Gentle Touches

Chapter 16 – Great Things (EPOV)

The angel woke just as I walked through the door and as Alice had predicted she immediately looked around, not noticing me standing at the door. She blinked a couple of times before her expression became worried and her heart rate increased.

When she whimpered I went quickly to her side, sitting on the bed next to her. She relaxed when she saw me and I smiled, taking one of her hands into mine. "It's okay," I whispered, "I'm here."

She gave me a small, but relieved, smile and blinked once. I smiled again and turned so I could lie down beside her. "I'm sorry I worried you," I murmured, playing my fingers through her hair. She leaned into my touch, making my smile broaden as I realised from that small action that I was forgiven.

I had to tell her what we going to do, explain it so she wouldn't be afraid, but I wanted to have this moment to ourselves. For now, it was just the two of us and even though I could hear the thoughts of my parents downstairs, they didn't matter right now.

We were both quiet, just watching the other silently. It was peaceful, but I knew it couldn't last. I sighed lightly and the girl looked at me curiously, her head tilting to the side.

I debated about how to tell her, without overwhelming her or causing her to panic. But I couldn't just dance around the topic; I needed to explain it to her straight. I shook my head. Why was I worrying so much? I didn't know that she would react negatively, for all I knew she could be quite accepting. Just because she was afraid of some things didn't mean she was afraid of everything.

"Angel," I started softly, my hand cupping her cheek, "My father wants you to try and eat something. We know that you're underweight and probably haven't eaten in awhile, but we need you to try."

She looked worried as she stared at me, her body shifting uncomfortably. I stroked her cheek soothingly, waiting for her to respond. When she did, it wasn't what I wanted. She shuddered once and shook her head minutely.

"Please, Angel," I whispered, squeezing the hand I was still holding reassuringly, "We just need you to try. It will help you get better." She looked torn, her eyes reflecting a fierce desperation. Finally, she sighed and gave me a small nod. I smiled gratefully, showing my appreciation. "Thank you, Angel."

My angel swallowed hard and clenched her eyes shut. I frowned sadly at the action. She was obviously not happy and only doing this because I asked, but it was for own good. It still didn't make me feel better though. "Hey," I soothed, stroking her hair back from her face.

She opened her eyes and gave me a shaky smile, as if she was trying to convince me she was fine with the decision, but I could see she was not. I sighed and continued to brush her hair and hold her hand, offering what comfort I could.

Edward? I waited, listening out for the rest of Carlisle's thoughts. Esme is almost finished. Will the girl be alright with me coming in there? I think it would be better; that way you can support her, otherwise you wouldn't have free hands to do both. I don't think she would be strong enough to sit up by herself.

"Of course," I answered, speaking too low for the girl to hear me. I stared at her, but she had closed her eyes again and seemed close to sleep, but somehow I knew she was still listening to me. "You're going to be alright," I murmured gently.

Her eyes flickered open and fixed on me as her fingers tightened around my hand. I smiled warmly at her, trying to ease her as the first sign of her anxiousness flooded her system. Her heart rate increased and she trembled lightly.

"Shh," I hushed her quietly, lowering my head to look her in the eye. "It's going to be okay," I said seriously, using my gaze to transmit the message to her. She calmed down, listening to my voice.

I remained focused on her, making sure she was fine while my hands still unconsciously ran through her hair, soothing her. When I was certain she was calm enough, I relaxed myself and became aware that my father was preparing to come up the stairs.

"Come on, Angel," I murmured softly, sitting up next to her and then sliding my arms around her slim body to pull her up into a sitting position. She tensed suddenly and struggled against me, tiny whimpering noises escaping her mouth as she began panicking. Berating myself for moving too fast, I stopped and tried to comfort her, my arms remaining in their hold around her.

My hand went to her cheek, stroking it carefully as I silently pleaded for her to open her eyes and look at me. "It's okay, it's okay. I'm sorry," I whispered over and over. I had forgotten, with her being so calm around me, that she was still frightful and that she didn't react well to being picked up. It was too easy to be around her now, but I was a vampire and I shouldn't have forgotten with my perfect memory.

With my mantra and calming motions, she slowly settled in my arms. Her breathing steadied and she ceased her struggling, falling limp against me. I watched her cautiously as she gathered herself and waited impatiently for her to open her eyes.

When she did, I was distraught to see there were tears pooled around their brown depths. She focused on me and they overflowed, running down her cheeks and leaving wet stains in their wake. "Hush," I soothed, my thumb wiping away the damp, salty marks and caressing her skin softly. Regret filled me as I felt the moisture on my hand. An angel shouldn't cry.

"I'm sorry, Angel," I apologised, "But I need you to sit up so you can eat something. Do you think you can do that for me?" Give her the choice, I thought. She eyed me closely, scrutinising me. I waited for her approval and thankfully she gave me a small nod of her head in consent.

Moving slowly this time, I lifted her body up and closer to mine until she was sitting with the top half of her body leaning back against me. She tried to help as much as she could, but her muscles gave out under her and so she let me do the work. Once she was sitting, she lay with her head on my shoulder and closed her eyes.

I frowned, concerned, at her. This was the most strenuous movement she had done other than struggling against us and she already seemed exhausted. She soon opened her again, though, when Carlisle opened the door.

She tensed as he entered and he paused to evaluate her reaction. When she did nothing further, he tentatively moved around to the other side of the bed to me and laid the bowl he was carrying in his hands on my bedside table before pulling up the desk chair to sit on.

"So, how are things this morning?" He started conversationally, purposefully ignoring the bowl when he noted her anxiety towards it. I smiled at his tactic. "Is everything okay?" He asked.

The girl narrowed her eyes slightly and gave a wary nod to his question. Carlisle smiled kindly at her in response, trying to assuage her nervousness. "I suppose Edward has explained to you what we want to do now?" She glanced back to me, the worry visible in her eyes, before going back to my father and nodding again. "Good," he smiled satisfied that she understood what was going on.

"Now," Carlisle began, picking the bowl up into his lap and grabbing the spoon I hadn't noticed earlier, "Do you think you could eat some of this?" He gestured to the bowl.

Again, the angel looked back to me for assurance, still clearly upset and getting more anxious by the moment. "You don't have to eat everything," I encouraged her, giving my father a fleeting look, "Just try to have some of it."

Hesitantly, she turned back to him and nodded her consent. "Alright," he said mildly as he filled the spoon with the soup before offering it to her. He held the spoon away from her, rather than in her face so she didn't feel forced and he waited patiently. I admired his way of handling her, especially considering she was more afraid of him than me.

After a moment of indecision, she leaned forward and took the spoon into her mouth. I smiled and rubbed her arm lightly in support, pleased that she was making an effort. She smiled falteringly when she saw and in turn my smile turned more sympathetic.

Carlisle waited to regain her attention and when he did, he filled the spoon again, repeating the process. The girl swallowed the mouthful more willingly this time, bringing a satisfied smile to my father's face.

I stayed quiet, but kept my hand on her arm, showing her that I was still here. She finished half of the bowl in this fashion before she shook her head at the next spoonful presented to her. My father looked to me and I caught the drift of his thoughts without him putting them into words.

"Just one more, Angel," I pushed lightly, giving her an upholding smile when she twisted to face me. Her eyes tightened and she looked like she wanted to fight me on the issue. "One more and you can rest," I reiterated, hoping for her to listen to me.

She contemplated the spoon doubtfully, a strangely tormented look on her face that caused a jerk in my chest and my hands to spasm in reaction to it its presence there. A pained furrow formed on her brow as she sighed and gulped the small mouthful of broth down.

Her head flopped back onto my shoulder with a solid thunk that I was sure had to have hurt. I winced at the sound and lifted my cold hand to rub tenderly at the spot while Carlisle picked the bowl up, placing the spoon into it.

"You did well, poppet," he reassured her, "It will take time for your appetite to come back." I felt his urge to pat her on the shoulder; an action he used to comfort his patients in the hospital when they are need, but he resisted, remembering that she didn't respond well to the physical contact.

I'll leave you to get her settled, Edward, he thought to me as he quietly left the room, carrying the half empty bowl with him. I nodded once to assure him that I would and he smiled before closing the door behind him.

"Let's get you laid back down, sweetheart," I murmured. She didn't respond, her eyes already closed as I manoeuvred her body gently so she was lying on her side again and then laid myself beside her.

My hand pressed against her cheek carefully and her eyes drifted open to stare at me questioningly. I smiled affectionately and the pads of my fingers traced invisible patterns on her skin. A small smile touched the corners of her mouth as she turned into my palm and her eyes slid shut.

I watched her face relax as she fell asleep and I admired her peaceful beauty. I could stare at her for an eternity, looking into her deep, expressional, brown eyes. I wanted to be able to hear her voice, have her talk to me and confide in me. I wanted her to trust me.

I jolted my head back and forth, ridding my mind of those thoughts. I shouldn't want that; it was bad for her to be near me. But I couldn't avoid her, either, not when I had promised myself and her that I would help her. I was torn between what I wanted and what was best for her. And still I didn't understand my desires.

The girl shuffled in her sleep, moving just that inch closer to me that I could feel the heat of her body radiating off and warming my cold, hardened skin. And I knew I couldn't let her go. Something in me was drawn to this child and somehow, I knew that I couldn't live without her. I couldn't imagine not having her around.

And that scared me. I hardly knew this girl. Really, I knew nothing about her other than something bad had obviously happened and she was in need of help. And that I desired to be the one to provide that help.

So for that reason, I would stay, against my better judgement, I would follow what my heart wanted most: to be near the girl. And I could hear Alice's voice in my head as I came to that decision.

I see great things in your future, Edward. Trust me when I say this; you will not regret it.

Despite the anxiety for what things she could possibly mean, I found that I didn't regret anything. My heart was singing with the thought of the time that I would be able to spend with my angel.

But I wasn't sure if that was a good thing.

Author's Note:

Hey guys, I am so sorry for such a late update. I honestly never meant to go this long leaving you hanging, time just got away from me a bit after Christmas and before I knew it, I was back at Uni and loaded down with yet more assignments.

I also apologise for not sending out the preview as I promised, but as I had this chapter already written, I figured you would prefer a whole chapter than a teaser.

So, what do you think? I know Edward is a bit angsty and doom and gloom, self-deprecating etc but that will change, I promise. They finally got her to eat! ;D I'm sure the next chapter will be a bit of a surprise as well for people.

I think this story is going to be much longer than I intended it to be, but I promise I will finish writing this before I go back and start to do the rewrite on it. Feel free to point out any mistakes, ideas for improvement, things that don't make sense etc. I will make notes to include them in the rewrite.

Reviews please! ;D I look forward to hearing what you all have to say about this new chapter. If I can, reviewers will get a tease.

Thank you for reading!


animal8 xx