Author's Notes: Life is kicking me in the butt! Ugh, and college is beginning to become such a damn handful :( But, thank you for reading! And reviewing, adding to your favorites/alerts, etc. I appreciate it so much! Oh and I just got my preordered Twilight DVD, along with a cute Twilight tote for free and two boxes of Sweethearts conversation hearts, Twilight version. Wow, lots of Twilight this and Twilight that. Haha! Also, a quick shout-out to iponeddyou for the amazingly lovely banner she created for this story! She was also nice enough to make one for my other story Hello, Stranger as well. So thank you SO much because I love them both. They're up on my profile if anyone would like to see :)
Many, many thanks to my wonderful beta IcelandGirl812 for looking over this chapter for me so quickly, helping with plot problems, and for just being a great friend in general. Love ya, Erica!
Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns all things Twilight.
Your Healing Touch
I'm Not Broken
"If I smile and don't believe,
Soon I know I'll wake from this dream
Don't try to fix me, I'm not broken.
Hello, I'm the lie living for you so you can hide.
"Hello" by Evanescence
It felt like time had stopped in that room we were in and the uncomfortable silence was really beginning to get to me. I was staring directly into Bella's solemn eyes that were glued to the floor, her hands clenching and unclenching together in hesitation.
I let her know that her secret would be safe with me, but that didn't mean she was going to tell me. Nate squirmed in my hold, and for a second I thought I had woken him up. Thankfully, he was just tired of the position he was in and instead rested his head against my shoulder as I cradled him softly. If Bella wanted time to tell me, I'd give her time. Rushing her was definitely not going to get anybody anywhere.
"Dr. Cullen," she softly spoke, "I can't thank you enough for being such a huge help. But, there is really nothing wrong. I'm a little clumsier than I thought. I'll be fine. All I have to do is ice the bruises, right? I promise to take it easy. I'm sorry to have caused you any trouble tonight."
I opened my mouth to say something, but Jacob beat me to it.
"Isabella Marie Swan, you have got to be kidding me!" Jacob shot out of the chair he had been sitting in, punching his fist into the wall beside him. "I can't believe you. I can't fucking believe you!"
"Jake!" Bella frowned at the language he was using, pulling Nate from my arms as he stirred and whimpered softly. "Will you lower your voice? We're in a hospital!"
"Do you want me to tell him myself? Cause dammit, if it will get you any kind of help, then I'm doing it. Heaven help me, Bella, I will tell him right now if you don't stop covering up for that son of a bitched asshole you call a boyfriend."
I kept my mouth shut as they yelled back and forth. As much as I wanted to give my insight and get any kind of a word in, I wasn't part of the conversation. It wasn't my place to intercede.
"That son of a bitched asshole you're referring to is your CEO. I think the whole reason why you're able to support yourself and Billy is because I talked him into getting you that job at his business firm. He deserves a little more respect than that."
Jacob groaned into his hands and shook his head angrily. "Do you really have to rub it in by telling me he's the reason why I'm able to support Billy and myself? Thanks, Bells. Really, thanks so much."
Bella rolled her eyes. "Okay, I shouldn't have said that. I'm sorry. Are you happy now?"
"No, Bella, I am not happy. Not in the least bit," he spat bitterly. "You're still going to pretend as if all that shit on your arms and body was because you're clumsy? Edward can help you, Bella! He's a doctor, for goodness sakes!"
"He doesn't need to help me with anything, Jake, I'm fine. Can you stop being such an overzealous father-wannabe and just drop it?" She held Nate closer to her and kissed the top of his head, murmuring soft words into his ear that I couldn't comprehend.
I turned my attention back towards Jacob, surprised to see his dark gaze softening a bit, almost looking like he was trying to prevent a huge mental breakdown from happening. "Alright, Bells, fine. I'll be in the car." He reached over and took Nate out of her arms, making sure not to wake him. "I'll get him in the car seat. At least thank Dr. Cullen for taking the time to see you."
He left without another word, leaving Bella in the room with me. I saw her raise a hand up to her face where she wiped away some stray tears that had managed to sneak their way down her cheeks. I ran a hand through my hair and patted her knee gently.
"Be cautious of your back when sleeping. Try to lie on your stomach as much as possible and ice your arms so the bruises disappear faster."
She looked up at me, curiosity blazing beneath her watery brown eyes as she opened her mouth to say something, "Wait, what?"
"Your injuries." I swallowed back the words I really wanted to say. She didn't want me knowing about the story behind them, so I had to pretend that I actually believed they were from her clumsiness.
"Oh," she whispered. Her head made the movements of a nod as she hopped off the cot. "Alright, I'll do just that, Dr. Cullen. Thanks so much for seeing me at such an unexpected time. And... I'm really sorry about Jacob's outburst. He isn't usually so wordy."
"It was no problem at all, Bella. There is no need for any kind of apology." I held my hand out to her and she willingly took it, shaking it as she placed her free hand on the handle of the door. "Oh, but please..." I hesitated with the phrase. "...try to be careful from now on."
Her eyes saddened a little as she placed a small smile on her face. "I'll try, Dr. Cullen. Thanks."
It stabbed at my heart as I watched her leave, knowing she was heading right back to the arms of the man responsible for her being so damned broken. And me, standing there, with absolutely no way to help her even though I wanted so badly to.
Two weeks passed after the incident, and Bella never came in for the follow-up appointment I had asked her to schedule. She told me she would schedule it, and I even saw that her appointment slot was filled not too many days ago when I last checked. I was always expecting to go into rooms and see her sitting there on the cot, but I kept getting disappointed. Curiosity got the better of me and when it was time for me to take a break, I headed to the reception desk where Angela greeted me with her warm smile as she always did.
"Good afternoon, Dr. Cullen. Did you need something?"
I ran my fingers through my hair and fumbled with the stethoscope hanging around my neck. "Did Isabella Swan make an appointment to see me today?"
"Isabella Swan, was it?" She went down the list of names and times before she stopped at one with a line drawn through it. "Yes, she originally had an appointment with you today at 3, but she called a few days ago to cancel."
"Did she state her reason for cancelling?"
Angela shook her head. "Not really, no. She said she was feeling much better and didn't think the follow-up was necessary. She didn't even reschedule."
I nodded my understanding. "Could you get me her records please?"
"Her patient records or her medical history?" Angela asked, already over at the huge shelf behind her, shuffling through the hundreds upon hundreds of folders.
"Both, if you could."
After a few more seconds of shuffling, she took out two folders and handed them to me. I thanked her and made my way back into my office that I referred to as my sanctuary. It was where I could calm myself down after long hours of work and find any kind of relaxation to keep on going. Work was hard. Stressful. Tiring. Yet, I loved it and could never picture myself anywhere else. I opened Bella's record that held her personal information. Angela really wasn't supposed to let me just take it, but I knew I was one of the only ones she allowed to do so. She and most everyone else at the hospital knew how much I cared for each and every single one of my patients.
SWAN, ISABELLA MARIE was at the top. Date of birth: September 13th, 1986. I hummed to myself in thought, realizing she was only three years younger than me and had already gone through so much. I scanned through the next couple of lines. Gender, I already knew. Social security number and medical record number were of no use to me, so I kept scanning down until I finally reached the lines I had been looking for.
My hand scribbled Bella's apartment address across the post-it pad atop my desk. I hadn't made a house call in a while, but I figured now was as good a time as ever. If she had cancelled because she was too busy with Nate, I'd be doing her a favor by checking up on her at home. I also took a note of her cell and apartment's phone number just in case. A few more lines down, I saw the two people she had listed as her emergency contacts. BLACK, JACOB was the first. He was listed as "friend" under the relationship category and next to that were his contact numbers. The name below his made me grip my pen firmer and when I lifted it up off the post-it note, a huge blob of ink remained. I cursed inwardly but was glad the excess ink didn't smear anything I had written.
VALENTE, JAMES was listed as "boyfriend" under the relationship category. I closed my eyes and tried to fight off the images of the bruises surfacing Bella's body. She had so many of them and those were only the ones I could actually see. Who's to say how many more there were covered behind the use of makeup, beneath her jeans or under her clothing where I couldn't see? He was scum. I didn't even have to know him personally to categorize him as scum in my book. I didn't make a note of either his or Jacob's phone numbers. A heavy sigh escaped my body as I closed the folder and opened the other one containing her medical history. The list was still a shock to me. As I read down every injury written down, I began to wonder just how many of these had been because of this so called James.
With another sweep of my fingers through my hair, I exhaled a breath and took a glance at the watch on my wrist. 3:45pm. I only had about two hours left of my shift and then I would be done for the day. Thank goodness. I was suddenly glad for the medical kit I kept in the trunk of my car at all times. After work, I could head straight to Bella's to check up on her ribs and then get myself some much needed rest without having to make too many trips back and forth.
I straightened up the papers I had looked through and put them back in their appropriate folders, making sure to shove the post-it into my pocket before leaving the room.
The sky was beginning to turn a reddish color, the sun just beginning to set as I parked my car in front of the Metropolitan apartment complex. It was a nicely designed building with small patches of flowers in the front and even a few tables with umbrellas over them. I grabbed my medical bag from the trunk of my car before I headed up the stairs to the fourth floor where her room was located. I kept scanning the room numbers until I finally found #221. I lifted the golden knocker and rapped it against her door three times.
Once again I rapped at her door, a little louder this time. Still, nothing. I contemplated calling her to see if she was even home at all but as I leaned back against the handle of the door, it opened slightly. My eyes widened at the thought of her leaving her apartment door open and before I could think, I stepped inside. Oh god, I'm fucking breaking and entering into a patient's home! I screamed in my head angrily. I wanted to step back out, lock the door for her, and just go home. What in the hell was I thinking? I could get arrested for goodness sake! My eyes scanned the interior of her small apartment and it looked like everything was fine. No signs of robbery or anyone, besides myself, breaking and entering. I walked a few more steps to the black piano positioned in front of her balcony. It had a great view, and I suddenly wondered if she could play. I brushed my fingers along the smooth ivory of the keys, aching to play something, but remembering I was there for other purposes. I shouldn't have even been touching the goddamn piano!
I shook my desire to run my fingers along those keys to a tune of Beethoven as my eyes wandered to the wall where three framed pictures were hung. One was of her and her parents, it looked like, at her high school graduation. Bella looked much younger and much happier than I had seen her before. Her arms held two huge bundles of roses, balloons, and a "Class of 2004" sash hung from around her neck. I looked over at the one next to it and instantly recognized the person standing next to her. Bella was in regular clothes, again looking so much happier, with a newly "Class of 2006" graduated Jacob Black. They really had been best friends for years. My lips curved into a crooked grin at the last picture which was of her and Nate on Halloween, I was guessing. Nate was dressed in a Spider-man costume, his hand clutched in Bella's as she held the Spidey mask in her other. His plastic pumpkin seemed to be overflowing with candy, and he looked just as ecstatic as ever. I scanned around for any other pictures because I had yet to see one of James. There's probably pictures in her bedroom, I thought to myself.
Once again, I had an inner conflict of trying to decide on whether or not it was rational for me to even be inside her apartment without her there, without her even knowing I was there. I groaned and gripped my medical bag in my hand tighter as I slowly turned the knob to her room.
What I saw, I was definitely not prepared for.
Bella, sitting on the floor in front of her bed with her knees curled up to her chest, her soft sobs echoing quietly in the emptiness of her room. Almost immediately, I dropped my bag out of surprise, the noise of it dropping being enough to get her to look up. She stared at me, shocked, but not angry.
I shook my head at the sight, trying to tell myself I was there for a reason. "Ms. Swan," I don't even know why the hell I was being so formal. I had just broken into her place and I didn't want to be arrested, maybe that's why. "I'm sorry if my being here is a bit startling. I feel like such a jerk for just waltzing in, but since you cancelled your appointment..." I trailed off and realized she was still staring at me like she had just seen a ghost. "I thought I'd make a house call to check up on you. I was worried, but I understand it's completely uncalled for, for me to just show up unannounced."
I reached down to pick up my bag and clutched the handle of it tightly within my grasp. "I apologize again for barging in. It was completely unorthodox of me to do so. Just be sure to take care of yourself, alright?" As I turned and tried to walk out, something stopped me.
I turned my head slightly, my eyes widening at Bella's small hand which now had a surprisingly strong grip on my wrist.
"Don't... leave, just yet," she whispered. Her grasp tightened, and I couldn't see the look on her face because her head hung low with her hair working as a curtain to shield herself away from my eyes.
My mouth opened and then closed in an attempt to say something - anything to her. Regardless of how strong her grip was on my wrist, she was still shaking. I turned around and bent down to her height, holding her shoulders firmly to help her calm down. "Bella, is everything alright?"
She shook her head as she clenched her hands into fists on her lap. I went into full doctor mode and helped her to her feet, getting her to sit down on her bed so I could examine her thoroughly. "Is it your ribs? Are they bothering you?" Without waiting for her to answer, I opened my bag and shuffled around for the gel ice pack I kept in there. If she popped it in the freezer for an hour or two, it'd be ready to use.
"Dr. Cullen," Bella grabbed the back of my shirt, causing me to stop my frantic actions. "Will you do me a favor and turn on the lights?"
I looked back at her, raising a brow in confusion. What good would that do? The room was slightly dim because the curtains were shut and the sun was already setting, but it wasn't too bad. I could still see her fine.
"Please." Her voice came out sounding like a plea, and I couldn't say no anymore after that. She released the part of my shirt she had been holding as I walked over to the light switch and flipped it. The room illuminated instantly from the overhead bulbs, and I suddenly felt the same excruciating feeling in my stomach that I felt the last time I had seen her.
Her big brown eyes were red and puffy all around. The bruise she had tried to cover up on her left cheekbone looked even worse than before, and she was still shaking. I now knew exactly why she was so upset, but I tried as hard as I could to shove it into the back of my head. You're not supposed to know, Edward. You're not supposed to fucking know! Act normal, put yourself into Dr. Cullen mode. Do it! I screamed in my head, noticing she was staring at her hands that were still balled into fists in her lap. "Bella, your face. That looks like it hurts. Do you..." Fuck! I was stuttering because of how much anger I was trying to hold back. "Do you want some ice? I can wrap some in a washcloth for you if you--"
"I have something to tell you, Dr. Cullen," Bella spoke as tears continued to cascade down her cheeks. "Something I need you to keep to yourself. Promise me."
I heaved a heavy sigh and got down low enough beside her so we were looking right at each other. "Remember what I said? I told you that whatever it was you needed to say, it would be safe with me, right?" This was it. I just hoped and pleaded that this time, it would be the truth and not some sugar-coated lie to cover for her abusive boyfriend.
Her eyes closed as she put her arms close together, palms facing up. "Jacob keeps telling me to tell you. If he trusts you, so do I. I believe him. So just, promise me."
I already knew what awaited me underneath those sleeves, but I really didn't want to have to look again. It pained me too much already to know what she was going through, and now I'd have to physically see what was being done to her again. Fuck. "I promise."
She waited for me to lift up her sleeves, so I did. Slowly, I moved the fabric away from her forearm as she winced at my touch. I bit my lip and tried to remain calm as all her new bruises manifested themselves into my brain. I did the same to her other arm and cringed when the damage was just as bad.
Jacob was right. James Valente was absolute, fucking scum.
"That's not all." Bella bravely turned to the side so her back faced me. She slowly lifted up her shirt enough for me to see the whole lower half of her back, bruised purple and blue like the rest of her body. I only got a glimpse, but it was already too much. I tugged at her shirt and brought it back down, not wanting to see anymore.
"What exactly are you trying to say to me, Isabella?" My voice came out lower than I wanted as I pinched the bridge of my nose.
"Don't call me Isabella, please, I beg of you." She placed her hands at her ears and more tears spilled out of her eyes. "Don't. Never Isabella. It's just Bella. Please."
My eyes widened at her reaction. For the first time in a long time, I was scared for someone. I was scared for her. All it took for her to break down was that simple use of her full name. Just how much emotional and physical damage did this guy cause...? "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to upset you. I--"
"He calls me that. Every time I've done something wrong, he tells me that, and then... Oh, god." She broke out into a sob as I held her shoulders firmly again. I took in a breath through my nose and tried as hard as I could to resist the urge to punch the wall behind me while pretending it was that asshole's face.
"Bella," I closed my eyes and opened them in an attempt to calm down. "Who calls you that? You're not making sense. I can't help you if you don't tell me."
"I don't want you to help me," she cried. "I just... I want someone there. Jacob, he's..." Her sobs weren't helping her talk coherently, so I tried to make out her words the best I could. "James is... James is the reason, for all this."
Play dumb, Edward. You're not supposed to know. "Who's James?"
Bella buried her face in her hands and shook her head. "Boyfriend. He's... my, boyfriend."
Anyone would be able to piece the two parts of information together, but I had to make sure she told me herself, that the actual words were said. "Okay. So, James is your boyfriend. What does James do to you when he calls you Is-" I cut myself off, "-that? What happens, Bella? I need to know."
"He..." She hesitated, but I wasn't going to have that. She needed to tell me, I needed her to tell me.
"Bella, do me a favor please, and look at me."
Her reddened brown eyes met mine, her confusion distinctly clear at the request I had made. Once I had her gaze locked with mine, I spoke, "I know it's hard to talk so deeply to someone you don't even know. I have to do it every hour of every day. I have to tell people some of the worst things they'll ever have to hear. People I've never seen in my life sometimes. New patients, old patients, young patients. Cancer, diabetes, you've only got this amount of time to live. It's hard, Bella, it's really hard. But regardless of how I know they'll react, I know I have to be brave. I can't wimp out and not tell them just because it's hard for me." My hands loosened on her shoulders once she wasn't shaking anymore. "You're scared to tell me, I know you are. But, you have to be brave. You can trust me. I told you, even promised you, I'd keep it to myself."
She searched my eyes for any sign of deceit and sighed in relief, most likely finding no sign at all. She bit her lip and sighed softly, looking away from me. "James... He hits me, Dr. Cullen. So many times, too many times." Her head dropped to her hands again. "I feel so helpless when it comes to this situation. I can't do anything because James is... Ah! I can't do anything because-"
"Of Nate?" I finished for her as she stared at me, baffled.
"How did you know that?"
Ah, fuck! "Lucky guess. It's obvious how much you love him. I knew he wasn't your actual child, otherwise your medical history would've shown records of pregnancy." Good save. "Bella, something like this is a very serious issue... If you'll let me, I'd like to try and find you some help."
Her eyes watered up again as she turned away and lifted up her sleeves, running her fingers lightly over the bruises on her arms. "I don't want help, that's the thing. It's a complicated situation, and I wish I could tell you all the details, but," she paused, "please understand that it's not help I need. I just want someone... here. Someone who won't be like Jacob and berate me into telling some shrink or some police officer something I want kept a secret. I need the comfort, the distraction..." It didn't take long for her tears to flow freely after that. "I need someone, anyone. To just listen to me. To just, I don't know, hold me and tell me everything will be alright. To just... not judge me for staying with him? I don't know, Dr. Cullen. I don't know..."
"No. None of that Dr. Cullen talk. Just call me Edward." I pushed aside every doctor bit of me that told me to stay a comfortable distance away when I took her into my arms and just held her there against me. She must have been shocked at the action, but I didn't care.
I wasn't Dr. Cullen at that moment.
I was Edward.
And she said she needed someone to hold her, someone to tell her, "Bella, everything will be alright. I don't know how, or when, but it will be. You and Nate and everything will be okay."
She relaxed in my hold and let her arms wrap around my shoulders, letting all the walls around her crumble aside. I'd give her my arms to be held in, my shoulder to cry on if that's what she wanted. Right now, this is what she wanted. And until she asked me to help her, I would do nothing but be what she wanted.
I don't know what it was about Bella Swan that was making me feel the way I did. The need to protect her, the desire for her to be happy... I don't know where it came from, but it was there, whether I liked it or not.
Her voice came out in a muffled sob I didn't understand. My brows furrowed as I held her closer and rubbed gentle circles as lightly as I could without causing more pain to her already injured back. "Bella, shhhh, everything will be alright."
Bella's arms tightened around me, and I barely made out her soft voice, "Thank you..."
I continued to hold her for as long as she needed me to and before I knew it, I was humming a lullaby my mother used to sing to me all the time softly in her ear.
End of Chapter Four
Author's Notes: And so, the Bella and Edward romance begins to unfold. Slowly, but surely, it will unfold. I'm gunning for this story to be about 15-18 chapters. It won't be too long, but it's enough to get my idea of the story through.
I hate even writing about the injuries Bella has, so there won't ever be a BPOV with her and James while he's in the process of actually hurting her. Granted, there will be a few BPOV bits here and there, but not much because I want this to revolve around Edward.
Oh, by the way, James' last name is pronounced Vuh-Len-Tay. It's one of my friend's last names.
Reviews would be a nice way to let me know what's on your mind! Pretty please? Until next time then!