My curiosity has always got the better of me. It's my only downfall. And now, I'm regretting it big time.
The family in Forks which I respect deeply have turned out to be completely different to what I could ever imagine. Now, as I struggle to comprehend the truth, I don't know what they'll do with me. Keep me alive, or kill me, because I know what really lies beneath their seemingly ordinary lifestyle. Whatever happens, it won't stop me loving him, and if he has to kill me, I wouldn't object.
Chapter One – Beautiful Stranger
I absent-mindedly shoved some of Charlie's clothes into his overnight bag and sighed heavily, fighting back the tears that were threatening to escape from my exhausted eyes. I couldn't help smiling weakly at his ancient jumpers and over sized trousers. Still, I suppose his wardrobe was the last thing on his mind now.
I had tried to ignore all of this happening around me, but it was all too much. Last night, it caught up with me in such a rush and I found myself sobbing on the stairs, heaves of pain escaping me at last. It had been boiling up for too long and when it had bubbled over, it had overwhelmed me. Although I didn't want to admit what was happening, it now seemed completely real. Charlie was dying.
It had started three months ago. We were at the dinner table and he was munching away at my home made lasagne, when suddenly he heaved backwards, clutching his chest. His face had turned a sickening shade of purple and he lunged backwards onto the floor.
"Dad!" I had shouted, sitting by his side and frantically checking for a pulse. I found one but it was incredibly slow and sluggish. I feared it would all end right then, in our own house, and I would be on my own once again.
I felt disgusted with myself for being so selfish and had run to the phone to quickly dial 911. I don't know how I managed; my hands were shaking so much. I was told an ambulance would arrive within 5 minutes, but that didn't soothe the spreading numbness throughout my body. My life without Charlie would be nothing; I'd miss him so much, his quirky remarks and one liners. Twinges of pain stabbed at my heart.
It all happened in a blur then… flashes of cold, blue lights flooded the room and a herd of men marched in, taking him away from me.
I stumbled into the hospital in a daze, unaware of anything going on around me. I could feel my life slowly crashing down around me and I couldn't stand it.
After 3 months of constant visits and check ups at the hospital, I was told that Charlie had a rare heart condition and that he would die within the next year. As we sat in the consultation room, the nurse placed her hand on mine.
"I'm so sorry," she had said, her eyes full of sorrow.
"Yeah," I half muttered and rushed out of the room. It didn't matter now, whatever I did, I had to spend as much time as possible with Charlie. And that's what I did.
Now, 12 agonising weeks later, it seems Charlie is deteriorating rapidly. It's heartbreaking to see, every time I see his troubled eyes, it brings a tear to mine. Waiting for him to die was the agonising part; I just couldn't face it anymore.
I had a bad feeling about today; the weather outside was storming and thunder clouds were threatening to attack me with heavy downpours of ice cold rain. I stepped through the hospital doors and trailed towards the ward. Charlie was there, his eyes closed and his chest rising slowly. The heart monitor next to him was beeping slowly and I placed the bag on the floor. His eye twitched and opened to look at me. He smiled, recognising me, and held out his hand.
"Hi, Bells," he said in a croaky voice, "Thanks for coming."
I felt my throat become raw as I realised he was about to launch into one of his speeches. He had that tone of voice. I was about to gesture for him to rest when he held out his hand and squeezed mine with it.
"Bella," he said softly, "I don't think I've got long left."
"Don't say that," I said, frowning and shaking my head, looking at his fragile hand that clung to mine so tightly.
"No, Bella, we've got to be realistic about this," he sighed and took in a long, shaky breath, "Bella, I just want you to know," he paused, "I'm so proud of you."
My vision suddenly became blurry as the tears flooded my eyes. I blinked and they trailed down my cheek helplessly. Charlie wiped them away feebly with his hand.
"You've done so well over these past 2 years and I couldn't have asked for a better daughter," he smiled weakly and looked at his chest, "And I love you." His voice broke, "Don't you ever forget that."
He looked at me and I squeezed my aching eyes tightly, allowing more tears to flow. For Charlie to speak like this must be so hard for him.
"I love you too, Dad," I smiled and leaned in closely to hug him. He chuckled and suddenly jerked backwards. I pulled back immediately and gazed at his monitor which displayed a flat, dead line. Fear overwhelmed me as I looked at Charlie who was slumped lifelessly into his pillow, his mouth open. I ran out into the corridor and shouted at the top of my voice.
"Someone!" I yelled, stumbling around, "Someone help my Dad!"
A flurry of doctors pushed past me towards Charlie and began trying to resuscitate him. I watched mindlessly as they shocked him, but nothing happened. I kicked the hospital door in frustration as they tried, and failed, to bring him back to life. I watched as the doctors exchanged glances and shook their heads. They walked towards me but I just sprinted down the corridor, unable to face anyone anymore. It was the doctors' job to save lives, why hadn't they helped Charlie?!
I suddenly remembered all the memories Charlie and I had shared; going fishing, my graduation, the Prom…
It hit me then; the tears flowed down my cheeks uncontrollably and several loud sobs escaped from my trembling mouth. I collapsed down onto the cold floor outside and curled my knees up to my chest. I clutched them closely to me, and sat there for what felt like a few hours. I closed my eyes tightly, picturing Charlie in my mind, when suddenly I felt a cool but reassuring hand on my shoulder. I didn't look up as the man said, "Lets go inside, you look frozen."
It struck me how strangely enchanting his voice seemed and as he effortlessly picked me up with one hand, I caught sight of his face. My heart skipped several beats and he smiled at me, as if he'd heard this. His face was so beautiful, so perfect, there were no words worthy enough to describe it. There wasn't a blemish or imperfection to be seen. My eyes moved to his; they were smouldering and a shimmering golden brown. His hair was a soft blonde and was perfectly in place. I wanted to run my hands through it but his hands were placed gently on mine. It shocked me how cold he was.
He was wearing a white coat and had a stethoscope hung around his smooth neck. He was wearing a shirt with a perfectly positioned tie. He had several pens in his pocket and as he breathed against me, my skin tingled and felt allured by his touch. I stared at his face and realised he looked somehow expectant. I glanced down and noticed I was still clinging to him, despite the fact we were at a halt.
I laughed nervously and dropped my hands down, colour flushing to my cheeks. He smiled charmingly at me and I felt my eyes skip to the floor.
"How are you feeling?" he asked, his voice like chiming bells, "I understand you've had a great loss."
It all hit me again and I raised my hand to my eyes, stopping the tears from escaping; I couldn't get myself into a mess in front of him.
"I'm very sorry," he said, his face full of sympathy, "I should have been there to help you…" he gestured for me to say my name.
"Bella," I replied, "Bella Swan," I looked at the floor.
"Dr Carlisle Cullen," he chanted, smiling warmly. His face then turned serious, "I was too preoccupied in another ward, I'm truly sorry."
I frowned, why was he blaming himself?
"It's not your fault, Dr Cullen," I blushed and rubbed my eyes.
He didn't look convinced and he frowned this time, "You look exhausted," he looked at his watch swiftly, "Perhaps I should escort you home?"
It wasn't a question. My heart fluttered as he stepped out of the doors with me and led me towards an impeccably gleaming car. I suddenly stopped. Why was I getting into a car with a stranger? Why did I feel like I could trust him, despite only being in his captivating presence for less than 15 minutes? I then continued as he opened the door for me. I brushed past him clumsily and sat in the comfortable car, trying to answer my questions.
"Just here," I gestured as we pulled up outside my house. He parked perfectly beside my car and I could have sworn a cheeky grin flashed across his face. I raised my eyebrow and looked at him.
"Is there something funny about my car?" I asked, a smile twitching at my lips.
He looked temporarily surprised, then he smiled, "No, I was just… admiring it."
I stepped out of the car and he led me protectively towards the door. When we reached it, I turned around and smiled at him, struggling to contain my emotions. He seemed to sense this and asked, "Are you sure you're alright?"
"Yeah, yeah," I shrugged, looking at the floor. Something made me look back up at him and I saw him studying my face, his gaze lingering a little bit too long. He suddenly smiled and said, "If you need me, you know where I am."
I watched as he seemed to glide back to his car and disappeared into the dark forest. I sighed and stepped into my house, allowing myself to cry to sleep without even reaching my bed. I slumped to the floor in a pile, looking at the photographs and memories around me. As I finally felt myself tiring, Dr Cullen's glorious face filled my mind and I had peaceful dreams, him included in all of them.
To be Continued