Next Best Thing

Disclaimer: I don't own the characters or the places, everything belongs to Stephenie Meyer.

I watched, terrified, as the black cloaked figure closed in on me…

My eyes opened, my heart pounding and my body shaking. I sat up, letting my mind realise it was only a nightmare. This was common for me now, every time he was away the horrible dreams would come back again, scaring me to the point of waking me. I tried not to scream anymore. It only caused more alarm than what was necessary and here, in the Cullen house, with only Carlisle home it would only serve to embarrass me should he come running, thinking I was in danger.

I waited impatiently for my breathing to return to normal. I wouldn't be surprised if Carlisle could hear my heart as it jumped out of my rib cage in a fast rhythm.

I was scared to close my eyes again. I hugged a pillow tighter, a horrible substitute for Edward. The pillow was warm and soft, nothing like my freezing cold, rock-hard fiancé.

It was no use, I couldn't sleep, not without him holding me, his cool breath fanning my hair and his sweet smell filling my head.

On shaky legs I stood from the bed, steadying myself before I started to walk again.

The room was a in total darkness and I surprised myself by only stumbling once on my way to the door.

I yawned widely as I made my way slowly down the stairs. I'd learnt from experience that stairs had the annoying tendency to make me fall down them. I avoided this and managed to arrive at the kitchen safely.

At first it had baffled me; what was the point in having a kitchen in a house where no one ate? Then, of course, it dawned on me that it was for appearances' sake. Should anyone come visit, which apart from me was highly unlikely, the Cullen's would need a kitchen. Even if only so they could offer that person/people a drink of water. Which was in fact why I was down here.

It was too dark, all the blackness reminded me of something I didn't want to be reminded of. The Volturi. I shivered in fear. The vampire royal family nearly always starred in my nightmares, threatening mine and my loved ones safety.

I missed Edward.

He had the ability to vanish the nightmares with just his presence, his soothing voice sent me quickly into a fitful slumber.

I sighed. I could never tell him how hard it was, watching him leave for a hunting trip, knowing what horrors the night had in store for me.

I ran the tap and held a glass under the flow, filling it till the water nearly reached the brim.

"Bella?"

I jumped, startled and managed to spill some of my water, "I'm sorry Carlisle, I;m so clumsy." I apologised, mopping up the water.

"It's quite alright, Bella. It was my fault; I shouldn't have startled you. what are you doing up at such hours?" he didn't seem shocked to see me up; he probably heard me come downstairs.

"I couldn't sleep." I mumbled, sipping my water.

Carlisle walked through into the living room, signalling for me to follow him.

It was warmer in here, but I still felt cold in my tiny vest and shorts. I blushed, realising how exposed I was.

I crossed my legs and folded my arms, trying to cover myself.

"Why is it you're having trouble sleeping, Bella?" suddenly his voice sounded very professional, like I was his patient. I realised I probably looked ill to him.

"Nightmares." I whispered, but I was sure he'd hear.

"You don't look well. How long have they been bothering you?" he asked and I bit my lip nervously. Could I trust Carlisle not to tell Edward? Of course I knew the answer.

"Don't tell Edward but… it's every time he's away." Carlisle nodded, understandingly. "Promise me you won't tell him. It'll only make him not want to leave me and he'll feel guilty when he has to." I pleaded.

"You have my word as a doctor." He vowed. I relaxed slightly. I sipped my water again, uncomfortable under Carlisle's studying gaze. "Is there any way I can help?" he offered, I considered it. They was no medicine Carlisle could give me, that I was sure of. Wasn't it only Edward's cool body that could sooth me enough for sleep? What if… No! That was crazy. I burned red just thinking about it. Carlisle saw and gave me a questioning look. I was very glad he couldn't read my mind. "What is it?"

I sighed "I don't think there's anything you can do. I just need Edward." I promised myself I wouldn't ask that of him. Alice, yes. That was different; she was a girl and one of my best friends.

"Are you sure?" he obviously sensed that ii was hiding something. I nodded.

"I think I'd better just go back to bed." I mumbled, resigned.

Carlisle waited as I rinsed my glass and the pair of us climbed the stairs together.

He walked me to my room and wished me 'sweet dreams'. I resisted the urge to snort. He smiled and turned around, walking away towards his study.

I quickly questioned my sanity and shouted "Wait!"

Carlisle turned, slightly shocked and then he was back to standing at my side in a flash. "What is it?" he asked, concerned.

"I think there is a way you could help." I muttered, my face burning as I stared at the floor, but the thought of more nightmares spurred me on, "Will you lay with me??" I was sure Carlisle could smell the blood that pooled at my cheeks. But he was smiling softly.

"Of course, Bella." He was too understanding. I smiled.

Carlisle pushed open the door and closed it again once we were both inside.

I thought it would be awkward but Carlisle lay down and pulled me down with him. I curled up against his marble chest just like I did with Edward and he wrapped his arms around me gently, just like Edward would have.

His steady breathing was unbelievably relaxing and his scent was remarkably similar to Edwards.

I found myself drifting quickly into unconsciousness.

It was cold, but it's what I was used to, it's what I like. "Thank you." I mumbled, half asleep.

Just as sleep finished clouding my head I was certain I felt icy, hard lips press a kiss onto my head.