Stephenie Meyer owns the Twilight characters. This story and the plot however is my work and should not be posted, distributed or reproduced without my consent.
This is a one-shot that I've had posted over at Twilighted for a while and wanted to share here. There is an impt. autho's note at the end... so check it out :)
I watched her walk down the aisle, her white dress shimmering in the candlelight. The church was packed with friends and family, the people who loved us, who knew our history and the crazy journey we had to survive to be together. Everyone in attendance had tears in their eyes and joy in their heart as the music weaved its way through the air around us.
My breath left in a rush when I finally saw her. There was never a more beautiful bride on this earth, of that, I was certain. I watched her take each step, her white train flowing behind her as every eye in the church focused on her and her unsurpassed beauty. I couldn't help but smile and think back to the miracle that had brought us together in the first place.
~*3 years ago*~
"Please come with us, Edward," Alice begged. "I swear you'll have fun."
"Alice, I have a lot to prepare before I speak at the conference, I just don't think I'll have time." I collected the papers that had scattered across Alice's coffee table.
"It's just a night out, drinks, Edward. Nothing more. We aren't going to kidnap you and take you clubbing until 4 am… even though that sounds like a lot of fun," Alice giggled. "Besides, how often is it that you come to town to spend time with your baby sister?"
I leaned my head back against the couch and sighed in defeat. "Fine, I'll go. One hour, two tops."
The bar was already packed by ten o'clock when we arrived. A local band was getting ready to start their set, so Alice and I had to scramble to grab a table. Alice settled happily into her chair, waving at a few of the regulars who were there and introduced them to me.
Alice glanced over at the bar and began vibrating in her seat. "Edward, go get me a drink before it gets all hot in here and the band starts playing, please."
I began making my way through the tightly packed crowd, bodies pressing against me at every step, until I found a small opening and dove through, finally reaching the bar. A stool had just opened up so I flopped down and took a relieved breath. I glanced around; looking for the bartender, but no one was there at the moment. The crowd began to thin out a bit as the band took the stage. I waited, then finally a door swung open and the most beautiful woman walked out if it and took her place behind the bar.
Her long brown hair was swept up in a messy ponytail with a few tendrils falling around her face. Her big brown eyes were warm and welcoming as they made contact with mine. She smiled and held up one finger, letting me know she'd be right back. She headed to the other end of the bar and handed off the plate of nachos she was holding to one of the customers, then took the bills and tossed the cash into the cash register. Wiping her hands on the towel she had grabbed from under the bar, she sauntered back my way, then leaned onto the bar and smiled.
"Hey there. What can I get you?"
"A pina colada, please."
She paused for a moment then started laughing out loud. "Never would have pegged you as a colada man. You want one umbrella or two?"
"It's not for me," I said quickly, as I felt my cheeks turning red unbelievably. I couldn't remember the last time a woman had made me blush. I was a surgeon for God's sake. I was trained to be calm and cool under pressure. So why the hell was I suddenly acting like a schoolboy?
"Oh, sorry. Your girlfriend likes them, my bad." Sadly, the playful tone had left her voice and she bit her lip, looking under the bar for a glass.
I was mesmerized by her, the way she gracefully moved around behind the bar singing along with the song being played, glasses sliding in and out of her hand, the ice falling into the blender and the long, dramatic pour to fill the glass with the frothy drink. With meticulous precision, she placed the little pink umbrella and the slice of pineapple. She caught me watching her and instead of shyly looking away, she brazenly met my gaze and winked.
"Here you go. Hope she likes it." She slid the glass across the bar, her fingers brushing against mine as I took the glass from her. When she tried to pull her hand away, I inexplicably covered it with my own and held her in place.
I had no idea what to say, she was absolutely beautiful and suddenly I wanted to know everything about her; what her name was, where she lived, what were her dreams, her aspirations. My heart pounded in my chest as she turned her hand over and laced her fingers with mine on the bar top. Never in my life had I felt this immediate pull toward someone, this need to touch her, to kiss her, to sweep her into my arms and never let her go, and yet in this crowded, smoky bar, my entire world shifted toward this unknown woman.
I dipped my head closer to ask her what her name was, but at that moment, the band took the stage and the room erupted in screams and whistles. Alice was waving frantically at me from the table. As much as it killed me to walk away, I knew I was only in town for two days, and then it was back to Boston, and back to my real life. Common sense ruled and abruptly it pulled me from my little fantasy about the mystery girl I was clinging to for dear life. I let out a sigh, then gave her hand a small squeeze and headed back to Alice.
"Edward, you almost missed the beginning. Look, the guy on the guitar, that's Jasper."
Glancing up at the stage, I nodded my head, and tried to pay attention to the music, but it wasn't long before my eyes were drawn back to her. I watched her scurry around behind the bar, filling orders, pouring drinks and making change. She would glance my way every so often, when there was a lull, and return my stare with a small smile curling across her lips. When I couldn't stand it any longer, I popped out of my seat, telling Alice, "I'm thirsty." She glanced at the bar, gave me a knowing grin then turned her attention back to Jasper and the band.
As I shuffled toward the bar, the band announced the next song and the crowd went wild as the first notes pulsed through the room. It was obviously a crowd favorite, people singing along with every word, their bodies swaying to the beat. I watched her behind the bar, singing along with the customers. A huge smile crept onto her face as she saw me approaching.
She leaned across the bar, putting her lips right beside my ear so I could hear her over the music and the crowd. I could smell strawberries as her ponytail fell over her shoulder, touching mine. "Another pina for ya, big guy?"
I reached up and touched one of her silky strands, running it between my fingertips. "No, my sister's good. How about something for me this time?"
Her eyes flicked back to the table, then returned to my face and she smirked. "I know exactly what you need." Without warning, she hopped up onto the top of the bar and held her hand out to me. "Get up here."
My mouth fell open in disbelief but when she stuck out her full bottom lip in a playful pout, I was helpless to refuse her. She knew the affect she was having on me too, and she was enjoying every minute of it. Of course jumping up on a bar was not the type of thing I typically did. I was a straight arrow, focused and calm. Rules were made to be followed, never bent, and yet in this moment, the only thing I wanted to follow was her, so I did. My heart thundering in my chest, I hopped up beside her on the bar, the crowd around us going wild.
"Now what?" I asked, placing my hands tentatively on her hips.
She stood on her tiptoes and wrapped her arms around my neck, pressing her soft, curvy body to mine. "Now, we dance."
I stiffened in her arms, unable to believe jumping on the bar like this was no big deal. "I doubt your boss would approve of us being up here."
She threw back her head and laughed, her hips pressed tighter against mine as they swayed to and fro. "I own the place, big guy. I can do whatever the hell I want."
That was the first night I met Bella Swan. We spent an hour up on that bar, dancing and laughing. And later that night, when we were finally alone and the bar closed, we made love on it into the wee hours of the morning. Alice couldn't believe her prim and proper brother, the boring surgeon, had actually let himself go and been spontaneous for once in his life, but I had, and I enjoyed every minute of it.
Over the next four months, I managed to come up with a myriad of excuses to make three more trips out to Seattle, and each time, I saw her. Bella was amazing, fantastic, spontaneous, and carefree. She lived her life to the fullest and made sure everyone else she came in contact with did the same. We were as opposite as two people could be and yet together, we worked. When I was with her, even in the midst of facing my fears or trying something horrifyingly new like alligator and ostrich at a local restaurant, everything made sense.
The night we met, I told her I played the piano mentioned it was my secret dream to play in a smoky little club someday. My next visit, the plane had barely landed and she dragged me into a blues club in the art district of town. It was a packed house and in classic Bella style, she led me to the bartender, explained that she was teaching me how to 'live a little' and asked if, when the musicians took a break, would I be able to play a song or two. She assured him that I was an excellent piano player, which of course was a blatant lie, seeing as how she'd never heard me play a single note. But with her warm smile and big brown eyes, she had him convinced in less than five minutes. She ordered me some liquid courage in the form of a scotch, which I drank in a single gulp and before I knew it, I was sitting behind the piano, playing, laughing and having the time of my life.
Skydiving was our next adventure. I could remember sitting in the jump school classroom, shaking my head as the instructor went over safety procedures. Bella kept elbowing me, trying to get me to stop being negative.
"We'll be fine. I've done this a million times," she whispered in my ear to keep from disrupting the class.
"I still don't get why we have to jump out of a perfectly functioning plane, Bella. In the plane I'm safe… outside of the plane, I'm plummeting to my death at ridiculous speeds, praying that a small nylon chute opens, remains open and keeps me from the ultimate face plant. Why do we have to do this?"
There was a shadow that flickered in her eyes, but then, it vanished. Instead, she shrugged her shoulders and smirked, "Because we can?" That was all the explanation she offered and two hours, later I stepped out onto the wing of the plane and let go. For me, it was the ride of a lifetime, for Bella it was just another day. She spent the entire drive home that day laughing and teasing me that I screamed like a girl. It was also the first bit of information she shared with Jasper and Alice when we met up with them for dinner that evening.
When I wasn't in Seattle, Bella and I were on the phone constantly. Every time either of us had a free moment we called. I couldn't get enough of her and as the weeks passed, it became harder and harder to be away from her. Everything in my life was changing thanks to Bella. I found myself looking for the fun in my day, trying new things. Friends would laugh when I suggested we try something off the wall like the newest Ethiopian restaurant in town, or go ice skating. Half of the people were convinced I was going through a premature mid-life crisis since I was only 30, but I knew better. I was no longer happy to go through the motions of my life like a robot. I was finally, alive.
On my third trip to Seattle, I surprised her with two tickets to Hawaii. She met me at the airport ready to take me to her place, but instead of leaving the airport, we ran down the concourse, laughing, as we hurried to make the tight connection I had scheduled. With nothing more than her purse, the clothes on her back and the smile on her face, Bella jumped into the plane and we headed to Hawaii. There was no apprehension, no wondering what if, just a heart melting smile and a quick, "Let's do it!" That was my Bella.
The week we spent together in Hawaii was perfect. We rented a house on the coast and swam every day. Some local kids taught us how to surf, and one day we spent deep sea fishing. My favorite part of the days were the evenings when we would take long walks on the beach with a flashlight, watching the crabs skitter across the sand and into the ocean. Fearless as she was, Bella would walk in the ankle deep water and try to catch the little guys as they were washed back out into the ocean. Some nights we would sit on the veranda and stargaze until we finally fell asleep in each other's arms. In the morning, the first rays of sun would reflect off the water and wake us from our slumber.
That was when I fell in love with Bella.
It was a month after our trip to Hawaii and I had been looking forward to this trip since I left her in the airport in Seattle. We were planning to drive up to Mount Rainier and spend a few days climbing. As I hurried through the terminal the only thing I could think about was finding Bella. I had just yanked my suitcase off of the noisy, rotating belt at the baggage claim when I turned around and found Alice standing beside a trashcan. She had the phone stuck to her ear, deep in conversation. When she saw me walking toward her, she quickly tucked it into her pocket and flung herself at me.
"Edward, I thought that stupid plane would never land." Alice buried her face against my chest.
"Easy there, Alice. I do need to breathe," I joked as I kissed the top of her head. Her arms were wrapped around my torso, nearly squeezing the life out of me. "So why did you pick me up instead of Bella?"
"She's in the hospital, Edward."
Those five little words changed my life forever.
I vaguely remembered snatching the keys out of Alice's hand and running through the parking garage looking for her car. The rain poured down from the sky as we screamed down the highway, breaking every speed limit we encountered. Alice didn't say a word the entire ride. She simply watched the drops of rain hit the window and slide down the glass. When we pulled up in front of the hospital, she cleared her throat.
"I know you're mad. I know you have a million questions but there are no good answers. She needs you, Edward." When she turned her face from the window, I could see the tears streaming down her cheeks.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I present, Mr. and Mrs. Edward Cullen." The DJ gave the intro and as we stepped through the double doors and entered the hall, I was overwhelmed with the love and congratulations I felt pouring out from the guests.
My parents were on their feet, smiling and clapping as we breezed past, taking our place at the head table. Alice sat in a chair beaming as Jasper absentmindedly rubbed his hand over her very pregnant belly.
"How's my niece?" I whispered in her ear as we passed.
"She's taken up kickboxing on my bladder, it's fantastic." She patted my hand then laid her head on Jasper's shoulder.
We took our seats and as I looked around the room, it finally hit me. We were married. "I love you Mrs. Cullen." I wrapped my arm around her shoulders and pulled her lips to mine.
"I love you too, Mr. Cullen." The love and adoration in her eyes took my breath away.
The room quieted as Carlisle picked up the microphone and began the blessing. "Ladies and gentlemen, let us bow our heads and give thanks for all the blessings that God has bestowed upon us."
~*Three years ago*~
Alice stayed in the waiting area while I walked down the long hallway to room A124. Even though I spent every day of my life in a hospital, this was different. Instead of being the arrogant, cocky surgeon, here to save the day, I was walking the halls as a man desperate to get to the woman he loved, and seconds away from dropping to his knees and begging God to spare her life.
My stomach churned with each step, like this was all some sort of awful dream. I knew what floor she was a patient on, and a list of possible ailments ran through my brain like that annoying ticker at the bottom of the news shows. A never ending list of symptoms, treatments, medications and possible outcomes wouldn't stop screaming through my head, each more awful that the last. Sometimes knowledge was a very bad thing.
With a trembling hand I knocked on the door and steeled myself for whatever I might see inside. I swore I would be strong no matter what. She wouldn't see anything other than my complete confidence in her recovery. That was what Bella needed, my strength. She was going to be fine. I wouldn't have it any other way.
"Leave me alone." Bella's voice was crisp and hard as she bit out the words.
I stepped in, but my view of her was blocked by the ugly pink curtain that hung from the ceiling.
"Nice manners, asshole. When someone says leave me alone, that typically means don't come in-" Bella's face went white when I pulled the curtain aside and found her sitting in her bed, painting her fingernails. "E- Edward?"
She looked exactly the same as she had when I left her three weeks ago, except for the IV that was attached to her arm and the knot that was turning purple on the side of her head. She had a sweatshirt on over her hospital gown and the hood pulled up. I let out the breath that I had been holding.
"Bella, I think hospitals tend to frown on unleashing noxious fumes into a confined area." I slipped the tiny brush from her hand and twisting it back onto the glass bottle. I glanced at the bottom. "Russian Navy?"
Bella shrugged. "What can I say, I like blue." She shifted uncomfortably in the bed, her eyes not meeting mine in her attempt to avoid any discussion of her current situation.
I pulled up one of the horrible hospital chairs beside her bed and sat down without a word. I crossed my arms over my chest, crooked an expectant eyebrow at her, and waited.
"What?" she snapped, as she flapped her hands in front of her, drying her freshly painted nails. She glanced my way and I could see the sheen of tears filling her eyes. Any anger I had at the moment left my body and was replaced with deep sorrow.
"Oh, baby." I was out of the chair and beside her in bed in the blink of an eye. I pulled her into my arms, careful of the injury to her head. "Just tell me."
She tensed in my arms until finally I felt her collapse into my chest. "I have a brain tumor. I'm sorry; I didn't want you to know."
I let her words sink in. Brain tumor. My eyes flickered to her chart that hung on the wall just inside the door. I would know so much more after I flipped through it. I immediately began making a list of people in Boston I would contact to consult on her case.
She must have seen the gears in my head moving and sighed. "Edward….Edward do not go all doctor on me, please." Her brown eyes pleaded. "Just hold me." Bella wrapped her arms and legs around me and held on for dear life. I sat there with her in my arms for what felt like hours, holding her, caressing her, whispering words of encouragement, making promises I knew I might not be able to keep. When I finally felt her begin to unwrap herself, I knew it was time for the conversation we both dreaded.
"It's a recurrence of a medulloblastoma. I had a tumor removed five years ago. The surgery was 'successful,' I did some chemo after and was given a clean bill of health, but there was always this 'what if' looming over my head." Her hands fisted into the sheets as she continued. "Six months ago, I started getting headaches."
"Shit," I hissed without thinking.
"Yeah, my thoughts exactly. I had a scan and it was back, bigger and badder than the first time." She looked out the window and grew very quiet. Not wanting to push her, I waited. "They gave me a few choices," she shrugged her shoulders, "and I went with the one I could live with." She shook her head and wiped her eyes quickly, ashamed at showing her vulnerability. "It's so stupid. Crying won't change anything."
"No, it won't, but crying is totally understandable, Bella." I laced my fingers with hers and drew lazy circles on her hand with my thumb. "So, you chose to do nothing?" I asked tentatively.
Her head whirled around, her eyes, wild. "No. I chose the option that would allow me to do something, or rather everything I could before this damn tumor turns me into a bedridden freak, a shell of who I was!" She pushed me hard in the chest and I went toppling off the bed. "I chose to live my final few months with everything I have left in me. The first thing I did when I found out was I bought Volterra, because I always wanted to own a bar."
I carefully stood up from the floor, dusting off my pants and stood at her bedside. Her hair was in utter disarray from her crying, there were dark circles under her eyes from lack of sleep, and even then, she was never more beautiful. My heart broke because I knew what was coming but my heart swelled with love for this courageous woman who chose to bravely live her last few months of life without holding back.
"I- I could make a few phone cal-" Her fingers pressed over my lips silencing me.
"I love you for offering, but it won't change anything. I have been looked at by the very best doctors and they all agreed. I figure now that I'm getting dizzy, I have about two months left." She touched the bump on her head and winced. "Bathroom sink. Poor Alice found me. I think I scared the living hell out of her, there was blood everywhere." Bella scooted over, and patted the mattress beside her. "Sit with me?"
Happy to do some small things to bring her comfort, I lay down beside her and held her head in the crook of my arm. I hummed softly as she closed her eyes and used her index finger to write .YOU on my chest over and over again.
"Any chance you can discharge me, Dr. Cullen? I know you don't have privileges here but I really hate this fucking place."
"Just kidding, I wouldn't do that to you. I just don't like being around sick people, it depresses the hell out of me." A yawn escaped her lips.
"Shhh, just rest. I've got you." I knew she'd fallen asleep the moment her fingers stopped moving. Her breathing slowed and I could feel her entire body relax against mine. There was a tap on the door and Alice peeked inside.
"Hey," she whispered as she took a seat, wiping the tears from her cheeks.
"She's finally asleep? Good. The doctors were talking about sedating her. It was so scary when I found her this morning…." Alice's eyes welled up with tears again. "Edward-"
"I have no idea, Alice. I'm just trying to keep it together for her right now. That's all I can do."
Our first dance as husband and wife ended as the final notes of the song faded away. Thunderous applause broke out from the crowd. People began clancking the sides of their glasses to get us to kiss. Happily, I wrapped a supportive arm around her back and dipped her back, my lips meeting hers in a fiery dance. Cat calls and whistles erupted around us and I felt her lips smile against mine.
"You're a crazy man, Mr. Cullen."
"And you're a miracle, Mrs. Cullen." I held her tight against my side as we exited the large, parquet dance floor. As my foot hit the carpet, I felt a hand clamp down on my shoulder.
"Edward!" Emmett boomed in my ear. "May I borrow your wife for a few minutes? She owes me a dance."
"Already running off with other men?"
Her soft lips brushed my cheek. "I'll be right back."
I watched her white dress swirl as Emmett spun her tiny frame around the dance floor. Her head was thrown back in laughter as he dipped her, and then flipped her into the air.
I continued to make my way through the crowd, smiling and waving at the guests who had traveled great distances to witness this miraculous event. Many of them thinking this day would never come. I pushed open a door to a tiny veranda. One of my uncles extinguished the butt of his cigar and stepped back inside giving me a moment to myself. Immediately my thoughts went back.
~*Three years ago*~
"Edward, I want to go home." There was no fight left in her voice, only a soft rasp of desperation.
Bella was so tired, so frail. She had been in the hospital for the last month, hooked up to countless machines and IVs, too weak to stand, too ill to be at home. Her skin was deathly pale, the tiny blue lines of her veins webbing out, just under the surface like a roadmap. She knew the end was coming. During one of her few lucid moments, she told me she could feel it was almost time.
"Baby, you're too sick," I said through the tears that were falling from my eyes, landing on the itchy white sheet that covered her hospital bed.
Her brown eyes met mine and she smiled. It was still the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in all my life. "You're a doctor; you'll take care of me from now on. You can keep me comfortable. I want to be at home, in our bed… when I go."
I knew what she was saying, but I couldn't listen to it, I wasn't ready to say goodbye. I began to shake my head from side to side. "No, no… we could try a round of chemo, it might reduce the tumor a little, it might help you-"
Even with her waning strength, she squeezed my hand, hard. "It's okay, Edward." She tugged on my hand until I looked at her through my tears. "I don't want to leave you either, but it's coming, and I won't die in this awful place, I want to die where I feel loved and cherished. Take me home." She closed her eyes and fell asleep as the words left her lips.
By dinnertime that evening, we were home. Bella snuggled herself into our massive bed and fell asleep with a smile on her lips. A nurse from the hospital came with us, and set the room up, starting the IV and giving me the medications to keep her comfortable. As I stood in the doorway, watching her sleep, counting every breath she took, the nurse who had helped take care of her for the last four weeks put her hand on my shoulder. "I think you should call your family and friends in."
Over the next two hours, everyone visited. I sat in the chair beside her bed, holding her hand as person after person came in and told her how much they loved her, crying and kissing her other limp hand. Bella never woke up, she stayed asleep through each tearful goodbye which was probably best, she was too weak and would have pushed herself to speak and make sure they were alright before they left.
Alice was the last to say her goodbyes. She and Bella had grown tremendously close over the last few months, their relationship one of sisters rather than friends. She kissed me and then crawled into bed with Bella, wrapping herself around Bella's sleeping body. "I love you, Bella. I don't think you'll ever know how much."
"A- alicce," Bella breathed, barely audible, but it made Alice's head pop up and smile through the tears.
"Shhh, you rest, Bells. I'm here and Edward's here and everybody loves you." Alice brushed the hair back away from Bella's face, her hands gently caressing her cheek.
"Feels… nice." A weak smile crossed her pale lips, her eyes remained closed.
"I have some news." She glanced over her shoulder at me and smiled, then turned back to Bella. "Jasper asked me to marry him."
"I'm happy…for you."
"Thanks. I wish…" Alice sobbed, "I wish you were going to be there."
Bella patted her hand. "I will." She took a deep breath and smiled. "I'll be the sun… in the sky. Smiling… on you."
"Alice, I think she needs some rest." I hated to say it, but Bella's breathing was becoming more labored, and she was exerting herself too much.
Alice's lips feathered across Bella's forehead. "I love you, Bella. Forever."
There were no words I could offer Alice to help her through her grief as she slid off the bed, taking one last look at Bella's sleeping form. I was barely hanging on by a thread myself, being strong when all I wanted to do was scream at the top of my lungs and ask God how he could be so cruel to take her from me, from everyone who loved her. Why put her through this pain?
The day passed slowly, and soon the sun began to slip behind the trees. It was twilight, another day coming to an end. Hopelessness overwhelmed me and I cried, wondering if Bella would ever see the sunrise again.
"Ed- Edward…" Her eyes fluttered open for the first time since I'd brought her home. "Do-don't cry for me." Her brown eyes were so tired, but full of love. She reached up and wiped a tear from my cheek. "No sadness… only happy. I'm home."
I looked down on this frail woman, who even in the midst of agonizing pain, fought for each day of her life. She showed such courage and strength, that I knew I had to follow suit. I quickly wiped the tears from my eyes and took a deep breath. "How do you feel?"
"Are you in any pain?" I slipped my arm under her head and cradled her to my side.
"A- a little," she whispered.
"I'll get you more meds then." I tried to get up but she held me in place.
"No… they make me.. sleepy. I want to talk... to you."
"I love you, Bella," I blurted out, not knowing if this would be the last time I might be able to tell her.
She smiled. "I know. I will never… forget." She used her index finger to slowly write . on my chest. "Tell me a story. The night… we met."
I spent the next two hours retelling the story of our lives together. Recounting every moment, every laugh, and every wonderful thing we ever shared. Bella would drift in and out of sleep, but I never stopped talking, just in case she was still listening, somewhere on the edge of sleep. She would chuckle occasionally and tap my chest with her finger when she was too tired to laugh.
"I will never forget a moment of it." I kissed her forehead. Night had fallen, and the sky that night was filled with a million extra stars. I pushed the bed closer to the window so she could see them all.
"Beautiful," she sighed as her eyes scanned the night sky. A shooting star left a bright trail through the heavens.
"Make a wish," I said, quickly begging for one more day with Bella.
"I wish… that you will be happy. Find someone… after. Live." She didn't wish for a miracle, she didn't wish for another day or anything for herself, she wished for me to be okay. For me to go on with my life, after she was gone.
"I'll be fine," I lied; unable to tell her how my heart was being ripped out of my chest at the thought of her dying. I didn't know how I would draw breath into my lungs when she was gone. But I lied to her, and let her believe that somehow, my world would eventually repair itself and I would go on, just as she wished.
"Promise… live." I felt her grasp tighten; her breathing came in fast gasps suddenly.
We were running out of time, I could feel it too. "I will, I swear, I don't know how I'll do it, but I will, for you. I love you more that the earth and stars, Bella. Tell me you know that." I was sure I sounded hysterical, the words falling from my lips without abandon. I was selfish, needing to have her reassure me she knew how deeply I loved her, but I needed it, something to carry with me for the rest of my life.
"I know it to the depths of my soul." She turned her head, pressed her lips to my chest and sighed. "I love you Edward….forever." And with that, she took her final breath and slipped away from me and everyone who loved her. She became my angel.
I was looking up in the sky, picking different constellations out of the night sky when I heard the veranda door open. Tanya stepped through the door looking more beautiful than ever. The moonlight cascaded over her shimmering white dress, reflecting off the delicate beadwork of the bodice. She had plucked her veil off her head and was carrying it in her hand. She held it up and smiled ruefully. "Emmett got a little carried away while we were dancing."
I laughed and helped pin it back on top of her head. "There, perfect as always." I wrapped my arm around her and led her to the bench so she could have a seat.
"It's a beautiful night," she said softly, her eyes watching me as I continued scanning the sky. She knew where my head was, she always knew and for some odd reason, she understood.
"It is," I murmured.
"She's here. Can you feel her?" Tanya slipped her hand into mine and squeezed my fingers. Suddenly, a shooting star sped across the sky, leaving a bright trail in its wake.
A smile crossed my lips as I watched the star fade from view. "Yeah I do. I actually came out here to… to… say goodbye to her."
Tanya nodded her head in understanding. "You don't have to do this for me, Edward. She's a huge part of who you are. She changed your life; she's what brought us here."
~*Two years ago*~
It had been a year since Bella had died, a year to the day. Somehow life had gone back to normal, even when I thought is wasn't possible. I never regretted my decision to stay in Seattle and practice medicine; it made me feel closer to her. I got up every morning, went to work, saved lives and then got up the next morning and did it all over again.
I refused to become a hermit, even when the pain of her loss was overwhelming, I forced myself to live, for her. Alice and I went bungee jumping one weekend a few months after she died, just for the hell of it. Because we knew she would be proud of us for trying it. I swear as I plummeted toward the water, I could hear her laughing in my ear.
It was late and I was locking my office door for the night when one of the nurses, Jackie, stopped me in the hallway. "Going home, Dr. Cullen?"
She looked over her shoulder wistfully. "I wish I could get Dr. Denali to leave. Poor girl all she does is work. She lost a patient today and is in her office beating herself up about it. It frankly was a miracle she kept him alive as long as she did."
She needs you, I heard Bella's voice softly whisper in my head.
"I'll go talk to her, see what I can do."
Jackie sighed in relief. "Thank you. She's such a sweet person. She works too much."
I knew Tanya, well. She had been a resident when Bella was in the hospital. It seemed like whenever I wasn't with Bella, Tanya was. Whenever Tanya was on call, she would find her way to Bella's room and sometimes just sit there and watch her sleep. Other nights, she would keep Bella company when the insomnia hit and she was wide awake at 3 am.
It still hurt like hell to think about those days in the hospital and just how much I had lost. Especially tonight, I missed Bella more than words could say, but I promised her I would live. So I put one foot in front of the other and made my way to Tanya's office and knocked on the door.
"Jackie, I swear, I have to finish this paper-" she stopped abruptly and stared when she saw me in the doorway. "Edward." She ran a hand through her messy hair then sighed. "What's the point? I've been crying like a baby and look like hell." She covered her face and chuckled. "What can I do for you?"
I smiled and sat down in one of her chairs. Her office was filled with black and white photographs. Spectacular mountain views and landscapes covered the walls. She noticed me taking in the art and smiled. "My sister took all of these. She's a nut." She pointed to one on her desk. "Cage diving with great white sharks. Who goes on vacation and decides, 'I'm going shark diving?' The woman is nuts, but that's Kate."
"I heard about Mr. Flemming. I'm sorry." I knew Tanya got very emotionally attached to her patients. She did with Bella as well. Her bedside manner was second to none.
She smiled sadly and shook her head. "I know I need to let it go. If that's what you came down here to tell me, I got it." Her strawberry blonde locks spilled over her shoulders as she looked back down at her desk and began scribbling notes on a patients chart.
I reached out to stop her hand from the furious scribbling. "Actually I came to ask you to have dinner with me." She looked up at me, and I felt a tingling that I hadn't in a very long time. My heart beat a little faster when she finally smiled.
"Are you sure? I know today must be difficult for you."
She remembered. I piece of my heart began to melt as I watched her eyes well up in tears…. for Bella.
"I think having some company would make it a little easier." I gave her hand a squeeze when I realized I was still holding it. "Please?"
Her eyes lit up and she nodded her head. "I'd love to."
I stood up off the bench and walked to the railing, my face turned up to the darkened sky. "Bella, I know you can hear me. We can feel you here today. I know you were the one who gave Emmett the asinine idea for the slide show that went along with his best man's toast." Tanya giggled and came to stand beside me, wanting to say her goodbye to Bella as well, but waiting until I was finished. I cleared my throat and continued. "I've thought a lot about you today, really every day since you died and I'm sure I still will from time to time, but I'm ready to do what you asked. I'm going to live. I'm going to be happy. Not only for you, but for me, and for Tanya." I looked at my wife and smiled. "When I thought I would never be able to love anyone ever again, she found me, and fixed me. Much like you did years earlier. And by some miracle, I was able to help fix her. I know you led me to her. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. "
Tanya laced her fingers with mine and looked up into the night. "I promise you, I will take good care of him. I will make sure he feels loved every single day of the rest of our lives. If you have any tips for getting him to pick up his dirty clothes however, please let me know. I haven't quite figured that one out yet." We laughed together and I wiped away the tears that were streaming down her cheeks. "Thank you for sending him to me. My life wouldn't have been complete without him."
We both gasped when right on cue, another shooting star fell from the sky. I looked at my wife and smiled.
"Bella," Tanya whispered.
She knew. She heard us.
I laced my fingers through my wife's hand, my heart lighter than it had been in years. I could feel the shift in the universe as we began walking back into the building, our new life beginning together, forever. Most men are lucky to find true love once in their lives. I was blessed to find it twice and I wasn't going to waste a single second of it. Bella was my past and Tanya was my brilliant new future.
I held the door open for my bride, ushering her in from the cold, but I gave one glance back at the stars and whispered, "Forever."
Hope you liked it. I know Tanya isn't anyone's favorite person... but she also isn't as bad as she is made out to be a lot of times in FF.
So, BIG NEWS! I have had a ton of emails about what happened to Boycotts and Barflies and I am thrilled to say it has been reworked, edited, improved and published! Check out omnificpublishing(dot)com for it and a number of other great stories that are now for sale. I also have a new website victoriamichaels(dot)net where you can find out about upcoming news and announcements. I hope you'll check it out!