All characters and plots belong to Stephanie Meyer.
It had been four and a half weeks since the…accident. She lay there unmoving, the same as every day the last four weeks. I never wanted to hear her mind more than now. Was she in there? Was she alert? Could she hear me? The minds in the hallway had become a dull buzz. I had been hearing them so much I was learning to tune them out. I picked up Wuthering Heights, one of Bella's favorite, and picked up where I had left off yesterday. Carlisle said vocal stimuli could help a coma patient wake. I twined my fingers with hers before I began.
"'Are you alone, Nelly?'
'Yes, Miss,' I replied.
She entered and approached the hearth. I, supposing she was going to say something, looked up. The expression of her face seemed disturbed and anxious. Her lips were half asunder, as if she meant to speak, and she drew a breath; but it escaped in-"
I stopped when I felt it. Her fingers fluttered in mine. I set aside the book and looked to her face. It was unmoving, the same as the past four weeks. Did I image it? I wanted her to recover so badly. I held my breath, listening for a change in her heartbeat. I looked at her hand. I watched as her fingers fluttered again.
"Bella?" I whispered. "Bella, can you hear me?" I watched with great joy as she tried to squeeze my hand. "Oh, Bella, sweetheart. Open your eyes." I looked up only to see her unmoving eyes. I waited, waited for a few minutes. "Bella, are you still with me?" She squeezed my hand again. "Did you try to open your eyes?" She squeezed. "Carlisle."
"What is it, son?" Carlisle came in quickly.
"Watch. Bella, squeeze my hand." She did. Carlisle checked the monitors next to her bed. He listened to her heartbeat. The stethoscope around his neck unnecessary, and he did not need to flip through her chart because we have perfect memory. "What is it?"
"It seems she's beginning to improve. That doesn't mean that she's going to open her eyes today, however. It could be a few days or it could be a few weeks. The progression happens slowly. Next thing to expect is for her to fight the ventilator. When her body is able to breathe on its own, we'll see her oxygen level begin to fluctuate rapidly. An alarm will sound when this happens, and we'll know it's time to remove the tube." I sighed with relief. She was going to recover.
"Carlisle, how long with it be? Honestly." I needed to know. I needed to know she was going to be okay.
"Edward. These things take time. Everyone is different. You know Bella, though. It will be on her time and when we least expect it." I nodded my head. It would be when we least expected it. That is just how Bella works. Unpredictably.
"Bella, squeeze my hand again." I wanted to feel her again. Her hand never moved. "Bella?"
"It comes and goes. Don't let that discourage you. You have been doing everything you can. You've been doing wonderful."
Bella POV, two days later
My head seemed to be muddled by the fog. I could not think clearly. I tried to open my eyes; they felt taped shut. Where was I? Had I been asleep for-Wait! It all came rushing back. The dance studio, James, my leg, Edward…oh Edward. He did it. He stopped. Where was he? Where was I?
It was unusually hard to breath. I was fighting to get air. I could feel something blocking my airway. I raised my hand to check, but something pulled at my hand; I gasped. In less than a second, I could feel his hand gripping mine ever so gently.
"Bella?" he asked, concern edging his beautiful voice. I tried to answer him, but I was struggling for air. "Carlisle, come quick." It was said just above a whisper, but within seconds, I could feel his hand on my wrist.
"Bella, try and not fight it," Carlisle's comforting voice tried to sooth me.
"What is that?"
"It's a sedative." No! I tried to yell. I did not want to go to sleep. I did not want to dream about James and his torture I apparently lived through. I could feel Edward's cool hand stroking my cheek. "Once she is asleep I will remove the ventilator. I don't know what happened. She should have resisted the ventilator before she woke up." I could feel the haze taking over and clouding my head. I slipped into unconsciousness.
The fog was lifting again. My breathing came easier than before. I waited a few minutes to see if any new complications would arise. I felt like I had been out for at least a day. It was so hazy.
"Edward?" my raspy voice was barely audible, barely audible to a human's ear. I felt his hand curl into mine as gently as before.
"I'm right here, Bella," he answered, relief apparent in his voice. I opened my eyes ever so slowly. I squinted against the harsh overhead light. I felt his hand leave mine, but before I could panic, he turned the light off and was back at my side. "Is that better?" I nodded and grimaced at the pain caused by my sudden movement. I felt his hand on my cheek then. "You really shouldn't be moving around. Let me get Carlisle to check on you."
"No," I whispered. "Please don't leave me." I squeezed his hand as hard as I could, not that it created much pressure.
"Okay. I'll stay here, but let me call him. We really need to check and see how you are." I did not protest. "Carlisle. She's awake." He said this at normal volume. Carlisle would have no problem hearing him. Carlisle came around the corner then with a warm smile on his face. He approached the bed, eyes on the monitors hooked up to me. "Bella, I'm so sorry. I should have been there sooner."
"Shh," I protested. I looked into his muted gold eyes. I saw remorse so strong behind them. His face was more beautiful than I had remembered. I smiled even though it caused pain. "I'm here because of you. Alive because of you. No apologies." I felt very tired all of a sudden. I had to sleep. I was not strong enough to stay awake that long yet.
"Bella? Bella, can you hear me?" I was too weak to answer. I needed sleep.
I woke the next day, or what I assumed was the next day. I looked to the side to find Edward reading. I smiled. He looked up and smiled. He was so beautiful. I flexed my fingers in his direction. He rose from the recliner and came to sit next to me. He twined his fingers with mine and let out a long breath. I pulled my other hand up to stroke his face. He leaned into my touch.
"Good morning, beautiful," he whispered.
"Morning," I replied.
"Carlisle, she's awake." He was speaking in a normal tone again. "It's wonderful to see your eyes." Just then, the door opened.
"It's wonderful to see you awake." Carlisle began. I snickered inwardly at how much Edward was like his father. "Your vitals look good. Your muscles are reacting, as they should. Your eyes are apparently reacting as they should." He chuckled because the lights were off. "Bella, you are doing remarkably well. I wasn't sure if-" He swiftly shifted his eyes to Edward than back to me. I had been around them enough now to catch those subtle moves. "Well, you are doing just fine."
"Did you say something about a ventilator earlier?" I vaguely remembered hearing the word.
"Yes. You have been on a ventilator since the accident. Your body was just too weak to do everything it needed to do so we helped out. That's all. Usually people gain back functions slowly. You decided you could breath and wake up all at once." He chuckled.
"Decided? It just happened."
"You made a decision. Coma patients are captives of their state. Once they gain back their functions, they still have emotional things to deal with. A person must deal with those emotional things and decide it's time to wake up. You may never know what you subconsciously dealt with, but it was a very easy decision. The moment your functions returned your decision was made. The ventilator was competing with your body to provide air. It's uncomfortable and even painful when time to remove it. That's why I put you back under; I had to remove the tube."
"Oh." It was all I could think to say. I felt tired again. I was up longer than the day before. "I feel so tired." I could barely get the words out before I was unconscious again.
I woke to Edward reading out loud. I listened to his angelic voice and smiled. I breathed deep. He looked over and smiled. I held my hand towards him, and again he came over, sat on the bed, and twined his fingers with mine.
"It's hot," I suddenly noted.
"I can help with that," he slid over to lie next to me, his body pressed against mine. Having him that close did funny things to me. The monitors by the bed gave away my rapid heartbeat. I felt him chuckle. It helped having him that close. I felt safe. Edward continued to read to me. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte was one of my favorites. Carlisle came in about two hours later.
"Hello, Bella," he smiled. "How are you feeling today?"
"Okay. Things are still a little foggy, and I don't know why I'm so tired."
"That's to be expected, and the sleepiness is normal. You'll be able to stay awake longer and longer each day. You're doing just fine.
"You still have a ways to go, Bella. You are going to have to take it slow. Your leg is close to healed. It was a clean break so no surgery was required to set it. The four broken ribs are healed. They will be tender but essentially brand new. You are going to be disoriented and dizzy once we start getting you to move around. You've probably got another four weeks ahead of you before things start getting back to…normal." He smirked at the word, but I was not really paying much attention.
"But…" I could not finish my thought. Healed ribs took time. More time than a day or two. How much time had I been out? I stared ahead not fully aware of anything, focusing on my thoughts.
"Bella." I could hear his voice, hear his concern, but I could not answer. He was stroking my cheek with the back of his hand. "Bella, answer me. Carlisle, what's wrong?"
"Give her a minute, son. Let her process," he answered. I turned my head ever so slowly and gazed into his eyes.
"How long?" I asked. He looked at me, and I could see that he understood. He hesitated at a human pace. "Edward. How long have I been…been…"
"In a coma." He finished what I could not. He held my cheek and his gaze softened. "Your body needed time to heal, and that happens best when you sleep. You had some extensive injuries, Bella. You needed time."
"Edward." I twisted my head the other direction. Carlisle had slipped out of the room unbeknownst to me. "How long?" My voice was raspy, and I was scared. Scared that he could hear my tears just under the surface. Scared to know exactly how much time I had lost. He never moved his hand from my cheek. I heard him sigh.
"Five weeks." I released the breath I was unconsciously holding. Five weeks; over a month. My breathing was ragged. The tears were rolling off my face onto the pillow. Edward came to the other side of the bed. He perched next to me while brushing my tears away. "Bella, it's going to be okay. It's only five weeks. You are going to recover and live a healthy life. Calm down, I don't need you hyperventilating." I tried to slow my breathing. He continued to wipe at my tears.
"Edward. I lost five weeks. I lost five weeks with you." He kissed my cheeks.
"I don't deserve you."
"You have that backwards." I felt tired again. I hoped this would go away soon. I wanted more time with him.
I woke the next day to Debussy. Edward must have brought in a CD player. I kept my eyes closed and let the music wash over me. I held my hand towards where Edward always was. When he did not grab my hand, I called his name. There was no response. I opened my eyes and looked around. He was not in the room.
"Edward?" I asked again. I struggled to sit up. It took great effort, but eventually I was attempting to keep my balance in a seated position. I swung my feet off the side of the bed. My head was spinning and my stomach was queasy. "Edward? Are you here?" There was no answer. I began to lose control of my position. I could feel myself falling and realized I was falling forward, off the bed. I moved my hands forward to break my fall. I closed my eyes to stop the spinning. I stopped. How?
"Bella, can you hear me?" I heard Edward's voice lined with concern. I moaned, not able to do more. I felt myself being lifted and placed back in the bed. "Carlisle?"
"Mo kay," I mumbled.
"Bella, what is it?"
"I. Am. Okay." I managed to get out.
"Edward, what is it?" Carlisle asked as he came in.
"When I walked in she had her legs off the bed and was about to fall on her face. She's a little incoherent, and she's burning up still."
"I'm…okay," I tried again. The nausea was subsiding and the dizziness going away.
"Bella, you can't be getting up. Not yet. There will be plenty of time for that. Now, I'm going to run some tests. I want to make sure everything is okay before we start moving you. If everything comes back okay we will start sitting you up slowly tomorrow."
"I feel nauseous."
"Okay. I'll get you something for that. Is there anything else? The more I know, the better I can treat you."
"I felt dizzy when I sat up."
"Okay. Thank you. Edward, Alice is here. She wants to see Bella." I felt Edward's hesitation.
"Alice? She's here?" I looked towards the door. "Alice? What are you waiting on?"
"Me," Edward said. "I'm sorry Bella. I've been a little protective of you lately. Come in Alice." Alice danced in and to the bed.
"Hi friend," I smiled as I greeted her.
"Hello, Bella," Alice smiled. "I brought you something." I grimaced and she gave me a warning glance. "Now, I know you don't like gifts, but you're going to have to suck it up." She handed me a bag. I sighed and reached in. I pulled out a deep-blue cotton, v-neck, long sleeve shirt. It was beautiful. Alice was great when it came to fashion.
"You're welcome. I figured I would get you something for when you get to leave. You need to leave in style. I was thinking-"
"Okay, Alice. That's enough for today," Edward interrupted. I, along with Alice, scolded him. "It's not what you think, Alice. Bella has to get some tests done, and Carlisle is about to walk through the door to take her." As if on cue, Carlisle entered the room.
"Okay, Bella, let's go," he said apologetically.
After two hours, I was taken back to my room. Edward and Alice were there waiting. He moved me back to my bed. I slid my hand to his and would not let him go. He sat next to me, pulling my body to his. It felt nice to have him next to me. Having him near made me feel like I would be okay soon, and he was also cooling down my body.
"I hate to do this, but I'm tired again. I wish I could be awake to see Charlie." I groggily said.
"You will soon. Don't fret. You'll see him soon enough." I was asleep before he finished his reassurances.
I woke the next day. It was strangely quiet. I opened my eyes and looked around. Alice and Edward were still as statues staring at the chessboard between the two. It looked as if both had played only one move. I took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. They both looked up and smiled. I smiled back. It was wonderful to have them here.
"How long have you been playing?" I asked as I tried to turn to my side.
"Oh, about two hours," Edward answered.
"Alice, who's going to win?" She smiled.
"Me, but Edward refuses to believe me." She sounded very smug. I laughed and let my mind wonder. I began to think of so many things.
"Where's Charlie? Renee? What am I going to do about school? What happened, for when I talk to my parents? Is the rest of your family okay? Am I-" He placed his finger to my lips as he chuckled. I had not realized I was talking out loud.
"Calm down. I will tell you everything if you give me time. Charlie is getting Renee from the airport. He comes here every day before and after work and stays until 9:00. Renee is in Jacksonville. I called her when you woke up yesterday."
"Yes." I just nodded my head. "Renee will be here within the hour. She came to Phoenix as soon as you had your accident and stayed a week. At that time Carlisle suggested taking you back to Forks so he could continue taking care of you here."
"I'm in Forks?"
"Yes. You have been for four weeks. She went back to Jacksonville because Phil was worried. Charlie convinced her to stay there and that she would be the first one he called if anything changed.
"School will always be there, but Alice has gotten your homework," he smirked, "and finished it. My family is fine. None of them were hurt. They will be glad to hear you're up. The others have been on edge since the accident."
"Accident? Why do you and Carlisle keep calling it an accident?" I remembered pretty well what happened, and I did not remember any of it being an accident."
"That's what it was. You went home after our argument. I came to Phoenix to talk some sense into you. To convince you to come back to Forks. You agreed to see me, and drove out to the hotel where I was staying with Carlisle and Alice-of course; I was there with parental supervision. On your way up you tripped falling down two flights of stairs and crashing through a window." His recounting of the incident sounded so sincere I almost believed him. "But don't worry too much about it. You're allowed to not remember." I looked over and noticed Alice had left.
"What time is it? Shouldn't you be at home?" I peeked up at him from my heavy lids.
"I stay. I go home to change clothes, but I'm here other than that." He smiled his crooked smile. "Where else would I be?"
"School. Home. Hunting." I could not help but notice the thirst in his eyes. "Why would you spend five weeks in a hospital?" I was thrilled with the thought of him being by my side constantly, but he should be taking care of himself.
"Bella, you are my life. I love you. I want to be with you. Always." His body stiffened. I looked at him questioningly. "Renee is here."
"Don't leave me. Please," I begged him.
"Don't worry. I'm going to go sleep. It's midnight. It's past my bedtime." He winked then pressed his lips to mine gently. The beeping from the machine by my bed sped up. He leaned back with a triumphant smile before walking to the recliner on the other side of the bed. He leaned it backward and covered himself with the blanket. He became still as a statue.
"Don't forget to breathe," I whispered. I heard the door slide open. Renee peaked around the corner. "Hi Mom," I said quietly, as if not trying to wake Edward.
"Oh, baby," she choked out. She hurried to the bed, dropping her stuff along the way. She kissed my forehead and hugged me tight. I drew in a sharp breath for the action caused great pain. "Oh, I'm so sorry. It's just such a relief to see you awake. I thought you might not-" She did not finish her statement. "Oh, Bella. How do you feel?"
"Fine." My usual answer. I hated when she worried about me. "What were you going to say? You thought I might not what?" I had to apologize for what I did.
"Nothing baby. Do you remember-"
"Tell me what you meant." She was quiet for a few minutes. "Mom, please."
"Well honey. Coma patients…it only lasts…it's common for a coma to last two to five weeks. After that the patient usually enters…usually enters a vegetative state. I thought you weren't going to come out of it."
"Well, here I am. Mom, I need to talk to Dad."
"Baby. I'll get your dad in a minute." She glanced over at Edward then back to me. "He never leaves."
"Really?" I was able to pull this off convincingly.
"Charlie says he's here in the morning before he goes to work and when he comes back after work. He talks to you, he reads to you, he makes sure your body doesn't stay limp. After the first week of the physical therapists coming in and doing your exercises, he took over. Bella, he's…I think…he's in love with you."
"Oh." I didn't know what else to say. I knew my mom would worry if I agreed with her. "He's kind of important to me to, Mom."
"You're so young honey," she complained. "Take it slow. You have plenty of time."
"Do I?" I could not believe the words came out of my mouth. Was I ready to have this conversation with my mom? "After today…well, after the accident, I'm not so sure. I can't take things for granted. It's not guaranteed that I will be alive tomorrow." I waited as she stared at me, probably trying to figure out how to respond. She sighed.
"I'm going to go get your dad. He picked me up from the airport. He's waiting in the hall." She stood, but before she left she looked at Edward and back at me. "I know. I see it." With that, she walked out of the room. My dad walked in the room. He looked older, tired, and I was the cause of it. Pain flashed across my face.
"Hey dad," I whispered. He glowered at Edward and sat on the bed.
"Hey kiddo. How are you feeling?" He was not good with the emotional stuff. I would spare him that.
"Fine. Tired. How are you holding up? Haven't starved yet?" He chuckled and shook his head. I could see how guarded his expression was, and it killed me to know I caused it.
"Dad, I'm so sorry." He shook his head and tried to interrupt. "No, let me say this. I never meant any of it. I was just scared. Scared of something new. I never thought I would care for this place the way I do. I love living in Forks. I love living with you. Please forgive me. I'm so sorry I hurt you."
"Bells, there's nothing to forgive. You also don't have to lie. When you get better, you'll love Jacksonville. It's just what you love, it's sunny."
"No, Dad! I'm not going to Jacksonville. My life is here. I won't leave; you can't make me." My voice was getting louder as the emotion began to roll in.
"Shh. You don't want to wake…him." The last word he said with disgust. Of course, he would be blaming this on Edward. What a mess I created. "We'll talk about this when you are better. Right now, it shouldn't be a concern. Let's worry about getting you healed.
"Dr. Cullen said you're progressing well. You might be able to go home within the week. Isn't that good to hear?" He dismissed the serious talk with that statement.
"Great. Dad, I'm really tired. I think I'm going to go to bed now."
"Okay, Bells. I'm going to take your mom to a hotel, and then I'm going to come back and stay with you tonight."
"Oh, Dad. It's okay. Edward is here."
"He can go home; he hasn't in five weeks. Plus, he just shouldn't be here. This is his fault. You wouldn't be in here if-"
"Dad!" I said as sternly as I could. He stopped and looked at me with a stunned look on his face. "This is not Edward's fault. I got scared. I drove away. I agreed to go see him. I fell down the stairs. Nowhere can you construe this as being Edward's fault. Anyway, there's no need for you to be here tonight. I'm fine. I'm going to be fine. If I need you, I will call the house. You're less than five minutes away. Please, go home where you will sleep well." It was silent between us for a few minutes.
"Okay, Bells. Call me if you need me." He glowered at Edward one last time before he left. "Goodnight, kiddo…I love you."
"I love you too, Dad." My voice was raspy. He had so much trouble with emotions so I was reeling from his last declaration. He stepped out and closed the door behind him. I cleared my throat, trying to hold back the tears. As soon as the door was closed, I could feel Edward sit down on the bed. "Edward, I'm so sorry. He's so mad at you, and it's all my fault."
"He's right, Bella," Edward said as he hung his head. "This is my fault; all of it. If I had left, if I had gone away when things started getting out of hand, you would-"
"No! I don't have a life without you. You are my everything. Never leave me. Never. Promise!"
"I promise. As long as you want me. As long as that is what's best for you."
"No! It's not the same."
"Okay. I promise. Bella, you okay? You are hotter than yesterday."
"I'm okay. I promise. Just stay next to me tonight. Please?"
"You don't have to ask twice." I could hear the smile on his lips. I curled up next to him, my body molding to his. I fell asleep in his arms.
I woke the next day feeling hot but cool. Internally I was hot, but I was cool with his body pressed to mine. I looked up and our eyes met. I strained toward him. He leaned down and pressed his lips to mine. They were hard and cool. He kissed me gently but pulled away when the machine gave away my heartbeat.
"Bella, your parents are on the way," he said. I gasped. There was a sharp pain in my lower right abdomen. "Bella, what's wrong?" His face was frantic. "Carlisle!" His voice was louder than usual. Why was he so frantic? Then I realized, I had screamed and was now clenching my jaw. The pain intensified and seemed to radiate out from the original spot. I sat up quickly as a reaction to the pain. My head was spinning, and I felt my stomach lurch. I leaned to the side of the bed and vomited. I felt Edward holding me steady. "Bella, what is it? Bella! Carlisle!" He yelled this time. He must be far off. Edward pulled my body towards his and cradled me against him. "You're burning up. Bella, talk to me." He pressed his palm to my forehead trying to cool me down.
"Edward, what-" Carlisle did not finish his sentence. When he caught sight of me, he rushed with vampire speed to the bed. "Bella, where does it hurt?" I screamed again against the pain.
"She grabbed her stomach. She sat up then vomited. She's burning up Carlisle. I'm trying to cool her down." Carlisle began poking at my stomach, and I screamed when he touched the tender spot. "Bella, it's going to be okay."
"What's going on?" Charlie and Renee burst through the door. Charlie was frantic. He looked at Edward with a glower. "What did you do to-"
"Her appendix burst," Carlisle coolly said. "We have to go to surgery." He pressed the nurse's button and asked her to prepare an OR. "Charlie, Renee, Edward please wait in the OR waiting room. I'll come out as soon as we're done." Carlisle walked to Charlie's side and placed his hand on his shoulder. I tensed hoping Charlie would not think anything of Carlisle's cold touch. "She'll be safe with me. I'll take good care of her." Charlie's head fell as he nodded.
Two nurses came in and transferred me to another bed. The pain was so intense I could hardly bear it. I felt my grasp slipping. I lost strength and fell back. Edward caught me before I fell off the bed. He laid me down, but I was unconscious by then.
"Bella, are you awake?" I could hear Edward from a distance. His voice seemed far off. "Bella, can you hear me?" I opened my eyes slowly, squinting against the light then realized it was off. "Hey there." He smiled his crooked smile.
"Hi," I managed. I moaned.
"What is it?" There was urgency in his voice.
"Can't it please just all be over? I'm tired of being sick." He half smiled in apology. "Are you here to spring me?" The teasing came easy.
"I wish. Give it another week, and I will." He placed his hand on my forehead then stroked my cheek. I struggled to sit up. He placed his hands on my arms and lifted me into a sitting position without much effort. He stared into my eyes, and it looked like he was searching for something.
"Are you okay?"
"Of course, I'm okay. I'm not the one to be worrying about. Are you okay?" He never let it be about him.
"I'm fine. Then again, I'm not the one that's thirsty." He frowned at me. "You should go hunt. I'll be okay. Carlisle is here. He'll take care of me."
"No. I'm staying. I'm not that thirsty."
"Edward." His eyes were a very muted gold, and he had purple rings under his eyes. "If you want to take care of me, you need to take care of yourself."
"No. I'll be fine. It's really-"
"Stop it!" I said with force and volume. He stopped suddenly and looked at me with wide eyes. "It hurts me to know you're hurting. If you want me to get better, I need you to stay well. I can't get better if I'm constantly worrying about you." I did not want him to leave, but he was hurting. I hoped my speech sounded strong enough to convince him. He sat there with a torn expression. "I promise I will be okay. Carlisle will not let anything happen to me." As if on cue, Carlisle entered the room.
"Bella," he smiled as he approached. "It's so good to see you sitting up. How do you feel?"
"Honestly, better than the last couple of days."
"That's so good to hear. I was thinking we would get you on your feet tomorrow. How does that sound?"
"Really?!" I said with much enthusiasm. "That would be great. That means I'm close to getting out of here." He chuckled.
"Yes, it does."
"So that means I'm doing relatively well, right?" Edward glared at me, and Carlisle looked at me with caution when he saw Edward's reaction.
"Yes, I suppose it does."
"Then it would be no problem for Edward to leave for a day, because I'm doing well and you would make sure I was okay?" Carlisle was hesitant again.
"Of course I would take care of you. Why would Edward leave?"
"He needs to hunt."
"Oh." Carlisle seemed relieved. "Edward. It would be okay if you wanted to go."
"I really am fine," Edward told Carlisle. "I can stay. I will be fine."
"No. Go," I said. "Please. I will only worry if you stay. Do you want me to focus on getting better, or focus on worrying about you?" He scowled at me. I knew what I had to do. I leaned towards him and picked up his phone that was on the side table. He began to protest, but I held it close to my body knowing he would not so much as touch me if he thought it could hurt me. I scrolled through the contact list until I found the number I needed.
"What are you doing?" He reached for the phone, but I pulled it back. He let me win this because he was fast enough that he could have taken it if he wanted.
"Hello," someone answered.
"Hi Emmett." Edward looked at me incredulously.
"Hey, Bella." He sounded so happy to hear me it made me smile. "It's so good to hear you. How are you feeling?"
"Much better, thank you. I'm actually calling for a favor."
"Anything. What do you need?"
"I need your help with Edward. I need you to take him hunting." Edward snatched the phone from my hand.
"Emmett," he spoke into the phone. The rest of the conversation was indecipherable. He was speaking so quickly. He hung up the phone.
"So?" He glared at me. I smiled back innocently.
"So, I'm going to go. Thanks to you, Emmett is threatening to come drag me out if I'm not home in fifteen minutes."
"Well, you better get going." Carlisle chuckled beside me as he checked machines and IVs. "I love you."
"I love you, too." He sighed heavily.
"I promise I will take care of her," Carlisle assured him. "She's right, Edward. You do need to take care of yourself as well."
"I know, I know. I won't go far. I'll be back in three hours. Just call if you need anything, and I will be back as quickly as I can. I promise."
"I know, and I appreciate it. Now, go. Your brother is probably counting down the minutes." He pressed his lips to mine before he rose and walked to the door. He looked back at me, his expression torn once more. "Go. I will see you soon." He half smiled and walked out the door.
"Thank you, Bella," Carlisle said. I looked into his eternally young face with confusion. "It means more to me than you will ever know, to see you taking care of my son. I've wanted that for him for so long."
"He's my world. I can't have it out of balance." Carlisle smiled at me, and I could see so much relief and compassion behind his eyes. I started feeling weak. "I think I need to lay back now." Carlisle did this for me. "Thank you."
"Okay. Let's run some more tests." I frowned, and he laughed. "I know, you don't like tests. This is one of the last rounds. I honestly think you're good enough to go home. Human doctors wouldn't know that yet so I have to run these tests to keep up appearances."
"I understand. I just don't like them." Carlisle looked at me with a mischievous smirk. "Well, if I could find you up walking around without knowing you were going to try it, I could speed up this process."
I nodded, shocked that this could happen so quickly. I understood what I had to do. This was going to be hard, and it was going to hurt. I was glad Edward was away. I did not want to see the anguish on his face when I was in pain. I did want someone to be there to help me though, someone who could help but not be overprotective. I knew who I wanted.
"Carlisle," I said. He looked at me expectantly. "Could I ask you for a favor?"
"Sure, Bella," he answered with his classic smile.
"Could you call Alice? I would like her here to help me."
"Not a problem. I'm going to go get something for you to balance on while I call her." He left the room. I tried to sit up on my own. I had to rest a few times before continuing. Eventually, I was sitting up with my legs hanging off the side of the bed. "That's good, Bella." He walked back in carrying crutches. "I want you to wait for Alice to get here before you get up. I think you can do it, but I want someone here that can catch you if you start to fall."
"Okay. I promise." I was determined to walk on my own, but I was not going to chance getting hurt again. Just then, Alice walked in. "Hi friend." I smiled as she danced to the bed.
"Hey, Bella," she sang. She handed me my sweat pants and a t-shirt. I smiled at her with thanks. "I was on my over when Carlisle called. I hear we get to start moving around today."
"As if you were having problems. I get to start moving around. You're going to make sure I don't get hurt again." She laughed as she put her arm around my shoulders.
"Okay. Let's get this show on the road."
"And that's my cue to leave," Carlisle said. "If you can make it to the nurse's station without Alice's help then we'll start looking at discharging you. Don't, however, overdo yourself. Alice, make sure she doesn't overdo it."
"I won't let her, Carlisle. Now go so we can get started." Carlisle smiled and left the room. "Okay. Are you ready to walk now?" I let out a long breath.
"Okay. I'm ready."
It was three hours after Edward left to go hunting. Alice and I had been walking around the hospital for the past two hours. My leg was aching, my ribs a little sore, but it felt amazing to be on my feet. I could tell as soon as we began that I had been off my feet for quite some time. It felt as if my muscles had deteriorated some, and I also felt like I had forgotten how to walk. It had taken ten minutes just to get dressed. Alice had to catch me within the first twenty seconds of standing up.
She was being very helpful. She was not pushing me to speed up or slow down. We had walked around the first floor, resting many times along the way, and were now on the second floor. I had made sure to stop at every nurse's station. I was getting out of here as soon as I could. We were turning the last corner when Alice stopped.
"What is it?" I asked when she had a distant look on her face. I waited patiently. She quietly chuckled.
"Bella, I'm going to leave you here for a minute. Edward is coming in and he's going to freak out when you're not in your room," she explained. "I'm going to go down to your room and stop him. Be right back." She walked me to the bench. I leaned against it. She fluttered away to the elevator.
I did not feel like waiting so I walked slowly toward the elevator. Alice was long gone by the time I reached the elevator. I hit the button and leaned against the wall while I waited. My legs became very heavy, and I decided it was time to sit. I slid down the wall until my legs were in front of me resting. I heard the ding of the elevator and the opening of the doors. I looked over to see Edward and Alice stepping out.
"Bella, are you okay?" Edward said as he knelt beside me. Panic was on his face. "Alice, you were supposed to make sure she didn't push too hard."
"I'm fine, Edward," I said. "My legs got tired so I decided to sit down. That's all. It's not Alice's fault." He reached and lifted me effortlessly into his arms. He pushed the elevator button. "Please. I can walk. I have been for the past two hours."
"Maybe you should take a break then. Every nurse saw you, there's no reason to overexert yourself. Carlisle has filled out the paperwork." I leaned my head against his shoulder. I was really tired now that I thought about it. I breathed in his wonderful scent. "I'm sorry I overreacted." He whispered into my ear. "I just don't want to see you hurt again."
"There's a way to fix that." I said it without thinking. His body stiffened as understanding sunk in.
"No. That is not an option." His voice was flat.
"Why do you keep putting off the inevitable?" He turned to glare at Alice with so much anger. "Don't blame Alice, Edward. I heard her say it in the studio. I dreamed about it last night." My eyes fell and my voice was edged with fear and hurt. He looked down at me with understanding, his features smoothing and softening.
"It is not inevitable. Her visions change based on decisions. She also saw you dead, and that didn't happen." He laid me onto the bed and pulled the cover over me. He sat down on the bed beside me and held my hand. Alice went to find Carlisle.
"Edward, the only thing that would hurt me to lose is you. I dream of being with you, forever. I will have my way."
"I would never take your life from you. This is how it should be. You should live a long and happy life."
"I don't want it without you. I will get my way. You're not the only vampire I know." His eyes turned black and a low growl was building in him.
"They wouldn't dare." And I believed him. "This discussion is over, Bella."
"If you think I'm giving up that easily then you don't really know me." We glowered at each other for several minutes. I could not stay mad. My face fell, and I looked down. "So where does that leave us?"
"Well," he softened, "I believe it's called an impasse."
"Well, just so you know, I'll never bet against Alice." Just then Carlisle came into the room. He was carrying a few papers and a pen.
"Bella, good news," he looked up and smiled at me. "You're being discharged." I sighed and a wide grin crossed my face. "You still have a lot of recovering to do. I'm going to come by every day to check on you, make sure you're progressing as you should.
"I already called Charlie to tell him the good news. He is getting off work early to come take you home."
"Well, I can't wait to be out of here." I sat up and leaned against Edward. He stiffened. "What is it?"
"It's Charlie," Edward said. "You knew he was blaming this on me. He's decided you don't need to see me until you start going back to school. He's calling it 'focusing on your recovery.'" I leaned back and looked at him with skepticism.
"I told him this wasn't your fault." Just then Charlie walked in. "Hey, Dad."
"Hey, Bells," he said. "Are you excited to go home?"
"You have no idea. Where's Mom?" I looked behind him to see if I had missed her.
"She's at the house; she wanted to wait there for you. Once you're home and doing well she's going to go back to Jacksonville. Home doesn't mean free reign though. You're going to focus on getting better, no distractions. Dr. Cullen will come by and check on you, but that's all the company we're going to have."
"Bells. This isn't a discussion. Dr. Cullen, what do you need from me?"
Carlisle began going over the paperwork with Charlie. He was going to do everything in his power to keep Edward away from me. I would argue with him later to keep up appearances. It was not something to worry about though. I would be in my room for most of the day and all of the night. Edward would use the window as was his custom, and he had a built-in "Charlie detector." I looked towards him and smiled. He smiled back in understanding.