"For My Valentine"
A Twilight Love Story Contest
Title: Past, Presents, & Future
Pairing: Edward & Bella
Vampire or Human: Human
For more information please see contest details on manyafandom or isabel0329's profiles.
Edward Masen let out a long, frustrated breath.
"How could he have been so stupid?" he wondered to himself.
He had been blinded by all his stupid class work. Suddenly it felt like it was all crashing down around him when he saw his cousin Alice's bubbly handwriting on his wall calendar. He began to wonder how long that God awful bright pink handwriting had been there. A gigantic fuchsia beacon telling him that in just two days it was Valentine's Day. Alice had probably been talking his girlfriend's ear off about this since Christmas, and he had been too busy to notice. Hell, he barely noticed Christmas! Edward was just lucky enough to know the difference from night and day right now after weeks of studying for midterms. Edward felt the need to shake the sinking feeling that was growing. Honestly he was a little surprised Bella hadn't said anything before this…
But then again, this was Isabella Swan. The woman Edward loved, would die for, the low key daughter of a small town police chief. She was used to the men in her life being so busy they wouldn't know up from down. Bella was very independent and understanding of others' needs, way above her own. All the others in high school saw Edward as the popular kid, the A student, the kid with a free ride. She understood what Edward was, how he worked and the stress of the job that he wanted to do. She had figured Edward out in less than three minutes that day they met…
~*4 years ago*~
There I stood in a pale blue hallway of Forks Community Hospital. It was "Bring Your Child to Work Day," and I had utilized this day to get away from high school by asking my guardian and uncle, Doctor Carlisle Cullen, if I could join him on his rounds. I was actually honestly interested. I had always been fascinated with Carlisle's job; it had this mystical presence about it. People just looked at Carlisle differently.
I wanted that. I first saw it when my mother's brother Carlisle and his wife Esme had adopted me after my parents' deaths. My childhood dream of becoming a musician was over when I saw Carlisle would introduce himself as Dr. Cullen and people would stand in awe of him. When my father had introduced himself as an attorney people shrunk away. My father was actually a probate attorney, and it's how I was able to live with Carlisle and Esme now. He had set it up, in his and my mother's will, that I could live with them and still happily reap the benefits of being a Masen. I was happy just to have Carlisle and Esme, and they were loving and understanding when their nephew needed a home.
Dr. Cullen had happily agreed to let me follow him for the day. When I arrived it had been a relatively slow day as Carlisle was in his office waiting for me. When I arrived he gave me a spare stethoscope to wear and a clip-on badge. The badge said VIP visitor and was covered in stickers. With its smiley faces and unicorns that sparkled it was embarrassing as hell, obviously meant for children of the staff. Carlisle apologized for its adolescent nature, and explained that it was the only one he could get for the nature of my visit. I took it and flipped it so that none of the writing or stickers was visible. Now it looked like every other badge in the building, and if you glanced down the hall and saw Dr. Cullen, you would have sworn he was talking to a co-worker, not just a teenager tagging along. I liked this idea and was almost positive it was getting to my head. I had to qualm all thoughts like this today.
Carlisle's first patent that morning was a mother who had brought in her sick child. The little girl had sandy blond hair and droopy hazel eyes; she looked so tired in her mother's arms. I felt so bad for her. I wanted to sing, dance, hand her a pillow, anything to make her feel better. Suddenly the child bolted up and proceeded to vomit all over my front.
I didn't blink. I just couldn't. I just quickly started to breathe through my mouth. My uncle looked at me his blue eyes matching my green ones. He reached over to the wall and hit a button, calling a nurse into the room.
"All in a job," he said with a small smile. I wasn't very sure who he was talking to, me or the mother who looked like she wanted to just die at that moment. It took everything in me not to throw up as my uncle finished with the child and mother.
A slim older woman with short cropped salt and pepper hair peeked into the examining room.
"Ah, Sally, could you take Edward here, and get him some scrubs..." I tried to put on a brave face and continued to breathe through my mouth as the nurse looked me over. It took but a second, and she had yanked me into the hallway only to have Carlisle calling after me.
"Wait, Edward. Here, take my wallet. Scrubs aren't free..." He dug into his back suit pocket and fished out his black wallet. He handed it to me and looked to Sally.
"Don't worry, Doctor, I'll take him to the locker room so he can freshen up, and I will call Damon up to clean up the room."
Sally had been really nice; she had shown me the huge machine that would take your dirty scrubs and give you clean ones. She then took me to the locker rooms so I could get the stink of spoiled milk and goldfish crackers off my skin. She handed me a small pink tub that had soap, a wash cloth, and men's deodorant. She led me to the shower and said that she was going to be back with a bag for my soiled clothes. Within a half hour I was showered and scrubbed, my soiled clothing now sitting in Carlisle's office with my book bag.
When I found him he was tending to a girl about my age. She had dark brown hair pulled back in a ponytail. I recognized her from school, and she looked like she stepped right out of the gymnasium. She was still wearing her Forks High School issued Spartans gym shirt, dark blue sweatpants, and tennis shoes. I didn't know her name; we didn't run in the same circles at high school. I wondered how I could have missed her though; she was absolutely gorgeous. Here she was sitting on the gurney, her black book bag on a chair against the wall. A small patch with the Arizona state flag was stitched onto the outside pocket. Next to her was an old tattered book. Its cover was faded and worn; the spine was wearing thin. She wore no makeup, not that she needed any, and no jewelry except for a very small silver ring on her right hand. Her ears weren't even pierced. She was a classic beauty in its clearest definition.
"Ah, you're back. Here, want to help?" Carlisle said.
"What?" I heard my voice say. Help? Her? Apparently I was completely dazed. I had to pull it together. I kept watching her, and I was finding it harder and harder to do just pull it together. I quickly looked around and saw a small maroon stool on wheels, the same kind that Carlisle was sitting on. He was busy wrapping the girl's arm in gauze. She apparently had broken her arm, and now in front of me on a small stainless steel tray sat all the tools and equipment needed to set the arm.
"Here, Edward." With the mere mention of my unfamiliar name, the beautiful young woman raised her head. Her eyes were hard and dark with determination, and familiarity. They never left the middle of her arm, where the break probably was. She had done this before. She knew what was going on; I was glad one of us did.
I wondered if she broke her arm during gym, maybe during volleyball or softball.
Now shocking as this may seem, I am not athletic. I am more of a music guy. I can play the hell out of a piano or a guitar. But when it came to sports, I was happier to just sit back and watch Emmett McCarty, my best friend and captain of the Spartans baseball team, play.
Just then she lifted her gaze from Carlisle's well-trained hands to meet my gaze. At that moment, I thought Carlisle was going to have to call Sally back in to give me an oxygen tank. All the air in my lungs had rushed out, like I had been kicked in the gut. The saliva in my mouth had completely evaporated. Her eyes were so deep and big that I could have been lost for days and not worried. They sent this violent shiver down my back, directing all blood flow from my brain to my pants…
"Okay, Bella, we've been through this enough times; you want to help teach?"
What the hell? "We've been through this enough times?" My overactive brain started to run rampant.Had someone broken her beautiful body before? Was she an abuse victim? I could feel the blood in my veins catch fire with anger and fury at the possibilities that someone had possibly hurt this gorgeous woman that sat before me. Carlisle's voice snapped me back to reality.
"Edward, get some gloves." I quickly looked around and saw that on the wall was a box of purplish blue latex gloves like the ones that now adorned my uncle's hands. The only thing good about my anger was now I had the ability to stand without complete embarrassment. "I need you to take this and wrap her arm."
I quickly pulled a pair on and noticed how much longer they made my lean piano player fingers look. I looked up at Bella and saw that she had watched my every move. I suddenly felt very warm. Apparently the angry blaze racing through my veins had cooled and settled into my cheeks.
Come on, Edward, pull it together.
I sat and held my breath as I started to wrap Bella's pale arm. I was afraid that if I took a breath it would jerk her the wrong way and hurt her. I mentally thanked Sally for her insight and knowledge of where everything was in the storage room as I scooted my stool closer to her. The silence was killing me. I decided small talk would be good.
"We go to school together," I said, nodding at her shirt. She looked down and took a harder look at me. It felt like the entire lighting system at the hospital was on bright and was all focused on me. I tried to concentrate hard on the gauze, making sure it didn't wrinkle.
"We do?" she asked quietly.
"What grade are you?"
"Senior," I replied in almost a whisper.
"Oh, wait. Aren't you in my biology class?"
"Mr. Banner?" I asked. I hadn't remembered her from that class. Well of course you didn't recognize her from your Bio class, you're always too busy with your nose it the text book,I thought to myself, cursing that I was so blind.
"Edward, watch the piece that goes along her elbow--make sure that it's straight." Carlisle said breaking up the little revelry we had going.
"Great. Now, Bella, you want to choose a color?" Carlisle said, taking away the unused supplies.
"Hmm... I don't know." That's when it happened. Bella sucked in her lower lip, and her white teeth bit down. All the blood torpedoed back down to my crotch, and I was almost certain that I grunted out loud when she did that. I closed my eyes and pinched the bridge of my nose, hard, to distract me. I needed something painful to get rid of my hard-on if I was going to continue being in this room with this woman.
"What do you think, Edward?" Carlisle asked. I just choked and stuttered, and I think my voice cracked when I replied back to Carlisle.
"The-blue- The blue one," I stumbled through as Carlisle's face lit with a mild smirk. That bastard knew exactly what he and the girl were doing to me. He picked up the darkest blue batch of material and started to wrap the midnight blue over the white soft interior of the cast. He motioned for me to take the lead. I took the dark fabric and gave him a look. I knew what his game was. After the second trip through the blue, it was cut, and Carlisle rubbed the cast, pushing down on her arm to seal the casting material together. I flinched at the thought that pressing on the cast would actually hurt her, although I knew full well that Carlisle would never harm someone intentionally. Take a moment to embarrass the hell out of family members, yes; harm someone intentionally, no.
"Okay, Bella. All done. I'll send Sally in here to get you all signed out. Edward." Carlisle stood and motioned to the door. I gave a small smile and walked out the door. Carlisle was giving Bella's chart to Sally and giving me a small shit-eating grin.
"What the hell, man?" I asked him quietly. Some days I wondered if he was my guardian, or a frat boy.
"What?" He started to laugh, and we headed to his office. Frat boy, most certainly.
"You did a nice job in there, Edward." Ah, no. Guardian.
"Thanks." I fumbled with the stethoscope that was around my neck.
"Hmmm," he started as something along the wall behind me caught his gaze. I followed his line of sight to a clock. "Unfortunately we are going to have to cut this short. I have a staff meeting, and it's just about 3 pm," he said, taking his white coat off and hanging it up.
"Yeah. Okay. I'll see you at home then?" I said, taking the stethoscope and adolescent ID badge off and placing them on Carlisle's desk.
"Great. Don't worry about the scrubs." Part of me was grateful; I had always wanted a pair of scrubs, and now I had my very own. At that moment I realized that I still had Carlisle's wallet. I dug back into my pocket and fished it out, tossing it onto his desk with a dull thud. He picked it up and placed it back in his back pocket with a small nod of thanks.
"Ah. Thanks. I'll see you at home then," I said, picking up my book bag and soiled clothing bag.
"Would you tell Esme that I will call her before I leave for work to see if she needs me to pick up anything?"
"I will," I said shutting the door behind me and hoisting my book bag onto my back.
When I entered the hollow lobby, my stomach ripped to life with hyperactive butterflies. There, silhouetted by the late afternoon sun that saturated the lobby, was a familiar sight.
"Bella?" I called out, wondering where this courage had come from. She was sitting in a wheelchair reading her book. The gold hard cover with a pale blue spine was fraying and worn in places hands and fingers frequented. She had pulled her hair out of the ponytail, and now it cascaded down and around her face like a wall. It glinted in the sunlight and was picked up by the wind as she turned her head around to see who had called to her.
My heart dropped as a small smile broke out on her face as our eyes locked. Her eyes really were quite exotic. They felt like a siren's call; one look was all my feeble heart could take. She shut her book and turned all her attention to me. It was at this moment I could feel my palms start to sweat.
"Hey there, Doctor!" she said quietly emphasizing the last word.
"Ha! No…well maybe, someday. It's Bring Your Kid day," I said with a shy smile, running my hand through my shaggy auburn hair. "Are you waiting for your ride?"
"Yeah. My dad. He won't be able to come and get me until he's off from work," she said in a pathetic tone.
"Oh." Silence filled the room. Great… now what? I shuffled my feet a bit in embarrassment. Normally I'm good with words and talking to people, but she sucked all my intelligence and left me a bumbling, hormonal teenager. I looked at her arm again, the echo of my uncle's voice bouncing through my ears:
"We've been through this enough times?" Curiosity started to eat away at my brain.
"Um... can I ask what happened?" I asked, gesturing to her arm. Fear started to fill my heart, steadying me for the worst as hatred and anger filled the rest of my veins at the possibility that someone could actually harm this beautiful woman that sat before me.
"Oh... I fell over a bleacher during gym," She said matter-of-factly, raising her arm and admiring the work.
"Really?" I could feel my façade break into a million pieces and the fires of anger extinguish into a puff. Bella sat back and studied my face. Then she shocked the hell out of me by laughing.
"Oh yeah... I'm such a klutz; I've tripped and busted my knee on the painted line in the school's parking lot, twice this year alone! Dr. Cullen has stitched me up, set my breaks, and bandaged me up more times than I can count," she said, running her slender fingers along the hard edge of the cast. "What did you think happened?"
My line of sight shot to the floor. I could feel the blood rush to my cheeks as my embarrassment was widely apparent at my jumping to conclusions. My pale thin fingers blazed trails through my dark copper hair. She chuckled again. It was like fine music to my ears. I would give anything to hear her laugh.
"You did a really good job, by the way," Bella said, changing the subject with such speed that it would have given a modest man whiplash. She brought her arm up again, twisting it to admire his handiwork. Her eyes sparkled with approval.
"Want to be the first to sign it?"
"Um... sure." I stood and patted myself down, absentmindedly, to look for a marker. I knew damn well I didn't have anything to write with. I gestured to Bella that I would be right back and I ran over to the lobby's information desk and asked them if they had anything. They only had ballpoint pens, useless in actually signing a person's hard cast. The quiet old woman at the desk suggested that the gift shop often had markers to buy. I raced into the shop, fearing if I was gone any longer, Bella would leave. All the gift shop had was a silver metallic sharpie marker used to personalize things from the shop. It was perfect.
I quickly hurried back to my "patient." I rounded the corner and about fell on my face. She was just sitting there in the wheelchair with her right leg pulled up, her chin resting on her knee, looking so beautiful. My stomach flip-flopped, and it actually hurt to look at her. She was small, and to the outside eyes looked like a little girl lost, but to my eyes she was anything but. She was found, and she had found…me.
She proudly stuck out her arm for me to sign, like it was a badge of honor or a signature from a celebrity. It was a bit overwhelming. I crouched down to be eye level with her and then had to figure out what to write. I just didn't want to write my name. What if she had a boyfriend? My heart plummeted at the thought. It needed to be just right. I paused for a moment to ponder what to write... Then I had it. I took her arm gently and turned it to see the inside of her arm. I ran my hand up the cast to her upper arm, then back down to the area where I decided to write. On the inside of her wrist, so that only she could see it, were just two words:
I capped the pen and looked at her, trying to gauge her expression. She looked at it eagerly and smiled. Then laughed softly.
"Oh thank God, I thought you were going to write your phone number," she said laughing. I could already hear Emmett exclaiming: 'DAMN IT! Why hadn't you thought of that!'
"I can still do that," I came back with quickly, uncapping the marker as I mocked her. Emmett would have been proud. Bella withdrew her arm and furrowed her brow.
"If you're going to do that, then I might as well just hand you my phone," she said. She leaned over and started digging through her book bag, putting her book away, and pulled out the silver phone which she handed to me. I quickly added in my information and called my cell phone. I could just hear the faint buzzing of my phone from my backpack, letting me know that Bella's\ number was safely retained. It was getting late, and I was starting to worry about Bella's ride.
"When is your dad coming for you?"
"He doesn't get off until five," she said absently, looking at her cell phone.
"Bella! You can't wait around here for two hours! Let me give your ride home." I couldn't believe she would just happily stay sitting in one of those uncomfortable wheelchairs. Bella thought for a moment, then with a smile she agreed, much to my delight. I told her to stay put, and I tore out of the hospital for my car. Within moments I was back at the doors. Bella was standing and fumbling with her backpack, trying to figure out how to wear it. I quickly walked back in and took her bag for her. She was blushing profusely and trying not to giggle. I took longer strides to get to the car before her so I could open the passenger side door for her and made sure she was buckled in. I felt like my chest was going to burst with pride. I couldn't believe this beautiful woman was in my car allowing me to take her home. I quickly deposited the bags into the back seat and raced to the driver seat.
It was all so overwhelming. I had to sit there for a moment and take in my surroundings. I stole a quick glance at the woman sitting next to me and smiled. Something deep in the pit of my stomach told me that this was the start of something new, special, and nothing was ever going to be the same ever again, and I was perfectly okay with that.
Edward snapped out of his memory, in his hand a picture of Bella and him at their high school graduation. He smiled and put it back on his upright piano. Bella had broken more bones after that day, and every time Edward was always the first to sign her cast, and every time he signed it: "Be Safe."
Edward's eyes drifted to the picture right next to the one he'd just set down. It was a picture of his college family. Edward was going to medical school, and Bella was an English major. She was studying to be a teacher with hopes to become an author. Edward stood there in the picture with his arm around Bella. In front of her sat Alice and her boyfriend, Edward's best friend, Jasper Hale. Just behind Jasper and next to Bella was Edward's other best friend, Emmett McCarty and his girlfriend, Jasper's twin sister, Rosalie. His family. Their family.
Edward, Bella, Alice and Emmett all ended up at the same school. Bella and Alice decided to become roommates, and Edward and Emmett shared an off-campus apartment. They quickly became friends with Jasper and Rosalie Hale. Soon the six of them were a pack that went everywhere and did everything together.
So there they were, now ten years after they first met, still deeply in love. But right now Edward was knee deep in what could become a Valentine's Day fiasco. He paced in the living room, trying figure out what he was going to do. He knew he need to clear his head, and his fingers raked through his hair once more, sending hair splayed in every direction and making him look maniacal in his maddening quest. He quickly grabbed his coat, scarf, keys, and wallet and rushed out the door.
He walked for about an hour in the arts district of town when he stumbled across the antique shop that he bought his piano at almost three years ago. There in the window was this stunning stained glass and wood bookcase. It came up to Edward's chest so it was almost as tall as Bella. It was art deco and had two doors that were stained glass, and they locked. Most of the glass on the door was clear and beveled. Some sectioned off into squares was this bright candy apple red color. The dark walnut wood was almost black, and it set off the entire piece. Edward smiled; his time with his Aunt Esme and her fascination with antiques had rubbed off.
The idea hit him then. He quickly changed direction and walked into the quiet antique store.
The old brass bell that hung at the door told the owners that he was there. Edward wondered if the owners were still the same. Then just as if he was reading his mind, the man with black hair, and almost translucent skin, turned a corner and met Edward face to face, causing Edward to startle. It was the same old owner.
"Buona sera. How can I help you this fine evening?" The man asked with a faint Italian accent that was growing dormant from years in the states.
"Um... I'm just looking right now, but I'm interested in the bookshelf in the window. May I take a closer look?"
"Yes! Yes! Please," he said. Edward walked up to the bookcase and wedged himself between it and the window.
He carefully pushed back the bookcase so that he could open up the doors. Inside sat a shelf, then a row of drawers. He slid each drawer open to check the smooth clean way it slid. The middle drawer had a key hole and was lined with bright crimson felt. On the felt sat a key that went to the drawer. Edward pulled the key out and estimated that it was probabbly big enough for what he had planned. He took the key and tried the lock.
The instant he felt the drawer lock he knew that this was it. He looked at the price tag and frowned. Its cost was way more than what he had available at the time.
All of his money was locked up in a trust fund set up by his late father, and he only got so much a month. Not enough for this piece. He sat and thought for a moment. This was what needed to be in his home. A place for her most prized possessions, other than his heart. He knew it; the question now was how.
"Sir?" Edward called out to the raven-haired man. In a moment the man came up to his side. Edward wedged himself out of the window display and got back to the main sale floor.
"Do you take trades?"
"Trades, sir?" The elder man was a touch confused.
"Yes. I have an upright piano that I bought from this store about three years ago. I have it tuned regularly, and it is in pristine condition. I can have it over here tonight."
"Well, yes, sir."
"Wonderful. If you would excuse me."
Edward tore out of the antique shop and ran down to the bank to check his account. On the way he called Jasper.
"Hello?" A slow Texas accent came out of the phone.
"Hey, Jas, is Alice around?" Edward asked quickly. He needed to make sure that Alice was still in class with Bella and not with Jasper. She couldn't keep a secret if her life depended on it.
"Good. Jas, I need your truck," Edward said breathlessly.
"I need to take my piano to the antique store."
"What?! WHY?" Jasper thought for sure that this was a joke.
"I need to sell my piano for a bookshelf."
"Boy, are you high?"
"No! Valentine's Day is tomorrow, and I found Bella a bookcase for her old books. It's got this locking drawer so she can keep that first edition in."
"So why do you need to sell your piano?"
"I need the money."
"Your piano?" Jasper's tone pleaded with Edward to make sure he was of sound mind.
"Yes. Grab Em and meet me at my place."
~*Three Years Ago*~
It was about lunchtime on a Saturday, and it was my birthday. Emmett and Jasper had decided to take me out for lunch. But I wanted to take a detour. I had to show them "My Girl."
It was just now summer, and the sun was out, giving Jasper an opportunity to let Emmett ride in the truck bed. We were only going a few blocks, and the boys were stunned when I directed them to an old antique store. The store was owned by three Italian brothers and had been in Seattle for a number of years. It was in the artsy district of town, a place that Bella and I frequented. It shouldn't have surprised anyone that Bella or I were drawn to the shop, She liked looking at the books and old magazines, and I guess I'm much like my aunt in her ability to pick fine pieces of art from the trash. But that morning I had found something so stunning, I had to share.
"It's a piano," Emmett said flatly, slightly dumbstruck. I had to laugh at my friend's bluntness.
"Yeah... isn't beautiful?" I said, breathlessly.
"You said we were going to see your girl – not a fucking piano." Emmett's slight Tennessee drawl laced his tone as he crossed his arms over his chest. I shot him a look for his language. There was a time and a place – this wasn't it. The slight Italian shopkeeper looked slightly offended. His expression lessened when he caught my look. Apparently our big jock didn't quite get the beauty of a finely tuned instrument. He also had apparently forgotten who he was talking to. I was never very far from a musical instrument. I worked through some tough days at med school by taking it out on a heavy piece of piano music. Those plastic keys on my Yamaha keyboard never stood a chance. I don't think he knows that I'm already on my third keyboard since going into med school.
"Em, this is Edward. Musical instruments are his women of choice." Jasper said stepping closer to the upright. He ran a finger along the top, and then opened the lid to peer in. Emmett nodded for a brief second, his right eyebrow arched in agreement. Then his face snapped back into stone-faced annoyance.
"Whatever. I'm not helping you move it." Em said, trying to hide what he already knew. Jasper just shook his head. Emmett knew that he was the ox, Jasper owned the cart, and I had the money pouch.
Jasper moved forward to look at the neon green price tag. In small print was the price. Jasper let out a low whistle. "Sweet Miss Sally, Ed... it's almost eight grand!" he said in a quick whisper. Emmett about choked, breaking his stone façade. "Are you getting it?"
"Yeah, I've been saving for it all year," I told them in a whisper. I was gone, completely in love with a wooden box full of wires and hammers.
Edward checked his watch as he ran from the car to his apartment. He quickly went to work, clearing the top of the piano of pictures and mementos of his and Bella's lives, carefully placing them on the dining room table. Soon a knock was at the door.
"Coming." Edward quickly walked to the door and peered through the peephole. There on the other side stood Jasper and Emmett. Edward opened the door wide, allowing them access. They had to work quickly.
"Where are we taking this thing?"
"Back to the antique store."
"Stop asking questions, Emmett. Just do it. We don't have time," Edward said curtly. With that, the bear of a man pushed the piano out of the door and down the hall. Jasper had run ahead and set the truck up with some plywood to make the piano's travels easy on them. Within the half hour the piano was on its way back to Volturi Antiques.
"So tell me again, why the bookcase?" Jasper asked as he unfolded a large moving blanket and laid it down in the back of the truck bed. Jasper's huge F150 was parked behind the store at the loading dock. It was just tall enough that the piano unloaded with ease. Now they had the business of getting the bookcase. It was considerably lighter than the piano and needed fewer straps and blankets to tie it down.
"She's always had a big collection of books, and most of the time they are scattered all over the place: the living room, the bedroom, the bathroom. I just thought it would be nice if they had a home. Plus she has this first edition book, and the case has a nice locking drawer so that she can keep things locked up and safe," Edward said, kicking a small rock out of the loading area.
"So what you're saying is that you bought your girl a big box to keep all of her shit in," Emmett quipped from behind Edward and Jasper. Jasper's eyes flashed between Edward and then to Emmett. He wasn't sure if Edward was just going to haul off and hit the man up the back of the head, or give him a verbal beat down. What did happen surprised him. Edward laughed.
"Well…Yes. I guess I did." Edward was giddy. He was so excited to give Bella this "big box." It was her cabinet in his house. He hoped that soon she would share it with him.
"You said that she had a first edition?" Jasper brought Edward back to earth.
"Yeah," he said remembering the time that Bella and he were moving from Forks to Seattle and she had showed him the book.
~Two Years Ago~
My stomach flipped when I saw the silver Volvo.
The passenger side door was wide open and Bella's jean-covered backside was sticking up in the air. She was looking for something inside my car.
"What the hell are you doing, Bells?" We had just survived a long drive from Forks to Seattle where we both were going to college. Bella needed to go back to get some last minute things from her home when her father Charlie had surprised everyone with the news that Sue and he were now dating. Bella was thrilled. Mostly, I think, because she knew someone was going to be there for her dad. Yes, Seattle wasn't that far way from Forks… but it's far enough.
Sue was a really nice woman She was smart and very attractive, and the people from the reservation and the town of Forks respected her. I had only met her a handful of times after Bella and I started to date. Every time she saw Bella and me together she would smile. One time she even covered for me and Bella when we got caught coming home late from a date. She had told Charlie that she was the one who kept us late. I had loved her ever since.
"What book was it?" I asked opening the trunk of my car.
"It was a little blue book. Old. It was a Wuthering Heights book." I picked up my duffel bag from the back, and sitting under it was the small, aged book.
"Bells," She looked me in the eye, her face looking exhausted. It had been a long day of goodbyes. We were returning to school in less than a week. I picked up the small book and handed it to her as I shut the trunk of the Volvo. "It was under my bag."
"AH! Thank you… God, what would I do without you?"
"Your medical bills would be higher…" I smirked at her. It was true. Having a med student boyfriend helped. Seventy-five percent of her injuries I could take care of myself. The other twenty-five were true to Bella's form and required major medical attention. In fact she had just gotten out of a walking boot from a fall just outside the hospital. She had come to visit me during a lunch break and ended up having to be admitted.
"When was Wuthering Heights published?"
"I think… the 1840's. Something like that." I looked at her; her eyes had gone wide. "Bella?" Nothing. She hadn't moved or breathed. "Isabella," I said a bit louder. I admit, seeing her like that gave me a pang of panic. I quickly swallowed it and walked over to her and touched her shoulder.
"Itsafirsediton," she said so fast and so low I totally missed it.
"What did you say?"
"Wait…" She flipped the book open and scoured through a page. Her small finger, with its clear, glossy, manicured tip raced down a line of text, stopping at a date at the bottom. There it said that the book was a first edition, second printing. The book was probably worth at least five hundred dollars. Esme had run across one at an auction not too long ago. A small crooked smile grew on her soft face.
"Hidden treasure," I said wrapping my arm around her small frame. I hugged her gently, and as I kissed the top of her head said," You should hold on to it. You never know when you are going to need it."
Edward opened the door to his apartment wide, allowing Emmett a wide berth. The large bookcase was being eased into the doorway. Jasper was quickly behind, swinging his keys on his index finger. Where the upright piano had been was now a gaping spot. Edward mentally remarked that without the piano the room looked like it was empty, like he had been robbed. It would take him a few days to get used to its absence.
"Where is this going, Ed?" Emmett grunted. Edward quickly got out of the way and gestured to the blank hole in the room. It was along the shared wall with his bedroom. Edward's home was something that his father had set up in his trust. Emmett could see where the piano had left a hole. He effortlessly maneuvered the bookcase around the apartment and unloaded it into the hole. It was considerably smaller than what used to be there, but it seemed to fit just the same. Edward sprayed a dust cloth with Pledge and then vigorously wiped down the bookcase. Jasper had taken the photographs from the table and started to put them on the shelves. As he placed the picture of all six of them on a shelf, his cell phone rang. "Black Magic Woman" sang out of the small device. He picked up the phone and wandered off into the kitchen. Edward could hear him talking to his cousin.
"I'm going to run this back to the truck. I'll be right back," Emmett said, gesturing to the dolly he'd used to get the bookcase in. Edward nodded and went back to work.
"Ed, Em," Jasper started back from the kitchen. "Oh…" Jasper looked around for the mammoth Emmett.
"He's dropping off the dolly. He'll be back," Edward said standing up. "Alice?" He said motioning to the cell phone in Jasper's hand.
"Yeah, she's talked to the girls. We all are doing dinner at six."
"I thought they had class?"
"Apparently the teacher was out sick. They had study hall, and the girls decided to bail. We are to meet them at Quickies on Brooklyn. I'm going to get Em. I'll see you there?" Jasper said, heading for the door. Edward nodded. He sighed as the door shut to his apartment. Time to get the show on the road. He quickly showered and dressed in a pair of dark jeans, a black tee shirt, and a suit coat. He reached for a pair of socks, and his fingers grazed over a blue box. He stared at the box for a moment, then placed it back into the drawer, deciding that he would leave it for later.
At six o'clock on the dot, Edward was walking into the vegan sandwich shop with lime green walls and deep blue tabletops. It the corner was his family, Alice bouncing up and down waving to him. Emmett and Rose at one end of the table, deep in conversation with each other. Alice and Jasper took up the middle. There on the end with a big smile on her face, her body turned towards him, was his Bella.
Dinner was as lively as ever, Emmett being boisterous to a server and Alice rattling on about her day to Jasper. Edward just slipped Bella's hand into his. She looked at him and smiled, and her eyes warmed immediately. Edward leaned over and whispered into her ear, "Come over tonight. I want to give you a present." Edward expected her to give him hell about spending money on her, but his real gift this time had cost absolutely nothing--because this time was different. He wanted to ask her to move in with him.
The bookcase was a symbol of that. But what she did surprised him.
"Okay. I have your present in Alice's car," she said, almost vibrating with excitement. Edward sat up and looked at her. This was vastly different than the past. Whatever she had gotten him, she couldn't wait to give to him.
After dinner the group separated into couples and said goodbyes. Bella retrieved her things from Alice's little yellow car and quickly got into Edward's Volvo. She made it to the street outside Edward's home before she handed him his gift. It was in a gift bag, made of brown paper with red hearts ink-stamped up one side of the bag, and red tissue paper flowed out of the top.
"Here," she said. Edward kept the car running. He turned down Kings of Leon playing on the radio and peered into the bag. The bag was surprisingly heavy. Bella was gently bouncing up and down. Edward almost made a comment about her spending far too much time with Alice, but he knew that now was not the time.
He reached into the bag and grasped the object inside. The smell of leather filled his nostrils. His fingers touched soft, smooth, and hard. It was a book. Not just any book. A handmade leather-bound book. It had a long bit of leather cord that wrapped around the book twice then around a smooth onyx disk, securing it closed. In the corner three small letters were hand tooled into the skin of the book. EAM. Edward ran his fingers ran over the hand tooled work.
"I can easily put a C for Cullen on that if you choose," Bella said--she had been watching his face and fingers. Edwards jade eyes were wide with amazement. They couldn't be pulled off the book. It was a beautiful piece. Then he stopped. Her words finally reached the part of his brain set aside for comprehension, which had been stunned into silence.
"You?" Edward was thoroughly confused.
"Yes… I… I made this," She said shyly, her hands were nervously shoved under her legs.
"WHAT?!" Edward's jaw dropped.
"Yeah, the college
had a woman in who hand makes books. I was totally amazed, and she
said she would teach me to hand bind books."
"Wha… How… How much did this cost you?" Edward stumbled through his words, yet unable to look away from the gift.
"Mmm.. Overall cost of materials, time and fees… around five hundred dollars." She looked down embarrassed.
"Oh, Bella… my
Isabella…" He leaned over to kiss her but she kissed him quickly,
she wasn't done. He wasn't done kissing her either.
"Don't stop! Open it up!" Edward couldn't believe any of this… He unbound the book and opened it. The paper inside was cream colored and also handmade.
"Did you do the paper too?"
"Oh yes, don't remind Alice. The kitchen was a mess the day I made the paper pulp. She threatened to move in with Jasper if I kept it up." She laughed softly. Edward's hand ran up the paper, feeling every groove and impression. There in black ink, on the first sheet was Bella's handwriting.
... He's more myself than I am.
Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.
Edward was at a loss, for air and for words. Then suddenly a thought struck him.
"Bells, where did you get the five hundred dollars?" he asked softly, as he flipped farther into the book.
"I sold my Wuthering Heights book," she said quietly. His heart sank. As he looked at what was in his hand, he suddenly wanted to laugh. This was not just a journal she had made him. "It's okay, I put the money to good use. I've learned to make books, and look the pages--they aren't blank…it's for your music."
She was right. Edward tried not to laugh, but he was slowly loosing the fight. On the following pages, after the inscription, was over one hundred pages of composition paper handmade by Bella. Bella watched as her boyfriend started to crack up laughing.
"What?!" Anger set her veins on fire. She had worked so hard in learning how to make books. Her first real book was for him, and he was laughing.
"Oh, my Bell." Edward got out of the car and walked over to her side. He opened the door and helped her out. With his new composition book under his arm he escorted his beautiful girlfriend to his home. Her arms were folded in annoyance as she walked the last few steps.
"I have your gift in here." He opened the door and walked in. Bella dropped her purse when she saw where he was standing. Where his piano should have been, now stood a dark maple wood cabinet with stained glass windows. The bright red panels popped; the red reminded Bella of the color of apples.
"Bella, I bought this for you. For your books." Edward said with a large gush of air, as he opened the cabinet up. He picked up a small silver key on a red satin ribbon. "It has a locking drawer that was for your book."
"I sold my piano for it, because I want you to move in with me," he said. He wrapped his arms around his new composition book and pressed it into his chest. The smell of strawberries and leather met his nose. He smiled a small half smile at the smell.
She was agape. She nodded and suddenly flew into his arms.
The two lovers fell onto an ottoman, then onto the floor in a heap.
"Ow, Bella!" Edward started to laugh; Bella had ended up under him in the fall. He quickly got up and reached down to pick her up.
"OH!" Bella exclaimed not moving. Bella looked stuck, her eyes wide.
"Bells?' Edward knew that tone.
"Edward, I think…
I broke my arm," she painfully grunted, trying to move her body
weight off her arm.
"You're kidding me. How?" Edward leaned over the ottoman and looked. Bella's arm was at a strange angle. Sure enough, she had broken it. Edward quickly sprung into action and grabbed a few Rolling Stones off of his coffee table. He ran back to his bedroom and grabbed a few ties. Within moments, Edward had made a splint for Bella's arm, and they were in the Volvo on their way to the hospital.
A silver-haired head nurse walked over to where the room where they had placed Bella and Edward. Bella was talking about how to move from her apartment into Edward's. Edward hadn't stopped smiling since, they left his place, and his face was starting to hurt. But he didn't care.
"Edward?" The nurse said.
"Can I see you out here a second?" Sally asked, gave Bella a kind smile. Edward stood and kissed Bella on the forehead. He murmured something to her and then followed Sally out to the hall.
"What is it?" Edward asked. His expression was not of worry but wonder.
"Um, I was going over Bella's admittance papers, and saw that they were in your handwriting."
"Yeah, Bells broke her left arm... it was just easier for me to write and for her to hold her arm."
"Edward, look." Sally smiled and showed him the admittance paper. Her finely manicured nail pointed out Bella's name. Edward had absently written Bella's last name, not as Swan but as Masen.
"Wow," Edward said, embarrassed, taking the paper in one hand, the other hand racing through his hair. Sally chuckled at him and patted him on the back.
Edward punched in numbers into his cell phone. On the second ring a familiar voice picked up the phone.
"Edward?" Alice's worried voice came on the line.
"Hey, I need you to do me a favor," he began, a glint appearing in his eye.
"No problem. Where are you?"
"The hospital," Edward said, pushing buttons for the vending machine.
"Yeah, Bella fell and broke a green stick fracture. They are splinting her up right now."
"Oh." Alice wasn't surprised; Bella was in the hospital more times than most. She was surprised they didn't offer her a frequent flyer's card. "So… what do you need?"
"She's not going be done for another hour. Can you go to my place? There is something I need for you to pick up." Edward smiled to himself as he walked back to Bella's room.
~One Year Ago~
I was flipping through my latest Rolling Stone magazine, Muse filtering through the air, when there was a knock on my door. I opened it and was surprised to see Alice.
"Hi. I have
something for you." She bounced into the living room.
"Oh?" I followed her in, and turned down the radio.
"Mom wanted me to give you this. She found it, and I said I would deliver it to you."
I took the small box from my cousin's hand. I opened it up and saw it was a small ring box. It was royal blue, and inside was a two and a half carat bloom-cut, cushion-shaped diamond in a semi-bezel set at the center of a platinum ring. Small, round, bead-set diamonds accented the sides and gallery. It was my mother's ring. I had not seen it since her death, and it took me a moment to regain my composure.
"She came across it in the safe. We both thought you might find a better use for it in the future than it gathering dust in Dad's safe."
Alice met Edward outside the ER ambulance bay doors. She smiled as she handed him the box, and Edward smiled back. He knew that Alice understood. She simply gave him the box, and Edward took the ring out, handing the box back to his cousin.
"Go get her," she said simply, walking backwards before turning on her heel and heading back to her car. Edward grinned and slipped the ring into his pocket where he felt it clink against the pen there. He then raced back to where lobby where Bella was waiting. Edward turned the corner, and his heart stopped. Sitting in a wheelchair by the lobby door was a little girl, and his breath caught at the sight. It couldn't be real...
"Bella?" He called to the small girl sitting in a wheelchair reading a well-worn book. The hard cover was fraying and worn in places many hands and fingers had frequented. Her head flipped around to see who had called to her. Sitting there was no longer the girl from ten years ago but the woman who was everything to him. A small smile broke out on her face as her eyes met his. He couldn't help but let a smile creep on his face as she shut the book and turned her attention to him.
"Hey there, Doctor!" she said quietly, emphasizing the last word.
"Ha. Maybe someday. Are you waiting for your ride?"
"Yeah. He won't be able to come and get me until he's off from work," she said as a knowing smile crept over her face.
"Oh." Silence filled the room. Edward shuffled his feet. "So, um... what happened?" He said gesturing to her arm. His grin growing wider and less at an angle by the moment.
"Oh... I fell over a bleacher during gym," she said matter-of-factly, raising her arm and admiring the work.
"Really?" Edward's face broke into a grin. Bella sat back and soaked up Edward's expression. She started to laugh.
"I'm such a klutz; I've tripped and busted my knee on the painted line in the parking lot. Dr. Cullen has bandaged me up, set my breaks, and stitched me up more times than I can count," she said, running her slender fingers along the hard edge of the cast.
"You did a really good job by the way… again," Bella said changing the subject. She brought her arm up again, twisting it to admire his handiwork. Her eyes sparkled with approval.
"Want to be the first to sign it?"
"Of course!" Edward stood took out a silver sharpie marker from his pocket.
She proudly stuck out her arm for Edward to sign as he came back with the silver marker.
He crouched down to be eye level with her, then thought for a moment what to write. Then, with a small smile, he wrote on the inside of her cast's wrist two words:
Bella looked, and after a moment, tears welled up in her eyes. She blinked, sending them crashing into her skin. Her dark eyes looked straight into the determined vibrant green eyes of her lover. There he was on his knee, holding out a platinum ring with a squared off rock that sent splinters of spectrum all over his loving face, almost as if he was the one sparkling. Bella's breath was lost. All she could do was nod, and she threw her arms around Edward's neck, almost cold-cocking him in the back of his head with the cast. He chuckled and kissed her jaw just by her ear. His smile outshone the ring that now sat on her finger. Something deep in Edward's heart told him that this was the start of something new, special, and nothing was ever going to be the same ever again.
A/N: There it is. The Gift of the Magi revisited. I would like to thank Knittingfynatyc, Feistyyoungbeden and sareeswfla for Beta'ing the hell out of my story. Thank you for not pulling a "Newton" with me and all the chatter back and forth... Thank you to 2littletoys for the Wuthering Heights quote. Thank you to all those at Ravelry's Unicorns Unlimited... we just got this ball rolling!!!