Something Strange

I decided to write this because I've always wondered what the real first meeting between Renée and Edward was like. It is one topic that hasn't been done very often, so here's my attempt. It takes place while Bella is in the hospital in Phoenix.

Disclaimer: As much as I wish otherwise, I will never own Twilight. That wonderful world belongs to Stephenie Meyer. I'm just trying to feed an insatiable desire for more of this world. Let me have my delusions, please.


"Renée?" Phil called. "Have you checked the messages at the house recently?"

"No." Truthfully, I hadn't even thought of it. The last time I'd checked the messages had been oh, two weeks ago? I couldn't remember.

"I'm going to check then, okay?"

"Go ahead," I called, returning to my book. It was a really good science fiction, where a vampire and a witch get together to destroy this other vampire that was killing people by eating their souls… Bella always laughs at me when I read science fiction. She says that I start acting like they're real. But they're better than mysteries. Mysteries really get to me. A couple years ago, I was in a mystery phase, and I actually tried to call the cops on our neighbor. He reminded me of the murderer in one of the books, and I thought he was acting suspicious. Bella talked me out of calling, but I still think he was a shady character.

"Renée?" Phil called again.

"I looked up. "What?"

"Could you come here, please? I think you need to hear this one." Phil sounded worried.

I got to my feet, walking into the tiny kitchenette of our hotel room. We were supposed to move into the house in a few days, once Phil finished all the paperwork for signing with the Suns. "What is it?" I asked.

He didn't say anything, just handed me the phone. After a moment, the message started. A calm, musical voice spoke from the other end of the line. "Hello," it said, almost hesitantly. "My name is Alice Cullen, and I'm a friend of Bella's. Please don't worry, but there has been an accident. She's going to be all right, but Bella is in the hospital…"

I didn't hear the rest of the message, because the phone slipped from my suddenly nerveless fingers, clattering onto the tile floor. Bella was hurt. I needed to see her. Now. "I'm going to Forks."

"Honey, Bella's not in Forks. That's what the rest of the message says. She's in Phoenix. That Alice girl gave you a number, asked you to call her. And she says Bella's all right, remember." Phil was frantically trying to soothe me, knowing that I was almost panicking by that point.

"She's in Phoenix? Why?" Now I was confused, as well as worried about my daughter.

"I don't know. The girl sounds like she might, though."

"What's the number?"

Phil gave it to me, and I thought while I dialed. For some reason, Bella was in Phoenix, not Forks. She had been hurt. A friend called me to let me know. Alice; that was her name. I wracked my brain, trying to remember if Bella had talked about her in any of her e- mails. She hadn't, that I could remember. She talked about a girl named Jessica, and one named Angela. She'd said something about a boy named Mike, and once she mentioned a Jacob. Never an Alice, though. I would have remembered that. You don't hear that name very often.

At that moment, someone answered the phone. It was the same voice as the message. "Hello?"

"Are you Alice?" I demanded.

"Yes. You must be Bella's mother."

"What happened?"

"Bella came to watch my family play baseball Sunday night, because my brother Edward invited her. She got in a fight with him afterwards, and decided she needed to go home to Phoenix and figure things out. Edward felt very guilty, and convinced our father to let him go to Phoenix and talk to her. My father and I came along to help Edward avoid making things worse. He convinced her to come and talk to him. Unfortunately, she tripped on the way up to our hotel room. She fell down two flights of stairs and out a window."

"Oh, my God," I breathed. "I thought you said she was all right…"

"She will be. Our father is a doctor, and he got to her very quickly. He's not in charge of her case, since he is not employed at the Phoenix hospital, but her doctors are keeping him well- informed. She's a little bruised, and has a few broken bones, but she will be fine."

"Broken bones?" I squeaked. The panic had returned.

"Renée, calm down. She will be fine. They have her sedated, right now, but…"

"I'm coming. Today. The first flight I can get." I interrupted. I couldn't stand the thought of my daughter, unconscious, in a hospital. I needed to be there. The calm confidence in Alice's voice comforted me, but I needed to see Bella for myself.

"I thought you might. My father says he will come pick you up at the airport."

"Fine." Then I hung up on her.

My flight was scheduled to land in ten minutes. It was then that I realized I'd never gotten a description of the man I was supposed to meet. And he certainly wouldn't know what I looked like. What if I walked up to the wrong man and he turned out to be an axe murderer? Oh well. I decided to worry about that when I got to the airport. If I didn't see anyone, I could always call that Alice girl back. And I can run pretty fast, so I was pretty sure I could get away from anyone who tried anything. I wondered if- he would have a sign with my name on it, like they do in the movies.

When I got off the plane, I just wandered for a while, looking for someone who well, looked like a doctor with children about Bella's age. I didn't see anyone. Just as I was about to find a payphone, a tall, blond man walked up to me. "Excuse me," he said softly. "But is there any chance that you are Renée Dwyer?"

I couldn't speak for a moment. He was gorgeous. When he smiled, I managed to nod dumbly.

"I am Doctor Carlisle Cullen. My daughter Alice called you, about Bella?"

I could only stare. There was absolutely no way this man was old enough to have teenage children. He looked more like a model than a doctor. He couldn't be a doctor. Actor, I would have believed. I could see him as a doctor in one of those daytime soap operas, but not real life.

"You are Renée, correct?" He spoke slowly, as though he was afraid I was mentally incompetent.

"Um, yeah," I finally managed, grinning sheepishly. "How did you know?"

"You look a lot like Bella. It is rather obvious where she gets her looks," he said with a slight smile. The mention of my daughter brought my mind back to the reason for this trip.

"You're the doctor that found her, aren't you?"

"Yes. Though I must admit," he said with a shudder, "finding her was not difficult. I also heard her fall."

It was strange; I found myself trusting him despite his obvious youth. His compassion radiated off of him, and he had the confidence of a man who had spent decades practicing medicine. I didn't understand it at all.

"Can we go now? I'd really like to see Bella." Now that I'd gotten over my shock, I was more than eager to see my daughter.

"Of course," he said with a slight bow. "Come with me, please."

Doctor Cullen led me through the crowded airport, and into the shadows of a parking garage. I followed him to a sleek black Mercedes. It was beautiful. For a car, anyway. Mercedes. That reminds me of the book I was reading when I got Alice's message. Once in the car, I was able to take my eyes off him long enough to start asking questions.

"So…how is she?"

"She will be all right. She has a broken leg, four broken ribs, and a few cracks in her skull. She lost a lot of blood." Again, I caught sight of a tiny grimace on his perfect face. How strange. "But she is going to be fine. You raised a very strong girl."

"Alice said that she was unconscious?" I pressed. I wasn't ready to believe him. I was too worried about my little girl.

"They are keeping her sedated so that she can begin to heal. But really, things could have been much worse. There are no internal injuries, beyond the broken bones, and there is no trauma to her brain. She will be fine."

I sighed. I was beginning to believe him. He was so calm, so confident, it was impossible to do anything else. But he was so young! He couldn't have been much more than thirty, if that. He caught me staring.

"You look like you have a few other questions," he said, a grin evident in his voice.

I tried to be diplomatic. "Alice… sounded like she was about Bella's age, and she said something about her brother, as well. He has to be about her age. You look… too young… to have children who are that old."

"I am," he answered plainly,but something in his tone made me feel like I was missing something: an inside joke of some sort. "My children are adopted. My wife and I do not have only Edward and Alice, either. We have five teenagers. It makes life very...interesting." He chuckled at the expression on my face. I couldn't shake the feeling that there was something strange about him.

"Five?" I gasped. "No wonder you can have a family baseball game…"

Doctor Cullen just chuckled. Then we were pulling into the parking garage at the hospital. Doctor Cullen took the lead again, showing me to Bella's room. I hardly noticed when he left. My baby lay there, hooked up to a hundred different wires, and several machines were emitting quiet beeps in the stillness. She looked so fragile. I bit back a quiet sob. It hurt, to see her like that.

Two people sat in chairs to either side of her bed. A small girl with spiky black hair sat closest to the door. She bounced to her feet when she saw me.

"Hello, Renee, I'm Alice. It's nice to finally meet you; I just wish it could have been under better circumstances. Renee? Are you okay? Why don't you sit down? You look like you're ready to collapse."

I took her advice, looking toward the person on the other side of the bed. He looked up at me, and I saw that his eyes were much darker than I would have expected, considering the light color of his hair. "Hello Renée, my name is Edward," he breathed, his voice soft as velvet. I saw that he was holding her hand, careful of the wires connecting her to the machines.

"Why are you here?" I demanded. It bothered me that he was holding her hand. I didn't know who he was, what he felt for my daughter. Did he somehow feel he had the right to hold her hand? As I watched, he pulled his hand away from hers, straightening in his chair; it was almost as though he had heard my thoughts.

"I'm the reason she's here. I need to be here."

"Why do you say that?"

The anguish was plain in his voice when he answered. "I asked her to watch my family play baseball. Because of my invitation, she fought with me, and decided she couldn't stay in Forks. I couldn't stand to be the reason she left her father, so I followed her. I insisted that she come and talk to me. On the way to my room she fell out a window. It is my fault that she's hurt." And then, he continued, so softly I wasn't sure he meant for me to hear, "But I don't know what I could have done differently… Any choice I made would have been the wrong one…"

I couldn't reply to that. He stood suddenly. "If you'll excuse me, I need to go speak to my father. And I'm sure you'd like some time alone with Bella." It seemed almost as though he'd read my mind again. But no, what mother wouldn't want to spend time with her injured daughter? There was nothing strange about the fact that he would guess that either. I really need to stop reading mysteries and science fiction. And then, as graceful as a dancer, but with the almost predatory step of a lion, he was gone. Irrationally, I couldn't suppress a slight shiver.

I looked down at my daughter, noticing the dark circles under her eyes, and the bruises that covered every inch of her skin. Her leg was a huge lump under the blanket. I knew she was unconscious, but I read somewhere that talking to people who were unconscious might help them. Sure, the article was about people who were in a coma, and Bella was sedated, but I knew it couldn't hurt, "Bella, sweetie, you really need to be more careful when you walk. I don't want to loose you. It's hard enough, being away from my baby. I don't know what I'd do if you could never come home."

I just sat with Bella for a while, and then the nurse came in to check on her, shooing me out of the room. I paced for a while, and then realized that I had not eaten anything all day, so I headed downstairs. On the way, I heard two other nurses, gossiping.

"Did you hear about the dance studio that burned to the ground earlier today? There's nothing left of it," the first one said excitedly.

"Yeah," the second replied. "The police think it was arson, and whoever did it left a stolen car right out front, do you believe that?"

"Really? How exciting, to have something like that happen so close by. I thought things like that only happened in the movies."

I listened long enough to hear exactly where the studio was. I decided then and there I wasn't going back to the house alone. The studio that had burned was the same one Bella had taken dance lessons at, years ago. I was not going back to the house with a crime spree in the neighborhood.

The next morning, I decided that I needed to talk to Edward for myself. I couldn't get his words out of my mind. He blamed himself for what had happened to Bella. I needed to find out why. He wasn't hard to find, since all I had to do was find her. This time, when I entered, he was humming softly to her.

"What are you singing?" I asked. It wasn't a melody I recognized.

"Just a song I wrote for her. It seems to help soothe her when she gets restless."

"You wrote her a song? Why didn't she say anything about it to me? Why hasn't she mentioned you to me?" I demanded. I didn't like not knowing about my baby's life. Especially when the things I didn't know involved boys. Boys who wrote her songs and held her hand.

"She's only heard it twice. I hummed it for her once, and then played it for her on Sunday morning. And as to why she hasn't mentioned me, I think she thought I hated her, up until a week or so ago."

"And why would she think that?"

"I've never really dated anyone before Bella. I've never even wanted to. It took me a very long time to…trust myself… enough to ask her out. I have to admit that I have spent most of the time since she moved to Forks trying to stay away from her, because I was afraid."

"And you gained enough courage to ask her less than a week ago?" He was acting like she meant much more to him than that.

"Yes. From the moment I met her, something about her… called to me, fascinated me. She never does what I expect her to do."

I thought about that for a long moment. Something wasn't right about this. Over the rest of that day, I watched him, watched how he acted with herIt did not take long for me to realize that he was in love with her. I didn't understand how someone so young could care so strongly for someone he hardly knew. It frightened me. He felt so guilty about the accident. I understood that Edward felt that if she hadn't come to talk to him, she wouldn't have fallen; but wasn't like he could have prevented the accident; he couldn't see the future. And hadn't he noticed how, well, graceless my daughter was? She had trouble walking straight, sometimes. I've lost track of how many stitches she's had over her lifetime. How could he blame himself for a freak accident?

The more I watched them, the more I realized there was something strange about them all. I never noticed any of them actually eating, though they left the hospital as little as I did. I never saw them step directly into the path of the sunlight. Ever. And I could nearly watch their eyes darken as the hours passed. Also, for some reason I was slightly nervous around all of them, but I liked them. They were among the nicest people I had ever met. But there was definitely something strange about them. I hoped Bella would wake up soon. I needed to talk to her… something wasn't right.


A/N- I'm not completely happy with this one. My entire attempt at Renée's character is based on the conversation Bella and Edward had on the way home from Jacksonville in Eclipse. I don't know the exact quote, because I loaned my book to a friend and she hasn't finished it yet, (after almost three months!) but Edward said something like "Your mother has a very interesting mind. It's very childlike, but perceptive." I also used Bella's own line of "I'd forgotten how much my mother saw."

Thanks for reading!

Oh, and if anyone's curious, Renee was reading Children of the Night by Mercedes Lackey, another vampire tale that disregards most (but not all) vampire myths.