Disclaimer- Stephenie Meyer owns, not me.
My foot pressed the gas pedal of the Corolla. It felt good to drive, again. I passed Newton's Olympic Outfitters and the café that had recently been bought by the Cheney family.
I saw Mike getting out of his car with his little girl. His wife, Lisa, was standing beside him, and her belly was expanding. I couldn't happier for him.
I took the turn off to the hospital and parked. I crossed the street watching out for oncoming traffic. The information desk knew who I was and waved me through. I went to the nurse's station in the ER and left a Gladware container of spaghetti with red sauce and another smaller one with marinated green beans.
"Hi, Jessica," I said, seeing my old friend. A new diamond sparkled on her left ring finger. She smiled when she saw me. "I wanted to drop this off for Edward. I know how he just goes and goes and doesn't think to eat, especially on fasting days."
"Oh, he'll be here in a minute," Jessica said, grinning. "Sooner than you think." A hand rested on my shoulder.
"You are a complete angel," a velvet voice said behind me. "I love you."
I turned around to a pair of emerald green eyes. There were years behind them- years I could love and sacrifice between two people. I was genuinely happy when I looked into them.
"I just had some left over food from lunch for Charlie," I said.
"I doubt it," he said. He kissed me.
"Get a room, you two!" somebody shouted in the background.
"When are you leaving for Chicago?" he asked.
"My publisher said Friday," I said. "I'll be there for a week."
"How will I survive?" he sighed. "Better yet, how will Charlie?"
"I know, I know," I said.
"My Mom and Dad have a bed open for you at their new house," Edward said. "If the hotel is too impersonal."
"I know," I said. Liz and Tony had retired from their mission work with the WHO and had a new house in Chicago for the summers and had bought a house on the Olympic Peninsula for the winters.
Alice and Angela had helped me sign over 1000 copies of my book this week. It was on the New York Times Bestseller List, and there were major talk shows that wanted me to guest about my experience as a victim of strokes and an author, one major one was filmed in Chicago.
"The guys have a poker game on Tuesday nights, we'll invite Charlie," Edward said.
"No cheating, alright?"
"We won't cheat him… too badly," he said. "Call me when you're gone."
"I'll miss you," I said, taking his hand.
He kissed me on the temple. "Maybe I'll have a present for you when you get back," he said. "Something hard, clear and shiny that goes on your left hand," he said, grinning.
"Maybe," I said. It was a conversation we had had several times.
"I'll even play the piano for you," he said.
"You play it every time I spend the night," I scoffed.
"I have to go, now, Isabella," he said. "I love you."
And I was happy- no bitterness, no resentment any longer. As I bade Edward good-bye, I went back to my car in the parking lot and climbed in. I slammed the door, and one of the copies of my book fell open to the dedication page.
To my family and friends; I am so thankful for your support and patience with me. I know I am not the easiest person to get along with, especially during one of the worst things that ever happened to me.
And E- thank you so much for your forgiveness. I love you so much, no matter what happens, I'm so grateful you've been in my life- forever.
I reached over and turned the book over so I could see the title just one more time. Yes, I was proud of it.
The Memory Will Never Die: A Memoir of a Young Stroke Victim by Isabella Swan
The light turned green and I started back to Charlie's house to finish packing for a week. Charlie was enjoying his retirement, too. I pulled onto the road. The weather was overcast, but the future was bright, yet not clear. It never was, but I didn't never had to be.