I had to leave Bella to her dreams in the middle of the night to go hunting with my brothers. Usually I could go for 2 weeks without feeding but my worry and fear over the past week drained me quickly and I felt the burn in the back of my throat more intensely. I wrote Bella a quick note and left it on the pillow beside her head. Seeing her sleeping so sweetly with her hands curled under her head, I almost changed my mind and crawled back into bed with her. That is until I heard Emmett scraping his nails on the door outside my room.
If you don't come out in two seconds, I'm coming in
He means it Edward. I assumed Jasper came to join him.
I couldn't allow them entry. Bella would awaken for sure and despite the fact that she had been complaining of too much sleep, I knew her body needed it to heal.
"I'll see you later, my love." I whispered to her stroking her cheek.
"Love you" She mumbled though I don't think she was even fully aware of me at the moment.
With a quick kiss on her warm lips and a soft smile, I left.
"Let's not go too far." I informed both Jasper and Emmett as we made our way out of the house and into the dense forest. Any distance from Bella now no matter how small was enough to make me anxious. Jasper looked at me understandingly.
"You'll both heal in time." He said.
Heal, yes. I could believe that but not always having her close to me where I could assure myself of her safety? That feeling would never go away. Not even after she becomes like me.
"It's been a hell of a week." Emmett said jumping to swing on a tree branch with his usual energy. But I couldn't fault him for his high spirits. He was just happy that the danger was behind us, behind Bella. A hell of a week of was a hell of an understatement though.
"That's putting it mildly." I replied.
"So is Bella doing okay now, no bad side effects?" he asked landing a few feet from me.
"I keep waiting for her to go into some kind of shock but Bella always does the unpredictable. As far as I can tell, she is glad it's over." I looked to Jasper for confirmation of this. I did not have the luxury of reading Bella's thoughts and I knew that out of any of us, Jasper would be able to get an honest reading of how Bella actually felt.
"I'm not getting any intense negative emotions from her anymore…not like before." Jasper said thoughtfully. It's really strange how she has so much control over her emotions.
Yes, I had thought that a time or two myself especially since the Port Angeles incident. She had shown no fear at all.
"I've always been very good at repressing unpleasant things." I remembered her saying that night at the restaurant with perfect clarity and I had wondered at the time if she had much experience with "unpleasant things". Now I had my answer.
"So are we going for bear or mountain lion?" Emmett asked us. Please say bear, please say bear.
"You are so obvious Emmett" I said rolling my eyes. "If you want grizzly all you had to do was say so."
We took off in the direction where there would be the most likelihood into running into them. In truth hunting for mountain lion would have taken us too far away. At least the bears were closer.
Edward was still out hunting with Emmett and Jasper and Carlisle stayed behind to examine how I was healing. When I had first woken up, I was a little disoriented with Edward not being there but then I saw his perfectly handwritten note next to me.
Please forgive my absence but I went out hunting with Jasper and Emmett. Carlisle will be taking out your stitched today. Perhaps we can celebrate by going to our meadow if you're up to it.
All my love,
I'd make sure I was up to going to the meadow. I had been indoors so much I felt like I had forgotten what a tree looked like.
"All done, Bella." Carlisle told me as he finished taking the stitches out. "Just remember no heavy lifting for a few weeks."
"Thank God. They were giving me a serious case of the itches." I smiled at him
"The wound appears to have healed nicely. I don't anticipate much scarring but of course any scars will go away once you have been changed save the one your hand." He was referring to the bite from James of course but Carlisle a master in tactfulness. "How are you feeling otherwise? "
"Okay, I guess. I mean the wound is still tender and sore but I guess that's to be expected, right?"
"Mmm, yes, that's perfectly normal. And emotionally?"
I shrugged my shoulders. "Well, I am glad it's all over." I didn't know what he expected me to say.
"I must say you are taking this remarkably well all things considering." He looked at me suspiciously. "Almost too well."
"I'm not teetering on the edge of a nervous breakdown if that's what you mean." I didn't know how to explain so he would or could understand. By killing Grady, that closed a chapter on my life. I had dealt with the horror and the aftermath before. This time around was nothing compared to the horrors I was subjected to before. Now I just felt calm almost serene. Maybe I wasn't normal. Maybe I was going to fall to pieces. It was obviously what Carlisle expected. "It's just that I lived through worse…this almost seems anticlimactic if that makes any sense. At least no one was killed because of me this time." I thought back to all those women Grady killed in front of me and suppressed a shudder. Thank God it hadn't come to that again."
"I see your point Bella and I understand but sometimes stress from this type of trauma can take many forms. Any nightmares? Edward hadn't mentioned any but…"
Mention of nightmares made me remember my dreams of Elizabeth Mason. Did I tell Carlisle about them? Would he think I was nuts? I chewed my bottom lip debating on telling him.
"So you have been?" Carlisle prodded and seemed almost pleased that I was having some sort of the reaction he was expecting. Only I wasn't.
"Not nightmares, no." I told him honestly and immediately saw the confusion on his face. I just ruined his assumption. "But I have been having sort of a recurring dream."
"When did these dreams start?" He looked at me curiously.
"The first one was when I was coming out of from under the anesthesia."
"Ahh." Carlisle's eyes lit with understanding. "It's not unusual to have strange dreams while under the influence of medication. Would you like to tell me about it? It sounds like it was disturbing. I'd like to help if I can."
I thought for a moment. How to say this so it didn't make me sound like a mental patient. It seemed so real as if Edward's mother did actually speak to me.
"Edward's mother, Elizabeth spoke to me." I blurted out.
"Really?" Carlisle now seemed very intrigued. "Bella." He said when I didn't say anything after my statement.
Oh! He wanted me to elaborate. I should have known. I concentrated on the memory trying to get a clear picture in my head. "We were in our meadow…Edward's and mine…she said it was the only safe place she could talk to me. I still don't know what she meant by that. She…well she wanted to thank me mostly for loving her son. She said he waited very long for me and I made him happy. It couldn't really have been her, right? I mean that's ridiculous isn't it?"
The look on Carlisle's face said he didn't think it was. "Tell me something Bella, has Edward ever shown you a picture of his mother?"
I thought about it for a moment then shook my head. "No, I don't believe so. I would have remembered that."
Carlisle got up then and opened a door in his cabinet with a key. He took a small wooden box out and pulled out an old photograph and handed it to me. "This is Elizabeth Masen."
I looked at the picture and felt like I had the wind knocked out of me. It was her, the woman from my dream. "Oh my God." I whispered out loud. My hands were trembling.
"Bella, Bella are you alright?"
I nodded shakily still staring at the picture. "It's her."I told him. "This is the woman in my dreams."
"Are you sure?"
"Positive." I handed the photograph back to him.
"Amazing" He whispered then looked at me intensely. "Did she say anything else?"
I went over the conversation in my head and something clicked. "She told me she agonized on her decision…when she asked you to change him. She said she was at peace now, knowing she made the right choice."
Carlisle's whole face lit with joy as if a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders and he looked years younger if that were even possible. He wrapped me in a fatherly hug.
"Thank you Bella. You have given me the greatest gift I could ever have received." He whispered.
"You believe it was her then? I mean maybe it was a hallucination brought on by the drugs in my system."
He shook his head, a tolerant smile on his face. "Bella, you live in a world with vampires and werewolves, do you mean to tell me you don't believe in ghosts or angels?"
I hadn't thought about it that way, not really. Not until I saw the Elizabeth Masen's eyes stare back at me in the photograph.
"Even after all these years, I despaired whether or not I made the right decision in turning Edward. I blamed it on my own selfishness to want a companion. He was miserable and alone for so many years…then you came into his life…all of our lives really. I always knew you were special and apparently Elizabeth knew it as well. Thank you Bella for telling me, for releasing me of this burden I have carried for so many years."
In the face of Carlisle's overwhelming happiness, I felt myself blushing profusely and I found myself telling him the same thing I had told Elizabeth in my dream. "You don't need to thank me. I love Edward. He is my life."
"Just as you are his."
I never saw Carlisle look so giddy and I smiled back at him.
"Have you told Edward?" He asked me suddenly.
"No, do you think I should?"
"I do. I think it would mean the world to him."
"Bella would you stop pacing, you're giving me a headache. Not an easy thing to do." Alice chastised me as she watched me flit from one side of the living room to the next all in anticipation of seeing Edward.
"Sorry Alice. I can't help it."
"Edward will be home soon. In the meantime you should re…"
I interrupted her mid sentence. "If one more person tells me I need to rest, I will scream."
"Yes, I can see that." She said sarcastically. "Oh, for heaven's sake will you at least sit down then? Edward will have my head on a silver platter if he comes back and you are worse for the wear."
"Fine" I grumbled sitting down next to her with my arms crossed in front of me. I couldn't tell her why I needed to see Edward so badly but knowing Alice she could probably guess.
"You are going to make him so happy." She told me while perusing through a wedding magazine. "Mmm, I think this is a beautiful cake, don't you?" she pointed at a picture of a large intricate 5 tiered confection.
I didn't acknowledge the cake but focused on her previous statement. "Wait…back up a sec…you've seen?"
"Uh, psychic…remember." She tapped her head with her perfectly manicured nails. "Oh well, we ordered the cake already anyway." Sometimes having a conversation with Alice was like speaking to someone that had ADD. "And as for your question, yes I have seen and yes you will make him as happy as you made Carlisle earlier. Now…" she took another bridal magazine and shoved it at me. "Why don't you look for some ideas for the bridal party gifts?"
"You mean I actually get to pick something for my own wedding." I snorted. That comment was met with the evil eye Alice glare. "Just kidding."
"I know" she said with a grin. "By the way, the boys should be here in a few minutes. I can hear Emmett's lewd laughter now. He must be thinking dirty thoughts…naughty boy."
I went to get up to run to the door but Alice anticipated my move. "Sit." She ordered.
"Yes ma'am." I sat back down.
Edward came in the door first and pulled me into his arms giving me a searing kiss that had my toes curling.
"Get a room!" Emmett yelled out. "Oh wait...Eddie wants to save himself for the marriage bed." He snickered at his own joke.
"Shut up Emmett." I said throwing a pillow at him once Edward's lips left mine.
"You do realize that you are the only one that finds you amusing." Edward retorted though his eyes never left mine. "How are you feeling love?" He asked me.
"She's been antsy all day." Alice told him.
"I'm good, better than good. Can we go to the meadow now?" I asked him excitedly.
He threw his head back and laughed. "I think we can arrange that. Are you ready?"
"Honey, I was born ready." I told him suggestively and blushed when I heard 4 sets of laughter. Did I say that out loud?
"In that case, let's go." Edward picked me up in his arms as I knew he would and we were out the door.
I never got tired of the wondrous sight of our meadow lit by the sun. "Is it just me or does it look more beautiful somehow?" I asked when he finally set me down. He stared at me so adoringly, I blushed.
"It pales in comparison to you." He whispered stroking a tendril of my hair in his fingers. He was wrong. It paled in comparison to him, especially now when the sun shone on him making him glisten so brilliantly it nearly brought tears to my eyes.
"Come." I said taking his hand. "I have something to tell you."
We sat on the lush grass surrounded by the wildflowers. "You've piqued my curiosity, love."
I didn't say anything at first. I closed my eyes enjoying the heat of the sun on my face and bare arms and the scent of the fresh air. I sensed rather than saw Edward stroke a flower down the side of my neck to the top of my shirt.
"That tickles." I said opening my eyes and noting the goose bumps on my arms.
"Mmm…Do you know how much I adore you?" He replied replacing the flower with his lips. When he touched me like this I couldn't even think. My fingers wound their way into his hair and I heard him let out a low, lusty growl. All too soon, he pulled away. "You were going to tell me something?" He grinned.
"What?…oh. You completely dazzled me I almost forgot what I was going to tell you."
"I won't apologize."
"Okay Miss Swan soon to be Cullen, what is it you wanted to tell me?"
Now that I had him here, I didn't know how to tell him. "Bella…" He prodded.
"Okay, okay it's just that I don't know quite how to explain this."
"The direct approach usually works the best."
"Well actually Carlisle thought I should tell you. You see I had an odd sort of dream when I was in the hospital. It was about your mother."
"No, your real mother, Elizabeth."
This got his attention and he sat straight up. "How do you know it was my mother?" He asked curiously with a little skepticism thrown in the mix.
"She said it was…and…and Carlisle showed me a photograph. It was the same woman in my dream. We were here, in the meadow. She was so beautiful. You look just like her you know." I said caressing his cheek. "Anyway she wanted to thank me I suppose for being in your life." I paused then to look for any reaction, hidden or otherwise.
"I give thanks every day for you being in my life." He told me but his eyes showed wonder at what I was telling him.
"Anyway" I continued glossing over what he just said. If anyone should be giving thanks it should be me…and I did…often. "She also told me she did not regret her decision to have Carlisle change you. She was at peace. I think she wanted me to let you know this. I know what you think of yourself, how you see yourself as this horrible monster but you're not. To me you are more angel than demon. What I am trying to say is…you see Edward, she doesn't regret it…neither should you."
I couldn't tell if he believed me or not. Hell. I didn't even know if I would believe me. Slowly I saw his expression change from skepticism to confusion to joy. His face was now the exact image of Carlisle's when I had told him.
"Do you know what this means?' He asked me.
"I do but do you?"
He nodded slowly and wrapped me in his arms. "God, how I love you."
It was then that I realized that although I couldn't give Edward or any of the Cullen's any grand gesture of monetary value, I gave them something infinitely more important; I gave Carlisle the ability to forgive himself and Edward the gift of self-acceptance. I wasn't fool enough to believe that Edward's changes would happen overnight but hopefully in time the part of him that looked at himself as a selfish monster would become less dominant.
A warm floral scented breeze washed over us then and I could swear I heard Elizabeth's soft voice was hidden in the wind. "Thank you."
"You're welcome." I whispered.
I just want to say thank you all for reading my first Twilight fanfiction. I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it.