AN:

Yes, I realize that this chapter took much longer. For those who don't know, about a week after I last posted, I had a baby. We spent some time in the NICU and I thought I'd have more time to write, but that didn't happen. And when we got home, I had some time, but not the hands and not the brain power. LOL.

In any case, things are starting to settle down, so hopefully the next one won't be so long.

Thank you so very much to Melee03 and 6dlb5 for pre-reading and pointing out areas that needed some help. XOXOX

Thank you to everyone reading, reviewing, alerting, etc.

~xoxoxoxo~

Chapter 11:

I wasn't prepared for just how weak my muscles were after lying in bed for all that time. Luckily, Carlisle was. After sending Bella away for more of those fucking tests they did on her while she bled, he took out my catheter.

"You should use the bathroom. I'll help you," he said, wrapping his hand around my bicep.

"I don't need help to take a piss," I laughed. "But thanks."

He smiled at me and raised his eyebrows. "Not to urinate, Edward. To walk."

"I've been doing that most of my life, too. I've got it," I said with a snort.

Carlisle bowed his head slightly and took a step back.

Maybe I shouldn't have been so cocky. Despite losing fifteen pounds, when my weight came down on my legs, they couldn't hold me. I hit the ground. . . hard.

Carlisle didn't run to my aid. He stood back and waited. After struggling for a few minutes to regain my footing, I finally conceded, albeit reluctantly.

"Okay. Fine." I nodded. "Help me."

Carlisle didn't look like a big guy. Granted, the coat he wore hid most of his frame, but when he took hold of me, there was no strain in his face – no indication that I weighed much at all.

He guided me to a toilet, looking away to give me some semblance of privacy as I peed. I was thankful for that.

When I was done, we walked back to the gurney slowly.

"I don't want her to see me like this," I admitted, sitting on the edge.

"She doesn't care how strong you are, Edward."

"I care!" I snapped. "How long until I'm. . . normal again."

"I don't know," he answered, shaking his head. "That's up to you. But you were down a long time. You almost didn't survive. Don't rush this. Healing takes time."

I ground my teeth together, agitated. That's not what I wanted to hear. And the way he said it irritated me even more. The guy was only eleven years older than me, but I felt like a kid compared to him. He was all patience and maturity. I was an arrogant hot-head. At least I could admit it. I just wasn't comfortable being weak. The longer it took for me to recover, the longer it would be before I could rip James apart. And when I was done with him, I was going after Charlie.

A thought crossed my mind. I looked up at Carlisle. "Has anyone. . . stopped by to see me? Other than Bella?"

Carlisle narrowed his eyes and shook his head. "No. Were you expecting someone?"

If I'd been down so long in his territory, why hadn't Charlie sent anyone after me? He could have easily taken me out.

I shook my head. "No. Just curious."

"The only people who know you're here are those who are loyal to Bella or have conceded to keep her secret. She thought it was best to let you heal before announcing your return. Your care here is entirely confidential."

"To everyone else? What about Charlie?"

Carlisle's mouth turned down, his expression becoming slightly uncomfortable. "To everyone else."

"Good." I sighed.

"Is there something you'd like to share, Edward?" Carlisle asked.

"Nope," I answered.

I laid back, situating myself back on the gurney, and closed my eyes. I didn't know how I was going to tell Bella that her father had been the one to order my death. Or maybe she already knew. There had to be some reason for her to keep my return from him. He wasn't going to be happy.

Fuck him. I'd deal with Charlie when the time came.

"She gave you her blood, you know," Carlisle said softly.

My eyes flew open. "What?"

"Bella," he answered. "You needed blood – she was a type match. I transfused her blood into your veins. I was afraid to do it, because of her gift. She insisted. You wouldn't have survived without it, but I don't know what the effects will be if there are any at all. I thought you should know."

"Uh. . .okay," I stuttered, not having any idea how to respond. "Thanks."

"Of course. You should sleep, Edward. It's important to get your rest."

Carlisle went back to his work leaving me to work through what he'd said. In the olden days, before the collapse, blood transfusions had been common. People donated blood to those they didn't even know. But now, that wasn't the case. You didn't willingly give up your life-force for anyone. Unless you cared about them so deeply, you couldn't live without them.

~xoxoxoxo~

I spent the next few days eating and gaining strength; hiding in my little corner with the curtains drawn while other patients came in and out. Bella was with me whenever she wasn't expected to be somewhere else.

James' words rang in my ear every time she left. He was going to try to take her – make her his. He obviously hadn't made his move yet, but it was only a matter of time.

"Don't leave her alone," I warned Emmett."Ever."

"Dude! I know my fucking job," he snorted. "Wait, where'd she go?"

I glared at him.

"I'm kidding. Chill," he laughed. "Seriously. I've been looking after that girl for a long time. I'm not about to let something happen to her now. What the hell has you so nervous?"

Bella appeared behind him effectively ending our conversation. Maybe I should have told him exactly what had happened and what had me on edge, but I didn't trust him or Jasper not to take James out themselves.

At least I didn't have to worry about her at night. There wasn't much space on the gurney I slept on, but that didn't stop her from crawling into my arms. I woke up every morning, my muscles aching from being in awkward positions, and with a massive, throbbing boner, but it was worth it. Especially when I woke to find her hand down the front of my hospital issued cotton pants.

"What are you doin', doll?" I asked, my voice low.

"Shhh," she whispered, her fingers gripping me tightly. "I'm concentrating. Let me."

"I'm not going to stop you," I chuckled, grunting when she slid a finger over the sensitive tip. Her hand slid expertly over my cock, collecting pre-cum as it leaked out, making things slippery and wet.

It didn't take long for me to lose it. My eyes rolled back into my head as I came, my body vibrating in pleasure. Once I relaxed, I looked down at Bella.

"Thank you," I said, pressing my lips against her forehead. "What was that for?"

"I was practicing."

"You don't need to practice that, baby." The sentence was barely out of my mouth when I realized what she was talking about.

"Baby steps." She shrugged and nuzzled into my chest. "If I can control myself while pleasuring you, maybe I can work my way up to keeping things between us every once in a while."

I hummed and held her close.

Every once in a while. Great.

~xoxoxoxo~

It was nearly a week before I was deemed ready to leave the medical wing. By that time, I was about fed up with being confined. I was anxious and antsy. I took to irritating Carlisle as much as possible. I refused to stay behind my curtain regardless of who was there, I paced back and forth grumbling and griping, and I rearranged his shit when he wasn't looking.

The nurses were beyond flustered as they scrambled to get out of my way. Carlisle, however, gave no sign that he was affected by my behavior. I was sitting on my gurney, figuring out how to up the ante, when Bella showed up with Emmett and Jasper behind her.

"Time to get you out of here," she said happily.

"It's about fucking time. He's a goddamn robot," I grumbled, nodding at Carlisle.

He laughed and leaned against the wall. "I've raised Alice and practically raised Bella. Your antics have nothing on theirs."

Bella bobbed her head up and down in agreement. Jasper smirked. I frowned.

"All right. Let's take this slowly," Bella said reaching out to me.

I watched her tongue slip out of her mouth, wetting her lips as she leaned over. The shirt she wore gaped open at the neckline, giving me a generous view. I lifted my finger to the collar and pulled it down a little further.

"Edward." Her voice hinted at both annoyance and amusement as my intent became obvious.

"If you wanted me to behave myself, maybe you should have covered yourself up a little more, doll," I said, closing the distance between us and pressing my lips against her neck. I rested my hand against her rib cage and slid my thumb over her breast.

"I'm completely covered." She laughed and brought her mouth down to me ear. "And I didn't say I wanted you to behave yourself, but do you really want to do this right here?"

I stopped moving my mouth and looked around. She'd distracted me. I'd forgotten where we were. Carlisle was ten feet to the left, pretending not to notice us as he rearranged his perfectly ordered shelves. Jasper was in the doorway, looking down at his hands and failing miserably to suppress his laughter. Emmett wasn't hiding his entertainment.

"This is gonna be epic," he said, grinning.

"Shut the fuck up, Emmett!" I snapped.

"What? I'm just sayin'."

"Stop it," Bella ordered, her eyes meeting mine. "Please." She extended her hand to me again. I stared at it for a second before taking it. I didn't need any help, I was much stronger than I'd been just days before, but I took it anyway.

"You're not fooling me." She smiled at me as I stood up.

"I don't know what you're talkin' about," I lied.

"Well, I hope your strength is back." She leaned in, her lips against my ear. "You're going to need it."

~xoxoxoxo~

We said our goodbyes to Carlisle, thanking him before leaving the hospital wing. Emmett tossed me a jacket with a hood.

"Put that up over your head," he said. "Just in case."

"Just in case, what?"

"Word travels quickly around this place, brother. Anyone sees you, and we won't make it back to the living quarters without being swarmed. Unless you want to be . . . delayed, I'd just put it on."

I took the jacket and put it on, pulling the hood up.

"Now just keep your head down and nobody will even notice."

"Just look like you're guarding her," Jasper added.

"I am guarding her," I grumbled.

"Then it should be easy. Let's go."

I stood close to Bella's side as we moved through the Hive. It wasn't crowded, but there were people floating about. They watched as we passed by them, but no one seemed to notice me. The overall mood seemed much more somber than before I had left on the raid.

Jasper and Emmett took us up the elevator. Once the door had closed, everyone relaxed and Bella took my hand and leaned into me.

Reaching the top, the doors opened and we all exited. Bella started on her way up the ladder to her quarters.

"You got this, bro?" Emmett asked Jasper with a wide grin on his face.

"Yes."

"You sure?"

Jasper narrowed his eyes at Emmett.

"All right. I'm gonna go find my wife." Emmett disappeared down the staircase faster than I thought his massive form could move.

"If you don't mind, I think I'll stay down here," Jasper said, leaning against the wall.

"Dude, you don't have to stay," I offered.

"Yes, I do." He didn't say any more and I wasn't going to argue. I pulled myself up onto the ladder, leaving him on his own.

The moment I got into the room, Bella was on me. She wrapped her legs tightly around my body. Her lips met mine, her tongue forcing its way into my mouth. Every nerve ending in my body lit up. My fingers curled, gripping her hair and tugging her head back. We groped at each other feverishly until it wasn't enough anymore. In an attempt to walk towards the bed, I stumbled, dropping her to her feet. She turned and tried to head towards the bed, but I grabbed her arm, yanking her back towards me. Her back hit my chest and I wound one arm around her waist. The other I used to grip her chin.

"I missed you," I growled in her ear before using my teeth to bite lightly.

A surge of sexual energy radiated out of her and through me.

"I missed you, too," she purred, placing her hand over mine and guiding downwards. When I pressed against the spot between her legs, she let out a sound that set off every primal instinct I had.

I let go of her and shoved her forward onto the bed. She fell to her knees, whipping around quickly as I dropped the jacket to the floor, tore my shirt up over my head, and stepped out of my pants. I stalked forward after her. She didn't back away, though. She met me with force as I covered her, arching her back and grasping at my shoulders.

Piece by piece, I removed her clothing, until all that was before me was skin – perfection. It wasn't slow. It was hurried and frantic. I needed to be a part of her almost as much as I needed air to breathe.

There weren't words to express my desperation, so I didn't use any. She understood perfectly. She spread her legs and I jerked my hips forward, filling her. She threw her head back, a wicked grin on her face. I stopped moving long enough to look down at her.

"Make it good," she moaned.

I slid out and then back in again, feeling the soft warmth of her body. "I always do."

She let go of me and reached above her head, grabbing the bars. She smirked. "Then make it epic."

A challenge. One I was fully prepared to accept. I briefly worried having been hospitalized so long, I wouldn't be able to keep up, but it didn't last long. Bella's eyes dilated, turning almost completely black and a powerful lust enveloped the whole fucking room. I gripped the sheets to gain some sort of leverage and slammed into her so hard we both lost our breaths.

She writhed and mewled as I took her – as I reclaimed her.

"Tell me your mine," I demanded roughly.

"I'm yours," she gasped.

I stared into her eyes, searching for the truth of her words. "Tell me you'll never let another man touch you as long as you live." This time, my words were begging.

Bella's hand curled around my neck. She brought my mouth to hers.

"Never," she whispered against my lips. I smiled and kissed her before sitting back onto my knees.

"Good answer, doll."

I lifted one of her legs over my shoulder and then drove into her again. I wanted to be deep. Really fucking deep.

Bella cried out. I thrust one last time and I was done. My body trembled, my vision blurred, and my mind went numb as wave after wave of pure pleasure coursed over me.

Finally, my senses began to come back to me. I rolled off of Bella, collapsing onto my back. I put my arms behind my head and let out a breath. Bella didn't move. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see her chest heaving – I could hear her breathing loudly. I twisted my neck and looked at her.

"Are you okay?"

She met my eyes. "Yes. I'm more than okay. That was. . . wow."

"Epic?"

Bella laughed.

"I guess they're all going to know I'm back now, huh?"

"I'm sorry. I didn't even try that time."

I slipped my hand out from behind my head and opened up my arm for her. She curled her naked body into my side, throwing her leg over mine. Her skin was heated and damp. I could still feel a gentle hum radiating from her, almost like a cat when it purrs.

"Whatever. It is what it is, doll." I answered. "I'll just have to deal."

~xoxoxoxo~

We drifted in and out of sleep for a while before my stomach started to growl and I had to pee. I got up, used the toilet, and splashed water over my face before returning to the main room.

"I planned for this," Bella said, pulling out a bowl of bread, some sort of nut butter and a few pieces of fruit. "It's not a lot."

"It's fine," I answered, sitting back down.

She set down a jug of water and poured it into two cups. We ate quietly. I could tell she wanted to say something, but every time she opened her mouth to speak, she stopped and put a piece of bread in instead. I wasn't going to push her – mostly because I wasn't sure I wanted to know what she was going to say. When we finished, we laid back down on the bed, her head against my chest.

"What happened out there, Edward?"

It was exactly the question I was afraid of. I shook my head.

"No."

"Why? Why won't you tell me?"

"Because when we start this conversation, we can't go back. This," I said, running my hand up and down her arm, "will end. And we will have to come to terms with things."

Bella lifted her head, frowning. "What things? What are you talking about?"

"I want to just be with you. For just one night, doll. Let's just. . ." I rolled over, pushing her onto her back. "Fuck! I just want. . ." I couldn't finish my sentence. I felt agitated and frustrated. I didn't know what I wanted. Too many thoughts. Too many emotions.

"Hey," she soothed, kissing my jaw lightly. "It's okay. We don't have to talk about it. Let's just. . . fuck." She laughed.

"That's not what I meant."

"You don't want to fuck?" She was teasing me, trying to bring me back. Her legs opened a little wider, allowing me to settle between them. My dick fell into place at her entrance, like it knew exactly where it was meant to be – inside her. "I think you do." Her voice was playful and young.

"I don't." I shook my head. Her smile faded, her lower lip pouting out. I bent my head, sucking it in between my own lips gently. "I want to make love to you, doll. I want to do it slowly. I want to show you what I feel for you."

"What do you feel for me?" she asked quietly. I should have known she wouldn't let me get away with not answering her. "Do you love me, Edward?"

I nodded slowly. "More than you could ever imagine. You're a part of me. Literally," I teased to diffuse the enormity of what I was admitting.

Her hand stroked the side of my face. "I love you, too," she sighed. She pushed on my chest and I rolled, taking her with me so that she was on top. "I'd give you every last drop of my blood if I could."

She lowered herself onto me and rocked her body forward.

"I'll never get enough of you," I groaned.

"That's a very good thing. Oh, God. I can feel you everywhere," she whimpered. How are you doing that?"

"Doing what?" I grunted, not understanding.

"This," she said pressing her hands against my chest so that the electricity between us intensified. "That's not me, Edward. I'm not doing that."

I put my hands on her hips to encourage her to keep going. "I don't know, but keep not doing it. It feels fucking fantastic."

Bella closed her eyes and drew her lower lip in between her teeth. I looked down to where we were connected, watching myself slide in and out of her as she moved.

We did go slow, moving together as though we were made for each other. Maybe we were. Maybe something greater had brought us together – brought us to that moment.

When I emptied myself into her, there was no consuming burn, no explosion. She leaned in, kissing me, letting her breath become my breath.

Afterwards, we lay quietly for a while. Her thumb brushed back and forth over the spot where the bullet had hit me in the gut. It was completely healed, but it left a nasty looking, puckered scar. She tilted her head up at me and attempted to smile, but her eyes told me how she really felt.

"Don't look so sad. It's not the first time I've been shot. I doubt it'll be the last."

"I'm just remembering what it felt like to see you come through that door. I thought you were going to die."

"Well, according to Carlisle, I almost did. Guess it's a good thing I had something holding me here." The words were out of my mouth before I even realized I was thinking them. "Fuck! Listen to me," I snorted. "Such a pussy. What were you doing out there anyway?"

"Out where?" she asked, her fingers still trailing over my skin.

"By the entrance."

"Oh. Nothing."

"You just happened to be standing there when I showed up?"

She nodded. "Yes."

"Bullshit. You don't go out there for no reason. What were you doing?"

She didn't respond.

"Bella!" I said, my voice obviously getting agitated.

She sighed and spoke up. "Zara said they left you. She said you were practically dead anyway. I couldn't. . . I needed to find you. I needed to know."

I wondered how much Zara had told her. I wondered how much Zara knew. Did she know it was James and his cronies who had attacked us? Was the entire team aware that Charlie intended to take me out on the raid? Were they in on it? I had so many fucking questions, but one thing stood out more than anything else in what Bella had just said.

"You were trying to leave the Hive?"

"Yes."

"Was anyone gonna go with you?"

When she shook her head, I saw red. I jumped up, tossing her off of me.

"Are you fucking stupid?"

She scrambled back against the wall, naked and pale, looking at me like I'd just punched her. I didn't mean for my words to come out so harsh, but I was pissed. That didn't stop the guilt when her eyes filled with tears, though.

"Would you have come after me if I were the one out there?" she whispered.

"You know I would," I said, lowering my voice. "But that's different."

"How is it different? Did you expect me to just move on?"

I didn't say anything. I just pressed my lips together firmly.

"Now who's the one being stupid?" she grumbled.

I scrubbed my hand over my face and kneeled back down onto the bed beside her. "It is different, Bella. You gotta realize how dangerous that would have been. Do you even know what's out there? Who's out there? I've spent my entire life in that wasteland and look what happened to me. That world would eat you alive."

"Then so be it," Bella insisted. "It's all pointless now anyway, isn't it? I didn't have to go out there and you're here with me. I don't want to fight. Not now."

I stared into her eyes for a second, feeling my anger slip away. I wasn't sure if it was her doing or if I just couldn't be bothered, but it didn't matter.

"Neither do I," I admitted. I let my gaze trail down her body and wrapped my fingers around her ankle, yanking her down the bed until she was underneath me again. "But if you ever even think about leaving here without me. . . I will chain you to this bed. Got it?"

She giggled and grinned. "Is that supposed to be a deterrent?"

"Shit," I groaned, smiling at her. "You're killing me, doll."

The rest of the night, we barely slept – indulging in each other's bodies over and over. It was nearly a repeat of our very first night together, but this time was different. It wasn't just mindless fucking for the sake of fucking. It was much, much more. Eventually, exhaustion won out and we collapsed in a sweaty heap of tangled limbs.

Yeah, Charlie would definitely know that I was back. There was no doubt. I closed my eyes and held Bella to me. Another judgement was coming. But this time, it wasn't mine.

~xoxoxoxo~