Hello, my dear readers! This is my first attempt at a serious story, so I hope you'll like it as much as SCP. The title coms from one of my favorite Duran Duran songs, and each chapter title will be a song title. I'll begin posting a playlist on my profile.
I have to thank a couple of people who helped make this a reality. My dear Ereeen--I love you so hard! Thanks for being a great beta and having confidence in this when I didn't. Thanks also to GuineaPigBarbie for convincing me that I could write something serious. Oh, and thanks as well to Bittenev for letting me borrow her name!
Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns all things Twilight. I actually own very little.
Chapter 1—Do You Realize
The sun streamed through the bedroom window, waking me from a restful night's sleep. I tried to stretch, but my fiancé Edward had his arms around me tightly. I didn't mind, though. I loved nothing more than waking up every morning in Edward's strong arms. It made me feel so loved and protected. It also made me want to stay in bed on a cold January day like today.
Edward Cullen and I had known each other most of our lives. We grew up in the same neighborhood and had the same friends. Our parents were also best friends. We started dating during our freshman year of high school and had been together ever since. He was my personal Greek god. I often wondered how someone as beautiful as Edward could want someone plain like me, but I knew he loved me with all his heart. After achieving his lifelong goal of graduating from medical school, Edward proposed to me during the Christmas holidays. Our wedding was set for July, and we were thrilled about finally becoming husband and wife.
Edward looked beautiful even as he slept. I pushed a lock of his messy auburn hair out of his face, and he began to stir. His eyelids fluttered open, allowing me to see his gorgeous emerald green eyes.
"Good morning, love," he said, dazzling me with his crooked smile. "Did you sleep well?"
"I always sleep well when I'm with you," I replied.
"Why don't we just stay here all day?" he asked. "Do we really have to get up?"
"I'm afraid so. You have sick people to take care of, and I have students to teach," I told him. "Besides, it's Friday. You have a whole weekend off finally, and we get to spend it together."
"Yeah, but we have the engagement party tomorrow night," he reminded me.
Our friends Alice and Jasper Whitlock and Edward's brother and sister-in-law Emmett and Rosalie were throwing us an engagement party. Edward and I were the last of our group to get married, and Alice and Rosalie insisted on a party to celebrate. I really didn't like being the center of attention, but I decided to let Alice and Rose have their fun.
If we hadn't grown up together, I don't know if Alice and Rosalie and I would have wound up as friends. Alice was tiny and pixie-like with short black hair. Rose was statuesque with long blonde waves and blue eyes. They were both gorgeous, while I was the plain Jane of the group. They had subjected me to numerous makeovers throughout the years because they thought of me as their human Barbie doll.
I looked over at the clock and knew that we had to get moving if we were going to make it to work on time. "Come on, Edward, we've got to get up."
"Bella, you're killing me," Edward complained as I pulled away from his embrace and got out of bed.
"Sorry, love, but we have to work for a living," I called out from the bathroom. "We can't live on love alone." I waited for Edward to join me as I brushed my hair and put on the little makeup I wore on a daily basis, but he never came in. I stuck my head in the bedroom and found Edward still lying in bed. I became concerned. "Edward, are you OK?"
Edward slowly sat up and rubbed his eyes. "I think I might be coming down with something. I'm feeling a bit off today."
"Maybe you should stay home," I told him.
"No, it'll be OK," he said. "I do work in a hospital, after all. I think I can get medical attention if I need it." He smiled his dazzling smile, almost as if he were reassuring me.
I laughed at him. "All right, but if you'd like Nurse Bella to examine you tonight, I'm sure it could be arranged."
Edward finally got out of bed, walked over to me, and kissed me passionately. I knotted my fingers in his messy, sexy hair as I kissed him back. Damn, I loved that man's bedhead!
"I love you, Dr. Cullen," I said as we broke our kiss and I rested my head on his magnificent chest.
"I love you too, Miss Swan. I can't wait until you're finally Mrs. Cullen." He gently kissed me on the forehead.
Edward and I finally got ourselves together and headed out the door. Before I could get in my car, though, Edward spun me around for another kiss.
"I love you more than anything, Bella," he said breathlessly. "Always."
"I love you, too," I replied, "always and forever."
After Edward's little parting gift, I got in my car and drove to the high school. I had graduated from the same school, and it still felt weird sometimes to be teaching at my alma mater. We even had the same principal. Mr. Warner had been the principal at CHS for over 30 years, and he was happy to hire me to teach freshman English. My friend Angela Weber had graduated with me from CHS, and she taught sophomore English in the classroom next door to me. We often joked that we loved the school so much that we couldn't stay away. The truth was that I loved my job and couldn't imagine teaching anywhere else.
Alice called me on the way to school. "Happy Friday, Bella!" she chirped. Alice was way too perky. She put all of her energy to good use, though. Alice and Rose owned an upscale boutique called Twilight. Alice and her chipper self handled the customer service end, while the more serious Rose took care of the books.
"Hi, Alice. What's up?" It was impossible to be grouchy when you talked to Alice.
"I just wanted to remind you to come by the store this afternoon to pick up your dress for the party," she said.
"I thought you were bringing it by tomorrow," I replied. "Aren't you coming over to assault me with another one of your makeovers?"
Alice laughed. "Bella, you are so absurd! Of course I'm coming to make you over. I just want to make sure the alterations on the dress are OK."
I sighed. "All right, Alice, whatever."
I finished my call just as I arrived at school. Angela was pulling into the parking spot next to mine, so I waited for her and we walked into the school together.
"I am so glad it's Friday," Angela said. "This has been one crazy week. The beginning of a new semester is too hectic."
I laughed and nodded. "I've had so many kids with schedule changes that I feel like installing a revolving door in my classroom. Hopefully we'll be back to normal by next week."
Angela and I made our way to the front office to sign in. We were greeted by our secretary Robin.
"Bella, I saw your parents last night. Renee sure is excited about the wedding," Robin said.
"Oh yeah," I replied. "You'd think she was the one getting married."
My mom Renee was great, but she could get a little overexcited sometimes. Her energy served her well, though. She had been teaching kindergarten for nearly 30 years, and I had no idea how she still kept up with those little ones. My dad Charlie was the total opposite. He was quiet and serious, which was appropriate for his job as deputy police chief. My parents were still madly in love after all these years, and I hoped Edward and I would end up the same way.
Angela and I parted ways when we reached our classrooms, and I attempted to get some grading done before classes began for the day. It wasn't long, though, before I was interrupted.
"Hey, Bella!" I looked up to see Edward's little sister Elizabeth in the doorway. "Are you busy?"
"I'm never too busy for you," I told her with a smile. "What's up?"
Elizabeth came into the classroom and sat in the desk closest to mine. She was a female version of Edward with her long auburn hair and green eyes. She had been Esme and Carlisle's "surprise" baby. Emmett was 12 and Edward was 11 when Elizabeth came along. Sometimes they were harder on her than their parents were, but they were also amazing big brothers.
"Are you going by Rose and Alice's this afternoon?" Elizabeth asked. "If you are, can I catch a ride with you? I need to make sure my dress for tomorrow night fits." She paused for a moment before continuing. "I'm so excited that I finally get to go to a grown-up party! It's about time. I mean, come on, I'm almost 15!" She rolled her eyes dramatically.
I laughed at her last comment. "Don't remind your brothers about that. They'd lock you up in a convent until you were 21 if they could. And yes, I'm going over to the shop this afternoon, and you are more than welcome to ride with me. No practices this afternoon?" Elizabeth lived and breathed cheerleading and softball, so she was usually at practice for one or the other.
"Nope. I'm off till Monday," she replied. "It's a good thing, too, because I've got to catch up on homework this weekend. It's not easy being a freshman in sophomore-level classes. Mom and Dad told me I'll have to give up an activity if I can't keep my grades up."
"I don't think that'll happen," I told her. "You've always balanced everything and done just fine."
"Yeah, but high school is harder," Elizabeth said. "I want to do well and have fun. It's just hard sometimes."
"I know, but if anyone can do it, you can," I assured her. "And as far as fun goes, I think you'll have fun at the party tomorrow night."
"Oh yes!" she squealed as the first bell of the day rang. "Oh well, guess I've got to get to class. I'll meet you here after school. Bye, Bella!" she called out as she headed to her first class.
My day went quite well. My classes were reading Romeo and Juliet, which was one of my all-time favorites. My students really got into the play, and we had some great discussions about it. Before I knew it, the final bell had rung, and school was over for the week.
Angela came over into my room after our students had left for the day, and we began talking about our weddings. She and her fiancé Ben were getting married at the beginning of June, about six weeks before Edward and me.
"So, do you have everything booked?" Angela asked me.
"We've got the church, but we can't agree on a place for the reception," I replied. "Esme offered her house, and I really think we're going to take her up on it. Their backyard is huge, and we could set up tents out there. I think it would be beautiful."
"Ooooh, I think so too!" Angela agreed. "Besides, I think you'd be able to relax and enjoy yourself more there than in some stuffy hotel ballroom."
"Exactly," I said. "Edward feels the same way. We really want to enjoy our wedding."
"Sorry I'm late!" called out a voice from the doorway. I looked up to see Elizabeth standing there, breathless.
"You're not late," I told her. "We've been discussing wedding plans."
"Cool!" exclaimed Elizabeth. "I can't wait for the wedding to get here. I was only 12 when Emmett and Rose got married, so I didn't think it was all that, but I'm older now, and I'll be able to enjoy it more and have fun, and speaking of fun, I can't wait for the party tomorrow, and, oh, hey Miss Weber!" I don't think the kid stopped once to take a breath.
"Hello, Elizabeth," Angela said with a laugh. "I'm glad to see you so animated today. I'll let you two get out of here. See you tomorrow night!"
I grabbed my things, and Elizabeth and I were out the door. The shop wasn't far from school, so we were there in no time. Alice pounced on us as soon as we walked in the door.
"Here they are! The beautiful bride-to-be and the sister of the groom!" Alice squealed as she pulled us in for a group hug.
"Seriously, Alice, how much caffeine do you consume on a daily basis?" Elizabeth asked.
"Too much," Rosalie answered with a laugh.
Alice pretended to look offended, but she couldn't hold in her laughter. "Hey, if being energetic is a crime, then let me be guilty!" she said dramatically.
"You're guilty, all right," Elizabeth giggled.
"Like you have room to talk, Miss Cheerleader," Alice teased. "I've seen you when you get on a roll."
Rosalie laughed and rolled her eyes. "OK, I hate to break up the lovefest here, but let's get down to business." She proceeded to push me into a fitting room. "Come on, I want to see how amazing you look in that dress."
As I was trying on the dress, I heard my cell phone ring. I realized that I had left my purse outside the fitting room. "Elizabeth, will you grab that?" I called out.
"OK! Bella's phone," she sang, and I couldn't help but laugh as I heard her engage in animated conversation with whoever was on the phone.
I go the dress on and stepped out of the fitting room. Alice squealed and clapped her hands while Rose smiled and nodded.
"You look beautiful, Bella," Rosalie said. "Edward won't know what hit him. It's perfect."
Perfect. If I had to choose one word to describe my life right now, it would be perfect. I was pretty damn lucky.
Perfect. That was the only way to describe the feeling of waking up with Bella in my arms. Every day I wondered how I had been lucky enough to have this beautiful woman love me.
This particular Friday morning was no different from the rest. I had slept peacefully as I held Bella close to me. I wanted nothing more than to stay in bed with her all day, but she said something about having to work for a living. I'd gladly give up working if it meant I could spend every moment of my existence with Bella.
Bella had gotten up to get ready for work, but I was having a hard time getting up. I felt like I had a migraine coming on, even though I hadn't had one since I graduated from medical school. I figured it was just the stress of work and wedding planning that was getting to me.
I wasn't stressed about marrying Bella; I had never been so sure of anything in my life. Bella and I wanted a quiet, simple wedding, but our family and friends were pushing for a more extravagant affair. I was ready to run off to Vegas to elope, but Bella convinced me to compromise on some of the details. I decided to go along with what Bella wanted because her happiness was all that mattered to me.
Bella eventually stuck her head in the room to see if I was OK. I admitted that I wasn't quite feeling well, but I played it off as nothing serious. I didn't want to worry her. I finally got out of bed and gave Bella a passionate kiss before I got dressed and ready for work.
We walked out the door together, and I had to give her one more kiss before we parted for the day. I spun her around and kissed her sweetly. "I love you more than anything, Bella. Always," I said as I tried to catch my breath. Yes, my Bella was simply breathtaking.
"I love you, too," she replied, "always and forever."
I sighed as I got into my Volvo to head for work. I was doing my residency in the ER at Seattle Grace Hospital. I absolutely loved my work. I had considered becoming a surgeon like my father, but I liked the challenges of emergency medicine. No two days were ever alike. I treated everyone from children to the elderly and cases ranging from bumps and bruises to serious traumas. Sometimes my shifts were long and tiring, but I was too happy with what I did to notice most of the time. I always felt that Bella and I were very lucky to do what we loved.
The morning wasn't very busy, but at least it didn't seem to drag on. I was working with Mike Newton, so we hung out between patients. Mike and I had gone to medical school together, and we both wound up doing our residencies at Seattle Grace. He was a good guy and a good doctor.
I still couldn't shake that sick feeling I had had this morning, but thankfully it didn't affect my work. I made it through the morning, and soon it was lunchtime.
"Edward!" I heard someone call. I turned around and saw my father walking through the ER. My dad, Dr. Carlisle Cullen, was the chief of surgery at Seattle Grace. He had been at the hospital for years, and Emmett, Elizabeth, and I had practically grown up here.
"Hey, Dad," I called back. "What's up?"
"I just wanted to see if you felt like grabbing some lunch," my dad said. "You don't look too busy down here."
"Yeah, thankfully it's been a quiet day," I replied. "Actually, Dad, I'm not that hungry. I'll join you, though."
"Is everything OK?" Carlisle asked. "You look tired."
"I am tired," I admitted. "I feel like I'm getting a migraine, but I'm hanging in there."
"A migraine? You haven't had one of those in a while," Carlisle observed.
"I know. I guess I'm just stressed right now," I told him.
"Do you have your meds? You don't want a full-blown migraine," Carlisle said, concerned.
"No, because I haven't had to take them in so long," I said. "I'll be all right, Dad. I'm a big boy."
My father laughed. "I know, but I still worry. Promise me you'll get some rest."
It was my turn to laugh. "Rosalie and Alice are about to take over your house to throw a party for Bella and me, and I'm supposed to rest? Who knows what they're going to rope me into tomorrow?"
"I'll get your mother to rein them in," Carlisle said. "You and the guys can hang out and watch some football."
"Now that's a great idea," I agreed. "The playoffs start this weekend. I know Emmett will be up for that. What about you and Elizabeth?" I asked him, knowing how much he and my sister enjoyed watching sports.
"Let's not push it," Carlisle chuckled. "I have a feeling your mother's going to put us to work."
After our lunch, I called Emmett's cell phone and got his voice mail. I then tried Jasper, but he didn't answer either. I left messages for both of them. Emmett was an architect, and Jasper was a lawyer. Both of them were very successful, and I couldn't have been happier for my brother and my best friend.
I had a few more patients after lunch, and when I looked at the clock again, I realized that Bella was out of school for the day. I decided to give her a call.
"Bella's phone," a familiar voice sang.
"Bitt, is that you?" I asked, using the nickname Emmett and I had given our sister when she was still a baby. "What are you doing with Bella's phone?"
"Oh, hey Edward!" Elizabeth said excitedly. "We're over at Twilight, and Bella's trying on her dress. What are you doing? Save any lives today?"
"It's actually pretty quiet around here today," I told her. "Fortunately, I haven't had anything serious to deal with. What have you been up to?"
That was all Elizabeth needed to hear. I laughed to myself as my little sister began to tell me about her classes, cheerleading, the upcoming softball tryouts, and her friends. Elizabeth was definitely animated and outgoing like Emmett, but at times she really could be quiet and reserved like me.
I vividly remembered the day my parents sat us down and told us that my mom was pregnant. Emmett was horrified at the idea of my parents having sex. All I could think about was how a new baby would just be in the way. To say that Emmett and I were unhappy was an understatement.
Everything changed, though, the first time we laid eyed eyes on our baby sister. She was the most beautiful thing we had ever seen. We were so in love with her that we even changed diapers willingly. As soon as she was old enough to hold a bat, we took her in the backyard to teach her how to play baseball. Emmett taught her how to wrestle and belch, and I taught her to play the piano and to appreciate books.
Elizabeth became everyone's little sister. It was common for Bella, Rose, Alice, and even Jasper to spend time with her. We were all so proud of her and all of her accomplishments. She was a great kid, and I couldn't imagine life without my baby sister.
I was still laughing silently as Elizabeth continued to rattle on. "Wow, Bitt, that's interesting," I said when she finally stopped to take a breath. "Listen, sweetie, I've got to go. Would you please tell Bella that I'll call her on my way home?"
"OK! Bye, Edward! I love you!" she said.
"Love you too, kiddo," I told her before hanging up.
Not long after I talked to Elizabeth, we had a trauma come into the ER. A car had swerved off the road and run into a tree, leaving the driver in critical condition. Mike and I worked with the rest of our trauma team while we waited for a surgical consult. All of a sudden, I became dizzy and had to step back from my patient.
"Dr. Cullen? Are you OK?" I thought I heard a nurse say. I felt like I was in a daze, and I wasn't even sure if I was hearing correctly. "Dr. Cullen?" Yes, someone was definitely talking to me.
"Edward? Edward!" This time it was Mike's voice I heard. I tried to focus on what was going on, but it was hard to do so when the room was spinning.
"I'll be OK. I just need a minute," I managed to say. I closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths. When I opened my eyes, the spinning had stopped. I was starting to feel normal again.
By this time, our patient was being taken up to surgery. "Edward, are you all right?" Mike asked me. "You freaked me out there."
"Sorry," I told him. "I've felt a migraine coming on all day. I must have spaced out for a minute."
"Maybe you ought to go home. You look like hell."
"Gee, thanks Mike," I replied, and we both laughed. "I'd love to go home and lie down, but I hate to leave you short handed."
Mike shooed me off. "Go home, Edward. We'll be fine."
"I owe you big time. Thanks," I said.
I called Bella once I got to my car, and she didn't seem alarmed when I told her I was on my way home and why. She'd seen first hand the debilitating migraines I used to get. I hadn't had one in a long time, though. Why now?
You're overreacting, I told myself. Things will work out perfectly. They always do.
Of course they did.