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We know that Edward lies. What if he remembers more about his mother than he likes to talk about?
Thanks to Lakegirl for a super beta.
"I'm tired, Edward. I think I should stay home instead of going to watch you play baseball," A chill ran up my back and I shivered. Charlie might have to fend for himself tonight. I wasn't sure I felt like cooking. I knew that standing in the drizzle watching my vampire boyfriend and his family play baseball would not be beneficial to my health.
Edward glanced at me. No way he missed the shiver. "Bella, are you sick?" he asked, frowning.
I shook my head. "I'm fine. Just tired. I'll probably take a nap while you're gone."
We pulled into my driveway and Edward stopped the car. He eyed me carefully then asked, "Do you want to come by afterward? Or would you rather be alone tonight?"
"Of course I want you to come tonight. I just don't think I'm up to baseball, that's all," I smiled weakly.
He walked me to the door. "You sure?" he hesitated. "I can stay now if you need me."
I squeezed his hand. "I always need you, Edward. But right now I also need a nap. You can choose. Baseball or a couple of extra hours of watching me sleep."
"Well, if you put it that way," he grinned. He held my face between his long, cool hands and pressed his lips against mine.
My heart fluttered, and his kiss made me a little lightheaded. Or maybe I was coming down with something. At least I didn't have to worry about Edward catching anything.
I watched him leave and crept up the stairs to my bed. My body felt heavy. Just putting on my sweats took an enormous effort. I crawled between the sheets knowing I'd be asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.
When I woke up later, coughing and covered with sweat, I rolled out of the bed. I glanced around the room trying to determine what time it was. It wasn't even time for dinner. Not that I needed to worry about that. I staggered down the hall toward the bathroom. I made it through the door and fell on my knees, crawling the rest of the way. I could barely hold my head up as my stomach erupted.
I'd been cold earlier, but now I felt warm. Hot. I laid my head against the side of the tub. Cool. Against my cheek. My throat ached. My head ached. My body ached. Even my eyes hurt. My stomach heaved again.
"Bella? Bella?" Edward called to me. He swept into the bathroom, assessing the situation quickly. "Is it something you ate? Food poisoning?" he whispered frantically. His cool hands brushed across my forehead. "Damn," he muttered to himself. "She feels so warm. But she's always warm to me. Is it normal? Or a fever?"
I heard the door slam downstairs. "Charlie," I gasped before heaving once more.
"It's early, Bella. Don't worry about Charlie. I'm not violating your curfew."
Edward wrapped my hair away from my face. He pressed his hand against my neck. It felt nice. Cool. I smiled weakly. "I bet I don't smell so good to you now."
"You smell that same as always," he said. He pulled me away from the toilet, closed the lid and flushed. "That, on the other hand, isn't too appetizing."
He knelt on the floor with me so that I could lean against his cool body. He felt so good. He rubbed my back until my stomach churned again. I struggled in his arms and reached for the toilet lid. Charlie walked in just as I lurched forward. Edward held my head to keep me from battering myself against the porcelain bowl.
"What did you do to her?" Charlie bellowed from the bathroom doorway.
"She's sick, Charlie," Edward calmly stated. "Do you have a thermometer?"
Charlie sighed and reached into the medicine cabinet. He handed the thermometer to Edward. It was the old-fashioned kind. He shook it out. "Open," he demanded.
"It's nothing. Just that flu that's going around," I mumbled.
Edward held the thermometer in front of me until I opened my mouth. I closed my lips on it and leaned against him, resting.
"Just the flu?" he repeated. "Bella, people can die from the flu." His eyes seemed to plead with me.
That's what worried him; dying from the flu. Because he did. Well, nearly did. I needed to point out that this wasn't Spanish Influenza. It was just the common flu. I started coughing just as it was time to take the thermometer out of my mouth.
Edward stared at it and frowned. "Your fever's 104 and you're losing fluids." He looked up at Charlie. "If she can't hold something down or if her fever goes any higher, she needs to go to the hospital."
"The hospital? Edward, there's no need to overreact. It's the flu. The kind that people catch all the time." I glared at him.
"The common flu kills more than 36,000 Americans a year. Another 200-million end up in the hospital with severe complications," Edward said with a calmness that belied his worry.
Did he really think I might die?
The blood drained from Charlie's face at the same time my stomach heaved again. This time, there was nothing left to come up. "Maybe I should take her to the hospital anyway," Charlie said, clearly panicked.
Edward nodded. "That's a good idea. Charlie. I'll carry her to the car."
"NO. No hospitals." I struggled uselessly in his arms as he carried me out.
He looked me square in the eye, "You need to go to the hospital. Trust me. I know what I'm talking about." He opened the door to the passenger side of the cruiser.
"You're letting Charlie drive?"
He nodded solemnly. "I'll take care of you in the car."
"I'm not dying, Edward. And if I were, you could take care of that."
"This is not the time for that discussion, Bella." He pressed his mouth into a tight line.
Charlie opened the driver's door. He looked worried.
Edward held his hand to my cheek. So cool. It felt so good. So good…
I shouldn't have gone to play baseball. I should have stayed with her. I knew she didn't feel well. I should have stayed.
Bella was still unconscious, lying motionless on the bed. She looked so pale, almost the color of the bleached hospital sheets.
The flu! She has the flu! My mind shrieked with horror. The rational part of me, the part that went to medical school, knew that she would be fine. But some part of me, I don't even know what to call it, felt like a child. A child who'd lost the people who loved him to this same illness. Okay, so this wasn't Spanish influenza, but still – Bella was sick – like I had been sick. Like my parents had been sick.
I always tell people that I don't remember my parents well. Compared to the things I remember from my life as a vampire, I don't, so I'm not really lying. But the truth is I remember more than I let on. I remember my mother taking care of my father before she brought him to the hospital. I remember my mother taking care of me. I know that she was tired and weakened. That's probably why she succumbed so quickly.
I remember when my mother told me that my father had died. I remember waking up from that three-day hell and Carlisle telling me that my mother was dead. That I had almost died.
The fever. I remember that, too. That's what she's feeling now. At least, what she'll feel if she wakes up. When she wakes up. I know she will, that it's just me panicking because of my past.
Why didn't I stay with her? I could have taken care of her sooner. Maybe things wouldn't have gotten this bad. She looks so frail. So fragile.
What was that Carlisle was saying? Even though he spoke to Charlie, his words were also meant for me.
"It could be so much worse, Charlie. She's dehydrated, but the IV will take care of that. She should probably stay for a couple days. She's not in a high risk group, but this year's flu does seem to be particularly virulent." Carlisle hung Bella's chart at the end of her bed.
I heard Charlie's jumbled thoughts. If that boy hadn't suggested the hospital… I need to pay more attention to Bella. I didn't know the flu was so dangerous. But she's going to be okay. She's going to be okay. She looks so washed out. A couple of days in the hospital. But she'll be okay.
"I hope you don't catch it," Charlie said with a glance toward me.
The irony in his statement didn't escape me.
Carlisle chuckled. "I think Edward'll be fine. My family seems to be immune to anything I might bring home." He caught my eye. "I'll be back to check on her again in a couple of hours." She'll be okay, son. It's not the same.
Bella coughed in her sleep. I winced. Carlisle squeezed my shoulder on his way out.
"Why don't you take the chair, Charlie? I really don't want to sit." I wanted to run off some of this energy, but I didn't want to leave her. Instead, I paced. I listened to Bella's ragged breathing and her heartbeat. I listened to Charlie.
The kid is really a wreck. Does he know something I don't? Of course he does. He's the one who knew she needed a hospital. Should I be more worried?
I needed to calm down. It was one thing for me to worry needlessly. It was another thing to put Charlie in that state. I stopped pacing and leaned against the wall. It worked. It soothed Charlie, and, eventually, he drifted off. I started pacing again.
Thirsty. Hot. Breathe. I opened my eyes to darkness. Not the darkness of my room. What darkness was this?
"Bella?" a familiar voice whispered.
I opened my mouth to speak, but couldn't make any sound.
Edward appeared beside my bed. Even in the dark I could see the worry on his face.
"Bella?" he repeated.
Thirsty. Water. This was one of those times I wished he could read my mind, since I couldn't seem to make myself speak. I swallowed dry. That seemed to make something click.
"Are you thirsty?" he asked.
I did my best to nod.
A smile appeared on his grim face. "You'll need to start off with ice chips. If you drink too much, your stomach might not be able to handle it. You'd end up sick again."
He paused. "I'll get you some." He looked torn between leaving and staying, but finally slipped out the door. Of course, he reappeared instantly with a cup of ice and a spoon. You never have to wait long when your vampire boyfriend picks something up for you.
Edward carefully spooned a bit of ice into my mouth. It felt good. Wet. Cold.
"You're cold?" he guessed.
"Did I say that out loud? The ice is cold. It feels good." I thought of his hands on my cheek. His lips on mine. That would feel good, too. I smiled.
"Bella, what are you thinking?"
I whispered, "Ice." He placed another spoonful in my mouth. He dropped the spoon in the cup and traced the contours of my face with the tips of his fingers. Cool. Good.
"Bella?" he whispered. His worry was back.
I licked my lips. At least I had some moisture now.
"More ice?" he asked.
I nodded and he complied. "Cool – hands." I murmured weakly.
Edward placed a cool hand on either side of my face and sat beside me on the bed.
"So good," I whispered.
The crooked grin I loved so much spread over his face. "Glad I could help."
"Where's Charlie?" I peered into the darkness.
"He left about an hour ago. I could tell he didn't want to, though. He's worried about you."
I could tell that Edward was concerned, too. "I'm fine."
He frowned. "You are not fine, Bella. You're in the hospital."
My eyes locked with his. Those golden eyes. "I will be."
His marble lips brushed my forehead. "I know," he whispered weakly.
The sadness was unmistakable. If he could cry, he'd have had tears streaming down his face. But there was no reason for him to cry for me. This was something else. I reached for him and he leaned forward to press his head against my chest. His body shook. I wrapped my arms around him, and I waited. Finally, his body stilled.
"Edward, tell me."
All he said was, "Bella, I do remember my mother."