Title: A Slip Down Memory Lane
Pen name: SweetDulcinea
Characters: Edward, Bella, Garrett, Kate
Disclaimer: Twilight and all recognizable characters are property of Stephenie Meyer. No copyright infringement is intended. This little story is all mine =)
To see the rest of the entries in this contest, please visit the FML C2: http://www . fanfiction . net/community/FML_Contest_Fics/77195/ (remove spaces for link to work)
Summary: Edward fell hard & fast for Bella, but his fight with her brother ended their relationship. When Bella falls hard & fast on the ice, a trip to the ER brings them back together. That is until an epic misunderstanding…
Notes: Many thanks to keepingupwiththekids and Chele681 for beta expertise. Additional gratitude to my sister, whose experience as an ER doctor made this so much better! The album Clarity that Bella & Edward listen to is by Jimmy Eat World. It's magical.
I don't know which came first – the sickening crunch or the searing pain. I stumbled back from the impact, but managed to catch myself before I could fall. The unmistakable iron taste of blood dripped over my lips, and I reached my hand up cautiously to wipe it away.
"Get the fuck out of here before I kill you, you fucking creep," Garrett snarled at me. Still feeling a little disoriented, I didn't object, but I felt the frustrated anger boiling within me.
Glancing back at the bed to check on Bella, I saw Kate patting her cheek and repeating her name. She looked up at me with an accusatory glare. "What did you give her? She won't wake up."
I was in no condition to argue about any of this; I knew it looked bad, and they weren't going to listen to reason. My gaze lingered on Bella for just a moment, and then I grabbed my coat from the floor. I didn't want to stick around to find out if her brother was going to attack me again. I had no desire to add a broken jaw to my injuries.
"I didn't give her anything," I said sharply, reaching into my coat pocket and pulling out the two prescription bottles we had picked up at the pharmacy. "But the doctor did." With that, I threw them at Garrett and heard them clatter to the floor.
"What happened to her?" he demanded, but I didn't turn around.
"Maybe you would know that if either of you had listened to her voicemails." Leaving was the last thing I wanted to do, but there wasn't any choice left in that matter. "And be careful with her wrist and leg," I added as I pulled the door closed behind me, defeated.
7 hours earlier…
It was a typical Saturday night, or at least I thought so. I had just eaten dinner with a few of my fraternity brothers, and I was making a stop at the ATM before returning to our house to get ready for a night out. I learned quickly to take cash to the bar and leave my credit cards at home, so I was going to pull forty bucks out of my account. I parked on the curb and carefully stepped out of my car. It was cold as hell, even for January, and everything was covered in ice and snow.
I rounded my car and approached the machine, where a slim woman bundled in a gray wool jacket and a bright purple hat stood with her back to me.
Wait…I know that hat.
She turned toward me just as her identity registered.
"Oh!" she gasped in surprise. I couldn't quite tell if it was because she was startled to find someone behind her, or if it was that I was the person on the sidewalk with her. "Edward…hi," she said uneasily.
She looked gorgeous. I hadn't spoken to Bella since the fall semester, and the only time I had seen her since this term began was from a distance. I couldn't help but stare at the long, mahogany hair that cascaded over her shoulders or the chilled red of her cheeks from the brisk weather.
"Bella," I replied, realizing a beat too late that my voice was laced with reverence and desire. It wasn't as though I could help the way I felt about her. Not after what we had shared. Cautiously, I spoke again. "How have you been? Did you have a nice Christmas?"
"Umm, good…and yes. We had family in town." Her tone was hesitant, unsure. Was that because she didn't wish to speak to me? Or was it more? Did she miss me the way I missed her?
We spoke at the same moment, but both stopped immediately. I wanted to take a step closer, but my feet were glued in place. My eyes darted to the ground before I mustered the nerve to look her in the eyes again.
"What were you saying?" I asked.
"I…I'm not sure," she admitted, laughing with embarrassment. "You?"
"Uh, nothing important. Never mind." I stepped around her, moving toward the ATM. She was clearly uncomfortable, and since she was the one who had broken things off with me, I wasn't going to be pushy.
To my surprise, she seemed disappointed, mumbling a goodbye and shuffling away. I heard her cry out just as I was about to put my card in the machine, but by the time I whipped around, it was too late to help her. I watched Bella slip across the icy sidewalk, crashing to the ground and landing at an awkward angle. She was sort of on her butt, with her leg bent, and her left arm partially under her body from trying to catch her fall.
"Oh, shit, Bella!" I exclaimed, rushing over and kneeling next to her. "Are you all right?"
"I don't know," she cringed, sitting up. "I think…maybe."
I extended my hands, taking hers to help her stand.
"Ow!"" she yelped, pulling her left hand away from mine. I moved to her right side and wrapped my arm around her waist instead, lifting her. She stood, then buckled slightly when she tried to put pressure on her feet.
"What is it?" I asked.
"I did something to my leg…and my arm," she winced.
I kept my arm around her, ignoring how awkward this should have been and focusing on her injuries. I took her left hand again.
"Can you move your wrist?"
Her hand wiggled minutely, but there was no substantial movement. "No," she whimpered.
"All right, it's okay," I reassured her. "Can you walk?" She tried to take a few steps and collapsed against me. I firmly held her upright.
"It really hurts. I think I pulled something, or maybe ripped something, I don't know." Looking at her face, I saw that she was fighting back tears.
"There's something wrong with your wrist, too. You need to go to the ER."
"Ugh," she groaned. "Not even a month into the semester and headed to the hospital. All right, let me call my brother and Kate so they can pick me up."
"Bella, that's ridiculous," I said immediately, shaking my head. "It's freezing out here, and it would take them at least ten or fifteen minutes to get here right now. I'll drive you."
"No buts. You can call them on the way. Once they come, I'll leave you with them, okay?"
Her forehead creased and her eyes flashed with something unreadable, but she finally nodded her ascent. I tightened my grip on her waist and pretty much carried her to my car, tucking her into the passenger seat carefully.
Bella was the one who had broken up with me. I had pleaded with her to forgive me for what happened, to try and understand the circumstances, but in the end, it didn't matter. She told me goodbye with a stony gaze, teeth clenched and jaw tight. Her watery eyes couldn't be hidden, though, no matter how hard she held back her tears. She was upset with me, she was upset about the situation, and most of all, I knew she was upset about ending our too-brief relationship.
We had met last semester in our Introduction to Literary Study class. As a two-hundred level course, most of the students were sophomores and a few freshman. I was the lone junior there, having changed my major in the middle of sophomore year when I realized how unhappy I was pursuing a business degree. Bella stood out to me immediately. There were around fifty people in the class, and she sat in the middle of the room, on the side closest to the windows. Her seat was obscured from the view of most of the other students, but still in a place where the professor would notice and call on her. Whenever she spoke, it was with confidence in the class material or whatever the current topic of discussion had been. She was passionate about literature, and she was quick, sharp, and ready to argue her point at any given moment.
Nonetheless, she didn't seem to have any good friends in the class. She was personable and friendly toward everyone, but she didn't sit and gossip idly with anyone before class like most of the other girls. Bella was always focused on a novel, text, or notebook, prepared for class to begin.
After a few class sessions, I chose to sit behind her a few seats over so that I could discreetly keep her in my view. I would listen to her responses in class with rapt attention, hanging on every word she spoke. I had watched her carefully, studying her little quirks and movements, from the way she bit her lip when she was thinking to her habit of pulling her hair back into a messy ponytail while taking serious notes.
A month into the semester, I finally resolved to end my stalker tendencies and took the seat beside her. She looked up at me with a brief smile when she noticed my presence, and the pink blush that lit her cheeks caused my heart to beat hard in my chest. It turned out to be a great day to make my first move because our professor announced an upcoming group project. Everyone in class quickly made their clusters of three as Bella and I looked around hesitantly. She was a bit of a loner, and I had been so preoccupied with her for the first four weeks of class that I hadn't actually made any friends there. That left the two of us as the odd ones out. Professor Platt walked around the room, marking down the groupings. When she came to us, she noted the uneven number and assumed that we planned to work together. She asked if we wanted to split and each join another group or if we wished to work in a pair, even though it would be a bit more work for each of us. I quickly told her I would be fine with a smaller group, looking toward Bella for approval. Her eyes were wide and sparkling with something that gave me hope, and she nodded, agreeing to be my partner.
I snapped out of my memory when we arrived at the hospital. Thankfully, it was no longer snowing, but the air was bitter cold. After parking, I went around to help Bella out of the car. She cringed when she put weight on her injured leg, so I lifted her into my arms.
"Edward, stop!" she protested weakly. "I can walk."
Ignoring her, I began walking toward the ER entrance. "It would take us ten minutes to get inside with the way you're hobbling. Just let me help you." I wouldn't tell her how good it felt to have her body pressed so close to mine or how she smelled exactly as I remembered. The floral scent of her shampoo wafted through the cold air, filling my nostrils and taking me back to a time when she had welcomed this kind of closeness.
But she was hurt, and I needed to focus on helping her instead of being distracted by my memories. I set her in a chair away from other people and proceeded to the check-in area to gather her paperwork.
"You really don't have to stay," she insisted, taking the clipboard and pen from me. "I'll be fine on my own until my brother or Kate arrives."
"That's ridiculous. Neither of them answered your calls. You have no idea how long this will take or when they'll get here. I'm not just going to leave you alone," I stated, allowing no room for misunderstanding. She was hurt; I couldn't leave her, even if I wanted.
"You're being too nice," she sighed.
I angled myself toward her and looked into her eyes. I wanted to tell her that there was nowhere else I would rather have been, that I hated the circumstances, yet treasured the opportunity to see and speak to her, but that's not what I said. "Would you prefer that I left?" I asked quietly, bracing myself for possible rejection.
She was silent for a long moment, but she did not look away. Her expression softened, and she appeared almost…vulnerable. "No," was all she said before she looked away, resuming her work filling out the stack of papers in her hands.
We didn't speak for the next twenty or so minutes as she scribbled furiously and checked her phone for any returned calls or texts. I eventually gave in to my boredom and scrolled through my email on my phone. When she finished, I took the clipboard and returned it to the receptionist. She asked me a few questions and checked over the paperwork, eventually telling me that she would call Bella back when a doctor was available.
"How's your arm?" I asked as I sat back down. I carefully took her hand and pushed back the sleeve of her jacket. "This is pretty thick. Can I help you take it off so I can get a better look?" She agreed, and I stood, carefully helping her pull her good arm from one side, and then guiding the remainder of her jacket gently over her injured arm.
I removed my jacket as well, and we piled our winter gear on an empty chair beside her. I picked up her arm once more, gently moving her sweater so that I could examine it. An ugly purple bruise marred her skin, and her wrist looked slightly swollen. She flinched and hissed when I touched her wrist, but she didn't have the same kind of pain when I moved my fingers up her forearm.
"I think it's broken, but I don't know anything about that stuff."
She nodded in agreement and drew her arm into her side, away from my grasp. I released her willingly, but my mind protested.
I was struggling with my thoughts. I wanted so desperately to talk to her about us. So many things had been left unfinished and unsaid, cut off abruptly by the breakup. This didn't really feel like the best time, though. Then again, we were essentially alone, save for the other people in the waiting area, but none of them knew us or our history. Would she talk about it if I tried, or was it best to leave well enough alone?
"So how have you been?"
Her question caught me off guard, and I angled myself toward her once more. She mirrored my actions, wincing slightly when her leg shifted. I reached out, but she quickly settled into a comfortable position.
"Well, okay, I guess. All four of my classes are department courses since I'm trying to catch up on my major credits. This semester is going to be pretty reading and writing intensive," I explained.
"Wow, that's crazy," she said, her eyes concerned. "You're going to be busy. Well, I'm sure you already have been, even just a few weeks in. I only have one class for my major this semester," she added.
"Yeah? I was actually surprised that you weren't in any of mine this time. I mean, the chances seemed likely…" I drifted off, not sure how she would take my admission. I had been extremely disappointed when I realized I wouldn't be seeing Bella around the English Department this spring. The first day of each class, I had arrived early and waited, watching the door to see if she would enter, but she never did. At the same time, it probably would have been torturous to have to see her on a regular basis and be faced with her rejection every day.
Her expressive eyes flashed with something akin to compassion and understanding, effectively taking my breath away. The way she looked at me had always felt so deep and passionate, and I was surprised to see that now. For a moment, I held onto the hope, or perhaps wishful thinking, that she still felt something for me. My hand rose instinctively to brush across her cheek, but I pulled back before making contact. It was too late, though. Her eyes darted to my retreating hand, then looked down at her lap.
"Do you still have Clarity on your iPhone?" she asked out of the blue, surprising me yet again.
"Umm, yeah," I muttered, not sure how else to respond after our tense moment. "Did you want to listen?"
"If you don't mind. I'm a little antsy," she admitted. "I think some music could help me calm down."
"Of course." I pulled my phone back out and plugged the earbuds in, handing her one and positioning the other in my ear. I found the album and began it at a volume that allowed us to hear the music clearly but still not distract from the world around us.
I was taken aback that she suggested this particular band and album, given its place in our past. I had always been a fan of the band, long before they garnered any mainstream attention, but that album remained my favorite. The lyrics and melodies were emotionally driven and powerful, and I could easily lose myself in the music.
Bella had first heard it one night when we were studying for an exam together in my room. It was past midterms, and we had become pretty good friends and study partners. Our group project had granted us the opportunity to get to know one another well, and since then, we had continued to grow closer. The progression was natural and exciting for me. I didn't want to push or force anything, so I just let it play out. I could tell that she was feeling something more for me than friendship by the lingering looks and subtle brushes of our hands whenever we were together. We sat closer, spoke more intimately, and got to know each other well beyond our studies. I wanted more, but I waited for the perfect moment. Just like that, it came to us on its own.
Music played softly on my stereo as we quizzed one another and discussed the content of our upcoming essay test. I could tell that we were both nearing exhaustion of the subject, and I got up from the couch to get us something to drink. When I returned, Bella had removed her books from her lap and sat with her feet propped on the coffee table. I took a chance and stretched out on the couch with my head in her lap.
"I like this music," she commented, running her fingers through my hair.
As the album continued, we remained that way, only speaking in short phrases, simply listening to the enchanting melodies. It was the kind of music you could get lost in, and we both did.
To my utter delight, she asked me to make room for her beside me thirty or so minutes later. I gladly welcomed her in my arms as we entwined ourselves on the narrow sofa. She was completely wrapped up in me, as I was her, and her body partially laid over mine. We stared at one another, chancing gentled caresses and stroking each other's hair. She was soft and welcoming and pure bliss pressed against me. As the singer asked if we could feel the butterflies, she tipped her head toward mine, pressing our lips together for the first time. It was slow…soft…perfect.
"Can you still feel the butterflies? Can you still hear the last goodnight?"
I didn't realize I was singing along to the music until Bella giggled. I hadn't realized she was leaning on me until that moment either. What a shame. I had been so lost in my memories that I barely registered her nearness and comfort with me. Perhaps because it felt so natural, even after two months apart. Well, that and the vividness of the wonderful memory.
"Sorry about that," I said coughing and shifting nervously. I was more embarrassed about randomly bursting into song in the middle of the waiting room than I wanted to admit.
Much to my disappointment, Bella lifted her head from my shoulder and looked up at me. "Don't be sorry. I like your singing." Her words made my stomach jump, and I felt like maybe, just maybe, some of the tension between us was dissolving.
"I guess I forgot where I was for a little while," I admitted.
"It's okay. Me too," she said, smiling slightly. "It's been so long since I've listened to this. I forgot how much I like it."
"Don't you still have that copy I burned for you?" I asked.
Her eyes fell to her lap and she shook her head. "Well, I do…"
"I don't know," she shrugged. "Too many memories, I guess."
I wanted her to say more, to tell me what memories exactly she meant, and to find out if they were the same things I was remembering, but she didn't. She had reverted back into herself, and I was left alone and wondering what had happened. Once again, we stared into the bland, sterile waiting room and simply listened to the music as it continued to play. I wanted her to rest her head on my shoulder again or to let me put my arm around her. I longed for her to reach out and clasp my hand with hers, but none of those things happened. We simply sat unspeaking until someone finally called her back to an exam room fifteen minutes later.
The nurse had brought out a wheelchair for Bella, and after I helped her into it, I returned to my seat.
"What are you doing?" she asked, looking back at me as the nurse turned her away.
"Uhh…waiting?" I said, unsure of myself.
"Please come back with me."
Dumbfounded and secretly delighted, I nodded, standing to follow them to her room. She wanted me to stay with her, and whether that was because she had no one else at the moment or that it was me, I honestly didn't care. I would have followed her anywhere.
Once the nurse took her vitals and made a few notes on Bella's chart, we were left alone in the exam room. She was sitting up in the bed, and I was nearby in a stiff metal chair. We looked at each other, both seemingly unsure of what to do or say now that we were alone. This felt different from the busy waiting room, even though it had been filled with strangers.
"Does it hurt much?" I asked for lack of anything better to say. My concern was genuine, but I knew it was a stupid question. Of course it hurt.
"It's manageable, as long as I don't move," she said, looking down at me. "I've broken bones and been in the ER for all sorts of stuff before, so I know it could be much worse. I'm a bit of a klutz."
I chuckled, remembering the way she used to stub her toes and drop things all the time. I always found it endearing. "Yeah, I remember, but I didn't know it was this bad."
"Well, you just haven't known me long enough," she laughed back. "Thanks, by the way."
"You know. Being there, bringing me to the hospital, keeping me company."
"This is much more interesting than anything else I'd be doing tonight," I replied. Had I not run into Bella, I would have gone to the bar, gotten drunk, and stumbled back home to sleep it off. Not exactly a unique evening for a college guy.
"Speaking of which, can you hand me my purse?" she asked. "I want to try to call Garrett again."
I picked up the simple black bag from beside my chair and handed it to her. She attempted a few more calls and left voicemails for both Garrett and Kate since neither had answered. Huffing in frustration, she placed the phone back in her purse and set it aside.
Just as I was about to speak again, the doctor came into the room.
"Hello, Isabella. I'm Dr. Cullen," he said, glancing up from her chart with a friendly smile. "How are you feeling at the moment?"
"Just Bella, please," she said politely. "I'm…okay. I've broken my arm before, but this feels different. It's throbbing pretty badly, and it really hurts when I bump it. I have no idea what happened in my leg, but that feels like fire when I move it at all."
Her descriptions left me feeling unsettled. She was obviously in much more pain that she shared with me, but for whatever reason, she was hiding it. I had to wonder why she would do that.
The doctor carefully pushed back Bella's sleeve and examined her swollen hand and wrist. He turned it over carefully, applying pressure and asking her about the pain.
"Hmm, yes, you've done some damage here. It could just be a sprain, but I think it's more. Given your level of swelling and pain, I believe there's a fracture. It's difficult to say just yet. Most likely an anatomical snuff box injury from the fall you described in your paperwork. We'll have to get that x-rayed."
"What does that mean?" I asked, immediately feeling like an ass for interrupting. Bella glanced at me, but she didn't appear upset. I cleared my throat. "Excuse me…Edward Masen," I said, introducing myself. He nodded at me with a small affirmative smile before continuing.
"It's an outstretched hand injury, which is fairly common in spills like Bella's." He held out his own hand and traced a line back from his thumb to show us. "The scaphoid is here, just above the radius, which seems to be where most of the pain is coming from."
We both nodded in understanding.
"All right, dear, I'd like you to change into a hospital gown so that I can examine your leg before we send you off. I'll have a nurse bring you something for the pain." He jotted down a few notes, and then looked back and forth between us. "Can your friend help you get changed, or would you like the nurse to assist you with that?"
Bella's eyes met mine, and I watched her cheeks fire with color at the suggestion. "Umm…" she hummed uneasily. "I…"
Before she could say anything more, I stood and accompanied Dr. Cullen out of the room. "I'll wait out here, Bella. I'll come back when the nurse is finished…or I don't have to if you don't want." For all I knew, she wouldn't want me anywhere near her if she was only dressed in a hospital gown.
"No, please come back," she said meekly. I nodded, giving her a half smile and retreating to the hall.
The doctor turned to me when the door was closed. "I take it she's not your girlfriend then?"
"My ex," I clarified.
"Ahh," he nodded thoughtfully. "Well, it's obvious you still care for her or you wouldn't be here. I'm sure she's very appreciative." He placed a hand on my shoulder and gave me a few reassuring pats. "I'll take good care of her, don't worry."
The gesture was almost fatherly, and I found that I really appreciated that. As much as Bella had been downplaying her suffering to me, I had been hiding my true level of concern for her. It was comforting to know that she was now in good hands.
I watched Dr. Cullen pass his chart to a nurse who disappeared down a hall and came back with a tray holding a pill cup and some water. She smiled as she passed me and entered Bella's room.
As I waited, I found myself wondering where the hell her brother was right now. I had to assume that Kate, Bella's roommate and Garrett's girlfriend, would be with him, considering that they were both unreachable. It had been several hours since she first called, and it bothered me that she had heard nothing back from either of them.
I knew that most of my disdain for Garrett's absence tonight had to do with the breakup. I hadn't ever made the connection between Bella and Garrett until the night everything blew up. During the time she and I spent getting to know each other, Bella mentioned that she had a brother. I knew he went to the same university, but the details on him were limited. We had far too much to learn about one another at that time, and we were completely wrapped up in our whirlwind relationship.
If I had known that Garrett was Bella's brother, I would have handled everything so differently, and maybe our relationship wouldn't have ended. No matter what the rivalries were between our fraternities, I'm sure we could have come to an understanding where Bella was concerned. The entire thing was stupid, really. A year prior, a baseball player pledged my fraternity. The problem was that nearly the entire baseball team were Chi Phis, but it went beyond that. This particular pledge was also a legacy whose dad happened to have been president of their fraternity when he was in college. People tend to get possessive over their legacies, and this was no exception. They felt like we "stole" him, and there were pledge pranks, fights, and a number of other problems between the two houses for the remainder of the year. Tension carried over into junior year, and that was what eventually led to the fiasco that ended my relationship with Bella.
"You can go back in now," Bella's nurse said to me as she exited the room. I pushed myself off the wall I'd been leaning against and shook off the lingering thoughts of last semester. I thanked her and cautiously went to the door.
"Bella?" I asked, knocking, but not looking into the room.
"Come on in. I'm covered," she assured me. When I lifted my eyes, I saw that she had a blanket draped over her lap.
We spoke idly for a few minutes until Dr. Cullen returned to examine her leg. I tried not to stare at the expanse of bare flesh, but it was difficult to keep my eyes off her, especially when I knew what she looked like completely unclothed.
"I'll have your leg x-rayed as well to be sure there's no bone damage, and we'll run some blood tests to check for muscle damage," the doctor explained in a warm but clinical manner. "Someone will be in to transfer you, and then you'll likely be in the hands of our orthopedist. Is there anything I can do for you before you go?"
"No, I don't think so," Bella replied politely. "Thank you for your help."
"Of course, dear," he said smiling.
"Thank you," I echoed.
As promised, Bella was moved shortly after and taken for her x-rays. I excused myself to take a short walk and work off some of my energy. Sitting in the hospital for so long had made me anxious, and being with Bella didn't make things any better. I wanted to be close to her, but I also needed a break to collect my thoughts.
During my walk, I located a café and bought a slew of snacks, drinks, and a couple cups of coffee before returning to the waiting area in a new part of the hospital. A receptionist alerted me when Bella had been placed into another room, and I went to join her there.
It was clear as soon as we began to talk that the painkiller Bella had been given was beginning to take effect. She was much more relaxed and slightly distant, but she maintained conversation with me. Time passed slowly, but being with Bella, I didn't mind. She told me about her classes this semester, and I shared about all of mine as well. Some of our conversations reminded me of why I fell for her – unassuming wit, a dry sense of humor, her brilliant smile. She simply wrecked me, and I was afraid of how I would feel tomorrow when this fiasco was over and we went back to being…nothing.
Doctors and nurses came in and out of the room sporadically. Bella's wrist was broken, as Dr. Cullen has suspected, and it would need to be set in a cast. There were no fractures in her leg, but the blood test showed that her enzyme levels were extremely high due to a muscle tear in her quadriceps. Someone came and wrapped her thigh tightly in an Ace bandage, and again I was left staring at Bella's gorgeous bare legs. The only thing that kept me in line was the way she cringed during the wrapping process. She would have to be on crutches for at least three days.
Eventually, she fell asleep waiting for someone to put a cast on her wrist. She had asked to listen to music again, so I gave her the earbuds and moved my chair closer to her bed. As she enjoyed the music, I leaned on the side of the mattress, reading on my phone to pass the time.
Finally, after hours in the hospital, Bella was released, and I was helping her back into my car. I stopped at a twenty-four hour pharmacy near the hospital and had her prescriptions for Percocet and Flexeril filled before we returned to campus. I gave her one of the muscle relaxers with a bottle of water and tucked the two bottles into my coat pocket for safekeeping. She was in and out of consciousness as I drove, and I couldn't begrudge her that. Not only was she suffering, it was also very late – nearly the time when people would be returning home from the bar and parties. I was quite exhausted myself.
I pulled into the parking lot of her dorm and looked over at her. She was asleep, and I couldn't help watching her for a few moments. Even after all she had been through, she was serene. Her bottom lip, that was just a bit bigger than the top one, jutted out in a sweet pout. Her chest rose and fell in a steady rhythm. She looked peaceful.
Not wanting to interrupt, I opened her purse and fished out her keys. When my hand brushed across her phone, I opened it, not to snoop, but to see if her brother had called. The displayed showed that there were no missed calls or texts, so I put it back immediately.
I knew this was going to take me two trips, so I left Bella's crutches in the backseat. I moved around to her side of the car and lifted her out, much like I had when we arrived at the ER earlier in the night. Thankfully, the dorms on campus used an ID swipe instead of keys, so I was able to wave her card in front of the sensor and unlock the door easily. I silently thanked her for keeping her student ID attached to her keychain. Last semester, I had only been to her room twice, but I remembered where it was. I carefully climbed the flight of stairs to the second floor and proceeded toward her door. Again, I got lucky because there was a girl coming out of the bathroom in her pajamas as I fiddled with the keys.
"Hey, would you mind giving me a hand?" I asked pleadingly.
"Uh, sure," she said uneasily, taking the keys from my hand. "Is she all right?"
"She fell on the ice. I'm just bringing her home from the hospital, and the drugs knocked her out," I explained.
"Wow, that sucks," the girl commented, swinging the door open for me. When I saw that Kate was not home, I laid Bella on her bed with meticulous care and turned back toward the girl.
"Angela," she supplied.
"Nice to meet you, Angela. I'm Edward." I extended my hand and she shook it. "Would you mind staying with her while I run back to my car and get her crutches? I don't want to leave her alone just yet."
She agreed, and I ran outside to collect her crutches and purse, checking my pocket to make sure the pill bottles were still there. I also grabbed the water I had given Bella and brought all those items back inside with me.
Angela smiled when I returned, excusing herself with a yawn. I thanked her again as she walked out of the room, closing the door behind her.
"Edward?" Bella mumbled as I flicked off the overhead lights and turned on a softer lamp. I returned to her side and sat on the edge of the bed.
"I'm here. You okay?" I asked.
She rubbed her eyes and spoke to me groggily as she sat up to face me. "Am I home?"
"Yep. We just got back." I stroked her shoulder lightly. "Do you need anything?"
"Help me with my coat," she mumbled.
I removed the jacket for the second time that night, tossing it onto her desk chair. Then I bent down and slipped off her shoes as well.
When I sat back up, she shocked me by throwing her arms around my shoulders and pulling me close to her. "Thank you for taking care of me," she slurred. Her lips were suddenly against mine, moving though mine were frozen.
Not like this. Not like this. Not like this.
But God, did I want that kiss.
"Bella, stop," I said, putting some distance between us. "We can't do this. You're so looped up on medication that you probably won't even remember me being here in the morning. I won't take advantage of you."
"You didn't mind taking advantage of me when I was drinking," she giggled, tugging on the zipper of my jacket.
"That was different," I said as she pushed my coat off my shoulders with her good hand. Despite my protests, I shrugged it off and let it fall to the floor.
"For one thing, there's a huge difference between a few beers and prescription narcotics," I said. "For another, you were my girlfriend then."
With that statement, my mind slipped back to the place I had been trying to avoid since I ran into her earlier. The night that began like a dream come true and ended in disaster.
For the first time in three years, I was taking a girlfriend to the date party at my fraternity house. The Alpha Sigs hosted one each semester – a semi-formal before Christmas and a theme party in the spring – and any girl I had ever brought was just someone to hang out with for the night. So even though it had only been three weeks since that first kiss with Bella and the official beginning our relationship, I was really excited to have her there with me.
She looked beautiful in a simple blue cocktail dress and her hair pinned back with sparkly combs. She didn't overdo things like some of the girls at the party, but to me, she was the most gorgeous one there. We had a nice dinner at the house, and then the pledges put on the traditional "talent show" while the brothers and all the dates watched and drank. Afterward, things would be a bit more casual with music for dancing while beer pong and flip cup tables were set up nearby.
Bella sat on my lap in the crowded Chapter Room, sipping her beer and turning back to kiss me every few minutes. We laughed together at the antics, and I enjoyed the opportunity to keep my hands on her hips, lightly rubbing along her sides.
Even though we had spent most of the semester getting to know one another, we didn't jump into bed together immediately. She had stayed overnight with me a few times, and we had fooled around a little, but with roommates, our opportunities were limited.
There was just something about being dressed up and the formality of having her there as my date that had an effect on both of us. We joined some of my friends and their girls on the dance floor, but all the kissing and touching soon became unbearable.
"Let's go up to your room," she had whispered to me, pressing her body close to mine. I didn't object and led her through the house until we were in my bedroom, door locked and secure.
We climbed into my bed, obscured by the enclosed loft for privacy. We were tearing at each others clothes as we moved, both silently understanding that the moment had come. Neither of us had drank too much, so it wasn't some flippant decision. That energy had been crackling in the air around us all night, and it was time.
I will never forget the way our bodies moved together, rocking in blissful synchronicity as little cries and moans of pleasure fell from our lips and filled the air around us. I kissed her as much as I could, whispering how beautiful and perfect she was to me. Her hands exploring my back felt like Heaven, clinging to me as if she couldn't get close enough. I understood the feeling and tried to show her that it was the same for me.
Afterward, I felt euphoric. We had lain together in my bed for a while, talking, touching, and kissing. When we finally grew tired of the rattling and banging on the door by our drunken friends, we reluctantly dragged ourselves out and put on our dress clothes once more. Bella's hair wasn't quite as smooth as it had been and my shirt and tie were slightly rumpled, but it didn't matter. We were both far too consumed in our little bubble of afterglow, and enjoying each other's company for the remainder of the night was all we cared about.
By the time we emerged, the date party was essentially over, and many other people filled the house. We grabbed a couple beers and headed back downstairs to the basement. We chatted with a few people along the way, laughing and having a good time. While speaking to one of the other brothers and his girlfriend, Bella caught my attention by exclaiming that she had seen her roommate across the room. She was shocked, as Kate never hung out at the Alpha Sig house, and she excused herself to go talk to her.
I turned back to Emmett and continued our conversation, but a few moments later, we were alerted by the sounds and commotion of a fight. Emmett and I rushed toward the action where we saw one of our sophomore brothers in a heated fight with some Chi Phi. It wasn't as though fraternity guys never went to parties at other houses, but given the rift between our groups, it was quite rare for a Chi Phis to attend our parties, and tonight it was obvious trouble.
Everything moved so quickly that I couldn't really tell what was happening. A couple Chi Phis jumped into the fight, which caused more Alpha Sigs to join. Emmett and I barreled through the crowd, trying to break up the escalating fight. I was shoved back, nearly falling to my ass before Emmett caught me. I looked at the guy who did it, and though I didn't know his name at the time, I knew his face from confrontations with the Chi Phis the previous year. My intention had been to help diffuse the fight, not get involved in it, but after being provoked, I reacted impulsively. I jumped up, reared back my arm, and gave him a hard right hook. Then I heard the screaming.
"Garrett! Oh my god! Edward, what are you doing?"
I watched Bella and Kate rush to Garrett's side, pulling him out of the throng and doting over him. I followed them, rushing after Bella as I called her name. She turned back toward me with the most horrified expression painted on her face. Tears gathered in her eyes as she shook her head, looking at me as though she didn't recognize me any longer.
"What the hell is wrong with you? Why did you just punch my brother?" she yelled, her hands flailing in his direction. Kate glared at me behind her as she held Garrett back.
"Yes, you asshole!"
I tried to move closer to her, to hold her and explain, but she wouldn't allow it. Kate and Garrett were both yelling at me as they dragged Bella out of the house. Their voices overpowered mine, and all my explanations went unheard, even as I told her that his friends picked the fight…that he pushed me first. None of it mattered to her.
Out on the front lawn, Garrett screamed obscenities, telling me to stay away from his sister. Bella eventually shoved him and Kate away, stepping up to speak to me before they left.
"I can't…I can't do this. We're done," she sobbed.
I made one last effort to explain and make her reconsider. "Please, Bella, don't do this. It was a huge misunderstanding. I'm sorry. Don't go!"
With a shake of her head, she kicked off her heeled shoes and ran after her brother and roommate who each put and arm around her.
Just like that, it was over. She wouldn't answer my calls or emails. She avoided me for the last few weeks of class, moving to a new seat every time I tried to talk to her. Eventually, unwillingly, with a broken heart, I gave up…but I never stopped wanting her.
"I'm so tired," Bella whined, apparently forgetting that she had just tried to kiss me. She slumped down, and I laid her back against her pillows, pulling out her comforter to tuck her into bed.
"I know you are, sweetheart. Just let me get you settled and you can sleep as long as you like."
"Wait," she protested, grabbing my wrist and wiggling around uncomfortably. "I'm so hot. Take my clothes off."
I choked at her request, coughing and stumbling to find words. "I don't think…"
"Edward!" she tried to yell, but under the influence of her medication, she was hardly intimidating. "Please," she mumbled sleepily, her head lolling to the side.
Even in this state, she was beautiful and perfect. As always…once again…I could not deny her. With her flat on the bed, I took a deep breath and unbuttoned her pants, shaking my head at myself. The zipper slid down easily, and I hooked my hands under her butt to pull off her jeans.
In the next moment, the door opened, the blindingly bright lights were turned on, and there were angry, shocked voices behind me.
"What the hell are you doing here?"
"Is she passed out?"
"You're dead, you sick fuck!"
Fuck. My. Life.
I spent the next day in my room sulking…and icing my broken nose. I had returned to the ER immediately after leaving Bella's dorm to have it realigned. I don't care what any movies show; there was no way in hell that I was allowing one of my fraternity brothers to pop it back into place. It was past two in the morning, and they would all either be really drunk or really tired.
Dr. Cullen was still working the ER when I was placed in a room, and he was definitely surprised to see me.
"Edward! I certainly wasn't expecting to see you again tonight," he said, staring at my nose. "What happened?"
"Remember me saying that Bella was my ex-girlfriend?"
"Well, let's just say that the ex-boyfriend helping a passed out girl into bed did not translate well to her brother," I said flatly.
"Oh my," he said, shaking his head sympathetically. "I'm very sorry to hear that, especially after how much you helped Bella tonight."
"You can say that again," I sighed.
The visit was very short. He checked my nose, realigned the bone, drained the excess blood from inside, and carefully stuffed a couple pieces of cotton in my nostrils. He sent me home with an ice pack and a prescription for some Tylenol 3, and I slowly, finally made my way home.
Sunday sucked and Monday was no better. I got up and went to class, but I didn't socialize or hang around campus with anyone. I took my prescription and slept whenever I wasn't doing class work. Memories of Bella – from our night in the hospital to our time together last semester – flooded my mind and kept me from being able to focus on anything else. That was a big part of the reason I chose sleep over all other activities. Only then could I hope to escape my mind and the enormous screw job that life had given me. It was a ridiculous fucking mess, and I just wished I could forget it all.
That didn't stop me from worrying about Bella and wondering how she was doing.
I wanted to call, but I knew it would be pure torture. Her brother didn't want me near her, which would mean that she would be avoiding me once more. Whatever hidden hope I had developed during our time together Saturday night had vanished the minute Garrett found me in her room.
Tuesday was the same as Monday. I only left my room to shower, attend classes, and scrounge up some food. I felt grateful that my Tuesday classes were over by noon. Once I was back in my room, I resumed wallowing and collapsed onto my bed.
I awoke sometime that afternoon to a strange thumping sound outside my room. It sounded like someone dragging something up the stairs, but I couldn't be sure. Then the sound moved closer to my bedroom and my confusion multiplied. A knock on my door forced me to find out who was making that racket in the hall.
"Pete? You here, man?" I called out, hoping my roommate was around so I wouldn't have to get out of bed.
No such luck.
The knock sounded again, and I called for whoever it was to hold on a minute.
When I swung the door open, I was surprised as hell to see who was on the other side.
"Bella…what are you doing here?" I asked, stepping back to allow her inside. She hobbled on one crutch, awkwardly moving toward my couch. "Do you need a hand?"
"I'm all right," she said, plopping down heavily. "Sit with me?"
I took a seat, leaving some space between us and waiting for her to explain this unexpected visit. I was suddenly self-conscious about my sloppy sweatpants and t-shirt and the bed head I was undoubtedly sporting at the moment.
"How are you feeling?" I asked.
She shrugged. "Could be worse. My wrist is too sore to use both crutches, but I shouldn't need them much longer anyway. How's your nose?"
Her question caught me off guard. Who would have told her…or better yet, why would they? Neither Garrett nor Kate was very fond of me.
"Tender to touch, but I'm fine," I explained. "How did you know about that?"
"They told me…but not until today," she said, but I couldn't interpret how she felt about that.
She scooted across the couch cushions, moving closer to me. I tried to back away, but she placed her hand on my knee.
"I'm sorry about my brother. The last thing I remember was you sitting with me while my cast was being put on. I can vaguely recall a car ride and being put in bed, but when I woke up and Garrett was in the room with Kate, I sort of assumed that he must have come to the hospital and gotten me. I just wanted to say thank you for everything you did for me. You didn't have to, and I really do appreciate it."
"I know you do," I said, "but how did you find out what really happened?"
She smirked, but there was also a hint of frustration behind the look. "My friend Angela, who lives on my hall, came to check up on me last night. She said something about the sweet guy who carried me inside and took care of me, and I realized that Garrett had omitted some details to me." She moved a little closer so our knees were touching slightly. "He finally told me that they came back to the room after their date and found you undressing me. I knew you wouldn't have done anything bad to me, but he was being a jerk about it. Will you tell me what really happened?"
"Of course," I said, nodding. I skimmed my fingertips over the top of her hand, then let my touch fall away. "Angela stayed with you while I ran back to my car. I tried to get you into bed, but you were talking to me. Then you sort of tried to kiss me."
Her eyes widened immediately, and I saw her telltale pink blush begin to creep up on her cheeks. "Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry."
"Bella, don't ever be sorry about that," I told her, tipping her chin up so she would look at me.
"That was completely inappropriate."
I laughed lightly, shaking my head. "You were a bit loopy, so I didn't hold it against you."
"What happened after that?" she asked hesitantly, chewing on her lip. I reached up and ran my finger over her lips so that she would stop abusing herself. She complied.
"You said you were hot and asked me to help take your clothes off. That was all I planned to do, then I was going to crash on your couch until someone came home. I didn't want to leave you alone after taking all that medication."
Her eyes softened, and I stared into them. I was surprised a few moments later when I noticed that they were welling up with tears.
"Bella, what's the matter? What did I say?" I asked immediately.
"Nothing's the matter," she replied, shaking her head. "That's just so sweet of you." She sniffled and wiped away a few tears. "I just can't believe Garrett was such a jerk when you were trying to help me."
"It was a misunderstanding," I said, shrugging. "I'm fine, and I guess he and I are even now, right?" I chuckled, trying to make light of the situation and hoping that I had succeeded. She gave me a weak smile in response.
"That's sort of something I came to talk to you about." I watched carefully as she reached out for my hand. The movement was almost surreal, and I was nervous to give it to her. Of course I did, though. "I feel really stupid right now, but…Saturday, at the hospital…I really liked that." She paused, collecting her thoughts. "Not the hospital part, per se, but spending time with you again. It was…nice."
"I liked that part too," I admitted, giving her hand a light squeeze.
"I miss you," she whispered, leaning her head forward and resting it on my shoulder. "I miss you a lot."
I no longer cared about Garrett or fights or broken noses. I didn't care that Bella had broken up with me and taken my heart with her. The chemistry I felt on Saturday wasn't just in my imagination, and when she kissed me in her room, it was because she really wanted that, not just because of the drugs she was taking. My arms wrapped around her small frame, with care not to hurt her further.
"I've missed you too, Bella," I said quietly, pulling her closer.
She looked up at me, and this time, her smile was wide and unquestionable. She was smiling for me because she was happy. That made me happy.
"I know everything isn't just fixed now, but do you think… Can we try again?" she asked, and my heart leapt. "I'm sorry for breaking things off the way I did," she continued, speaking quickly. "It was stupid of me, and I should have listened. I know things are rocky between you and my brother, but you're right, you are sort of even now that you've both punched each other, and I don't care what he thinks anymore. I want…I want to be with you…if you want that, I mean. He'll just have to deal with it."
"You're serious?" I asked, pulling my hands over her shoulders to cup her face. She nodded in my hands and smiled once more.
"Yes, and I promise I won't be awful to you again like that."
"Bella, you weren't awful," I said adamantly. "You were upset, but it's in the past. And I don't want to think about your brother anymore. This is between you and me, not the three of us, okay?"
"You're right…you're right."
I tilted my head forward, resting my forehead against hers, but remaining careful not to bump my nose. Closing my eyes, I breathed deeply and allowed this shocking development to sink into my mind. It was a change in course, one I was happy to welcome.
Her good hand slid to my stomach, spreading out over my abs. "Can you feel them?" she asked softly.
"Feel what?" I asked, confused.
"The butterflies. They're still there." I opened my eyes and saw her lovely smile.
"Yeah, I feel them." Turning my head to the side, I allowed our mouths to find one another, forming a gentle, sweet kiss. Her injured hand brushed over the back of my neck, pulling me closer. I shifted, kissing her harder. I hissed and pulled away when my nose knocked against hers, and she yelped at my sudden movement that jerked my head against her cast.
"Sorry," we muttered at the same time, laughing on the next beat.
"We're a mess," I joked, kissing the fingers on her injured hand.
"But you're my mess," she added cheerfully.
"Mmm…and you're mine," I agreed.
It took broken bones, torn muscles, hours in the emergency room, and a series of misunderstandings to get to this point, but if I had to do it all over again to have her back in my arms, I would endure that any day.
Maybe life wasn't so bad after all…
This was my prompt: "Today, I took a friend home from the hospital. She was on medication that made her drowsy. She fell onto her bed and asked me to help her take off some clothes since she had her winter gear on. She passes out and her roommate walks in and catches me undressing an unconscious girl. FML"
How did I do? Leave me a review & let me know! Thanks for reading – my story made it to the final round! Voting for that will be March 4-10. Please come back to vote for your faves =)
Update 3/15/10: The winners were announced at fmlcontest(dot)blogspot(dot)com - go check them out! This story received a Host's Pick from the awesome & talented Chicklette! *squee* Thanks to all how voted & reviewed. You make my heart super happy!!!
(For Me This Is Heaven by Jimmy Eat World http:// www . youtube . com /watch?v=AQbC3yN3870 )