"Sure. I'll be here every morning. You can only avoid me by not showing up."
Bella walked back to the counter and paid for her latte, waving at me as she left.
That was a great start to my first real day at my new job. Maybe it would prove to be a good omen.
I'd expected work at a private practice to be quite different from my experience at the hospital, and I was right. Used to seeing kids with fevers, broken bones, or acute diarrhea, it was a pleasure to do check-ups, vaccinations, or diagnose simple colds. Relatively healthy kids were much more fun to treat than those exhausted or in severe pain.
Most of the parents were a bit apprehensive, considering I was new in town and they'd known Dr. Gerandy for years. Some even had been his patients themselves when they were younger. However, they all were friendly and open, listening to what I had to say, and taking my diagnoses seriously.
I was surprised to find it was closing time before I knew it. Tired, but with a feeling of fulfillment, I made my way to Carlisle and Esme's house, looking forward to a shower, a beer, and a good night's sleep.
Tuesday morning, I found Bella sitting at my table from the previous day, a big mug in her hands. I ordered a tall black coffee, then strolled over to her.
"Is it just me, or am I the one being stalked today?" With a lopsided grin, I sat down, regarding her expectantly.
"I thought I'd turn the tables on you, for once. Are you complaining?" Her answering smirk made my heart stutter in my chest.
What was it about this woman that had me act and feel like a school boy?
"I wouldn't dare. What are you having today?" I asked, motioning toward the coffee cup in her hand.
"Well, to be honest, I don't like the taste of coffee much, but I really enjoy the scent and need the caffeine. So I always drown it in a whole lot of milk. A break with a latte macchiato is a ritual I can't do without. The flavor is something I decide on a whim. It's a caramel macchiato this morning."
Her confession was so cute, her expression almost embarrassed when she admitted to not liking coffee. I found myself immersed in every one of her words, eager to learn more.
"Doesn't like coffee. Interesting. Is there anything else to put in my shrine for you? Like, what do you like?"
My comment made her laugh out loud. "So, a shrine? I don't think anyone ever dedicated a shrine to me."
I laughed along with her and continued with my joke. "Every self-respecting stalker has a shrine."
Taking a sip of her girly excuse for coffee, she played along. "Then tell me, Edward, where is that shrine?"
"Well, for now, it's at my aunt and uncle's house, but I'm in the process of buying my own house, so I'm soon going to relocate."
Even though I'd have loved to continue flirting with Bella, it was getting late. "I'm sorry, but I need to get going. My first appointment for today is in five minutes." Reluctantly, I got up. "Will I see you tomorrow?" I asked hopefully.
Smiling sweetly, Bella replied, "I'll be here. Have a great day."
My day was great — apart from the fact every single mother who came into the practice hit on me. Apparently, word had gotten around that Port Angeles had a new, young doctor, and I had to turn down more than one not-so-subtle offer for a date or even just a hook-up.
I was only interested in one woman — my coffee-shop girl. Tomorrow couldn't come fast enough.
Wednesday came, but Bella didn't. I waited a whole forty-five minutes, yet she didn't show up. The barista shrugged her shoulders apologetically, but nothing changed the fact this day sucked from the beginning.
Ten minutes late for my first appointment, my day pretty much went downhill. Tom stayed at home due to some crisis, and I had to take over his patients for the day, which turned out to be a catastrophe. A three-year old bit me when I tried to inspect her mouth for ulcers, a baby boy gave me a golden shower during a well-baby appointment, and a pair of twins puked all over me.
I was counting down the minutes until my lunch break when I heard a familiar conversation going on at the reception desk.
"I'm sorry, but Dr. Gerandy isn't in today. If you don't mind, since it's an emergency, I can squeeze you in with Dr. Cullen," Jessica, our receptionist, explained.
"Dr. Cullen?" The other woman's muffled voice came through the closed door. "Why would I take Maddie to an OBGYN if something's stuck in her nose?"
"Not Dr. Carlisle Cullen. Our Dr. Cullen is his nephew. He's Dr. Gerandy's new junior partner, and the kids love him."
After a short pause, a little voice complained, "Mommy, my nose hurts."
"Come on, I'll show you through."
A moment later, the door opened to the exam room I was in, and Jessica entered, followed by a little girl of around five. She was adorable, with messy, dark curls, deep brown eyes, and dressed in a pink glitter top and a jean skirt.
Then I looked past her, and my eyes widened in shock when I recognized the woman entering behind her.
"Bella?" I asked, stunned.
"Edward!" She gasped in surprise, then smiled guiltily.
"So, you two seem to know each other," Jessica noted happily. "Your little patient here is Maddie. I'll leave you to it then."
She walked out and closed the door behind her, leaving Bella and me standing awkwardly at a distance with the little girl between us.
"Dr. Edward, can you get the green gummy bear out of my nose, please?" Her sweet voice called all my attention to her.
Bella blushed and leaned down to her daughter. "Maddie, honey, his name is Dr. Cullen."
"Dr. Edward's fine," I interrupted, enchanted by the way Maddie resembled her mother. She had the same chocolate eyes and chestnut hair, except hers was curly while Bella's was straight. Her skin tone leaned a bit toward olive while Bella was elegantly pale. Apart from that, the kid was almost an exact replica of the woman I'd been dreaming about since I first laid eyes on her.
"Hi, Dr. Edward. I'm Madison Suzanna Clearwater. Now, can you please get the gummy bear out?" She pointed to her nose. "It hurts."
She was so sweet in her attempts to be a little lady, but I had to pull myself together and be the required medical professional. "Okay, Maddie, hop on the table and lie down so I can take a look. How did the gummy bear get in there anyway?"
Looking contrite, she climbed on the examination table, explaining, "It was the last one, and stupid Eric Yorkie wanted to take it from me. My skirt doesn't have any pockets, so I hided it in my nose."
Working hard not to laugh at her rationalization, I grabbed a flashlight and some tweezers, and sat down on a rolling chair, positioning myself beside the table.
"Maddie, has no one ever told you not to stick anything in your nose, ears, or other body openings beside your mouth?"
I had to keep myself from looking at Bella to see her reaction, but Maddie's guilty lip bite almost let me forget about her mother.
"Yeah, Mommy told me, and my teacher, Ms. Mallory, has, too. But Eric's a meanie, and the gummy bear was mine."
I had treated hundreds of kids in my time at the hospital, but something about this little girl captivated me in a way I'd never experienced. It wasn't simply the fact she was Bella's daughter. She had her own small and fascinating personality.
"Then, let's see if we can get it out."
I pushed up the tip of Maddie's nose to have a better view, then pointed the flashlight at her left nostril. Sure enough, there was the green gummy bear, just far enough inside so it couldn't be taken out without the right tool. I grabbed the tweezers, slowly inserting them into the little girl's nose, then pinched the gummy bear, careful not to hurt her in the process. When I was sure I had a good grip, I gingerly pulled out the object, dropping it in a metal bowl, along with the tweezers.
Maddie sat up instantly, peering to her side while scrunching up her nose. "Ewww, that looks yucky."
"See, this little stunt didn't turn out so well. Now, I hope you've learned not to do that again."
Looking scolded, she conceded, "If I can't eat it afterward, I'm not going to put another gummy bear in my nose."
Bella and I both had to hide a chuckle at Maddie's reasoning. Hoping to get a moment alone with Bella, I suggested, "Okay, Maddie, hurry along and tell Jessica at the front desk to let you pick something from the treasure chest."
"Oh, I love the treasure chest. Thank you, Dr. Edward." With that, she was out the door, her dark curls dancing behind her.
Smiling at me shyly, Bella said, "So you've met my daughter."
"Yeah, she's wonderful," I replied honestly. "Is she the reason you weren't at the coffee shop this morning?"
Bella nodded in response. "I usually stop by there on my way home from kindergarten, but right as I parked the car, my cell rang and I was called back to pick her up. I took her home first, trying to get the gummy bear out myself, but I was afraid I'd hurt her or make it worse." The look on her face was hesitant and unsure.
"You did the right thing bringing her here. And I'm glad I met her. Will you be in for coffee tomorrow?"
At my question, her face brightened up, and she answered, "I'm definitely planning on it."
Before I could add anything else, Maddie's cheerful voice sounded from the reception area. "Mommy, come look what I found in the chest!" Even though we started toward her at once, she met us halfway, waving her bounty at us. "When I show Eric Yorkie this, he'll go green with envy."
Her dark eyes were shining with joy as she held up a yo-yo. "See, there are blinking lights." She let it roll down and barely caught it when it came back up.
"If I were a little boy, I sure would," I told her with a smile, then turned to Bella and whispered, "and it's too big to fit inside her nose, so I guess you're safe there."
Bella's answering giggle was cute. "Thank God! I wasn't planning to bring her here again so soon."
I pouted playfully at her statement. "I wouldn't mind seeing her more often."
Her face lit up in wonder, and she smiled. "Maybe you will."
We gazed at each other for a long second, until Bella's daughter pulled on her jacket, claiming her attention. "Mommy, can we go now? I want to play with my new yo-yo."
"Sorry about that, but I guess we'll have to leave you to your other patients now," Bella said with a note of regret.
"I'm sorry, too," I stage-whispered conspiratorially. "But I'll see you tomorrow."
"Unless Maddie decides to swallow a matchbox car or stick something in her ear, I'll be there."
Maddie became increasingly impatient and began pulling her mother toward the exit. "Bye, Dr. Edward," she called out, waving at me with her free hand.
"Bye, Maddie. Be good for your mommy." I waved back, but they were out the door sooner than I'd liked.
To say I was surprised to find out Bella had a child was an understatement. Nevertheless, I wasn't at all discouraged from pursuing her. Maddie sure wasn't an obstacle but an added bonus.
Tomorrow couldn't come fast enough.
A/N: So Bella has a daughter. Lots of you already guessed as much. I can promise you, though, that's not the complicated part ;).
I'll give you a little taste of what's coming. So here's a short teaser for chapter 3:
… As we turned around the last corner, our houses came into view, and as we came closer, I saw a blue pickup truck drive by us and park inside Bella's double garage. …
To put this into perspective you have to know that Bella's with Edward at that moment. Then who could pull into her garage as if it were the natural thing to do? And how did you like Little Maddie? Let me know what you think here or on Facebook in my group Payton79's Fanfiction.
See you next Tuesday.