AN: The first 6 chapters of this story are my original entry in The Perfect Date Contest.
Posting will be every day for 6 days, with part 2 posting twice a week, followed by the epilogue
I was so blown away when it won 1st Place Public Vote, Joint 2nd Place Judge's Pick and a match . com award
Winning any award in a competition is a great feeling and what gives me the push to keep writing, so thank you to everyone who voted
It was one of those stories which was written over a long weekend and just poured from my head to my pen, no outline, no planning
I'm usually a planner, so this was amazing to me - that my brain would write this for me!
My absolute heartfelt thanks to the marvelous, wonderful, amazing pre-readers and beta - anna harding, Midnight Cougar and MeteorOnAMoonlessNight. Without their dedication, this would never have been anywhere near as good
Extra thanks to Midnight Cougar whose suggestion was the key to turning this into a story worth reading
Part 2 is pre-written, with a total of 7 chapters, which is going through the process of pre-reading and beta'ing
Part 3, which is half written, will be a 2 or 3 part epilogue
Third Time's the Charm Part 1
Left pregnant and alone, Bella delivers a surprise to the paramedic who knocks on her door.
"Tyler Fucking Lockwood," I screeched out as I sank to my knees on the bathroom floor. "If I ever see you again, I'm going to kill you."
Realistically, ending up on the bathroom floor wasn't exactly Tyler's fault, but at the moment, it was the only place for anger fueled by fear.
Being alone in the apartment was nothing new; Tyler was long gone, and I hadn't seen him for over six months. My anger was tinged with fear as I realized there was no one close enough I could call to take me to the hospital. My friends, Alice and Jazz, were in Australia, and Rose and Emmett were on their honeymoon, and my dad was in Forks, over two-thousand miles away. I sort of regretted not accepting his offer to move back now, but there was nothing I could do about that.
Another contraction caught me by surprise. I doubled over with a groan, sliding onto my side, curling protectively around my belly. I tried not to tense my muscles or give in to the threatening panic.
"Shit, shit, shit, baby. You can't come now; it's too early." I prayed that what I was feeling were Braxton Hicks, but by the strength of them, somehow I doubted it.
When that one was over, I hauled myself to my feet and headed for the kitchen where I'd left my phone on charge. I'd made the mistake of letting the battery die once before and had my dad reading me the riot act about being sensible.
I managed to get there before another contraction hit, and picked up my phone to note the time. It only lasted for a minute or two, even if it seemed a lot longer. Nothing had prepared me for this. The time between these last two was less than ten minutes. For a second, I wasn't sure what to do next; it wasn't supposed to happen this fast.
I didn't even have a bag packed because she wasn't due for another three weeks, and I had to force back the panic by remembering I was far enough along that there was very little risk to either her or me. For now, I decided to return to the bathroom and finish cleaning my teeth and brushing my hair before getting dressed.
I dithered a bit trying to decide if I should call an Uber or an ambulance, but my contractions seemed to calm down after I'd had a cup of herbal tea and rested on the couch for an hour. I managed to drift off to sleep for a while, but the need to pee woke me.
In the lull before the storm, I staggered to my feet, still drowsy, and made my way to the bathroom. Unfortunately, my body was far more awake than I was because before I could sit, a gush of water from between my legs and a tightening low in my belly told me this was no trial run; this was the real thing.
The contraction that followed lasted twice as long as the previous one, and on its heels followed another that took my breath away. I cursed myself for not having called my obstetrician, Dr. Cullen, or at least the hospital service earlier on. I knew I was supposed to breathe through each pain, but I let out the breath I'd held before sucking another in through my teeth.
"All right, little girl, I should call the hospital to let them know I'll be coming in. Stay there, please, just for a little bit longer." I made my way back into the living room and picked up my phone, estimating the time since the last contraction started. I was shocked to find it had been less than five minutes.
I called the hospital and spoke to the receptionist. "Um, my name is Bella Swan. My baby is due on July twelfth, but I've had a lot of contractions this morning. I thought they were Braxton Hicks, but they're five minutes apart and—shit—one minute." I stopped as another contraction began, stealing my breath away.
"Miss Swan, Miss Swan! Are you okay?" Vaguely, I heard the receptionist calling me, but the contraction stole my breath and I couldn't answer for a moment. Fortunately, she didn't hang up.
Eventually, I felt it die away and breathed out before answering. "Sorry, that was another one. My water broke on the last one, too."
"It sounds as if your baby isn't waiting, Miss Swan. I'll call the ambulance service for you, and make sure Dr. Cullen knows the situation. The paramedics are well prepared to deliver babies, so try not to worry."
I nodded blindly and told her I understood, then hung up and made my way to the front door to unlatch it. I called down to the concierge, telling him to expect the paramedics before heading to the bedroom.
I was already exhausted, and each contraction took a little more of my strength. I tried to pull down the wet pajama pants, but gave up and slid to the floor, leaning back against the side of the bed. The contractions were getting closer together, and I'd just managed to remove my pants when I heard a bang on the door, followed by a soft voice calling out, "Miss Swan, are you there? It's the paramedics."
I raised my voice so he could hear me. "In here—in the bedroom."
A few seconds later, a face appeared around the edge of the door, followed by the rest of a tall man in black pants and a top in the same color. Even in the state I was in, my gaze took in his penny-colored hair, sharp jaw, and muscular arms.
"There you are. The service said your baby is on its way." Another contraction ripped through me, and I closed my eyes, trying to breathe through it. "Okay, Miss Swan, I'm gonna have to examine you. Can you remove your underwear for me?"
A few tears of relief escaped and trickled down my cheeks.
"Hey, now, don't worry. I'm here for you, and I'll do everything I can to make sure you and your baby are safe. Listen to me, okay?"
His calm voice penetrated through to my brain, and I looked up to see a pair of gorgeous green eyes and a reassuring smile. Somehow, it made me feel better, and I nodded.
"It's not supposed to be this quick; she's not due for another three weeks. Will she be okay?" I could hear the slight edge of hysteria in my voice.
"Okay, first, is it all right if I call you Bella?" When I nodded, he carried on, explaining every step he took as he helped me to slide off my underwear. "My name's Edward, and I know these aren't ideal circumstances, but I don't think your baby's going to wait for us to get you to the hospital. I'm going to examine you to see how far along you are, but I've delivered babies before, so please try not to worry."
His radio squawked, and he explained to his partner downstairs what was happening. "Well, Bella, I'd say your baby will be here sooner rather than later as you're almost fully dilated. Is there anyone I can call for you? A partner? Your parents?"
"There's no one close enough. My partner is long gone, and my dad is on the other side of the country."
"That's okay. If you tell me where to get something to cover your comforter with, I can put it over the bed and then help you get situated."
"In the hall cupboard there are some old sheets on the top shelf." I stiffened and groaned as my belly tightened with another contraction. "Oh, God, I think I need to push."
He grabbed a couple of pillows from the bed and slid them under my head before checking me again. "Okay, Bella, there's no time left; I can see your baby's head." He pulled his radio to his mouth. "Seth, get up here, please, the baby's crowning."
A few minutes later, his partner burst into the room.
"Okay, Seth, can you get behind Bella and help her sit more upright?" Edward moved around until he was between my legs. "Bella, listen to me. Brace your feet on my knees, and with the next contraction, I want you to push for at least the count of ten, or longer if you can."
With the next contraction and the one after, I braced myself on him and pushed back against Seth before holding my breath and pushing for as long as I could.
"You're doing really well, Bella. It won't be long now until you see your baby."
A few long, hard pushes later, encouraged by Edward's soft voice counting with me, I felt a sudden release of pressure as she slipped from my body. Edward lifted her up so I could see her, and cleaned her mouth and nose before placing her on my chest. I was oblivious to everything from that moment as my eyes roamed over her face, taking in her features. She opened her eyes, which were dark blue in color, and I marveled at the shock of dark hair on her head. I couldn't see anything of Tyler in her. She blinked slowly, and her fist found its way into her open mouth, but she didn't make a sound. Edward covered her with a warm towel.
"There you go, safe and sound. She's beautiful; just like her mom."
Tears of relief trickled from the corner of my eyes into my hair. "Hey, Emily, I'm so happy to meet you." I looked up at Edward. "Is she okay?"
"Yes, it looks like she's perfect, but we'll get you both to the hospital to get you checked out."
"No thanks are necessary, Bella. Seth and I are going to help you onto the stretcher now, and then we'll get you down to the ground floor and situated in the ambulance. Can I take Emily for a few seconds while we get you on the stretcher? I can wrap her properly so she doesn't get cold, and then we'll be on our way."
Reluctantly, I let him take her from me and watched while he listened to her breathing and looked her over, relieved when he wrapped her tightly in the towel and placed her back on my chest.
"Do you have a bag packed, Bella? You'll need a few things while you're in the hospital."
I shook my head, too exhausted to answer right now.
"Don't worry, we'll work something out."
Thirty minutes later, the ambulance drew up outside the hospital and I was wheeled into the emergency room. The service had called Dr. Cullen, who waited inside the doors, and he walked beside the stretcher.
"Hey, Edward, your mom and I haven't seen you at home recently. When are you coming by for dinner? This Sunday? You know she'd love to see you." Dr. Cullen smiled as he hugged the man who had just delivered my baby.
"Hi, Dad, haven't seen you in a while. Mom okay?"
I looked from one to the other, seeing the likeness, and my eyes drifted to the nametag on Edward's chest. It read Cullen, and I realized that my doctor and Edward, were father and son.
Edward gave Dr. Cullen a summary of what had happened over the last few hours while he and his partner continued to roll the stretcher to an empty cubicle. Undoing the straps around Emily, Edward took her for a moment, and then undid mine before I was helped across to the other bed. Once I was relatively comfortable, Edward laid Emily back on my chest and placed a hand on her back while smiling down at me. "You take care of yourself and that beautiful baby, Bella."
With those last words, he was gone, off to be someone else's knight in shining armor. I watched as he waved at or spoke to nurses, doctors, and orderlies alike, before the curtain was pulled protectively around me.
"Good afternoon, Miss Swan. I didn't expect you so soon. It seems as if your baby didn't want to wait any longer to meet you."
I gazed down at my daughter. "Meet Emily Swan, Dr. Cullen. She certainly gave me a shock. Edward said as far as he could tell, she was fine, but I still worry that something went wrong. What happens now? Why was she born early?"
"Well, Edward is a dedicated professional, and he knows his stuff, so if he says she's fine, then the likelihood is that she's healthy. Babies come when they're ready, so it's unlikely you did anything wrong. We'd still like to look her over and run a few tests, most of which are done for every baby. The tests will make sure she's doing as well as she should be, but first we need to take care of you so you can take care of her."
He picked up a chart from the end of the bed, looking through the notes. "This all says that the placenta was successfully delivered, your blood pressure is fine, and there's no more than the usual blood loss." He tucked the chart back into the slot at the end of the bed and pulled up the sheet and blanket that covered me, careful not to disturb Emily. His examination was quick, and although the pressure on my stomach was uncomfortable, he assured me that everything looked normal. "I'm going to find you a bed upstairs in the postpartum rooms so the on-call OB/GYN can make sure you don't need any stitches."
"Can I keep Emily with me? I don't want her to be on her own."
"Of course you can. I'll call an orderly to take you up now." Throughout the rest of the day, both Emily and I were checked over and pronounced healthy. I managed to take a quick shower, which made me feel a thousand percent better. Emily was in a bassinet beside the bed and I was drifting off to sleep, my mind taking me back to the moment I met Tyler.
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