a/n Okay, so we're back. Sorry it took so long. I'm trying, though.

As usual, you guys blow me away, and I love every minute of it. Thank you so much for your support. My usual beta is busy, I love you girl, so a dear friend of mine, you know who you are, took a look-see at this one before I presented it to you.

Of course, I don't own Twilight. Oh, I have a few pieces of memorabilia, but don't we all. I certainly don't get a paycheck from this. LOL I may, however, have a new man in my life. We'll have to wait and see on that one, however. *squees just a little*

Onward, lovelies!

EPOV

I am awakened by voices speaking in hushed whispers in the room. Opening my eyes and scanning the room, I see my father in conversation with a nurse. They are standing at the foot of Bella's bed looking at her chart discussing her progress.

Swinging my legs over the side of the cot, I lean my elbows on my knees and rest my head in my hands, scrubbing them vigorously over my face. I am still tired, but I have slept several hours. My father looks much more rested than he did when last I saw him.

Seeing me sitting, he walks over to me and speaks softly, "She's doing very well, Edward. Maybe even better than we expected at this point. I have always ascribed to the philosophy that says patients, conscious or not, are aware of their surroundings, and can hear and understand when we speak to them. I've arranged for a few days leave for you. Stay here, talk to Bella, but take care of yourself as well. She's going to need some help when she gets out of here, and if you don't take care of yourself, you'll be in no shape to help her." He fixes me with his icy blue eyes. I nod my head.

"Thank you, Dad. For everything. For taking care of Bella, for arranging for me to stay here . . . just . . . everything. Thanks. I know I behaved unprofessionally, but it was such a shock. I need to call her dad -"

"I already took care of that. I told him what happened, that she's here at the hospital; that you're here. He's going to get here as soon as he can. He has to make some arrangements to have some deputies cover his shifts and such." My dad smiles at my dazed expression.

"I think I should call him, anyway. And I want to call the precinct and see if I can find out why she was on duty . . ." I am, once again, lost in thought. Why? I just can't figure out why she would be out in a patrol car on her off time. And more importantly, why she didn't let me know if she was going to be working.

First things first, however. After taking care of some pressing personal needs, I'm standing again at Bella's bedside, her dainty hand in mine. I lean over to brush my lips against her forehead and whisper my hellos and I love yous.

I tell her what I know of what happened, what her injuries are, and that I'm not going to leave until she's awake and with me, once again. Over and over again, I ask her what she was doing in a patrol car on her off time, interspersed with telling her how much I love her, and how glad I am that she is a fighter and getting better. I brush her hair back from her forehead and lean in to kiss her, frequently. I don't let go of her hand as I sit down in the chair at her bedside.

I spend the entire day talking to Bella, holding her hand and just watching her and all the monitors telling me that her body is working properly. Dad stops by a couple of times to check in, on both of us. I know he's worried about me and my reaction to all of this.

My phone call to the precinct nets me nothing. I resign myself to waiting for Bella's dad to get here. Maybe he can get more information from them, simply by virtue of being her father. Of course, the fact that he's in law enforcement won't hurt either.

It is a long day, stressful even. One would think that just sitting around talking like I am wouldn't be tiring, but I find that by early evening I'm exhausted again. I tell Bella that I'm going to go across the room and lie down and take a nap. I silently thank my father again for all he's done for both of us.

It seems that I've just closed my eyes when I hear agitated whispers in the room. Opening my eyes I see Charlie arguing in whispered tones with Bella's nurse as she's trying to remove him from the room. I jump up from my cot and propel both of them out of the room by their elbows. I thank the nurse and turn to Charlie.

"I'm glad you're here, Charlie. Bella's doing really well."
"Why the hell is she here in the first place?" he whisper-yells.

"All I know is that she was in a patrol car and was in a high-speed accident which landed her in the trauma unit. Thank God she wasn't injured any worse. I called her boss, but got the runaround. I'm hoping that you'll be able to get more information about what was going on. As far as I know, she wasn't even supposed to be working," I say, trying to fill him in with as much information as I had about the whole situation.

"Oh, I'll be calling them. Trust me," Charlie growls.

"I'm sure Dad filled you in on Bella's injuries, and the procedures that were performed when she arrived. She really is doing very well. They're keeping her sedated for a couple of reasons. One, her ribs need to begin healing before she starts moving. She has a rather unusual injury and it takes quite a while for it to heal. And, two, with the chest tube in, if she were awake she'd need pain meds for it anyway. So, for now, they're just keeping her sedated. If all goes well, they'll probably start to wean her off of it tomorrow or the next day," I conclude.

As I speak, Charlie seems to lose some of the bluster that he was exhibiting earlier. His shoulders slump, and I can see the worry etched into his features. Clapping him on the shoulder I say, "Let's go in and see her, shall we?" and I lead him to Bella's bedside.

Charlie seems deflated as he looks at his baby girl lying in the hospital bed, hooked up to so many monitors and looking so lifeless. He sighs and takes Bella's small hand in his large rough one.

"Bella? Daddy's here. I love you, sweetheart. So much," his voice cracking at the end. I can see the tears welling up in his eyes as he watches Bella's chest rise and fall with each breath. He looks across the bed to me, where I'm stroking Bella's other hand and arm, and I give him what I hope is an encouraging smile.

"Go ahead. Talk to her. I'm sure she can hear you and understands what you are saying. It can only help her to know that she has people around her that love her," I say around the lump in my throat that's threatening to keep me from breathing. "I'm going to go down to the cafeteria, can I bring you back something? Coffee, a soda, a sandwich?" I offer. I know he'd like to have some time alone with his daughter, so I'll give it to him.

"Bella? I'm going to go down to the cafeteria and get a bite to eat. I'll be back before you know it, baby. I love you. I'll be back." I brush her dark hair off her forehead, once again, before placing my lips there and kissing her gently. "I love you."

"A coffee would be great. Black. Thanks, Edward." Charlie sits down in the chair I'd claimed all day yesterday to spend some time with his little girl.

I look down at her, once more, willing myself to turn and walk out the door and down to the cafeteria. My heart is screaming at me not to leave, but my head is telling me that Charlie needs some time, too. So, for once, I let my head take the lead and walk out of the room.

In the cafeteria, I pick up a sandwich, some fruit, and a cup of coffee. I'm going to need the caffeine to help me through what will undoubtedly be a stressful day. I slide into a chair in the corner and attempt to relax and to force myself to eat. I'm really not hungry, but I know I need to eat. Maybe even more important than that, however, is that I need to give Charlie time with Bella. It's killing me to stay down here while she's up there, but I force myself to stay in my seat.

Not long after I arrive, my dad comes in, spies me in the corner and strides over, collapsing into the chair across from me.

"How you holding up, Son?" he asks, leaning his elbows on the table and his chin resting on a fist while his blue eyes assess me. I know what he's doing, but I'm not going to complain.

"I'm okay, Dad. Charlie's up with Bella. Got here a little bit ago. I figured he'd like some time with her, so I'm trying to give it to him. But, it's so hard to sit here with her up there," I sigh.

"I know it is, Edward. When your mom had her surgery a few years back, even though it wasn't an emergency and she hadn't had life threatening injuries, I nearly killed me to go back to work while she was recuperating," his eyes hold the same stress and worry I've been feeling since I first saw Bella in the Emergency Room. He does know what I was going through. The knowledge does little to appease the guilt and worry, but it is good to know that I'm not alone in my feelings.

We sit for quite some time, Dad trying to distract me with talk of the upcoming holidays and the plans Mom and the rest of the family have for them. Alice is bringing her musician boyfriend, much to Dad's dismay; and Emmett is bringing his longtime girlfriend, Rosalie. I have been planning to bring Bella, and I'm sure that she will be well enough to come with me for Thanksgiving dinner with my family. I'm just afraid the extra trip may be too much, too soon for her.

Dad notices my sigh as he's rambling, trying to keep me from bolting back upstairs. "Edward, I know you had special plans for the Thanksgiving weekend. And I know you feel like it's being stripped from you. But, if I know Bella at all, I know she won't care about the lack of a special place or time. I'm sure there will be a moment, sometime that weekend, that will just be the two of you. I'll even talk to your mom and see if we can't orchestrate something at the house, create that special time and place there, for you to ask Bella to become a part of our family."

My eyes begin to fill, much to my consternation, with tears. For all his aloofness, for all the stern gruffness he shows to the residents, my father has a soft heart. Just one of the reasons he is such a great doctor and so well loved by his patients. My father also knows me so well, like he can see into my heart and knows how to strengthen me and make me feel as though a hole hasn't been torn through me. I blink away my tears, refusing to let him see the weakness they show.

"I'll think about that, Dad. But it sounds like it might be the best thing. This whole disaster has shown me that I don't want to wait to make Bella mine. She was almost taken from me, and I can't let that happen, again. I know you'd like me to wait until my residency is over, but I want to marry her as soon as she'll have me."

Carlisle smiles, his icy eyes melting. "Of course you do, Son. And though it might be better, perhaps, if you waited, I understand your hurry. I didn't want to wait to make Esme my wife, either. Once you've found them, you want to tie yourself to them as tightly as you possibly can. I can see that you love her just as much as I love your mother, and she loves you too, Edward. I'm sure she'll agree, not only to marry you, but to do so as soon as possible." He ends his speech with a chuckle and a shake of his head, "Young love."

I can't help but smile at him. He has me so pegged. The thought of making Bella my wife, my life, sends my heart soaring. Although she has a long way to go, I'm certain she'll make it and I can't wait for the day I see her walking down the aisle toward me on Charlie's arm.

Speaking of Charlie, I think he's had enough time with his baby. It's time for me to go back and claim my love back from him. I head back into the service area of the cafeteria, after bidding my father goodbye with a quick man-hug and thank you, to get Charlie's coffee. I'm nearly giddy as I make my way back upstairs, thinking about my future, my Bella.

e/n Don't you just love a giddy Edward. LOL We'll find out what Charlie finds out, next time. I promise. And hopefully, Bella will be waking up!