My concept of time was getting closer and closer to Bella's impatience. Ever since she had come back to Forks after accident in Phoenix, there was a routine. I took Bella to school and drove her home. She took a nap and did her homework in the afternoon, uninterrupted, and then I showed up around seven-thirty to "visit". We usually talked in the kitchen or watched TV with Charlie. Then I left at ten, only to come back in the window around an hour later.
It was a nice schedule, but the four hours that are between the time I drop Bella off and then go visit her at seven thirty were beginning to get excruciating. I jumped at the chance to work on the cars with Rosalie. I had heard a little jingling earlier on the Volvo. Superhuman hearing is very helpful when it comes to cars. It just needed a little tune up, but it would keep me occupied.
"Edward, what do you think about getting the BMW painted a less conspicuous color?" Rosalie's thoughts brought me into a less abstract line of thinking.
"I think it would keep people from swarming your car in the school's parking lot, but it wouldn't be your car anymore." I admitted out loud over the music.
"I suppose you're right. But as long as you're chauffeuring around Bella," Bella's name was even thought of with a touch of venom in Rosalie's mind, "I'll be driving."
"Well, do whatever you want, but why have a car if it's not painted your favorite color?" I asked. Besides turning the statement around in her mind, there was silence from Rosalie. I began to roll my mind towards the oldies music that filtered through the surround sound speakers around the garage. Before I knew it, I was singing along.
I wasn't aware of the heartbeat I heard until one song faded away, but the beat remained. Then Bella's heady scent filled my olfactory sense.
"Bella?" I placed a foot down to pull myself out from under the car, but I waited to see if she would say anything. I knew she was out there. Rosalie didn't have a heartbeat. She still hesitated and I was freshly aggravated that I couldn't read her thoughts.
"I can hear your heart." I informed her, rolling out from under the car and standing up in one fluid motion. She looked so tired. Beautiful, as always, but tired nonetheless. I had done this to her. I knew a stab of guilt and indecision, before I walked towards her.
"Don't stand out here in the rain." I caught her up and carried her to the mostly cleared off workbench.
"My crutches." She looked like she might reach for them as they fell to the soggy ground.
"Like you need them when I'm around." I replied casually. Her close proximity made my jaw clench in that familiar, dangerous way, but I stamped the feeling down in disgust and tried to relax. I kissed her forehead as I turned my mind to her comfort. Within seconds I had her leg propped and her crutches inside leaned against the bench.
"What brings you out this fine evening? And why, for that matter, didn't Esme bring you out here?" I leaned against the workbench to watch her face. It was so expressive. So intricate. It was also the only way I could gauge her thoughts.
"I thought I could make it out here. I didn't realize how soft the ground was, I suppose. And as far as why I'm out here, I woke up from my nap and felt pretty good. I knew you wouldn't be up to the house for a few more hours, so I thought I'd surprise you. I didn't realize you would be working on your car. Is there something wrong?" Her glance flicked from the Volvo to the quick movements of Rosalie whose thoughts had been raging since I brought Bella in. I left Rosalie to her raging thoughts. It was easier than upsetting Bella.
"Nope. I was just fiddling around mostly. I heard a little jingle and decided to check it out. Tightened up a few things while I was under there. That's all." I moved so that Bella would have to crane her neck to see Rosalie's quick, angry motions. Then I noticed the subtle strain in Bella's brow that hinted at pain. "Have you taken your painkillers in a while?" I got the reaction I wanted. Complete distraction.
"Yes." Her defiant tone and scowl made me want to laugh out loud, "What are you, my doctor?"
"I do have two medical degrees," I reminded her. My medical knowledge was useless compared to my sense of smell, which told me her blood was strong and continuing to heal her.
"Means nothing to me. Except that you are pompous." Bella's laugh echoed off the garage's walls and almost made me wonder if I should take the bait. I did.
"Did you just call me pompous?" I asked incredulously.
"You are," was Rosalie's quick reply as she ran out the garage door. Her mind was a little quieter than when Bella had first arrived. There were still hints of malice. Bella giggled at Rosalie's response.
"I'll deal with her later. But you, miss, are under my care and mercy." Bella's eyes were drinking in my face, as if she hadn't seen it a few hours before. Her look made me forget who I was for a moment and I stared back at her with the same, memorizing intensity.
"Stop that," her playful smack was little more than a whisper against my shoulder, but made me realize I'd been alluring her again. I grinned at her glare and watched as her expression softened.
"You infuriate me," her voice wasn't mad though. Her hand came out cautiously to touch my face and I silently thanked her for being so careful. Of its own volition, my hand trapped hers against my cheek. Her delectable scent filled my head and made me ache to be closer to her.
"If I infuriate you so much, why are you still sitting here?" I moved to trap her even more, putting us within inches of each other. I worked to keep the monster inside me tame with the new nearness. I still had my moments, I'm ashamed to admit.
"I guess I'm crazy," her voice sounded resigned. I could here the "oh well" in her tone and it made me want to chortle and weep all at the same time. That she would put herself in such danger… I tried not to think about it.
"That you are," I flashed my teeth at her in a smile. She knew the smile. It was meant to warn, but somehow, it never frightened her the way I wanted it to.
"Alright, alright. Feel free to go back to your tinkering," she tried to free her hand from my grasp, but I didn't let her. Sometimes I wondered if she realized I would have rather stayed in that uncomfortable position leaning on the bench forever, than done anything else.
"I'm comfortable right here," I lied watching her face. It looked like she was controlling her pain very well, but I went ahead and asked, ""How are you feeling? Your ribs ok?" I reached to probe her torso, paying even more attention to how slowly I moved and how gently I touched her. I could feel the tape that gave her support, but I could also feel that the ribs were healed nicely.
"They're healing pretty well. They don't feel like anything more than a bruise. The tape itches more than anything else." Her attempt to sound unaffected by my touch made my adrenaline pump for some reason. Knowing that I still affected her in such a way was a heady event to me. I scanned the length of her body with my eyes and knew a moment of complete horror. I had almost lost this beautiful creature. But it was my fault. If I could just stay away from her, she would be safe. She would have been safe if I had just disappeared. Her body would be whole. Her mind wouldn't be marred with memories of James' torment. Her soul wouldn't ache to become one of us.
When I looked back up into her eyes, it was almost like she knew my thoughts. She was shaking her head and giving me a disapproving look. She was getting far too good at reading me.
"Bella, you are too much." It seemed to be an appropriate response. I looked away, trying to reconcile these opposing feelings. The need to be close to Bella and the notion that she should never have become involved with me were always more defined when she was around.
"Haven't I always been?" her voice had an edge to it that challenged me to mention my recent, repeated thoughts. I didn't give her the satisfaction.
"It's true," I let go of her hand and nodded, walking back towards the car. I made a show of getting everything in order. I let the jack down and the car eased itself back to its position, parallel with the ground. I picked up all the tools that I had used and placed them in compartments in a tool chest close by. Finally, I drove the Volvo back to its original spot in the garage, parked between the Vanquish and Emmett's Jeep.
By then, I had my thoughts back in order and my feelings under control. Bella was here of her own free will. I was just going to have to accept the fact that she might never recognize the true demon in me. The irrational side of me was giddy at the prospect. I love her far too much to see her walk out of my life. The monster in me rejoiced as well, knowing my addiction to her scent. But the rational side told me to get away from her if I loved her so much. That I was a danger to her. I was always a danger to her.
When I turned back, I had rearranged my face into a passive smirk.
"Ready to go in? I feel really bad about having you propped up on a hard workbench when you could be resting on my couch." I grimaced at how she seemed to be gripping the bench to keep from falling over.
"Will you walk normal? No running." Her look made me want to laugh. As if I was going to run with her. That would bruise her up even more than she already was.
"Of course. How else would I carry you? Seriously, if I ran with you, in the state you're in, I have a higher chance of breaking you, than when you're completely healthy." My brow puckered at the thought, but I tried to push it away. Negativity would not be my friend today.
"Passenger ready to board, I suppose." Her shrug was slight, but all I needed. I gently picked her up and cradled her. Even with the cast she felt so slight. Like a feather, to me. I didn't know whether to trust my worry or to let it go. I do have superhuman strength.
"Grab your crutches, please." I angled so Bella could pick them up and place them awkwardly against my shoulder and over her lap.
"Why can't we do this at school?" she whined and snuggled into my neck. I smiled at the closeness and almost instinctively cuddled her closer.
"Because other than being completely inappropriate, it is also a little more than your father would handle hearing. He hates me already. We don't need to edge him over the precipice." I laughed and began covering the distance between the garage and the house. I was going a little faster than I should have, but I didn't like for Bella to be out in the rain.
It was true, though, that Charlie didn't like me. He had a sour note to his thoughts when I was around. Always pessimistic. Always looking for fault in me. He wasn't looking deep enough obviously.
"He just doesn't understand how I could have that huge fight with you on one night then five days later be crazy about you again." Her voice was unrepentant and rebellious. I smiled slightly at that.
"No matter what, we must tread lightly around Charlie. Remember, I can hear his thoughts. You cannot. And he does not like me." I chuckled at a recent encounter with Bella's father.
"One battle at a time. The one I'm choosing right now would be the obvious—the battle against this cast." I saw her glare at the bulk around her left leg. The fight in her made me even more protective for some reason. She thought she could take on the world. I let it go for now.
"Good choice." Was my last murmur before I whisked her up the stairs and towards my room.
A/N- Come on guys. All my one shots are going to be complete fluff. It's not a major change from With Opened Eyes… but I haven't placed Edward in peril. Gasp! Review if you like. These are just fun to post up for me.