Disclaimer: All publicly recognised characters belong to Stephenie Meyer. The plot and any characters added in are mine.
This is a tribute story to all those that were lost in the attacks nine years ago and to all those that survived. The suffering they endured on that day will never be forgotten.
September 11, 2001
I slammed the bedroom door closed, flicking the lock, knowing he would follow me in here given half the chance. I let out a breath as I rested my head on the cool wood of the door.
I hated it when he was like this.
I looked down at my wedding band, twirling it around my finger as I made my way over to sit on the bed. It was worn and dulled, not surprising considering it hadn't left my finger for the last ten years.
It seemed like such a long time ago that I was walking down the aisle on the arm of my grumpy father – who was not happy that I was taking such a huge step at eighteen years old - towards the only man I ever wanted to wake up with, given myself to, spend forever with.
It seemed like an eternity ago that I became Bella Cullen.
And yet, at the same time, it only seemed like yesterday I was gazing up into the eyes of the man who had captured my heart and sliding that simple gold band onto his finger.
My gaze shifted from the picture of Edward and I on our wedding day to the picture of our two beautiful children: Hailey and Anthony.
I picked up the picture as I remembered finding out that we were expecting Hailey. The two of us had been twenty-one, in our last year at Dartmouth and about to become parents.
To say we were shit-scared was an understatement.
After I started to show, we got a lot of flak from the people around us. I was constantly hounded by the girls that wanted Edward, hating the fact that he was already married and trying to convince me with their cruel words that the only reason he stayed with me now was because I'd trapped him into marriage. It didn't matter that he'd been the most caring and loving husband any girl could ever want for the last three years. The only reason he was with me was because was pregnant.
I knew what they thought and what they wanted me to think, but I knew differently. I saw the way he looked each morning as he woke up, his hand going straight to my belly as he kissed me good morning before sliding down the bed and talking to our baby. They didn't see the love in his eyes when he thought about being a father. They didn't hear the emotion in his voice or feel the reverence in his touch as he brushed his fingers along my abdomen. They hadn't been there when he felt the baby kick for the first time, seeing his eyes well up through pure joy.
They didn't see any of that.
But what did I care? I had what they all wanted and there was no way I was letting him go.
I worked out that Hailey would arrive about three weeks after my final exam, so I was not looking forward to that. Trying to take an exam while eight months pregnant would be a challenge but I managed to do it and thought I was home free.
That is until my water broke immediately after I exited the room.
I had tried calling Edward, but he was in an exam of his own and had his phone switched off, meaning I couldn't reach him.
Thank God for his sister, Alice, huh?
She managed to get me to the hospital and get hold of Edward while the doctor was doing some exam that she wasn't allowed to be present for.
When he arrived, he had been so flustered and panicky about the fact she was coming early, that I thought the doctor might have to give him a sedative before too long.
Neither of us had been prepared for the early arrival of our little girl but once she was here, none of that mattered in the slightest.
We were both in love.
We had been more prepared when Anthony had arrived two years later, being aware of the signs to look for, knowing there was a chance he could come early and Edward made sure that in the later months of my pregnancy, I could always get hold of him. He had even invested in a pager.
His arrival had the both of us completely spellbound again. We had created another little miracle and although Hailey was playing up at the thought of no longer being the baby, I knew she loved her little brother enormously.
Now at seven and five, they were the most beautiful children I had ever seen. I knew I was biased, but since when does that matter?
The both of them had Edward's brilliant green eyes and Hailey had inherited his unique copper hair while Anthony had my mahogany. They were a perfect blend of the two of us.
I pressed a hand to my stomach where our unborn child was growing inside me. I had taken a test the night before and discovered I was pregnant. I had wanted to tell Edward last night as soon as he walked through the door but he didn't get home until after eleven and was practically asleep on his feet. He had just been given the title of Junior Partner at his dad's law firm and the fact that he was only twenty-eight was not lost on some of the others working with him. It meant that Edward was having to work himself into the ground to prove that he hadn't gotten the position because of his father. To prove that he had earned it himself.
I had wanted to tell him this morning, but he was in a rush to get to work. I had woken up as he was rushing about the apartment, trying to locate everything he needed for the day.
The stress of his job and the long hours he spent at the office and away from home were making him snippy and his temper was practically non-existent at the moment. He hadn't snapped at the kids yet but I knew it was only a matter of time.
We had been fighting a lot ever since our tenth anniversary six weeks ago, which ironically seemed to be the date I fell pregnant and it didn't help either of us get across what we were feeling. All that happened was we met a standstill. We were both incredibly stubborn and wouldn't let things go. The fight this morning proved that.
"Edward?" I walked down the hallway from our bedroom towards the living area of the apartment. I quickly checked on Hailey and Anthony on the way down, noting that we would definitely need to invest in a bigger place for when this little one comes along.
I walked into the kitchen to see him rifling through some papers, throwing the relevant ones into his briefcase before stacking the ones he didn't need on the side where he usually kept them before he had the chance to file them away where they belonged. He looked exhausted and I hated how hard they were making him work down there. It wasn't fair to him.
"Edward, I need to talk to you." I sat on one of the bar stools next to the counter, waiting for him to look at me.
"Can't it wait? I'm going to be late." He looked at his watch, sighing before shoving his shoes on and grabbing his jacket from the back of the door.
"No, Edward." I took a breath, shaking my head. "This is important."
"Yeah and so is me being in on time." He looked at his watch again.
"It takes you fifteen minutes to walk into work from here and you don't have to be there till eight thirty." I shot back, my frustration coming through in my tone. "It's seven thirty, Edward. I need to talk to you."
"We can talk when I get home." He answered and I let out a laugh, rolling my eyes and shaking my head. "What?"
"When you get home at gone eleven and are so exhausted you're nearly passed out where you stand?" I raised an eyebrow. "Yeah, that's going to work."
"What is going on with you?" His tone was sharp and I hated it when he spoke to me like that. It made me feel like I was inferior to him in some way.
"What's going on with me?" He nodded, not taking his eyes off of me. "What's going on with me is that I don't get to see you anymore. The kids don't get to see you anymore. They haven't seen you properly in over a week and they miss you. I miss you."
"Look, Bella, you know how things are at work right now." He sighed, running his hands through his hair. "I can't afford to slack off at all now."
"Why? So some pompous assholes will think better of you? Why do you even care, Edward? It's not like their opinion of you matters anyway." I got off the stool and made my way over to him, wanting him to understand where I was coming from.
"I wouldn't expect you to understand, Bella." He sighed, shaking his head before looking down at me. "Do you not get how important this job is to me? How much it means to me? Because it seems like you don't actually care."
"I don't care?" I shot back, trying not to be too loud and wake the kids up. Sure they had to get up in a little while anyway, but I didn't want them to wake up to Mommy and Daddy fighting. "How can you say that? I have been nothing but supportive through this whole thing. I haven't complained once about you barely being here. Your kids miss you, I miss you. Do we not count for anything? Does your job really rank higher than we do?"
"Bella, I don't have time for this now." He looked at his watch again and I looked away from him, shaking my head as I bit down on my lip. "Look, I love you, you know I do. But I have to make this work. I have to prove myself. If I don't, I'm just going to be seen as the guy whose father can get him whatever he wants. You know I don't want to be that guy."
"You're a father yourself, Edward." I looked up at him, feeling the tears welling in my eyes. "Don't forget that."
"How can I forget that?" He shot back, looking angry. "You know I love you, Hailey and Anthony more than anything. You three mean the world to me and you know that."
"I don't." I shook my head, looking out the window towards the two buildings that housed the offices Edward worked in. They stood out above everything and I knew to some it was a real privilege to be working there. There were parts of me that wished Edward didn't. I never liked the idea of him being so high above the city. You never knew what could happen. You never knew what the foundations of buildings like that were like? "And I don't think the kids do either. That's something you have to show us."
I moved away from him and walked quickly back to the bedroom. Even though he had seen me break down before, I didn't want him to see this. I didn't want him to see me cry over this.
"Bella?" I looked towards the door, hearing his soft voice gently coming through the door. "Please open the door. Let me in, Bella."
"No." I shook my head, though he couldn't see me. He needed to go to work. I needed a little while to cool down. Maybe I would meet him for lunch and we could talk about what had happened to us since our anniversary. It seemed that all we did was fight. "Go to work, Edward."
"I don't want to see you right now." I said sternly, practically feeling his hurt coming through the door and reaching me where I sat on the bed. "I'll see you later."
"Whatever you need, love." He said so softly I knew he was saying it mostly to himself. "I love you."
I closed my eyes, taking a breath. He sounded so broken when he said those words, fighting between knowing he should stay and my telling him to go. "I love you, too." I replied, knowing as the door clicked closed a second later, that he hadn't heard me.
How did everything get so screwed up?
I didn't have time to dwell on it because I had to get Hailey and Anthony up and ready for school. The two of them were easy to get out of bed, unlike their father. Most of the time you had to actually flip him out of the bed to get him to wake up. And then he either just curled up on the floor and went back to sleep or stared up at you with the most adorable scowl on his face.
My God, I loved him.
Getting the kids off to school was easy and I made it home at eight-thirty five after dropping them off. I made myself a cup of decaf coffee, hating that I couldn't have caffeine right now. Hopefully, my taste buds would register the coffee and send the message to my brain to wake the hell up.
I made my way out onto the balcony, knowing that Edward would be at work now. I sighed gently, looking out at the tallest buildings in my view.
The World Trade Centre.
Honestly, they were an incredible thing to see. It was amazing to think how much effort and work had been put into their construction and even after the attack on the North Tower in 1993. I was sure that no one would find them safe after that, but thousands of people still continued to travel in and out of them each and every single day.
And Edward was one of them.
I loved the Towers and all, but I wished they'd relinquish my husband sometimes. I missed him.
I felt my phone vibrating in my pocket and pulled it out to see Alice calling. "Hello?" I answered, sipping my coffee.
"Heya, Bellsie." She chirped, too chipper for . . . I glanced at my watch again . . . eight forty-five in the morning. I swear, people should not be allowed to be that happy at this time in the morning. "I was wondering if you wanted to meet for lunch."
"Actually, I was going to meet Edward." I bit my lip, knowing she would whine at me for not being available. Sorry, Pix, but my husband and our little issues come first. We would probably go to Windows of the World in the North Tower where he worked, but I didn't mind. The food was incredible and the view was spectacular.
"Oh, Bells, I haven't seen you in forever. Can't you meet with him for lunch tomorrow? I want to see my favourite sis-"
"Alice, hang on a second."
There was a low rushing sound, like the sound of an airplane when it first leaves the airport. I leaned over the side, not seeing anything. I blinked as I noticed a shadow pass over me and I looked in the direction it had travelled in.
It was as though everything had slowed down, you know, like they do in the movies, or Baywatch?
The only thing I saw was a plane heading across New York City, flying extremely low. Too low. The next thing I registered was the fireball exploding from the North Tower in front of me, smoke immediately billowing from the gaping wound in the side of the building.
I could hear someone screaming, but didn't register that it was me until the coffee cup in my hand smashed on the balcony floor.
"Bella?" Alice was screaming in my ear and it was only then that I realised I was still on the phone to her. "What was that? What's the matter?"
"Plane . . . Twin . . . World Trade Cen . . . North Tower . . ." I tried to make a sentence, but couldn't due to the fact that there was a good chance my husband was dead.
And I hadn't even told him I loved him this morning.
"What?" She sounded confused and frustrated.
"Look at the Twin Towers!" I practically screamed at her and I heard a wail escape her lips as she walked out onto the street, no doubt seeing what I was.
You couldn't see the towers directly from where Alice lived and you had to go out onto the street to see them. I could hear the panicked shouting of people on the street, coupled with Alice's crying.
I pushed myself away from the balcony and raced out of the apartment. I had to get down there. I had to see what was going on.
I didn't stop for anyone, running out into the street and weaving through the halted cars. I pushed past people, racing to get to the site as quickly as possible. I still had my phone in my hand, Alice still on the line, calling my name and sobbing. I couldn't stop to talk to her as I raced towards the place my husband worked.
I wasn't a religious person, but as I ran, I found myself praying to a god I had never had any faith in before.
Please God, let him have had some reason to be lower down. Please.
The crowd was thick as I reached the site and I had to shove my way through fiercely. People looked at me as though I was nuts and purely wanted to have a front row seat to what was happening. That was until I screamed that my husband was in there at them and they moved, letting me through.
"Please, please, my husband is in there, please." I sobbed, wanting nothing more than to duck past the huge policeman that had obviously arrived at the site a few minutes ago. It had taken me seven minutes to run here, which was incredibly fast, especially for me.
"I understand that, ma'am, but it's not safe." He looked at me with an expression of sympathy. "We're mobilizing everyone we can to get as many people out but its not going to happen immediately."
"How long will we have to wait?" I asked, impatient for answers.
"I honestly couldn't say, ma'am." He moved away, trying to get a handle on the crowd. There were others like me there, crying and wailing for loved ones that were in the building wanting to get to them more than anything.
A blonde woman pushed in beside me, her hair a mess and what must have been perfect make-up a little less than fifteen minutes ago was streaked down her face. I sobbed, turning back to the tower.
"Please, Edward. Please." I sobbed, wrapping my arms around myself. "I love you, please!"
"Your husband in there too?" The blonde next to me sobbed and I nodded. She wrapped her arms around my shoulders, holding me to her and we cried into each other's embrace. Neither of us knew what was happening. Were we widows? Were our husbands alive?
My phone started to vibrate in my hand again and I looked at the caller ID, not planning on answering it. My eyes widened in disbelief as I saw the caller was Edward. How was that possible?
"Edward?" I cried, sobbing into the phone as I answered it.
"Bella?" He sounded out of breath as he coughed harshly.
"Where are you? Are you alright?" Stupid. Stupid question, Bella.
"I had to run down to the 89th floor to exchange some mail. Mailman got it wrong again." Thank God for useless mailmen. "God, I love you, Bella. I love you so much." He sounded in pain and I couldn't take it. I knew what he was doing by calling me.
He was saying goodbye.
Not on my watch.
"I love you too and that is not the last time you're going to hear me say that." I spoke fiercely into the phone, telling myself that if Edward was meant to die today, he would have been sat at his desk just like he normally was. "You're going to hear me say it every single day until we're old and grey, you hear me?"
"Yeah." He whispered, not sounding convinced.
"You're going to be alright, Edward. They've got people coming to get you." I looked at the police officer who seemed stunned to think I was on the phone to someone inside the building.
"Where is he?" He asked and I sniffed, wiping my eyes.
"The 89th floor." I answered with a sob and the officer nodded.
"It happened above me." I heard him say softly and I had to keep him on the phone. I had to know that he was okay.
"Stay with me, baby. Stay with me. Keep talking, baby. I need you to keep talking. I need to know that you're-"
I was cut off by an explosion and a multitude of screams as the opposite side of the other tower exploded.
Before I knew what was happening, there was shouting on Edward's end of the line before the line went dead, a dull beeping in my ear and we were all being forced away from the buildings. There was no way to see what was going on up there anymore. There was smoke billowing and covering the city in ash.
The entire city was darkening, a result of the smoke and I tried to call Edward again. It rang and rang and rang but I didn't get any answer.
"No!" I collapsed onto my knees, my entire world crumbling around me. He was gone. There was nothing else that could be true. He had hung on for a few minutes to say goodbye to me and now he was gone.
How could I live in a world without Edward?
. . . . . . .
It had been two days since the attack and two days since my world was destroyed.
Not only that. It was my birthday.
I had walled myself off from everyone and anyone, not wanting to see anybody. Who knows what I would be like in company. Edward's mother, Esme had taken Hailey and Anthony who were scared and confused. I knew I should have been there for them, but I couldn't physically do it.
They were my babies and I was letting them down.
They had already lost their father.
I couldn't help but stare at the spot where the Twin Towers had stood tall not two days ago. It was incredible how you take something for granted, like a building in your view, but once it's gone, you find there's a gaping hole where it once stood.
I think even the pencils on my table know that I don't really mean the Twin Towers when I say all that bullshit.
Edward was gone and there was nothing anyone could do to bring him back.
It turned out that the South Tower had also been hit, further down. I didn't remember anything happening after the second explosion, but that might have been because I passed out.
I didn't know the second tower had been hit. I didn't know that both towers had collapsed not long after the collisions. I didn't know that it was now being treated as a terrorist attack. I didn't know that there were two more planes that had been hijacked that same morning, one crashing into the Pentagon and the other being thrown off its target and landing in a field. I didn't know that nearly three thousand people had lost their lives in less than three hours.
All I knew was that my world had imploded.
There was no life without Edward.
There was ash all across the city and it troubled me to think that that was not just debris floating around in the air. It wasn't just the foundations of the building, it was also the people that had worked in the building, that had been in the building when the planes hit.
The others had been in and out of my apartment since it happened and the television had been on. Apparently there had been a multitude of people that had jumped out of the windows, ending their own lives before they burned to death.
I think I would have been one of them.
When they told me that, I wondered if Edward had been one of them. One of the ones that took his future and his life into his own hands, ending it on his terms, not allowing himself to burned to death.
Everyone had quickly told me that Edward was not one of the ones that had jumped. I wasn't so sure how I felt about that.
They continuously told me that Edward's body hadn't been found and that there was still hope. But the news also told me that they weren't finding bodies in the remains. They were finding body parts.
That news upset me most of all.
To think that we wouldn't know if he was alive or dead until they found a body part or something like that to confirm it either way. There would always be a part of me that hoped, that held onto the faith I'd had standing down in the street as the tower burned above me.
I couldn't imagine how scared he must have been. He would have been pissed because of our spat that morning, probably taking it out on unsuspecting office staff around him before apologising and informing them his day was already off to a rocky start.
You got that one right.
He wouldn't have known what had happened when the building shook and smoke billowed around him, seeming to come from nowhere. If I knew Edward, which I thought I did, he would have flung himself on the floor immediately, grabbing something to cover his mouth and nose, encouraging other people to do the same thing. He was always thinking of others over himself.
And I had no idea whether he was still alive or whether he was now one of the undiscovered body parts waiting to be identified.
So here I was, sitting in my apartment, curled up in a pair of Edward's jeans that he'd grown out of – I refused to let him throw them away because they fit me alright. I'd folded them over at the bottom of the leg but the waistband sat quite comfortably on my hips (Alice hated what I'd done, of course) – and Dartmouth t- shirt. It was the shirt he generally slept in – when I allowed him to – so it was heady with his scent. I needed it there. I needed it to keep me grounded and to stop me from completely breaking down and throwing myself off of the balcony to be with him.
The phone ringing was starting to annoy me. I knew people were sorry about what happened and wanted to offer their condolences but enough was enough. I didn't want to think of him and truly gone until I had some evidence. There was a part of me that knew the chances of him being alive were slim to none, but I had to have faith, right? Right?
I looked at the Caller ID just to make sure that it wasn't another member of my family calling to check in on me. I knew I probably needed it, but they were too much to handle right now. I couldn't do it.
They all reminded me of him. Alice with her mischievous smile. Esme with her oval shaped eyes, as clear as an emerald. And Carlisle, whom looked more like his son than I think was actually possible.
It wasn't a number I recognised and I knew I could easily hang up if they annoyed me.
"Hello?" My voice was weak to my own eats, the hours of crying left it gravelly and coarse.
"Am I speaking to a Mrs. Cullen? Mrs. Isabella Cullen?" It was an authoritative voice on the phone and I thought it might actually have been for Edward, but then I remembered what had happened. I remembered that there was no more law firm and Edward was mostly likely gone. With the rest of them.
Even if he had been able to start getting himself to safety, the collapse of the towers would have prevented him getting anywhere. I mean, no one could have survived that.
"Yes." I let out a sob, trying to keep myself under control while speaking to this woman.
"I'm calling from New York Presbyterian Hospital. We have an Edward Cullen registered here and you're listed as his emergency contact." She sounded calm and collected, probably having made this phone call a thousand times before.
"Ed . . . Edward?" I whispered, my hand flying up to my face. "You . . . you have Edward? He's alive?"
"Yes, ma'am, he is." She sounded like she had a smile on her face.
"So . . . so how come it took two days for me to find out that my husband is alive?" I was slightly angry at the way they had let me suffer up till now. The logical part of me was trying to shut the stupid part up by reminding it that there were lots of people that had suffered some sort of damage from the Towers collapse and it would take them a while to get through to all the relatives. I guess what was going through my mind was overwhelming me.
"I'm very sorry you had to wait, Mrs. Cullen, but your husband came in with no identification. He woke up less than an hour ago, instantly asking where a 'Bella' was, saying that he wanted 'Bella and his babies' before telling us to call you. We managed to find out his name and from there we were able to contact you." She did sound sorry about the lack of news and I knew I shouldn't be taking it out on her. It wasn't her fault my husband always left his wallet places. He never knew when he would need it. "We are incredibly sorry about this."
"Um . . . It's alright." I closed my eyes, taking a breath, trying to steady myself and stop my legs from rushing out the door. "Tell him that I'm on my way."
She told me that she would tell him and I slid my shoes on, grabbed my phone, keys and wallet before bolting out the door. I was in such a rush that I nearly forgot to lock the door on the way out.
I wasn't going to bother with my car, knowing that I was in no state to drive. I would probably end up causing an accident on the way there. I rushed out onto the street and flung my arm out to stop a cab. It took a couple of tries but one finally stopped for the crazy lady looking like she was doing some kind of chicken dance on the street.
"Presbyterian Hospital." I told the cabbie and he nodded, looking quite solemn. I guessed he was partially aware of why I was going there. I wasn't going to enlighten him. I didn't want to make idle chitchat with the cab driver. I just wanted to get to my husband.
When he pulled up to the emergency entrance, I threw some money at him, thanked him and threw myself out of the car. I couldn't imagine what I looked like as I made my way through the doors of the hospital, making my way over to the receptionist desk.
"Edward Cullen." I said quickly to the girl sitting there at the desk. She looked at me with utter disdain, judging me. Yeah, right lady, you try dealing with not knowing if your husband was dead or alive for two days. Then we'll see how perfect your blonde hair is. "What room is he in?"
"Are you family?" Even her voice was annoying as she sat there, eyeing me up.
"I'm his wife." I snapped back, placing my left hand down on the desk in front of me. "And I've just spent the last two days wondering if my husband is alive or whether he's an unclaimed body part. I've just found out that he's alive and if you don't tell me what room he is in, I am going to personally leap over this desk, yank out that pretty blonde hair of yours and find it myself."
She glanced at the computer before looking back at me. I was sure I looked like a madwoman as I stood there glaring at her. "Room 1203."
"Thank you." I pushed away from the desk and down the corridor.
I made my way along the corridor, keeping an eye on the room numbers as I passed.
I stopped outside the door, taking a deep breath.
"Mrs. Cullen?" I started, turning to look at the person standing behind me. She wasn't overly tall, quite pretty with dark hair. Her glasses were thick rimmed and I could see her being the geek at school, now the high flying doctor while all the popular kids are now making a career out of Taco Bell. "I'm Angela Cheney, Edward's doctor."
"Hi." I whispered, glancing back at the door.
"I just wanted to say that I'm very sorry the hospital didn't make you aware he was here sooner." She shook her head, her expression sympathetic.
"No," I shook my head, waving her off. "I'm sure it's been a busy two days." She nodded, looking sad before glancing out the window. "And Edward never keeps his wallet with him on his person. I'm always on at him about it. Telling him you never know when you could need it. I guess that kind of thing just qualifies as a wife's nagging that shouldn't be taken seriously."
"I think he will." She smiled at me and I let out a small chuckle, nodding.
"Is he going to be okay?" My voice was nothing more than a whisper and I honestly didn't think it would work if I tried to push it any louder.
"He's going to be fine." She gave me a genuine smile and I smiled back. "He's got a fractured wrist, which appears to be from where he must have been thrown due to the impact, either that or he must have thrown himself on the floor." I nodded, knowing that's something Edward would do. "The position of the fracture indicates that most of his weight was on it, so that's what we're concluding. He's also got a multitude of burns, mostly covering his torso and left arm. He also has a nasty one of the side of his neck, winding up the side of his face." I looked at her, wondering why she would tell me about the individual burn on his face. Did she think that mattered to me? "To some, it's more of a shock to find their loved one has a burned face. We make sure to let them know beforehand. He also has a couple of bruised ribs and a broken leg, both of which we believe to be from his escape. We're still not clear on that. There was a lot of smoke inhalation so he's on oxygen at the moment and will be for a little while. All in all, your husband is a very lucky man."
"More so than you'd think." I sniffed, looking at the door again. "He managed to call me, after the impact. He was on the 89th floor. He was supposed to be five floors up. He was only down there because the mailman screwed up deliveries again."
"Thank God for small favours." She smiled and I nodded. "Go and see your husband. He's been asking for you."
I nodded, opening the door slowly as I walked through. It closed quietly behind me, moving the other one gently with the momentum it caused.
I sucked in a breath as I stood there, seeing him for the first time in nearly three days. He looked like some kind of mummy. There was a bandage travelling down the majority of his left arm, stopping about halfway down his forearm. There was a cast around his right wrist, encompassing his hand and part of his arm. There was a bandage on his face, covering his neck and gorgeous jawbone. One of his legs underneath the flimsy hospital blanket was bulkier than the other, and his torso was also bigger than I knew it to be.
He had a tube looped around each ear, going up his nose as it supplied him with oxygen. He looked so frail. I wished I could just scoop him up and take him home.
I made my way over to him, sitting down on his left side, gently taking hold of his hand. He registered my touch and looked down at me.
"Bella?" His voice was raspy and breathy. How much smoke had he inhaled? A sob escaped me as I pressed my lips to his hand. "It's okay. I'm alright."
"For the last two days, I've been thinking that you're dead." I sobbed grabbing a tissue from next to his bed. "How did you get out?"
"I honestly don't know." He shook his head as much as he could, grimacing with the pain. I squeezed his hand trying to get his attention off of the pain and back onto me. "The last thing I remember is being on the phone with you. There was another explosion and everyone was yelling. I must have blacked out after that. I don't remember."
"The second explosion," I glanced at the monitors wondering if I should tell him. Maybe that was something I should have asked his doctor. "It was another plane." He inhaled sharply.
"What do mean 'another plane'?" Oh shit, he didn't even know what had caused the explosion.
"The explosion above you." I took a breath, closing my eyes, seeing the plane hitting the building as though it was happening again. "That was a plane. A hijacked plane. It went straight into the side of the building. No one above the 91st floor made it out. I saw it happen. I was on the phone to Alice, looking at the Towers, thinking about calling you so we could have lunch at Windows and it just . . . happened." I didn't stop the tears as they fell, soaking the bedding underneath my chin. "I'll never forget that."
"You said something about a second explosion?" His voice was quiet and I knew he was processing what I'd told him.
Well, you've started now. You got to finish. "The second explosion was a plane hitting the South tower, lower down. I don't know how many people were trapped in that one but they think that over a thousand people were trapped in the North Tower. From what I've heard, I don't really know, I've been kind of out of it since it happened." He looked at me, wondering what I meant. "I didn't know whether you were alive. I didn't know whether my heart and soul had somehow done the impossible and was alive or whether you were just another body part waiting to be found."
"Body part?" He whispered and I nodded.
"They're not really finding people in the debris. They're finding parts." He took a deep breath, resting his head back on his pillow, trying to process everything I'd said. This was going to totally mess him up. He had no idea what was going on.
"You said debris?" He whispered after a few minutes. "What did you mean?"
"They, um . . . the towers . . . they're gone." I replied slowly, watching his face as his jaw dropped. "They collapsed. They're gone." I sniffed, resting my forehead on his hand again. "That's why it's such a miracle that you're still alive. I don't know how you got out, but someone up there was listening to me that morning."
"They're gone?" I nodded, knowing this was going to hurt him incredibly. "My Dad?"
"Running late." I said softly, rubbing his arm gently. He looked at me, his eyes wide with shock and I nodded. "He was on the street below when it happened. He had a big meeting with some huge clients that morning, didn't he?" He nodded slowly, his eyes not focused. "Esme had made him stay at home, literally forced him to stay at home and have a decent breakfast. If she hadn't . . . well, that doesn't bear thinking about."
"So he's okay?" I nodded, my mind registering the fact that no one else knew that Edward was alive and that he was going to be okay.
"Hang on, one second." I pulled out my phone, knowing I should really call them, but I didn't want to leave Edward's side for a moment. A text would have to do for now.
Edward's alive and is going to be okay.
Had to tell him what happened, so a bit overwhelmed.
Keep everyone at home for now.
Tell Hailey and Anthony we love them.
I placed my phone back in my pocket, looking up at my husband. "How many people died?" He asked, his gaze flicking to me.
"I don't know." I shook my head, hating that the number was in the thousands. They didn't know for sure and part of me doubted they ever really would. "I don't know, baby."
"So much pain and for what?" I shook my head, not knowing how to answer. I knew he was going to feel guilty about getting out alive when so many hadn't.
"Hey," I got off the chair, sitting on the edge of the bed, taking his hand in my own. "Look at me." His eyes flicked to my face and I saw the pain and grief floating just beneath the surface. "It's going to be alright. Everything's going to be okay. You're alive. That's the important thing."
"So why am I alive when so many people aren't?" He shot back and I sat there, trying to come up with an answer.
"Because it wasn't your time." I answered softly, leaning forward and brushing a few strands of hair out of his face. The hospital hadn't been able to clean him up, which wasn't really surprising considering. There was ash residue in his hair, dulling it from its brilliant copper. There was no shine there and it felt wrong, not silky and smooth as it generally did. "Because someone was listening to me when I begged them to save you." I took a deep breath, wondering if now was really the right time to give him this information. Normally, I would have waited until later, but the last two days had shown me that you couldn't take anything for granted, including time. "Because you're gonna be a Daddy."
"What?" He looked up at me, his eyes wide with shock. I shuffled closer to him, pressing his hand against my stomach. "You're . . ."
I nodded, giving him a smile. "You remember what I wanted to tell you on Tuesday before you left?" He nodded, his eyes filling with regret. "I told you it was important."
"And I just blew you off." He lifted up his right hand, wincing slightly, obviously wanting to run it through his hair, stopping when he noticed the cast. Clearly he hadn't registered that there yet.
"It doesn't matter." I whispered, leaning down over him. "All that matters to me is that you're here, you're alive and you're going to be okay. Because I don't know if I can live without you."
"You won't have to." He whispered back, his eyes shining with unshed tears.
"I love you, Edward Anthony Masen Cullen." I whispered and he chuckled lightly at the use of his full name before he winced at the movement. "And I'm going to say it so much that you're going to get sick of it. I'm never going to let you go another minute without knowing how much I love you."
"Good." He whispered back, his eyes closing gently. "Because I'm going to be doing the same. I never want you to doubt that I love you. Ever. I will always love you more than anything in this world."
I gently pressed my lips to his, the softness like travelling to heaven and back. I had never thought that I would feel these beautiful lips again. I flicked his lip with my tongue and his lips parted, allowing me access to the sweet cavern of his mouth. We kept the kiss slow, tender and full of passion. I didn't want to hurt him at all but I wanted him to know how much I loved him.
Thank you, I thought to no one in particular, hoping someone was listening. Thank you for bringing him back to me. Thank you for my second chance.
. . . . . .