Phoenix

Twilight

Edward POV: The meeting between Renée and the Cullens in the Phoenix hospital after James's attack.

Disclaimer: As always, everything belongs to the brilliant Stephenie Meyer: the story, my soul, everything!

She looked so fragile, so still.

I gazed at her, afraid to touch her frail body as she lay slumbering. Her pallor was highlighted by the sterile white of the hospital room. My stomach twisted with guilt and pain.

It's my fault she's here. I exposed her to James. She ran to him to protect her family, my family, me. She didn't know that to me, losing her was worse than death, worse than anything.

I lowered my face into my hands, keeping my fingers spread before my eyes so I could still see her. Her face, her heartbeat, the gentle rise and fall of her chest were my only lifeline, holding me above the torrent of agony that threatened to pull me under.

I could have lost her.

A cool hand touched my shoulder. "Edward?"

It was Alice. I raised my head a fraction to acknowledge her presence, still unable to look away from Bella.

She'll be fine, Edward. Look. She showed me a vision of Bella back in Forks, one arm around my waist and smiling despite the bulky cast on her leg.

Suddenly Alice's mind went blank for a moment, only a soft oh! penetrating the darkness. Then a vision came—a woman with short brown hair and wide blue eyes coming toward Bella's bedside in the hospital.

Renée is going to be here soon, she informed me unnecessarily. I'll go tell Carlisle.

Through the haze of guilt and worry, there were now other feelings. Curiosity—would I be able to read Bella's mother's mind? If I could, would it help me understand the mystery of Bella's?—and also nervousness. This was Bella's mother, the woman Bella once described as her best friend. Despite the grim circumstances of our meeting, I couldn't help but be a little anxious.

A few minutes later, Alice had taken her place beside my vigil, and Carlisle was poised nearby to intercept Renée before she entered the room.

Renée's thoughts were easily identifiable as she hurried through the hospital. Poor Bella, it's so like her to be injured like this. It's never been quite this bad before—that Alice girl said she would be out for awhile. I wonder if the family will be here—Cullen, wasn't it? I can't imagine why Bella didn't mention them to me; she never keeps secrets from me. And yet it's so unlike her to run off in the first place, she's such a responsible girl. I knew sending her off to live with Charlie was a bad idea…

"Mrs. Dwyer?" Carlisle's face flashed through our heads before all coherent thought on Renée's part ceased. I rolled my eyes; this was a common reaction to Carlisle.

"Oh," Renée said, breathless.

"I'm Dr. Carlisle Cullen," he said warmly, taking her hand. "My daughter Alice phoned you. I'm so sorry we have to bring you such ill news."

Alice is his daughter? He's far too young—looks even too young to be a doctor.

"This is Bella's room. You can see her, but she's still sedated and will be for a day or two more. She has a lot of injuries, but I can assure you she'll make a full recovery."

"Thank you," Renée said.

Through her mind, I saw Carlisle smile. He opened the door and held it for her. "Shall we?"

Renée entered, her eyes quickly locking on her daughter's still form. She did look quite a bit like Bella. They shared the same warm brown hair tone, although Renée's was cropped youthfully short. Her eyes were blue rather than brown, yet it was in their expression that the greatest difference between mother and daughter was contained. While Bella's eyes were calm, collected and gentle, Renée's were bewildered, lost, and dependent. I could picture Bella jumping from her hospital bed and wrapping her arms around her mother, soothing her fears with a loving touch and soft word.

But it was Alice who stood and moved to Renée's side, much more gracefully than Bella ever could. Alice introduced herself warmly; Renée responded to her absentmindedly. Her gaze flickered from Bella to Alice to Carlisle, and finally to me.

I stood as well, making sure my features were carefully composed as Renée's thoughts flooded my mind. She registered my seat closest to Bella, my hand—removed a moment before—that had rested on Bella's sheets, and the worry I hadn't quite been able to mask in my face. A familiar spark of intuition flashed in her eyes, eyes that I suddenly realized were not so very different from Bella's. Mother and daughter were both very, unusually, dangerously perceptive.

Alice ushered her to the chair beside Bella's bed. She looks so pale and vulnerable, Renée mourned. Her eyes flashed up from her daughter's face to meet mine again. He looks so concerned…protective…possessive, even? Charlie said it was because of Edward Cullen that she came here in the first place—that thought made me wince—and he's incredibly attractive and she's so young. I wonder how she feels about him. I think I'll ask her when she wakes up.

I smiled involuntarily, despite the twinge of unease. That was one conversation I did not want to miss.