"Angela, do you have the Ramsey file? I think I've got a lead on a possible next of kin location."
I hurriedly gathered my leftover work and stuffed it into my commuter bag, ready to head home. My day had kicked off at 8AM with a seventeen-year old girl that had waltzed into the facility; after having lived on the streets for two years, addicted to cocaine. I frequently wondered where the hell these kids' parents were, but as was most often the case, we were better off not knowing.
"No," the soft tone of Angela's voice startled me, my reaction bringing on another dizzy spell. "I think Mike took it on home with him. Something about there being errors in his back history."
What is going on with me? Where are these dizzy spells coming from?
"Damn him!" Mike Newton had undermined me for the last time. I'd been putting in overtime on this case for months now and he knew it. Mike was a greasy weasel that had been sabotaging and stealing cases from under me for months, and I knew it was out of spite for me not taking him up on the offer of 'a good time'. Yeah, I'll let you in on something. I'm not usually a negative or judgmental person but a good time with him was something that made my stomach turn and my hoo-hah go into hiding.
I slapped my palm over my forehead as I fell back against my desk, the lightheaded feeling becoming too much. Angela stepped closer, her brow creased in worry. Bless her heart. She was my assistant but also one of my dearest friends. Heart of gold, which to be honest was incredibly hard to come by these days. She was to be married in three weeks to the head doctor here, Ben Chaney. They had been together for four years when he proposed, not even six months ago. I could count on one hand the number of couples that were as in love as Angela and Ben. And I was sadly not one of them.
I groaned as my eyes fluttered closed and gave into the uncontrollable spinning, which in turn brought on nausea.
"Bella, are you sure you're alright?" Her right hand rested on my shoulder as her worried, dark brown eyes stared down at me. Her light brown hair hung down in a curtain on the right side of her face.
"You've been having these spells a lot these past couple of weeks. Maybe you really should see a doctor."
I managed to force a smile on my face that, with little help from God, would come off as convincing. Judging from the look upon her face as she arched a brow, she wasn't buying it. Hell, who was I kidding? I wouldn't buy it either.
"I'm not sure Ang. The stomach sickness seems to have passed, but these spells are only getting worse. Add to that the lack of sleep I've had over the past month. I don't think James will have any problem accepting the boot tomorrow night." I couldn't stop the scowl.
"So you're really breaking up with him?" I gave her a nod of my head followed by a sigh. This queasy feeling was only becoming worse with every continual second. "Well, do you think he has any suspicions?"
I sure as hell hope not.
"If he does, he hasn't made them known to me. I really don't care at this point. I let our relationship go on too long, and it isn't fair to him for me to prolong it anymore."
"Forgive me if I'm out of line, but is it possible you could be pregnant, Bella?" Angela's whispered curiosity hit me like a ton of bricks as I began recounting the days since my last monthly. The timing was certainly there. Fuck! The dizzy spells, the morning sickness, my tiredness…it all seemed to make sense when paired with that possibility.
"Ang, I wish I could say it wasn't but it is. There were a few weeks that I went without my pills due to a backorder at the pharmacy. What am I going to do if I am?" My voice broke as realization dawned on me.
James Carter and I had been dating since our sophomore year in high school, though I'm really not even sure how I endured him that long. For the first five years or so everything was great. We were deeply in love and didn't have a problem in the world. Until he began drinking.
And it was through his drinking I became close with his best friend since childhood, Edward Cullen. He'd been there to talk me through the awful nights when James would come home to our Seattle loft, spitting insults and heavily intoxicated. I'd tried numerous times to get him into rehab or a twelve-step program but it always ended in a heated match that left me hurt and distraught. He knew how fucked up my life had been growing up, so to know that he'd put that aside and subjected me to that kind of life again wounded me deeply. I've never been more proud and thankful for my job as a counselor at Seattle's Youth Rehab Facility than I was at those particular moments. I just attributed it to the fact that I was able to help kids like me find guidance and their feet again; that I was able to be a friend when they had none; to give them a place to go when left defenseless on the street.
Each one of us working here had our own back stories, including me. And for my own piece of mind, I decided I would stop by the pharmacy for a test. I hoped and prayed with everything in me that this test would give me reason to consider other possibilities for my symptoms. I had enough stress on me as it was.
"Do you want me to go to with you to get a test?" Angela offered in a tone so low I almost didn't hear her.
See? Heart of gold. But I couldn't take her up on that offer.
"Thanks, Ang, but I'll be okay. I'm going to stop by the pharmacy on my way home, though I may wait until tomorrow if this fucking spell doesn't pass." Angela grimaced at what I'm sure was the expression marring my brow.
"Ok. Are you feeling okay enough to drive? I'd offer you a lift but Ben and I have a meeting with the pastor at six for our counseling session. Should I call a cab? James?" Her eyes darted to a piece of paper before looking up at me again with trepidation.
How I wished I could call Edward, just to see his beautiful face, if even for a moment, but I couldn't. Not tonight. Tomorrow would be a different story. I slowly stood, smoothing out the kinks in my skirt before hoisting my bag up on my shoulder and walking with Angela out of my office. Of course I walked at a snail's pace, hoping against hope that the nausea didn't get the best of me.
"I think I can manage. Cabs are eerie this time of night, especially alone, and calling Edward is out. This is the last thing I should be dragging him into right now," I scoffed as I locked my office behind me and headed towards the main entrance.
"So you still haven't told him?"
My eyes went to the floor. Was it too much to ask for one break…just one? All I wanted to do was go home and put my feet up with a nice glass of chardonnay. All the drama would come tomorrow, but tonight I wanted to just be with my thoughts of what I would do assuming this test should throw a wrench into my plans.
"No I haven't. I was waiting until tomorrow night, after everything is said and done. No offense, Ang, but can we please not talk about this anymore? It's taking enough concentration as it is just to get down to my car." I sighed, rolling my eyes, a sorry excuse of a laugh slipping through.
With a simple nod of her head, she gently smiled and shrugged.
"I'm sorry. I don't mean to push or question you. I just know how caught up in him you've been and this whole thing is years in the making. I just want to see you happy."
I felt horrible. I really didn't want to shut down that way, but I was already fighting against my body to keep from vomiting all over myself.
"I know, Ang."
Once we were to our cars, we bid each other goodnight but not before agreeing to a coffee date in the morning.
Climbing into the driver's seat of my old beat up Toyota Camry, I threw my commuter bag over into the passenger seat, reaching over to grab my cell to plug it in and charge it. As I did so, with my head resting against the seat, the light flashed at me alerting a message.
"Dammit, what do you people want?" I mumbled to myself as I hit the button on my phone to light up the new messages. Everything went away as my stomach went wild with butterflies, and I couldn't help the smile that formed from the sight of Edward's name.
What do you say to meeting at Starbux in the morning? We need to catch up.
I smiled at the thought of meeting up with him as we hadn't really had the chance to see each other or catch up in the past week or so. I hurriedly texted him back, now more eager than ever to get that test and figure this out.
I've got a date with Angela already. Want to join us? Usual spot.
Putting the car into reverse, I left the parking garage and started on my way towards Walgreens. Did I mention I hate five o'clock traffic in Seattle? If my head wasn't already off, I'd have rammed it into the steering wheel out of frustration. Not even five minutes into my trip and I was trapped at MLK and Rainier, one of the busiest intersections of Seattle.
Getting back to the Edward thing, I wasn't sure if he'd go along with me and Angela tomorrow morning. The last time he'd tagged along it was disastrous. Mike Newton had decided to join Ben, Angela, Edward and I, and needless to say, they didn't get on well at all.
The ring of my phone alerted me to another message.
Name the time. Oh and do us both a favor, keep the Fig out. ;)
A laugh escaped at the mention of Edward's name for Mike. One meeting was all it took. Already my heart was stuttering in palpitations at seeing Edward finally tomorrow morning.
7 sharp. No excuses if you're late and that includes hair difficulties.
Shut it you! See you then!
His last text came not even thirty seconds later. I loved ragging on him about his glorious hair. I never could quite make out whether to consider it a bad-hair-day-gone-good or just plain sex-hair. The way in which the bronze strands stood in wild disarray naturally was a panty dropper for me; along with his chiseled jaw, or as Ang and I called it, 'jaw porn'. His deep green eyes seemed to see straight through me, but that of course could have been attributed to the four years I'd known him.
Edward, as I mentioned before, was and I guess still is, James' best friend who he'd had all his years of growing up. I liked to believe my relationship with him was now stronger than the one he possessed with James.
Take that fucker!
That would be my subconscious rearing her ugly head. James had introduced us at a keg party our senior year when Edward moved back to Forks from Chicago. We had instantly hit it off, quickly becoming friends. There was just something about Edward that drew me in, and it wasn't just his good looks.
We were always thrown together in gatherings of friends, thanks to James, and when he and his friends got to drinking and partying hard, Edward would be the one to sit out with me and laugh at their crazy antics. It was in college that he and I each moved to Seattle and gradually became the great friends we are now. I attended Seattle Pacific University to acquire my degree in psychology while he went to the Seattle University School of Law. James had joined the army straight out of high school and was away in Iraq serving our country. I'll admit, keeping up our relationship during those years was no easy task but we managed with regular phone calls and emails.
Edward and I began meeting every morning over coffee and started a weekend ritual of movies and shopping, most usually with his sister Alice. Let me just note that we both loathed the shopping but she was relentless. We also shared a passion for reading, he'd finish one book, and then pass it on to me, and vice versa. We pretty much became each other's rock over those years. I suppose most of our friends suspected we were dating as he normally escorted me to the various dances and balls at each of our respective schools. He gave the excuse of not wanting me to miss out on anything. To this day I still hadn't found anyone I could confide in and talk about all my fears to like I did Edward. He truly was the best friend I'd ever had. But in all those years nothing ever happened between us romantically.
It was when James was relieved of his duty and came back home that things started becoming tense. James suffered from a mild case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which I guess looking back on it, was probably still the main reasoning behind his drunken episodes these days. On the nights that his outbursts turned to violence, it often began with over-drinking in some random bar he'd stumbled upon. It was also on those nights I'd taken up shelter at Edward's. He would hold me while I cried, clean up my wounds if there were any to be cleaned and he'd do everything in his power to take my mind off of it. Most often times it worked. There was never a time that he wasn't there for me, regardless of the hour or where he was. It was during this time that I began falling in love with my best friend.
However, there would be times where my brother Emmett had flown in for a visit and stayed with James and me. When James had an episode it would usually lead to a battle between the two of them. I guess that's why Emmett has never really given him a chance. He doesn't trust him and that only infuriates James more.
I don't know, call me weak or naïve, but I don't think James would have ever hurt me intentionally. Edward and Emmett soon begged to differ the more and more I got hurt. As a psychologist I attributed it all to the PTSD. The only thing I was afraid of at the time was James discovering my true feelings for Edward. But that day never came.
So here I am. I'm still okay, only I don't feel for James the way I used to. I'm not leaving him for his issues. I'm leaving him because I can no longer hold my love for Edward inside. It's bigger than ever, and it just hurts too much when I see him with another woman, which for the record hasn't happened in a while. It hurts when I go days without talking to or meeting with him. I've never brought the topic up but I can only hope he returns my feelings.
Yeah, that's only if this test proves to be false.
Mumbling to my subconscious to back off, I can't help but think of another aspect. If this test comes out positive, maybe James and I will rebuild the relationship we once had. Maybe a baby can bring James around and put an end to the violence and alcohol.
My heart winces in pain at the sheer thought of having a child with him. It's not the thought of having a child per se, just the idea of having one with James. Edward would never want me if I turned out to be pregnant with James' child. And I'd never dream of leaving James and having my child grow up without knowing the love of a father. Edward would be my friend, sure, but even that was becoming too painful. I wanted more. I just wish this wasn't happening now.
Pushing all thoughts, aside, I finally pull up to Walgreens, an hour later. Maybe it was my desperation, anxiety or my hormones, I'm not sure but I stumbled in, ignoring my dizziness that remained. I grabbed the first pregnancy test I lay eyes on, purchased and ran straight to the bathroom. James would most likely have been at home already and I'd rather have known for sure before facing him.
I went through the procedure. I quickly realized just how short my fuse was as I felt the need to hit something in response to the nerve wracking fear I felt while I waited for the results to show. I couldn't even begin to tell you how many times I had checked my watch in the past ten seconds.
God be with me.
As I sat and waited, I ran over everything in my head again. On one hand, a baby could improve things between James and I and possibly restore what we had lost. On the other, I would be giving up the chance of ever possibly knowing how it would feel to belong to Edward. And as upset as it makes me, I realized quickly that regardless of the way I feel, if I was indeed pregnant, I would remain with James and all feelings for Edward would have to be pushed aside for the sake of the baby.
Glancing at my watch, it appears that I'd become so caught up in my thoughts that I'd lost track of time. According to the box, I should have checked my results seven minutes ago.
It was as if I was in a face off. My eyes were locked on the test, which sat on the vanity sink, taunting me. My eyes involuntarily closed, as my heart poundede. I reached a trembling hand out to grab it and after taking a deep breath, I saw a pink line vibrantly screaming at me in the positive box.
Fuck my life.
There I was, sitting in my car. I looked down to the console, where I had placed the Ziploc baggy that held my fate. Suddenly I realized I was happy. I was scared, but happy. I decided to accept the fact that this was God's plan for me and that Edward and I weren't meant to be. I was meant to be with James, to give him a child. I giggled to myself, thinking of his possible reaction to the news.
Granted, we weren't married. Hell we weren't even engaged, but I didn't see that as a problem. Couples had children out of wedlock all the time didn't they? We could always plan a wedding for after the baby was born. That was only if James even wanted to marry me in the first place. I had briefly wondered how my job would be affected later on. I wondered too, if I should call Edward and tell him the news, or if James would rather be the one, being as he was his best friend and all.
I raised my head from the steering wheel, seeing James watching me from our living room window three stories up.
My heart filled with dread and dropped. I could instantly see from the brief glimpse I got of him that he had been drinking and wasn't in the best of moods. Breathing in deeply, I took the baggy from the console, grabbed my bag and headed out of the car, not wanting to anger him further. I made a mental note as well not to allow Alice to ever purchase me heels of this height again. I had enough trouble walking in my converse on a good day as it was.
After bouncing on my heels through the elevator ride up to my floor, my mind was going a mile a minute. I sluggishly made my way inside our loft, setting my bag down on the bar in the kitchen. James was perched at the kitchen island, a bottle of Jack in hand.
"Where the fuck have you been?" The gritty low tone of his voice sent shivers of my spine and that was never a good sign when coming from him.
"I was getting caught up on work. It was a long day today. Then I had to stop after work to take care of something." I swallowed down the lump that had managed to form in my throat as my hands grew clammy.
"Take care of what?" He hissed as his eyes glared down on me.
"James, baby, there's something I need to tell you…" I whispered, slowly handing him the bag.
He glanced down at it for a moment before I saw the change. His eyes darkened with immense rage as he threw the bottle of Jack against the far wall. The glass shattered all over the floor while the potent smell of the alcohol permeated around the room. I watched, rendered speechless by his reaction, as drops slid down the wall; collecting in a puddle on the floor.
"What the FUCK is that?" His voice roared as he quickly leaned across the island, fisting my hair painfully in his hand and forced me to look at the bag.