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Previously on Chapter 20 Change
I went to work happily on Monday, hoping I had a chance to talk to Bella since we were doing pretty well at the party on Saturday. I didn't see her during the morning, so I asked Angela which shift she was taking today. I was shocked by her answer.
"Oh, you didn't know? Bella's transferred to a small hospital in Forks. She starts work over there today." Angela said sympathetically.
"She didn't say anything…"
"I don't think she told a lot of people. It was pretty sudden. I heard that the new hospital in Forks needed someone experienced to help them train people. So Bella took the place."
I nodded numbly and mumbled thanks. I turned towards the direction of the door, hoping I could get away and clear my thoughts. No wonder she was so friendly at the party. It was because she knew she was moving away.
Why not rip my heart out, Bella? I thought you trusted me.
After driving for about three and a half hours, I switched to the right lane to get off the highway. I left work on the dot today to start the drive home to Forks. Seems like everyone had the same idea today; the highway was pretty crowded this evening.
Thank goodness Ryan slept most of the way. I sure didn't know how to handful a fussy child in the backseat by myself. By myself, I repeated again. The words held a lonely feeling, yet it gave me strength that I could do this.
I know I haven't been myself since the evening I read the warning. I've tried to put on a brave face, but inside I was scared to death. I couldn't bear it if something happened to Ryan. I've begun to see him like my own child.
Edward. Just the name brought warmth to my heart. He saw straight through me; I know that he knew I was keeping something from him. But if not telling him about the warning could keep him safe, so be it.
Seattle was too big a city to raise child. I've always wanted to raise my own child in a small town, especially my hometown, Forks. Besides, my dad is the retired Chief of Police, so Ryan should be safer there. Thanks to my dad, our house was as safe as it could be.
Every time Dad called, he's been saying that retired life was boring. If he weren't fishing, he would be planted in front of the TV. I think that ever since Mom walked out on us when I was kid—leaving Dad and I to fend for ourselves in Forks, he's come to realize that he's content by living just by himself—with his daughter occasionally butting in and out of his life of course. He's been used to me calling out of the blue, overstaying my welcome at home during the holidays, or me basically ignoring him for the past two years.
So to say he was shocked to see me holding Ryan and showing up at his door at night was an understatement.
"Bella? What are you doing here with…I suppose this is Ryan?" Charlie looked alarmed. It was a good thing I already told him about Ryan before, otherwise he would've fainted.
He opened the door wider for me and a sleeping Ryan to go through. I continued hesitantly, "Uh…I guess Ryan will sleep with me in my old room. You haven't turned it into a storage room yet, right?" I wasn't looking forward to cleaning out a room tonight. I was exhausted.
"No. Still the same." He said gruffly. Then he turned into the kitchen. Uh-oh, that means we've got some talking to do. Otherwise he'd just return back to his usual place in front of the television.
Just like my dad said, I opened the room to find everything the same I left it. I put some of the things I brought on the floor. Just as I wondered what I should do with Ryan, he suddenly woke up. And he was checking out the new environment very curiously. But since it was unfamiliar to him, he was clutching tightly to my shirt.
I went downstairs into the kitchen. "Ryan honey, this is grandpa."
"Hi, Ryan." He started making faces and funny sounds at the little kid, which made Ryan smile. I shouldn't be shocked to see my dad good with kids; he did raise me up after all.
"Can you say 'papa'?" I asked Ryan.
"Dada?" Ryan asked as he looked around the kitchen. I saw Charlie raise his eyebrow at me curiously.
I avoided Charlie's silent question. "Daddy's not here, sweetie. This is 'papa', your grandpa." I steered the subject away from his daddy.
Charlie went along with my lines, and to our excitement, he got the word right in the first few tries.
I almost forgot what I came downstairs for. "Hey, Dad. Do you still have my old crib?"
"It should be in the guest room…you could have a look there, along with all the stuff you used as a baby."
"Thanks. And could you get the other stuff from my car? I would've gotten it myself, but Ryan isn't really in favor of letting me go at the moment."
"Sure." After I handed over the car keys, I went in search of baby furniture.
After a lot of running around the house, I was finally able to get Ryan to sleep. I tip-toed out of the room and went downstairs. Thankfully I found all the stuff I needed in the guest room so I don't have to move like a crazy lady when I drive back to Seattle tomorrow. What I'm worrying about is that will Ryan be okay if I leave him in Forks with my Dad tomorrow night? He's past the stranger phase now, but I'm still worried.
"So…what brings you to Forks? Seems like you're staying a while." Charlie asked. I heard him mutter something along the lines of 'not that I'm not glad' after the statement.
"The hospital in Forks was in need of somebody experienced to help them, so I decided to help. It was a sudden notice, and I thought it would be nice if Ryan got to know Forks."
"It's a big decision, deciding to move to Forks on a whim by yourself. Where's Ryan's daddy? Or should I be asking who Ryan was referring to?" Charlie asked.
"Edward Cullen." I answered, unable to look at him in the eye. He's been overprotective about me around boys ever since I was a kid. And since he still sees me as his 'little girl', his habits don't change.
"Oh, Carlisle's kid." I chanced a look when he made the comment. To my surprise, there wasn't murder in his eyes.
I nodded. "He's been helping me with Ryan. And since Ryan started calling Edward his daddy—and don't ask me why because that's a long story for another day, we didn't have the heart to correct him."
"I guess that's for the best." Charlie agreed. "You guys close?" Ah…straight to the question. And the murder eyes appear.
"Sort of. I mean, we're both taking care of a kid." I said exasperatedly.
"He know you're in Forks? Oh, he'll know soon enough, his parents are living here." Charlie said to himself.
Edward didn't grow up in Forks. In fact, his parents only just moved here when he was close to finishing college. Something about the great environment Forks has to offer. I haven't met either of his parents before, not that I had any reason to anyway. Since this is a small town, everyone knew everyone—and everything that's happening around town.
Then he turned serious, "You sure you're doing the right thing?"
I knew what he was asking, and I could tell he already knew that I was keeping something else from him. So I didn't lie. "I'm not sure I'm doing the correct thing, but I know it's the best for now. I would really like to have Ryan remember his childhood in Forks. Much better than the busy Seattle." I added.
Charlie only nodded. He wasn't that good at expressing his emotions. But at least tries to once in a while.
"I might have to drive back to Forks tomorrow to get some of my stuff. But I'll be as quick as I can." I've decided that if Ryan still isn't comfortable with me leaving him with Charlie by tomorrow afternoon, then I'll just have to give a call to Alice and say I won't be able to make it in time for her party. "I'd better turn in now. It's been a long day."
"You go ahead. I think I'll stay downstairs for a while." Charlie said.
Just as I walked out of the kitchen, I heard my Dad say, "Welcome home, Bella."
I turned back and smiled, "Thanks, Dad. It's good to be home."
After a breakfast war zone in the kitchen—Ryan was very insistent that he eat his food by himself these days, I finally went to see what Charlie was up to. When I led Ryan into the living room, I was surprised to find that Charlie had already "childproofed" the house. He removed the breakable and small items away from the side tables. The sharp edges of the cabinets have been protected as well. I heard some banging at the back door. I found Charlie changing the lock on the door.
"Thanks for thinking of childproofing the house, Dad." I said.
"No problem. Only the kitchen's left now."
"Papa." Ryan called beside me.
"Hello, Ryan. Do you want to go play in the living room?" Charlie asked. Ryan found the idea fun, so he tugged on my hand.
"Okay, Ryan, we'll go play. And papa would join us after he's done with what he's doing, right?" I wanted my Dad and Ryan to get along before I leave today.
"Sure." Charlie said.
Ryan and Charlie got along just fine, to my relief. So I felt it was safe for me to go to Alice's party tonight. I waved goodbye to them in the afternoon, ready to head back to Seattle, desperately hoping I would have time to change at my apartment before I went to Alice and Jasper's new home, or Alice would give me a lecture on clothes for who knows how long.
Fortunately, traffic was okay and I arrived at their new house with time to spare—after a change of clothes of course. I fell in love with their house at first sight. It felt like home.
"Bella! You're early!" Alice exclaimed after she opened the door.
"I thought I might be of help, not that I doubt your party planning abilities though." I replied dryly.
"No doubt of that for sure," Jasper said as he came to greet me, "her party planning abilities basically consist of ordering people around." He pointed to himself while he said it.
"I did not order you around!" Alice retorted with her back to Jasper. I smiled inwardly, boy was Jasper in even more trouble. She closed the door behind me. "Oh, Bella, maybe you could help with putting the snacks in the bowls? Everything's in the living room already."
Jasper and I laughed. I shot Jasper a glance, "I totally get what you mean."
Alice never got a chance to reply because the doorbell rang again. And so many more times through the evening that she decided to leave the door unlocked instead.
An hour must have passed, and I lost count of how many people I talked to already. Just as I glanced around the room involuntarily, Angela said softly beside me, "He's not here yet."
I turned my head slightly, "I was not looking for him."
Angela rolled her eyes, "Like you weren't. You've been scanning the room every few minutes for the whole evening. But he'll come; he promised Alice." She gave me a sly look before she went back into the crowd.
A few minutes later, I was so bored with the guy that was talking to me that I started counting the number of freckles on his face. Even freckles were more interesting than his topic of toads.
"Bella." I heard a familiar male voice beside me.
I whipped my head around. "Edward," I acknowledged. I smiled apologetically to freckle guy, and thankfully he got the point and left. Though I don't think Edward noticed my exchange with freckle guy.
"Do you want something to drink?" Edward asked.
"Oh…uh some champagne would be nice. Thanks." I was so nervous that I couldn't look at him in the eye.
After we had our champagne in our hands, he asked, "Where's Ryan tonight?"
Ahh, the question I've been waiting for. I had the answer prepared already. I answered truthfully, "I've got somebody taking care of him." He nodded, seeming to understand not to venture any further.
"Bella! Edward!" Alice called us while she and Jasper came our way. "I'm so glad you could make it!" Alice hugged me, but not before I saw her mince her lips purposely at me. She knew I would ask why she was acting like she hadn't seen me at her party earlier.
"How about we show you around our home?" Alice said excitedly, as her eyes darted between Edward and I. So that was her reason, she wanted Edward and I to have a chance to interact with each other. If Edward had known I arrived way earlier than him, he would think it weird why I hadn't had a tour of their house yet. That sly girl.
As Alice introduced every single piece of furniture excitedly, I started to imagine having a home like this one day. I stole glances at Edward and found out he spaced out a few times, too. Was his trail of thoughts the same as mine? I pushed the idea in my head away as quickly as it formed.
Their kitchen was a dream come true. Oh, how I would love to have a kitchen like this someday! But Alice wouldn't let me daydream about her kitchen a second more as she pushed me toward the family room and then the backyard.
"Spill, now! What is wrong with you and Edward?" She demanded as soon as we were out of earshot; we were standing in a patch of grass that was to be a future garden.
"Nothing." I mumbled.
Alice glared at me, "Yeah, nothing. And you guys do a great job of covering that up." She turned to me and said quietly, "I thought you said you missed him, so why not just clear it up between you two? Jasper says that although Edward is frustrated and angry, he is really worried about you. And you know what? Sometimes it hurts the most to see a loved one feeling troubled."
"He doesn't lo-" I started to say, but got cut off by Alice's fierce stare.
"Fine, whatever. Just don't do anything rash, okay?"
I nodded. We talked a bit more after that, straying from that particular topic. I asked about Rose and Emmett, and Alice said that their lives couldn't be busier right now, but they were happy.
After we walked back into the house, Alice instantly left me for Jasper, leaving me with Edward. And I decided then and there I was going to enjoy myself, just for one night. I let myself forget about the past and present, only focusing on the present, on the man I cared about most beside me. And I did have fun that night.
As I slipped away quietly later, I looked back at the closed door behind me and whispered, "Please forgive me, Edward. It's for the best."
With shortage of doctors and nurses in the new hospital, I wanted to rip my hair out on my first day there. Things were crazy, nothing was in order, and people still kept coming in. A much needed rest was definitely in order.
"Dr. Swan?" An unfamiliar male voice called behind me.
"Yes?" I stood up and turned my head around, then found myself face to face with a tall, middle-aged doctor.
The kid I was tending to chose at that exact moment to scream at the top of his lungs. I winced slightly, trying not to let it show.
The doctor smiled, "I should let you get back to work, but I wanted to see how you're adapting to our hospital. I think you're doing just fine." He chuckled.
I managed a small smile, and the kid screamed again. I darted my eyes back and forth between the doctor and my patient. The doctor motioned for me to continue on with the poor little kid who made it known to everyone on our floor that he doesn't like needles.
I arrived home at around eight that night, exhausted. I was grateful to know that Ryan was fed and playing with my dad in the other room. I slumped on the sofa, and put my feet up on the living room table. After closing my eyes for a while, my hand went to touch Edward's necklace by instinct. I sighed, I burned the bridge I had with Edward when I came running to Forks. It's over now. Even if he knew where I was, I doubt he'd have the big heart to come and find Ryan and I.
My phone vibrated with a text from Angela. How's it going? Just so you know, we all miss you, especially a certain someone I shouldn't mention. Call if you need us or just want to hear our voices!
I read the text over and over again, somehow making me feel as if I were working beside them today.
A few weeks went by, and Angela kept me updated on things happening in Harborview Medical Center by email. My young patients all wondered where I went, a nurse at our station had a baby, and best of all, Mike and Jessica started holding hands in public! I was genuinely happy for them. I replied saying that I miss everybody back in Seattle, and the small things that are happening in Ryan's life right now.
Ryan still asked for Edward—whether his dada was coming to see him. I couldn't possibly say Edward would come and see him, because it was all my fault; I couldn't say he wouldn't come and see Ryan, since it would break Ryan's heart. I never gave Ryan a straight answer and other times, I'd divert his attention.
Alice was hurt that I didn't tell her about my sudden departure. But she assumed that it had something to do with Edward, and since she was half correct, I didn't correct her. I wouldn't tell her where I was, because I was afraid she'd hop in a car and show up at my door a few hours later. And I wasn't afraid of Edward telling her, because the last I heard, nobody dared to mention my name to Edward anymore, in fact, everyone treaded lightly around the topic when talking to him.
Things are quieter in Forks. And while I've always kept a close eye on Ryan, I haven't seen any danger happening to him. There was never a follow-up to the warning note. Even if they, whoever they are, delivered it to my apartment in Seattle, at least they wouldn't find Ryan there. I haven't seen any notes popping out of our mailbox in Forks, so I figured I was safe.
I took Ryan to Jake's place sometimes, because he was great with kids. And once, I asked about what happened after Edward and I left the Volturi's party.
"Oh, we caught up, and as you can guess, Chelsea listened in." Jake rolled his eyes.
I laughed, "I'd be shocked if she wasn't. So what did you guys talk about?"
"Heidi said so much about her husband that I was beginning to wonder whose wedding party it was. It was Demetri this, Demetri that."
"True, although both Heidi and Chelsea talk their heads off, Heidi's nice and angelic, unlike Chelsea." I shuddered. Jake wholeheartedly agreed.
"Hey, what about Gianna? I heard afterwards that Gianna actually lived in Seattle all this time!"
"I thought you knew. Gianna, well she's getting married to a rich family, too. Her sister-in-law is a sick person though, very manipulative." Jake said in disgust.
"What's it with everyone getting married to rich men these days?" I wondered aloud. "What's the name of the family though?"
"Saxon, I think."
"Oh, I've heard of them! I've seen them in the papers once, something about donating money to an institute or hospital. If I remember correctly, the family has been doing charity for quite a while."
"I'd donate money too if I had that much money to throw around." Jake mumbled.
I chuckled at Jake's response. "But enough about Gianna, I want to hear about Renata." Actually, I was curious about what Chelsea told me that day, and I wanted proof.
"She studied law, she graduated, she worked in the family's company. Period" Jake answered.
"And…?" I probed.
Jake shook his head, "I don't know anything else."
Weird, I thought to myself, how come we know so little of Renata? I looked back at Jake, but found him busy playing with Ryan on the carpet. So I figured the topic was closed.
One morning, a nurse came by and asked me whether I was free on Friday night.
"This Friday?" I asked. "I think so."
The nurse replied, "Great, then would you like to attend a small gathering that's held at Dr. Cullen's house?"
"C-cullen?" I wondered aloud. The only Cullen I knew was Edward, and he was currently living in Seattle.
"Yes, Dr. Carlisle Cullen."
I racked my brain, but I couldn't remember ever hearing the name come up in hospital meetings. How could I miss that Edward's dad was working in this hospital, too? I knew he was a doctor, but didn't he retire already?
I cleared my throat, "I don't think I've heard the news that Dr. Cullen is working in this hospital."
The nurse smiled, "Oh he doesn't really work here. But he wanted to help as soon as he heard about the new hospital in town. He checks in now and then, making sure everything runs smoothly. He won't be getting his much wanted retirement life anytime soon though."
I nodded, not trusting myself to speak. I had hundreds of questions running through my head, but I just couldn't seem to form a coherent question.
"So….is that a yes?" The nurse tapped her pen on the clipboard.
"Huh? Sorry, I didn't quite catch that." I said embarrassingly.
"Are you able to attend the gathering? The doctor only wants to get to know the other doctors in the hospital, and it's a great chance to meet other people, Dr. Swan. You've been working too hard." The older nurse smiled gently.
I gulped. "I guess I'll go then." I managed a small smile. I saw the nurse draw a check on her paper.
I dreaded Friday. This Friday to be exact. It feels like "meeting the parents", although I hope it's nothing like that. I know Edward rarely visits his mom and dad, but I'm not sure how much he told them about me. Or if he mentioned me at all.
I parked my car a distance away from the house since there were so many cars. Dr. Cullen's house was located on the side of town, and I had to drive through a dirt road to get here. As I walked closer, putting the trees blocking my view behind me, a great mansion came into view. Of all the years I've known Edward, I never knew he came from a rich family. I knew he lived comfortably, but not this wealthy.
The gathering turned out to be a small party. We all had name tags to pin in front of us, and I retrieved my "Dr. Isabella Swan" from a lady at the front door.
I turned my head towards the voice, and found the voice belonged to the host. I realized that he was also the doctor I met on my first day at the new hospital. "Hello, Dr. Cullen." We shook hands formally.
"And how are you adjusting to our hospital?" He asked warmly.
"It's nice actually. And it helps that the hospital is small enough to get to know everybody." I said truthfully. Having transferred from Harborview, I spoke from experience.
"That's good to know. Well, feel free to wander around and get to know everyone else. The food's over there." He pointed to a far corner.
I nodded. He said apologetically, "I'm sorry, but someone is asking for me. Excuse me."
"Of course." I said. Thankfully, I spotted some other doctors I knew and went over to join them. But I didn't really pay attention to the conversation. I had lots of mixed feelings. It seems that Edward never mentioned me to his parents at all, since Dr. Carlisle Cullen didn't know who I was besides that I was the new doctor at the hospital. It stung a little, but a part of me felt relieved. Judging by our relationship status now, it would be awkward if I was meeting his parents under the current circumstances.
A while later, after getting refreshments from the food corner, I stood a little distance away from the crowd, allowing myself room to breathe. I busied myself by looking at the framed photos on the mantelpiece. There was one of young Dr. Carlisle Cullen and another who I assumed was his wife; they were looking sweetly at each other. Another one was of small boy with a silly grin wearing his superman Halloween costume. I assumed that was Edward when he was a kid. The third one was of Edward and his parents. I could recognize Edward in the photo because he was probably in his college years when the photo was taken.
"Hi, I don't believe we've met." I turned my head to my right and found the woman I saw in the pictures seconds ago talking to me. The pictures hadn't done her any justice, she was graceful and elegant. "I'm Esme Cullen."
"Isabella Swan." I smiled back. "But please call me Bella, Mrs. Cullen"
Esme looked thoughtful for a moment. Then she recovered and said, "Psshh, Mrs. Cullen sounds old, just call me Esme, my dear." She glanced at the photo I was looking at, "My son's a doctor too, about your age actually." Esme turned to me and asked, "Do you know Edward?"
Will Bella lie to Esme? Or will she say the truth?
Find out in the next chapter!
Last time I updated this story, it was a year ago.
I have never forgotten I still have a story unfinished, but you know what pushed me to start writing again? It was the number of reviews/favorite story alerts that I got last month. I said to myself, "Hey! There are still ppl reading, waiting for you to finish your story." And so here's the next chapter :P
This chapter is a filler, I'll admit. But sometimes they're needed. And I know they don't satisfy the readers' appeptite enough XD
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Thank you so much for sticking to my story. Luv you guys 3