Chapter 9 Complications
Bella sat while a parade of doctors, nurses, and police personnel fluttered in and out of her room. She vaguely remembered the doctor telling her she would need to be observed until they thought the drugs had fully left her system.
Bella was moved to a private room while James went to get the two of them some breakfast. Bella curled up in her bed and drew the covers up to her chin. It was the first moment she was actually able to process the events that had taken place since kickoff the night before.
Jake. She felt disgusted even thinking the name. He was so nice and handsome. He reminded her so much of her friend, Seth, who lived on the reservation back in La Push. She prayed seeing Seth at Christmas wouldn't trigger something awful.
Christmas. Just a few days and she would be spending Christmas at her father's house. This year the party was even bigger with the addition of the Cullens and the Hales. All of her father's friends would be there, including Seth and his family. She knew she had to get a grip on the images in her head before seeing him again. They were always close, so she thought about talking to him before they actually met up on Christmas day.
That brought her back to the thought of telling Edward. She almost thought it would be harder telling him about the rape than the rape itself. She knew she had to wait until she got home to tell him. He would be waiting to pick her up at the airport. He would hug her and kiss her, lavish all sorts of affection on her. She couldn't imagine how she would handle it. Re-telling her story to the doctors and the police had been one thing. The drugs had made her pretty numb. But when she got to the point of telling Edward, her mind would be crystal clear. She would really have to feel what happened for the first time.
She felt a soft tap at her shoulder. She turned to look over her shoulder slowly. There Jessica stood with tear stained cheeks and puffy, red eyes.
Bella just took her hand and pulled her friend down into the bed next to her. Jessica spooned up against her dearest friend and gently ran her fingers through her hair.
"I know what I'm saying right now might seem like absolute shit, but you're gonna get through this Bella. You are one of the strongest people I know and I'm gonna be right here for you every step of the way." Jessica sniffled as she started to rub Bella's upper arm.
"Thanks, Jess." Bella laced her fingers through those of her friends. "Did you tell Garrett?"
"No. I just told him we'd talk when we got back. I changed our flight to later this evening. The doctors said you'd be ready to go after lunch. I've got our stuff already packed in the rental car downstairs. We can go straight to the airport when they let you out."
"I don't know what I'd do without you, Jess. Thanks." Bella squeezed Jessica's hand as she heard a knock followed by someone entering the room.
"I got the blueberry one's. I hope you still like them." James saw Bella and Jessica turn over in the bed towards him. "Sorry, I didn't mean to intrude. I knew Bella would be hungry."
"No, James. It's fine." She and Jessica sat up in the bed. "James, this is Jessica. Jess, this is James."
Jessica held her hand out to shake it. "Yes, I think we've met before at the photo shoot for Victoria Lane. You're her editor right?"
"That and many other things. Bella is Victoria's assistant, did she tell you?"
"She might have mentioned it, but she hasn't been totally coherent." James sat down in the chair next to the bed as he set the food and drinks he had brought on the bedside table.
"I guess we all owe you a big thanks for getting to Bella when you did."
"I could tell there was something wrong. Even after not seeing her for all these years, I knew something was off." He looked to Bella and smiled. She gave what she could of a weak smile back.
Bella's phone started to vibrate on the bedside table. Jessica picked it up to look at the caller ID. "It's, uh... Tony."
Bella took the phone and tried to compose her thoughts. "Hello."
"Hey, gorgeous. Have you guys boarded yet?"
"Oh, I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to call. Jess and I are taking a flight later this evening."
Edward could hear the wavering in her voice. Something was off.
"What's wrong? You seem upset."
"I wasn't feeling well, so I'm at the hospital right now. It must have been something I drank or ate. The doctor said I could be released in a couple of hours. Jess is taking me to the airport from here." She concentrated on playing with the ends of her hair so she wouldn't lose her resolve.
"Oh, baby. I'm sorry I'm not there with you."
She started to feel herself crumble. "I wish you were here, too. I..." she hiccuped. "I miss you."
"I miss you, too. I'll have all your favorites waiting for you when you get home. You are taking it easy for the next few days. No questions, alright?"
Bella shook her head before smiling. "Alright. I'll call you when I find out when we'll be landing."
"I'll be waiting. I love you, my Isabella."
"I love you, too." With that, she ended her call and collapsed into Jessica's arms. "I hate that I lied to him."
"Don't worry, sweetie. He'll understand." Jessica turned to see a confused look on James' face. "Tony is Bella's boyfriend."
"I see." James nodded, confused as hell.
He knew Bella was dating that Cullen guy. He had seen them together at her release party. He wondered who the hell this Tony person was.
"James, I'm sorry about all this." Bella pulled herself from Jessica's arms. "I really am grateful for everything you've done. Maybe we can get together and talk in a couple of weeks, but right now I just don't think I can deal with all of this."
"I understand." James stood and pulled out a card from his pocket, placing it on her bedside table. "My cell number is on here. Just give me a call, night or day. I owe you that much, Bells."
James leaned in and placed a soft kiss on Bella's forehead. He pulled back to look in her eyes as he lifted her chin up with his index finger. "Anytime, Bella. I mean it."
"Okay." She smiled a little bigger for James before he left her room.
Edward waited anxiously at the baggage claim area. Bella's flight had already landed, but she and Jessica were still no where to be seen.
He ran his fingers nervously through his blackened hair. He felt more than a little uncomfortable donning his Tony persona at one am in the middle of the SeaTac airport. His contacts were bothering him and he hadn't brought any solution with him. He decided he would take them out as soon as they reached the car.
He was brought out of his discomfort and sunk to a whole new one when he saw Bella and Jessica approach him.
Jessica's arm was tightly wrapped around Bella's shoulders as if she was willing her to take each step. Bella's hair was pulled back at the nape of her neck with a few tendrils framing her face. Her face was paler than usual. She most certainly looked as if she had been put through the ringer. Edward realized it was defiantly not food poisoning that had his Bella looking that way. She was hiding something from him. The evidence presented itself when her eyes met his and she brought her hand up to stroke her own cheek.
He took her hands in his as Jessica removed her arm and stepped back.
"You two talk. I'm going to get the bags."
"Thanks, Jess." Bella hung her head unable to look at Edward's pained face.
"I know I might not be able to decipher everything in your voice over the phone, but Bella... I know this is not just food poisoning. Please, baby. Tell me what happened." Edward lifted her chin softly with his index finger.
Bella squeezed Edward's hand in hers. She took a deep breath, but couldn't lift her eyes to his. "I was... attacked." She blew out a deep breath.
Edward slowly pulled her into his arms as her breath stuck in her throat. He knew at that moment, those three words were all she could give him. Hundreds of scenarios rushed through his mind, but he knew for the time being he would have to leave it alone.
The next moment, Jessica had come over with their bags loaded on a cart. The three of them silently made it out to the parking lot and to Edward's Volvo. Edward packed the bags in the back while Jessica put Bella in the front seat.
"You need anything, you just call, alright?" Bella nodded as Jessica threaded her fingers through Bella's hair before cupping her cheek. "I'll take care of Garrett and everything. Don't worry for one second. Just take care of yourself. Let Edward take care of you."
Bella looked into Jessica's eyes seeing all the love and sincerity a best friend could give. "I will. I promise."
Bella scooted back in her seat before Jessica shut the door.
Jessica went around to the back of the car as Edward had finished loading everything up. She ran her hand up and down his back before he pulled her into a hug.
"She's gonna need you now more than ever. She might need more than you can give her, but promise me you won't give up on her."
Edward pulled back to look at Jessica. "She's my life. She's stuck with me no matter what."
"Good. Call me tomorrow and tell me how she's doing."
Jessica took the cart that had her bags still on it and made her way to her car.
Edward slipped in the driver's seat and started home.
"Whenever you're ready to talk..."
"I think I should wait until we get home. I'd really hate to get into a wreck on top of everything else." Bella smiled weakly as Edward glanced over to her.
They arrived home. Bella went to change as Edward brought the bags inside.
He knocked on their bedroom door before entering.
Bella was sitting in a light blue tank top and blue plaid lounge pants on their bed. Edward sunk into the mattress beside her.
She took a deep breath and gathered her hand in his. "Let me get it all out, no interruptions. Okay?"
"Whatever you need."
Bella's grip on his hand tightened as she began.
"I was watching the game in the hotel bar. Around the beginning of the third quarter, a guy asked if he could join me. I really didn't see any harm. He seemed nice enough. We bantered back and forth through the rest of the game. Then when I was getting up to leave, I felt really dizzy. Within a minute, everything went fuzzy. He was taking me towards the elevators to help me to my room, I assumed. Then I could tell he was arguing with someone before we got on the elevator. He pushed the man away and pulled me in. The next thing I knew, the elevator had stopped and he was all over me. I could hardly stand let alone stop him. That's when he raped me the first time."
"The first time?" Edward was thrust into an indescribable amount of agony. His beautiful Bella, violated. After everything she had already been through, now this.
"When he was... done. He carried me back to my room. That's when it happened again. The weird thing was, he wasn't forceful. He took his time. It was like he knew what kind of effect the drugs would have and he wasn't rushing anything. I have no idea how long it was, but before he could finish again, he was pulled off of me. Then someone wrapped me up in a robe. Next thing I knew, I was lying in the emergency room."
"Someone found you? They got the son of a bitch?"
"No, he ended up running off before security or the police got there. I later found out it was the man who tried to stop us at the elevator. You won't believe it, but it was James who found me."
"James?" The name seethed through his teeth.
"Yeah, small word. He was with Laurent at the convention and he saw me in the lobby. He ended up finding what room I was in and rushed up there. Who knows what would of happened if he hadn't of found me."
Edward was trying his hardest to process everything without exploding. Bella had been raped, twice. Then she was saved by her crack addict ex-boyfriend. He really didn't know how he was supposed to react to all of it. Then he realized, it wasn't about him. It was all about her. What ever she needed from him, he would provide.
"The police got some DNA from a condom he'd used, so that with my description and the video from the elevator, they think they have a pretty good case. They just have to find him."
"Do they think there's a chance of that?"
"He wasn't your average type of guy. He'd stand out in a crowd. They know what they're looking for."
He could tell she didn't want to go any farther with her story than that. She seemed drained, but had no emotion. Her voice was completely flat with not the slightest bit of inflection. His Bella's spark was gone.
"You need some rest. Do you want me to sleep with you? I can understand if-"
"I want you to stay."
He brought her chin up so her eyes met his. "I love you. We'll figure out what to do."
"I don't even want to think about telling my dad or Emmett, let alone everyone else."
"Let's just get some sleep and we'll think about it when we have to. Come on."
Edward pulled back the covers and Bella slipped under. He stripped down to his boxers before climbing in next to her.
Before he could get the chance to say it, she said it for him. "I love you."
"Love you, too. Sleep, my love."
With that she closed her eyes and tried not to think at all as Edward hummed her to sleep.
Bella woke suddenly in the night, drenched in a sweat, her breathing shallow and uneven. She turned to see Edward soundly sleeping beside her. She knew after her nightmare she would no longer be able to sleep. She slipped from the bed without Edward noticing and made her way out to the kitchen.
Her heart was pounding in her chest, her brain banging against the base of her skull. She needed something, she needed to stop the adrenaline pumping through her veins. She begged for the numbness to find her.
She dug through all her cabinets, through her refrigerator, and finally through her pantry until she found them. Two bottles of red wine she had been given when she finished her second book. She had been saving them for that rare, special occasion. She had never planned on ever drinking them herself, but she knew at that moment it was the only thing that would stop the world from spinning.
She tore through her kitchen drawers to find the cork screw. She unscrewed the first bottle and brought it to her lips instantly. She had forgotten the feel of it's velvety softness running down the back of her throat. Within moments, the bottle was half emptied.
She felt a slight buzz coming on and was in desperate need of more. She took the bottle with her into the living room and settled on the couch. She pounded back one mouthful after another until the bottle was finally emptied. She set the bottle down on the table before bringing both of her hands to the sides of her face. She was light headed and dizzy. The exact feeling she was hoping to achieve. Even after five years, she knew what would happen next. She craved it, she begged it to come. She laid back on the couch and let the old feelings over take her. It then hit her full force. Euphoria surged through her whole body before she came to rest, embracing the blackness.
Edward awoke to the feeling of emptiness as he searched for Bella beside him. He sat up and looked towards the bathroom. The door was open and the lights were off. He crawled out of bed and made his way to the kitchen.
He saw the wake of Bella's frantic search. Their once perfectly organized kitchen in total disarray. That was when he noticed the bottle of wine with the corkscrew lying next to it.
He rushed to the living room, finding Bella passed out on their couch. He found the empty bottle on the table and realized how their entire world had come crashing down on them in just a matter of days.
He knelt down next to her, caressing her face. Her cheek arched to his touch as a soft smile played upon her lips. Yet she didn't wake.
Edward quietly made his way back to their bedroom where he retrieved Bella's cell phone. He scrolled through her phone book until he found the number he needed.
His thoughts raced as the phone started to ring on the other end.
"Hello?" The woman's voice was rough and groggy.
"Hey. It's Edward."
"Edward? What's wrong?"
"It's Bella. She slipped. Not that she didn't have every right to, but I don't know how to handle this. Please, can you come over? She still passed out on the couch." Edward paced the bedroom while waiting for a response.
"How did she slip, Edward? Please, don't tell me she shot up."
"No. No. She drank a bottle of wine. There was another one unopened in the kitchen, but I think she must have passed out before she had a chance to get to it."
"Good. I know falling off the wagon is nothing to be taken lightly, but I know Bella would never forgive herself if she went back to coke or heroin again."
Edward gripped at his throat. He had known about the cocaine, but not the heroin. "I know, but something happened. She was at that convention this weekend. Some guy drugged her and raped her. He might have done worse if someone hadn't busted in on them."
"Oh fuck, Edward. You know what... I'm getting my shoes on right now. I'll be there in twenty."
"Thanks so much, Nicki. Bella is so lucky to have a sponsor like you."
"Don't worry. We'll get her through this."
As promised, twenty minutes later Nicki was at their door step. She had her long dark curls pulled back in a ponytail with just and old pair of jeans and a faded gray hoodie on.
Edward pulled her into the house and she took him in his arms.
"I can only imagine what was going through her head when she took that first drink." Nicki had relapsed herself more than once, but had stayed sober for the better part of nine years. She had sexual and physical abuse tied to her addictions, so she knew all too well that even the best of them fall sometimes.
Nicki pulled back from Edward and went to sit on the coffee table in front of a sleeping Bella. She ran her fingers lightly through her hair as Bella began to stir.
Bella's eyes slowly opened and began to focus on Nicki's face.
"Hello there, gorgeous. I think you might have a little explaining to do." Nicki picked up the empty wine bottle and handed it over to Bella.
Bella sat up slowly as she rolled the bottle between her hands. She looked to her right to see Edward standing with his arms securely crossed at his chest.
She turned her head back down to the bottle and sighed. "I couldn't stop. Everything was happening all at once. I just needed it all to stop. I needed to be numb if only for a little while."
"Why didn't you wake me? I could of... I don't know... I could've done something." Edward was now kneeling at her right side.
She placed the bottle down on the table next to Nicki and took her hand. "Thanks for coming."
"Edward told me a little about what happened. I know it's still fresh, but you need to talk about it, sweetie. You can't jeopardize everything you've built over the passed five years. Everything you're building with Edward over some prick. You're stronger than that and you god damned well know it." Nicki's tone had turned to one of stern authority. It almost reminded her of her father.
"I fucked up. I get it. Maybe I... maybe it's time to give Angela a call."
Edward looked to Bella then to Nicki. Nicki squeezed Bella's hand that Edward wasn't currently holding then turned to Edward.
"Angela was Bella's therapist for several years. It's been awhile since you've seen her?" She looked to Bella.
"Bella." Edward brought his lips to Bella's knuckles. "I don't know how were gonna do it, but with people like Nicki and Angela helping us, I know we're gonna make it through this. We can't lose each other again. I'm sure they'll find that bastard soon and we can move on. We have so much ahead of us, love."
"Yes, we do. First, I need a shower and some extra strength Tylenol."
Bella spent the entire afternoon in Dr. Angela Weber's office. She laid everything out. Her relationship with Edward. Their dual personalities. The rape. The drowning in red wine. Angela took everything in agreeing to help Bella in every way that she could. Just knowing help was virgining on the horizon, she began to feel the strength returning to her body.
Angela brought Edward in for the last part of their session to try to integrate him into their process.
Bella was adamant about not taking any sort of drugs to help her sleep therefore Angela took them through a series of relaxation techniques to go through when Bella was tense or anxious. She took them through different ways to calm Bella if she were to have panic attacks or wake from a nightmare. Just knowing that all of those things were available and she knew how to do them, made Bella feel a little more secure.
She needed that more than anything that night. It was December 23rd. The last chance she had to tell her brother and friends what had happened over the weekend and salvage their Christmas.
Bella and Edward arrived on Alice and Jasper's porch just after six o'clock. Alice ushered them in with hugs and kisses then drug Bella off to the kitchen.
Edward joined Jasper and Emmett in the living room while the girls finished dinner.
"So what did Bella say when you told her about your meeting with Kate?" Jasper asked as Edward sunk into the chair.
"Shit!" Edward let his head fall back against the chair. "I haven't even told her about it. So much has happened since she got back."
Emmett furrowed his eyebrows. "The convention didn't go well?"
Edward looked to the kitchen, wondering if the girls would be out soon. "I'm afraid she's got to be the one to tell you." Edward bent over, placing his head in his hands, elbows on his knees.
"This isn't good." Emmett stood as he glanced to see Bella standing in the kitchen. Her arms wrapped loosely around her torso with a slight smile on her lips. "I know that look. She's hiding something."
"She's going to tell you all tonight, just give her-"
Emmett cut Edward off. "Isabella Marie Swan! Get your ass in here right now!"
Bella came into the living room with both Rose and Alice on her heals. "What the hell, Em?"
"I know there is something wrong. I'm not gonna let you keep it from us for another second."
"God, Emmett! I've been here for a whole ten minutes," Bella shouted as she stormed over to him.
"I don't care! You promised, no more secrets. This is bad. I can feel it, Bells! Fucking tell me now!"
"You want to know! You want to know another secret so badly!"
"Bella, don't. Not like this." Edward pleaded with her. Even though Bella was finally showing some emotion, anger wasn't really what Edward was hoping for.
"No, Emmett has to know every detail of my fucking life. He should know that some bastard drugged me in the hotel bar and raped me in an elevator before taking me back to my room and doing it again." Emmett stepped back in shock and horror. "Yeah, there you have it. Then I got home and during the night I couldn't take the nightmares so I got shit-faced. Is that what you needed to hear, big brother? Your little sister fucked up her life once again. You can't save me this time. You can't force me to make it better."
Bella held her hand up and pushed Emmett's chest. "Save it. This has been a long time coming. You've always taken care of every problem I've ever had. Ever since James, you've made it your life's work to fix me. I can't take it any more. I've realized now I need to focus on me and not what everyone around me needs. Everything has become so blurred that I can hardly think. I can't have you breathing down my neck being my personal cheering section, when all you have really done is control each step I took. I can't let you be that for me any more. You are my brother and I will always love you, but you can not fix it this time."
Bella took a deep breath as she saw the tears run from her big brother's eyes. She turned to her right to see Alice and Rose clutching each other, silently sobbing. She looked to Jasper whose jaw was rock solid, his lips pressed in a firm line above his chin. Then she looked back to Edward who immediately opened his arms to her.
She took the few short steps and was wrapped up in the warmth of Edward's embrace. He rubbed his nose back and forth through her hair, kissing her forehead every once in a while. The rest of them stood silent as they let Bella calm down.
Emmett slowly approached Bella. Edward pulled back and turned Bella to face Emmett.
"I'm so sorry, Isabella. I'll do whatever you say, be here for you in whatever way you want me. I just... I didn't realize... Fuck!"
"Don't worry, Em." Bella placed her hand on his cheek and rubbed her thumb across his cheekbone. "I'll think of a way for you to make it up to me." Bella flashed him a weak grin.
"You're in for it now. Bella can dull out more punishment than I can." Rose came up and held onto Emmett's bicep.
The rest of the night passed with a little more detail into Bella's plans and how Angela and Nicki would be a big part of them. Then they focused on what the next two days would bring. Christmas Eve at the Cullen's, then the trek to Forks for Christmas Day with Charlie and all her friends from La Push
Bella had almost completely forgotten about her Christmas present for the five of them. She spent the rest of the night silently pondering if she should even give it to them. She finally resolved to go for it and go ahead with her plans.
A traditional Christmas Eve with the Cullen's was what Edward hoped Bella needed to lift her spirits at least a little. She had spent the day hashing out her relationship with Emmett. By the end of their conversation, they had come to a whole new understanding about how a brother is supposed to treat his sister.
Edward thought at least one relationship was on it's way to being mended. Bella had promised to try things together. She wasn't distant or angry, she was just there. Like she was just existing, moving forward just for the sake of moving forward. Edward knew it was way too soon to be expecting his Bella back, but he was seriously starting to worry if he'd ever see her again.
He had little hope that his Christmas present would make much of a difference since the new shoes from Alice or the necklace from Rose had not brought more than a slight smile.
"Here. It's not much and I didn't hardly spend any money on it, per your specifications." He handed over the green box with the silver bow with his signature grin.
Bella cautiously slipped the bow off before lifting the lid. Nestled in the tissue paper was a black photo frame with a black and white picture in the center.
"Edward... I don't know what to say." She picked up the frame from the box to bring the picture closer to her eyes. It was a copy of the last picture they took in the photo booth the day they got back together. Their lips and tongues thrust together in one perfect moment.
"I just wanted you to know this was the moment my life started again." Edward gently pulled her chin so she was looking at him. "It's because of you. All of it. I don't know where I'd be without you. I hope I can be that for you."
"Edward... you..." Bella lowered her chin as her eyes fell to her lap. She felt her heart swell, her eyes beginning to water.
"Love? Are you crying?"
"Happy tears." She looked up to Edward and cupped his cheek with her palm. "I love you, so much. It's so perfect." She brought his lips to hers, gently caressing his stubbled jaw with her thumb. "Now, you've got to open mine."
Bella pulled away and handed the photo frame to Edward so she could pull out her bag containing five boxes.
"Those aren't all for me?" Edward asked with a hopeful smile.
She stood up, pressing her lips to his. "No, one for each of you." Bella passed out the gifts to Edward, Alice, Jasper, Rose, and Emmett. "I got these all together a couple of weeks ago and I don't want anyone to be upset. I really wanted to do this for all of us."
Alice was the first one to scream and rush over to Bella's lap. "OH MY GOD! Is this for real? Please, tell me this is real."
"Yes, Alice. It's real." Bella looked over to Edward for his reaction. "Well?"
"This is just too much, Bella. Are you sure?"
"I finally have the money to do something like this and I want to share it with all of you. It'll be perfect."
Rose turned to Emmett. "It'll be perfect. A week in Cancun. I can even try out that red bikini that I didn't get a chance to last summer."
"Bells, I'd love to, but I don't think I can get the time off. Plus, after everything do you think you're up to it." Emmett lifted his brow in concern.
"I already talked to your boss and got you the time off, so stop. Yes, I really do think this is the perfect time. After working non stop and all that's happened, I really need a break."
Edward turned to look at Bella. She was smiling, a God's honest, genuine smile. Her eyes were twinkling with unshed tears. He could finally see happiness in her again. He would do everything to make sure their trip was everything she intended it to be.
"Alright, then a week with Rose in a bikini and plenty of Tequila sounds like heaven to me."
"It'll be perfect." Bella turned once again and brought Edward to her lips. "Absolutely, perfect."
Christmas Day began more perfectly than Bella could ever expect. Breaking the news to her dad was hard, but after a long session of shooting targets in the back woods with Emmett, Charlie was feeling much better.
As Bella had just pulled the turkey out of the oven, she felt two strong arms wrap around her waist.
She tensed up and brought her elbow back into the offenders gut.
"Fuck, Bells. Why'd you do that?"
"Oh God, Seth. I'm sorry. You scared me." She turned to see her old friend with his loving brown eyes and dark skin.
"I guess I could have warned you. My bad."
Bella took a deep breath as she took in Seth's appearance. There was so much of Jake there, but she knew she was safe. She wrapped herself up in Seth's arms and immediately felt complete with her old friend there.
"I'm glad you came."
"Well, I kinda had to. You know my mom is practically living here these days. I wouldn't be surprised if they start planning a summer wedding. You think you could handle another big brother?"
"I think I could manage." Bella smiled at the thought of how happy Charlie had been since he and Sue had been together. Adding one of her best friends to the family would be just perfect.
"So, I see you hooked up with Cullen again. Very nice."
Bella pulled back and busied herself with the mashed potatoes. "You stop. Be nice to him. I think were in it for the long haul this time."
"I'm happy for you. You deserve it, sis."
"Enough with the sister stuff." She threw a dish towel at him. "Go socialize."
"Okay, but come out soon. Mom's got a ton of pictures from when we were building my uncle's new house. She wants to show you the ones where your dad had his shirt off."
"Yuck," Bella thought. "Wait. I thought your uncle lived in Oklahoma?"
"He used to, but his wife died a few years back and he's still in a wheelchair, so he decided to move up here to be closer to us. His kids are all grown, so he gets kinda lonely. He'll be here tonight. You'll really like him."
"If he's anything as precious as you, I'm sure I'll love him."
"Bella." Seth looked at her with fake shyness.
"Now get out of my kitchen."
Dinner went just as planned. Wonderful food, fun with family, and cherished memories with friends. Bella was feeling like she was on a path to becoming a better Bella.
She loved how Edward and Alice fit right back in like they had so many years ago. Rose and Jasper were welcomed with open arms. Everything was perfect.
Bella sat down on the couch with Sue to see the infamous pictures of her father's studly torso.
"This is when they were getting ready to shingle the roof. Your dad was already sweating bullets. I told him jokingly to just take the shirt off. I had to take a picture when he actually did. You know how modest he is." Sue laughed as they continued flipping through the pictures.
"So, what do you think of the house, Miss Bella?" Uncle Billy asked.
"It looks great. I'm sure dad made sure everything was up to code. Plus I think Sue likes having you around."
"Yep, I think I should have done this years ago. Who would of every thought my sister would know what was best for me." Billy laughed at the thought. "You and that man of yours will have to come up for the fish fry this summer. We use Harry's recipe. It'll be like he's right there with us." Billy patted Sue's hand at the thought of her late husband.
"I'd love to."
"Oh, Sue. Here. Show her these." Billy pulled a few pictures out to show to Bella.
"This is my daughter Rachel and her husband, Pete. She had just found out she was pregnant when they took this picture. Still can't believe I'm gonna be a grandpa."
"But, you're so young." Bella smiled at Billy.
"Charlie, I really love this girl of yours," Billy called. Charlie just laughed and blew Bella a kiss before turning his attention back to the game.
"Oh, this is my son. I'm so proud of him. He's a literary agent in California. Who would have thought him getting his knee messed up in high school would have him concentrating on the books."
Bella threw the picture down instantly and ran into the kitchen. She barely made it to the sink before emptying her stomach into it.
Edward rushed in behind her along with Alice and Rose.
"Love, are you alright?" Edward rubbed his hand up and down her back as Bella continued to heave. "What can I do?"
When Bella finished, she turned on the water and watched her puke go down the drain. Traitorous tears fell from her cheeks as the water swirled in the sink.
"The picture. The one of Billy's son." Bella turned and took Edward's hands in hers. "It was him. It was Jake."