Second Chances

By Ani aka Cherished Dreams

Disclaimer: I don't own Stephenie Meyer's characters. I own the plot though!

Chapter Four

Both figures in the old Cullen house stood shocked-still. Hearing the pounding heartbeat in his ears, the figure at the bottom of the stairs called out to her, hoping his eyesight was just getting poorer.


The eyes belonging to the figure called Bella, widened in shock and she stepped forward hesitantly, thinking it was all a dream. A very descriptive dream. Her hands started to tremble and the bouquet slipped from her fingers. The figure blurred, racing towards her, on instinct and caught it before it touched the floor. She gasped and took several few steps back, creating a bit of distance between them.

"Carlisle? Is that really you?" She gasped, disbelief colouring her words.

Carlisle's perpetually blond head bobbed up and down slowly enough for her to see and he planted an apologetic smile on his face. "Sorry about startling you. I was a little preoccupied just before you arrived." He gestured her inside, invitingly and she felt her legs move her forward on their own accord, all the while gazing at him lest he disappear. He closed the door behind her, planted the bouquet back in her hands and motioned her up the stairs to his office.

"How have you been Bella?" He asked politely, genuinely interested.

"I've been doing well enough." She paused, taking a moment to drop into the leather office seat. "I'm just back for Thanksgiving you know. With Charlie. I'll be going back to College after the weekend is through."

He smiled at her, nodding slightly, encouraging the burning questions she had sitting in the back of her dry throat. It had been so long, where had they been? How was everyone? Were they planning to return? She longed to ask him all of these and yet she could only ask one. The lone question Carlisle himself was surprised to be asked.

"Why are you here?"

"I visit sometimes, when my more serious patients return for checkups. I just so happened to be here this weekend because Esme wanted a few books we'd left behind on sixteenth century England." He ended with a slight smile, pensive.

Bella nodded dumbly staring at the flowers fidgeting with the ribbon between her sweaty fingers. She half smiled and lifted it towards him. He examined the flowers in it curiously, eventually taking it from her grasp.

"These are for Esme. I was just going to leave them here actually. But since you're here... maybe you could give them to her for me?"

"Freesia, Gladiolus, Lilies, Statice, and... is this Stock?" She nodded; barely surprised that he knew most of flowers hidden in there. She had had a hard time getting all of the flowers that would express her feelings for her absent mother.

"Are you trying to make evoke tears from Esme?" He said pride and something else laced in his voice. He stood saying this and placed them gently onto his office table before taking her by the arms and lifting her up to hug her properly.

The cold jolted her from the confusion she felt from his prior question, and returned the hug. It brought tears to her eyes. Her memory of him did not disappoint her. He was just as patient and feeling as she had remembered him to be, and everything more. This gesture was different from the others she remembered with him in the past and she could help but worry slightly that something was wrong. When they pulled away, he gently pressed a handkerchief into her palm and leaned against the table waiting for her to gather herself.

"Carlisle, is everything alright with the family?" She asked quietly, trying to be careful with her words. It didn't sway him; he still picked up the slight pause and hesitation in her voice. He lifted a cheek, and ran a hand through his hair, the gesture reminiscent.

"Everything's fine. The children have been... vacationing. Alice went to find her roots, along with Jasper but they'll be returning to us shortly. Rosalie and Emmett are on their honeymoon again in Europe. They'll be back before the new year."

'And Edward?' her mind asked silently, prodding her to say it aloud to him. She protested to herself, fidgeting, feeling a little odd at the mental argument.

Her mind won.

"Edward is using one of his prior degrees, pursuing a career in that field."

She nodded, taking it in. "Esme and you?" He smiled at her like an indulgent father. "Both fine, Esme's a part time kindergarten teacher. I'm a professor now. She liked your book by the way." Her eyes widened, in surprise. "Book?" she breathed. He nodded. "The Lion and the Lamb. Alice sent to us a copy while she was away. Esme takes it out every now and then and reads it to her kids. She likes it very much."

Bella swiped at the few tears that managed to fall. "I'm glad. Did she...?"

He nodded, his expression softening, "she did see. She wanted to thank you for dedicating it to her and to him, when she found out. You have no idea how much it meant to her."

"Bella... I... need go." He said slowly, his eyes darting to the suddenly chiming clock behind her and she realized that the room had grown darker. "It's late in the afternoon and I have to go catch a flight... home." He stopped there looking at her apologetically again. 'Ahh, so he can't say' her mind said sadly.

"Oh!" She said jumping up, scrapping her ankle slightly on the wood leg of the chair. "Umm well. It was really good to see you again. Will I..." She trailed off, uncertainly. Hoping for positive news.

"No, I don't imagine you would." Carlisle ended for her quietly. "Though we may bump into each other in the future." He offered with a small smile. She nodded. He couldn't be certain of what the future would bring for them. It meant that, she could live the rest of her life and never see them again before her dying day. She moved over to embrace him again, and he obliged holding her there gently before pushing her away slightly.

"I don't imagine it'll go over well with Esme… or the rest of the family, if I smelled too much like another woman Bella." They both laughed at the hilarity and he walked her out to her truck, promising her that he would deliver the flowers to the mother, alive and fresh. He watched her drive away until she was out of sight, before shifting and disappearing from sight altogether.

The rest of Bella's Thanksgiving went by in a blur.

Charlie and Bella spent Thanksgiving with Billy and Jacob, friends from La Push. Their visitors were surprised when they espied the stuffed turkey on the Swans' small kitchen table, Thanksgiving night. This caused a round of laughter between father and daughter, and Charlie had even invited them over the next few weeks to steal some of the food that was sure to be left over from their little feast.

She never really got to know Jacob very well after their chance meeting back in her first year at Forks, but when he came over she was grateful for the distraction and his high spirits. She imagined that they would've been great friends, had she visited La Push more with or without her father back in high school. It was a little too late for it these days, with her studying so far away from home. They exchanged numbers and emails anyway; with her instructing him to drop her a line should he ever come wandering around Philadelphia.

Bella noticed that he seemed a little more 'friendly' towards her than he had been when he had come in through their door, and her suspicions were confirmed when she saw Charlie and Billy elbowing each other, wiggling their eyebrows and leaving them in the kitchen to clean up, moving to the living room to watch TV. She rolled her eyes at them and moved around the kitchen to wrap large amounts of food and organize them in Charlie's small-ish refrigerator. Jacob helped wash the dishes for her and she divided some food for them to take home.

They left in high spirits shortly after, Billy patting his stomach, thanking her for the excellent meal and Jacob planting a shy kiss on her cheek. Blood rushed to her face and Charlie smiled slyly at her, before retreating to his bed. She followed suit soon after, but not before clearing her mind of kisses and boys.

Bella visited the Weber family and saw Angela and Ben briefly on the weekend. They chatted as much as they could before Ben had to all but chuck her out the Webers' front door. The girls laughed at his apparent disgruntled disposition and Bella let them go but not before shooting him a pointed look at Angela's bare hands. He nodded at her slightly and she grinned knowing that a ring would soon fill the empty space.

Mike came over to the Chief's house and even spent a whole afternoon, grocery shopping with her and trying to help her cook a wide range of food, that would hopefully tide Charlie over until Christmas. Angela and Ben joined in nearer to the end of their day. Angela was glowing with happiness, Ben looking thoroughly pleased with himself. He had finally popped the question and asked with the permission and warm blessings from her family. Hugs, claps on backs, and congratulations were exchanged, before the happy couple left Bella and Mike to their cooking, to do some announcing.

Mike turned out to be more of a nuisance to her when it came to taste testing, but she was surprised when he was able to cut so well and fast. She left him working on a big batch of cookie dough to puncture shapes into, before baking it and wrapping some up for his family and sending him on his way home. His mother called soon after and they chatted briefly, and laughing after learning about Mike's troubled stomach. She gave his mother instructions to scold him for taste testing so much.

She also spent some time on another one of her short stories, to submit upon her return to UPenn, to her publishers, who had suggested a collection of short works from a few of their emerging authors. She hoped this one would qualify as 'light'. Catalina had apprised her other stories, all of which, in her opinion, seemed sad.

Bella visited the Cullen house one last time, a little bit of hope in her heart, that she would see him again soon after their encounter, but to no avail.

The day of her departure soon arrived and she found herself packing for home, and in Charlie's cruiser headed towards Port Angeles' airport.

"I'll miss you Dad."

"Me too hon. Me too."

They hugged briefly by the car, Charlie not a huge fan of prolonging goodbyes til the very end. With that last goodbye, she boarded her plane back to her reality and life as a second year college student – slash – secret author. Only when she was on the plane, sniffling back tears of sadness, did she realise that she had never given back Carlisle's handkerchief.

Author's Note: And that's it. A bit of a filler, happy time, revelation chapter. It's all important really. If you can pick out the important parts. –ponders- Did anyone get that? XD I know my uni semesters are a little different from the USA ones. You guys start what? At September right? And that's the start of your academic year in uni. But I imagine you guys also have a spring and autumn semester of six months with break in between. Its November so… She's like… halfway through her second year? Another year and a half to go!