Carlisle pulled his car back into his parking space, and turned off the engine to wait for Bella.
After a discussion over the phone while he was at home changing out of his work clothes, they'd agreed to meet up at the hospital.
He could tell by the tone of her voice she hadn't thought of the idea before, but, as he'd expected, jumped at it when he made the suggestion. No surprise she didn't want her father finding out she was going out with him.
She arrived after about ten minutes. He noticed her when he saw a woman climbing out of an antique pickup truck that clashed with her stylish outfit.
He stepped out of his car, "Bella!"
She startled at the sound of his voice, but turned to him with a smile.
"Dr. Cullen," she greeted as she came up to him.
"I think under the circumstances, Bella, that you should call me Carlisle," he teased as he moved around to open the passenger's side door for her.
"Well, Carlisle, you have a very nice car," she responded with a glint in her eye as she slid inside.
He moved around to his side got in, and, before starting the engine, he took a second to take in her appearance. Her black skirt hugged her body in all the right places, and her make up made her eyes look sultry. She looked different...though sexy as hell, so he wasn't complaining.
Carlisle turned the key to start the ignition, and a few minutes later they were quietly riding up Hwy 101.
As nervous as she was in his office, he'd expected she'd want to fill the silence with conversation, but, instead, she watched the sunset out the window. Carlisle himself found the drive very relaxing as he focused on the road with the occasional glance over to take in Bella's profile in the fading light. As a matter of fact, Carlisle was surprised just comfortable he became as they went along.
He'd done this many times before, been pursued by younger women and taken them up on their offers. This time, though, he found himself forgetting that's what he was doing...it was disconcerting.
The atmosphere seemed to change as they passed a marker saying they were 10 miles outside Port Angeles.
"So where were we going, again?" Bella broke the silence.
He hadn't said where they were going, but he knew that she knew it, so he didn't point the fact out.
"Well, I'm not sure what you like, but I had a place in mind called The Bloated Toad. It's a little log cabin style bistro, mostly Italian food."
She looked briefly taken back, and he wondered if she was disappointed it wasn't somewhere fancier. Though, fancier wasn't going to happen in Port Angeles. The town was just slightly bigger than Forks. Of course, she'd mentioned she hadn't grown up there so maybe she didn't know that.
He was just going over in his mind out how much longer it would take to drive into Seattle, and which places he might knew where he might be able to get a last minute reservation when she answered "That sounds great, I love that place. It's um, it's actually my favorite."
"I guess great minds think alike," he answered with a smile which she returned.
At the restaurant they were seated in a corner booth. The building looked rustic, but the cozy atmosphere inside made the place a good place to take a date.
"So, Bella. Why don't you tell me a little bit about yourself?" Carlisle said taking a sip of his iced tea. When ordering drinks he made sure to avoid brining up any reminders that Bella was under 21, and he, notably, was not.
"What do you want to know?" she asked with a shy shrug that was cute, but didn't match her provocative outfit.
"Well..." he drew out flirtatiously, "...so far I know that you're Charlie Swan's daughter, you're from Phoenix, you moved back here recently, and you're a student. So how about that? Where do you go to school?"
"UW," she answered.
"Ah, good school. What are you studying?" he asked, "Normally I might guess pre-med, but given our last conversation..."
"Ugh, please don't remind me," she laughed, "And, no, I'm not pre-med. I'm an English major.
I know, that probably sounds kind of flakey, or whatever, but-"
"What makes you say that?"
"Well, I don't know, I mean I don't really have any good reason to pick that as my major. I don't plan to be a journalist or an English teacher or anything like that. I just like reading and learning about literature," she answered.
"That sounds like a plenty good reason to me. At least I hope it is, because it's why I chose English as my major when I was in college."
"You did?" she asked, "But...you became a doctor."
"Yes, I knew I wanted to go to medical school, so I made sure to take all the necessary classes to do so, but my degree is actually in English."
"Wow, so was it hard for you when you went to medical school?" she asked.
"Not really. We'd all taken the same basic courses, and I didn't really see any noticeable difference in success rate in medical school between students who had degrees in a science and those who didn't-" he cut himself off as he realized he was starting to ramble, "Bella, this was a long time ago, you don't want to hear about this."
"Yeah I do, I mean-" she was cut off by the waitress arriving with their order. The conversation ceased as their plates were set down in front of them, so they both quietly began to eat.
"So...where did you go to school?" Bella finally asked, breaking the tension.
"Harvard," he answered.
"Wow um...that's a really good school," she commented, but followed it with a slightly nervous laugh.
"As I said, it was a long time ago," Carlisle sighed. Things were not going like they should be. Telling her that felt uncomfortable, and it seemed she'd noticed too. Though, why should he feel uncomfortable talking about his accomplishments? Normally, he wouldn't hesitate to tell the women he was with facts like that, because he knew they'd love hearing them.
"Are you from the east coast?" she valiantly kept the conversation going through his internal waffling.
"No," he answered, resolving to get it together, "I grew up in Seattle. My family's been living there for a while."
"How'd you end up in Forks?" she laughed.
He stopped his fork in the middle of the plate. She didn't know it, but they'd stumbled into another conversational mine field after just getting of the last one.
He didn't do a good job of hiding his hesitation either, since she scrambled to explain, "It just that it's usually the other way around. People who grow up in Forks want to some day move to Seattle, but there aren't many that grow up in Seattle but...move to Forks."
"No there aren't," he chuckled, "After medical school, I did my residency at a hospital in Seattle. I'd never been to Forks before, but at the end of my final year, I drove through on my way back from a weekend trip to the coast."
He paused before continuing to the next part, "My wife grew up in a small town. She liked the lifestyle. So when we stopped in Forks she fell in love with the town, and we ended up settling there."
"Oh," she answered, "So...where is she now?"
"She passed away a few years ago," he answered. So much for getting it together. Perfect way to set the mood right. Talking about the fact that he'd had a wife, and, now, that she died.
"Cancer," he answered tersely, wishing she'd stop asking questions. After all it wasn't any of her business-
His thoughts were interrupted when he felt a small hand cover his. He looked up and met Bella's eyes.
"I'm sorry," she said softly. He didn't have any response, but found he couldn't bring himself to stay annoyed so he settled for turning his hand around to squeeze hers and hopefully convey enough with the gesture.
It seemed to work as they wordlessly broke apart, and turned their attention back to their plates.
"So how do you like living in Seattle?" Carlisle asked, steering the conversation back onto a safe subject.
She answered, and the rest of the meal went more smoothly as they struck up a conversation about the style of literature she'd most recently been studying.
A/N: If the characterizations seem confusing and all over the place...good. That's exactly what I'm aiming for. It'll make more sense later.