The Hospital Room

I stopped in front of the hospital room, taking a deep breath.

Calm down, Renee. She's fine. Calm down…calm…

"Excuse me?" said a lovely voice behind me. I turned, and was met with the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. She was short and petite, but you could tell from her face that she wasn't a child. Each feature of that face was flawless. Her short hair was jet black, startling in contrast to her pale face. The girl's eyes were an equally shocking topaz, an eye color I had never seen before. Faintly, as I reeled back in surprise, I wondered whether she was wearing contacts.

"Hi," I said, stammering, sounding like an idiot. "Umm…who are you?" The girl's high laughter sounded like music. "Alice Cullen," she sang. Then, with a smile fit for an angel, "I'm assuming that you're Bella's mother." I nodded. "Call me Renee," I ordered before she had the time to ask. "But how do you know Bella? I don't remember her mentioning you…" Alice smiled again. "I'm Edward's sister," she said, as if that would explain everything. At my evident confusion, she arched an eyebrow. "You do know about Edward, don't you?"

Who was Edward?

"Of course," I sniffed. She didn't seem altogether convinced, so I took my best guess: "Bella's boyfriend." Alice relaxed, and her face suddenly became quite friendly. "Yes," she agreed. She added, "The doctor explained everything to you, then?" I grimaced. "Yes, he did. Bella tripped and fell down a flight of stairs—and fell out of a window."

He hadn't mentioned my daughter's visitors, though.

Really, I didn't understand how Bella could be so incredibly clumsy. Charlie had never been really smooth, either, but he wasn't half as bad—and there was there was nothing wrong with my balancing skills!

"So, what were you doing out here before I came?" beautiful Alice asked with curiosity.

"Taking deep breaths," I replied honestly, and was rewarded by her delighted laugh.

Suddenly, as they did on rare occasions, my mothering instincts kicked in. I said firmly, "I'm sorry, Alice, but I really have to go see Bella now." She nodded with understanding. "I'll kick everyone out for you," she offered.

"No, it's all right—what?" I asked with a little sinking feeling in my stomach. "Everyone? You mean, there's more of you?"

It probably sounded rude, but I hated not knowing things. Why hadn't someone told me about all of this? …And Bella had a boyfriend!

"There's five of us," Alice supplied cheerily, apparently oblivious to my dismay. "Me, Carlisle, Jasper, Emmett and Edward. Carlisle is my father; he's a doctor. He treated Bella before we could get to the hospital…" Before she had stopped talking, I had opened the door and ran into the room.

There Bella lay on the hospital cot, her body bruised and broken. Wires ran out of her wrists and two oxygen tubes were taped under her nostrils.

"Oh, no," I moaned, coming to my knees by the bed. "Oh, Bella, honey."

I remembered the last time I had seen my daughter's face. We had been at the airport in Phoenix, and I had been trying desperately to hold back tears. Bella's face had been pale and sad and worried for me, but filled with a stubborn determination.

Now, as I looked into her face, I understood several things at once. I understood that she had grown. Her face had matured, and I could see the new understanding on her face. She was also in love, that much I could tell. I, who knew my daughter well and had been in love many times myself, understood that particular look quickly. And lastly, I saw that she was afraid. Her face had taken on a strange haunted look that I had never seen on it before.

My newly-recovered mothering instincts were pounding like a pulse in my head, filling me with a new worry. I reached out tentatively, wanting to be able to feel that she was ok, but I couldn't do so without hurting her. There was no unbruised spot.

Suddenly, I realized that five people were also in the room, watching me with wary expressions. "Oh," I said in faint surprise,"hi." And then my already-unbalanced system received another shock: I was surrounded by a room of inhumanly beautiful males.

Considering that I was a newlywed very much in love with her husband, this was very unfair.

"Hello," said one of them. He seemed older than the other ones, and was easily the most handsome. I was sure that he was Carlisle—but I was also sure that those blond locks and that model-smile were did not belong in a hospital. The young man next to him was also blonde. He took one look at me, then hastily got up and left the room. The one with the muscle and the dark hair followed him out, chuckling quietly to himself.

I looked up at the older, handsome man in confusion, but he offered no excuse for his sons' prompt absence. "I'm Carlisle," he said, smiling kindly. "Renee Dwyer," I replied, flustered. I tried not to look into those eyes—those gorgeous topaz eyes—and to think of Phil. Absently, I threw in, "You must be Edward's father." He nodded politely. "Bella told you about Edward?"

Phil…He's my husband…I'm in love with him…

"Of course," I said, a tad defensive. "Bella tells me everything."

When Bella recovered, she and I were going to have a talk about keeping secrets.

"Of course," Carlisle agreed, smiling.

Phil, Phil, Phil…Phil, Phil, Phil…

The other young man looked up. He had been sitting by Bella's bed, and not looking like he was very happy to see her with wires coming out of her skin. He stood up. "Hello, Mrs. Dwyer. I'm Edward." He reached out wearily to shake my hand, and I looked him full in the face,

Edward was very good looking. Maybe he didn't have his father's automatic charm, but the features were just as perfect. There was nothing that I would change about his face. Faintly, after getting over the initial shock, I felt a surge of pride for my daughter.

"Call me Renee," I insisted automatically. I always told young people to call me by my first name—it made me feel less old. Edward was studying my face in a calculating sort of way. "Bella's told me a lot about you," he said. I smiled in response.

Carlisle coughed into his hand. "I'll leave you alone with her," he offered, looking very hard at his son. Edward didn't seem to notice, and when Carlisle had left the room he reassumed his place by my daughter's bed.

"I'm sorry," I muttered after a long silence, "but why are you here in Phoenix? I'm sure you and your family wouldn't come all this way…"

"I came with Carlisle and Alice to convince Bella to come home," he said, his voice suddenly decisive and businesslike. His eyes, however, were soft and tender as he looked down at my daughter, and his cool expression seemed to melt at the sight of her face.

A dreadful suspicion began to come over me.

"We came to the hotel she was staying at," he continued, "and she was coming down the stairs from her room to meet us—when she tripped." I sighed wearily and sat down in a plastic chair. "She's so clumsy," I said in a resigned voice. He smiled with understanding. "I noticed that."

"But do you mind it?" I asked, trying to contain my curiosity. Obviously this Edward cared about Bella—or he wouldn't have come to Phoenix—but I wanted to know how much. "Sometimes," he admitted honestly. "When it really puts her in danger. But otherwise"— he smiled a crooked smile—"I am quite content to catch her."

My breath came in a little sharply. "Mmmm," I said absently, worrying. Bella was too young to have beautiful men falling in love with her. She was only seventeen, and she had never seemed interested in boys at all before.

Edward's expression seemed suddenly a little wary for some reason. I smiled, hoping to put the young man at ease—I would talk to Bella about this later. "I'm glad you care so much about her," I said, half-honestly. Then I added more earnestly, "And thank you for coming to Phoenix, Edward. I shudder to think what state she would be in if your father hadn't been here to help her." Edward smiled slightly, his eyes still not leaving Bella. "I don't mind at all," he said fervently.

The room was silent as we watched her, both of us lost in our own thoughts.

"So how are you and Phil doing?" Edward finally asked in an attempt at conversation. I pictured Phil's face, young and smiling. "We're doing just fine," I assured Edward, wondering how much Bella had told him about my husband. "Phil's just received another career opportunity, and we're moving to Jacksonville…" A little uncomfortable under his probing gaze, I finished, "I love him very much."

Edward seemed immensely amused at this for some reason. "I've heard," he said dryly. My brow furrowed in confusion at his amusement, but I nodded and tried a smile.

After another moment of silence, my stomach growled. Huffing in annoyance, I glanced at my watch. It read 6:17. "I'm sure you're hungry," Edward prompted. He smiled an alluring smile and added, "You don't have to worry; I won't leave her." I was prepared to argue, but my stomach's calls were becoming more insistent. "All right," I agreed, rising and smiling down at my Bella's boyfriend. Hesitantly, I came closer to Bella's bed, lightly touching the tip of her pinky finger. "I'll be back, sweetheart," I promised.

Then I turned and quit the room, leaving Edward Cullen alone with my daughter.