SM owns Twilight.

(CozItRunsInMyBlood /Rose B. Mashal) owns the plot.

(BandMum) is the wonderful beta.

Chapter 18

The treatment Edward used on my arm was still a mystery to me. I had so many questions, and no reasonable answer to any of them. Of one thing I was certain: that treatment was unnatural.

Dr. Cullen's words, and sarcastic remarks when he talked about the treatment, were enough to confirm my ideas about it. Also, because the wound healed completely within hours, the same wound that refused to heal for so long, Dr. Cullen had considered amputating my arm.

That couldn't be normal.

When Dr. Cullen said he couldn't afford to lose Edward, the mystery deepened.

Why would he lose Edward if he treated me one more time? How would he lose him? Would he fire him?

Because he used the word 'afford', I thought it might be something like that.

But, no. Dr. Cullen was extremely rich. Surely he could afford many assistants, so that couldn't be it. Maybe he meant he wouldn't find another assistant whom he trusted like he did Edward. That made more sense, but I wasn't sure. It was all very confusing.

I tried to call Edward a few more times, but he still didn't answer. I worried he didn't want to talk to me because I told Dr. Cullen that he fixed my arm. Maybe he realized what a loser I was and wanted nothing to do with me anymore. But I wouldn't let negative thoughts consume me.

Edward was different; I strongly believed that in my heart. We talked for hours every day. He was always nice to me and never pushed me to tell him things I didn't want to talk about. He was kind enough to come and treat my arm, although it pissed off his boss. He went out of his way to help me. I refused to believe he was a bad person.

I worried about him, and as difficult as it was to admit, even to myself, I missed him. I truly did. I missed hearing his voice. I missed his stories, and his bedtime readings, and I missed the way he made me smile.

It was dangerous. I knew that. It was dangerous to think good about someone, but I couldn't help it. It was out of my hands. I trusted Edward was a good person; he didn't intend to hurt me and never would, as he had promised. I believed him, and if it turned out to be all lies, it would be completely my fault for letting my guard down.

Worry was eating at my soul when my cellphone went off. I grabbed it from the nightstand quickly, and I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw Edward's name on the screen.

"Edward?" I gasped into the receiver. I could barely stand the brief moment he took to answer me.

"Bella." His voice was small, but I sighed in relief upon hearing it; he was all right. That was all I cared about at the moment.

"Oh, Edward! I was worried sick about you," I blurted out, then bit my tongue for admitting something like that.

He was silent for a few seconds, and I had to check if he was still there. "Edward?" I frowned.

"I'm here. I'm sorry I made you worry. I was a little tired and slept a lot. I didn't mean to not return your calls."

"Oh, it's okay." I said slowly. It had been almost two days since he was here in my room. Why would he sleep that long? "Are you all right, though?"

"Yes, I'm fine." He paused. "Don't worry about me, okay? The most important thing now is you. Tell me, how are you? How do you feel?"

My heart warmed at his words. "My wound healed completely. It's almost like I never had it. Thank you so much, Edward. I don't know how I can ever repay you."

"No need to thank me. I'm grateful I could help." He sounded sad, and he wasn't trying to make me laugh like he always did. That alone concerned me.

"Are you really okay? I feel like something is off…"

"I am, I promise. I have to hang up now. I was just… I'm glad you feel better, Bella."

"Thank you," I said softly, disappointment filling my heart, as this wasn't how we usually talked. When he didn't hang up, I asked, "Will you call me before bedtime?"

"Always."

My smile was uncontainable.

~WtSGD~

Edward did call before bedtime. He read me a few pages of a new horror story before I stopped him.

"Why? Are you sleepy?" he asked when I told him to stop reading.

"No, I'm not," I paused. "I want to talk to you."

A few moments of complete silence passed. "We can talk," he finally said.

"You sound different. Different from two days ago. I don't understand what happened. Is Dr. Cullen upset with you for treating my wound?"

Edward sighed. "Why do you think he's upset? Did he say something to you?"

"You didn't answer me."

"Well, he's not upset with me, more like pissed off. We argued. But that's not it…"

"Then what? Will he fire you? I'm so sorry. I never meant for this to happen." My voice broke. I hated to be the reason Dr. Cullen argued with Edward. He didn't deserve that. He was only trying to help me.

"You didn't do anything wrong. Please, don't apologize. And, no, he won't fire me. That's not even an option, okay? Stop worrying."

A wave of relief washed over me, although I couldn't understand how he couldn't fire him. "Okay," I said softly.

"He reminded me of something I knew but didn't think through. He's right. He's almost always right, but I couldn't help it." Edward spoke slowly, like he was talking to himself. I couldn't understand what he meant.

"When you treated my wound, did you use things you weren't supposed to?" I asked. It was the only thing that made sense to me.

"What? What do you mean?" Edward sounded confused.

"I don't know. I'll be honest with you, the way my wound healed is unreal. If it didn't happen to me, I wouldn't have believed it. I think maybe Dr. Cullen invented some medication that helps heal difficult wounds like mine, and you used it without his permission. Is that what happened, Edward?"

When we made the agreement, Dr. Cullen had confessed that he would use illegal ingredients in the experiment. It explained my wound healing so fast: Edward used something the world had yet to discover, and that something wasn't his to use without Dr. Cullen's consent.

Edward was silent again, and I counted the seconds until he spoke. "It's not his medication, and I don't need his permission to use it, but… no, I shouldn't have used it." My confusion increased, and my throat dried as I thought he must regret helping me now. I shouldn't have let him. "I don't regret it, by the way. I'd do it again, in a heartbeat," he said after a slight pause, as if he could read my thoughts.

I smiled into the phone, then asked, "What was the treatment?" When he didn't reply, I looked up at one of the cameras. "I need to know."

"Why do you want to know?" his voice was small.

"I just want to. If you were in my place, wouldn't you want to know?" I pushed.

"The only answer I have prepared myself to tell you is a lie," he admitted, and I was taken aback by this.

"No, don't lie to me, please." I choked back unshed tears. "I… You know I don't like to talk about myself much, but… you're the only person I feel comfortable enough with to talk to. You're the only friend I've ever had my entire life. If you lie to me—that would hurt me deeply. Please, don't hurt me, Edward."

"Bella," he breathed out, "I would never…"

I nodded and smiled, wiping away a tear. I didn't know why I was so emotional. Maybe because it was difficult to admit I never had a friend before. Maybe because I was telling Edward how to hurt me, after years of fighting so hard to never appear weak or vulnerable.

"Thank you," I whispered. "Will you tell me now?"

"No."

"I understand," I said, disappointed he wouldn't tell me, but grateful he didn't lie to me. Still, I was dying to know the truth behind his treatment, and I would not stop looking for the answers.

~WtSGD~

Dr. Cullen came the next morning and took blood samples to run some tests. We would do the second experiment in two days after the results came back.

God knows, it scared me shitless. I feared the pain of the treatment, the absolutely horrible pain of its failure, and the unknown destiny I'd face if the treatment failed another time.

On top of the pain that would be in my arm, and my illness that crippled me more every day, there would be no reason for me to stay here. I didn't know what frightened me most: being homeless, dying alone, or not getting the chance to talk to Edward again.

"May I have another pill for pain?" I bit my lip, fearing my request would upset Dr. Cullen. It already seemed like he didn't want to talk to me.

"Another pill? Why? What are you feeling?"

"The headache is unbearable today, and the aching in my bones increases every minute," I explained. All I really wanted was to walk around and take care of my most basic needs. The way I felt right now, that seemed like an impossible dream.

"Hmm… I can give you a shot. That would help you for a day at least, but I'm concerned about your kidneys."

Dr. Cullen had mentioned before that too many painkillers could cause kidney failure. At this point, I couldn't care less.

"I wouldn't have asked unless I really needed it, Dr. Cullen. Please," I begged. "Nothing could be worse than what I'm already feeling right now."

He nodded and his lips pressed into a thin line before he excused himself. He went to a refrigerator in the far corner of the basement and took out a small container. I watched as he filled a syringe, then put everything back in the box and into the fridge.

"This should help," he said as he cleaned my arm with an alcohol wipe, then injected the painkiller.

"I hope so," I said, hissing at the sting of the medication. "Thank you."

"You're welcome, dear. If you feel any better, I suggest you talk a walk outside. The sun is out and shining brightly for the first time in weeks. You could benefit from some vitamin D."

"Oh, that would be lovely. I hope I can."

Dr. Cullen nodded, before telling me he'd be back with dinner. I thanked him again and rested on the bed, begging the shot to work already. The banging in my head was too loud, too painful. I thought I'd pass out from the pain. In all truth, I wished I could pass out, if only to have a few minutes free of pain.

I wasn't sure if I passed out, or simply fell asleep, but I guessed it was the latter, since a nightmare startled me awake. I was sweating, gasping for air, and my heart was trying to thump its way out of my chest.

Nausea hit the second I sat up. I took slow, deep breaths, thinking the feeling would go away, but it didn't. I rushed to the bathroom and threw up nothing since I hadn't eaten breakfast yet. I kept dry heaving and gagging until the nausea finally passed.

I brushed my teeth and washed up, then put on jeans and a top since I felt well enough to go out for that walk Dr. Cullen suggested. My phone rang as I was brushing my hair. It was still on the nightstand and I went out to answer it.

It was Edward.

"Hello!"

"Bella, are you okay?"

"Yes, I'm fine," I frowned.

"You ran to the bathroom, and I thought something was wrong since you were in there so long."

"Oh! I felt nauseated, threw up a little, and got dressed," I told him. "It's all good, nothing serious."

"It's a side effect of the painkiller you had this morning. I'm sorry, Bella."

"It's really fine, no worries," I smiled. "At least my headache is gone, and the ache is only in my fingers now."

"That's good to hear. I was just… I was really worried when you took so long in there. I almost came down to check up on you!"

"Hmm… You can still come." I chewed my bottom lip and sat down on the bed.

"What?"

"I, uh, I was going to take a walk in the garden. Why don't you come with me?"

It embarrassed me to ask him that. Heat crawled up my face, and I hoped the cameras didn't capture the shade of red I was sporting at this moment.

"Um, maybe another time. I have lots of work to do now," he said softly.

"Oh!" I couldn't help the disappointment in my tone. "Okay, then. I guess I'll go now."

"I'll call you for your bedtime horror story," he said, but there was no smile in his voice.

~WtSGD~

Dr. Cullen told the truth when he said the sun was shining brightly. It was beautiful weather. Edward, on the other hand, was a liar.

Despite claiming he had so much work to do, he couldn't walk with me, Edward called a few minutes after I entered the garden. We chatted while I sat on a bench and sunbathed.

He talked to me for over an hour and didn't get any of his supposed work done, but I didn't call him out on it. Instead, I wondered about the reason behind his refusal to walk with me, and why I had still never seen him, despite talking with him for hours every day.

Why doesn't he want me to see him? It's kind of unfair, actually, since he watches me 24/7.

Edward called before bedtime. I told him I didn't want to hear a story, but I had a request.

"Anything, Bella," he answered, and a smile found its way to my lips.

"Could you come down and hang out?" I wasn't embarrassed this time, or even shy, because I was almost positive what his answer would be.

"H-hang out?"

"Yes. We spend so much time on the phone, we talk about so many things, and I can't see why we don't just hang out in here."

Edward was silent for a long moment. "Will you be comfortable?"

The thought hadn't occurred to me. It took me by surprise that I felt no discomfort at the idea of being alone with a stranger. But Edward wasn't a stranger; he was a friend, my only friend.

When I fell and hit my head in the bathroom while Dr. Cullen was away, I freaked out when I realized Edward had been in the room with me, even though it was to save me. Now, I was inviting him over, and it didn't even cross my mind that it could drive my anxiety through the roof.

Something was different. Within me.

"Yes."

"I don't think it's a good idea." His voice was low and sad.

"Why?" I asked, but he didn't answer. "Edward?"

"You should go to sleep now, Bella. We'll talk tomorrow."

It was pretty obvious by the way he kept hiding from me, wearing a hoodie, sitting in the dark, turning off the lights, and now refusing to hang out with me. Edward didn't want me to see him.

~WtSGD~

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Until we meet later,
Cozy.