She's in the coma after her surgery for a long time. I sit by her bedside, we all do, taking endless shifts so she won't be alone if she wakes up. Her doctors are worried, she seems to have taken the medication and sunk down so far underneath it that even now those meds have worn off, she's still not even trying to regain consciousness. If anything, she's trying not to. But even if they are worried, they refuse to give some shot of adrenaline or something to bring her up. Even when Jon begged me, Charlie, the doctors to do something, anything, we had to tell him that if she was fighting it, it was because her body and mind needed to fight it. It was best for her to stay asleep for now. After pleas, the Sister and her consultant agreed to let us stay overnight, but not on the ward and certainly not in Bella's little room. We could wait outside the ward. They'd come and get whoever was there if she woke up. They never said when. They said if, and I knew that they were starting to let worry overcome the natural healing crap they kept twittering on about.

Jon agitates at me and Charlie to get going early the next morning. I've started just staying at their place most of the time. Charlie keeps mumbling about moving in permanently, that there's no point having a house you don't live in. I don't get the impression that there's any objections from Jon's camp, even though he's a little awkward with me. Sometimes - mostly when he's afraid about Bella - he lets an unguarded "Dad" slip out, but mostly he just avoids calling me anything, even Emmett. I think he's probably scared that having not been there for such a long time, he's scared that I'll make a bolt for it, in some kind of post-dated fit of the jitters or something.

When we get to the hospital that morning, Alice is outside, her hands shaking so much she can't light the cigarette she's holding. Jasper snatches it off her eventually, lights it, and hands it back.

"What's happened?" I ask them, frowning.

"Jon, go inside," Charlie says.

"Rose is up there," Alice says, forcing a smile onto her face. "Go on with you," she adds, seeing the refusal flash on his face. "I just had way too much coffee. Got the caffeine jitters." He nods, reassured by her smile and passable excuse. He goes inside, and we watch him into the lift.

"So, what happened?" I demand.

"Bella's had a cardiac arrest. About ten minutes ago. We tried calling, but there was nobody home, we figured you'd already left. They brought her back, but now they're worried. Worried enough - they were to be waking her up this afternoon."

"Her heart stopped?" Charlie croaks. "How, why?"

"Under too much strain. Delayed shock they called it, or something anyway," Jasper says. Alice is smoking her cigarette in great sucking drags, as if she can forget Bella dying, even for only a short time. She's going to either need another one soon, or quit for the second time. Personally, I favour the second option, but I've had no success trying to bother my brother into quitting, and I can't even be bothered to try now.

"Do they think it'll happen again?"

"They aren't sure. But they can't try waking her now. It'd be too much of a shock. Now they have to wait for Bella to either fight or quit altogether." Alice is pale but says what we're all thinking with almost an air of a relief. I know how she feels, it's out there now and it's not hanging like some oppressive cloud all over us. Now it's been spoken - the possibility that Edward might have actually killed our girl.

A police officer comes to the hospital later that day. Jon doesn't know about his mother's heart failure, and nobody plans to tell him. I don't want him knowing just yet. Only if it become inevitable will he be told and right now there is still hope. Charlie disagrees - he thinks that if there's a chance Bella won't make it, Jon should be prepared. The police officer comes to talk to Charlie and I, who are both having compassionate leave at the moment. I'm seriously considering chucking the whole damn force in. getting some other job. Any other job.

"Edward has been denied bail. It's generally felt that if he's released prior to his court date, he could become the target of - revenge attacks."

"My goodness, really?" I say, sarcastically. "I can't think of anyone who'd like to murder him."

"Emmett, I'm just going to pretend I didn't hear that. But his court date is on the 7th. And I've just spoken to Bella's doctor and I understand the situation has worsened since she had surgery. He denies attempted murder, but is admitting to GBH. If she dies, it'll be murder, whether he denies it or not."

"Will they make a deal?" Charlie asks.

"His lawyer is pushing for it, and he's top brass, Charlie. But he will do time and he will be ruined. Our problem is that we might have bigger things to fight. Edward has been assessed by a psychiatrist. There may be a case for unfit to plead."

"Which means?"

"It means he won't even make it to court. They'll do an fitness to plead hearing, and if his lawyer manages to convince them that he is unfit, then he'll be sectioned under the law and go into a psychiatric unit. I don't know if that's the angle they're taking, I think they're aiming for a plea deal."

"Tell me what sort."

"He pleads guilty to GBH and serves time for that."

"Not attempted murder."



"It's still at least ten years."

"And if my baby girl dies? Do he and that jumped-up lawyer his daddy hired have a plan for that?"

"He'll plead manslaughter. It's twenty to twenty-five years."

"Manslaughter? They won't make him for murder?"

"They will try for a plea bargain. I can't guarantee they'll go for that, there's a chance they'll ignore the plea bargain and go for murder. But some very powerful people know his father and as yet we don't know what Mr Masen will encourage. We aren't even sure if he'll support his son in any way."

"Is that what you came for?"

"Yes. I thought you should know the way things were going."

"Thanks, Jim," Charlie says, getting up. "Thanks for uh - taking the time to stop by."

"No problem, Chief. And uh - if you could keep us updated, about Bella, we'd all much appreciate it."

"We will. Someone will come by and let you know."

"Thanks, Chief." He goes away, and I go to find Jon while Charlie goes to find food for us. Alice and Rose are home now, presumably to shower and maybe catch some sleep. Even if I know that it's a bit extreme to hope for that much. Jasper gets up the minute I come in, looking dreadful.

"Go home, I say, shoving at him. "Home, shower, shave, sleep. I'll call. If anything changes, I'll call you."

"Call Mum and Dad too," he says, yawning dreadfully. "They said they'd come by when you called."

"OK. Go, Jasper, before you fall on this floor and sleep." He nods and slides off, yawning as he goes. Probably a good thing it's the summer holidays now. He'd be falling asleep in the middle of a class otherwise. Of course, the whole town does know what happened. I'm sure they'd forgive him.

The next four days are equally horrible. They've blurred into one long, frozen expanse of over-tired monotony, too much coffee and too much fear. Edward's court date and his psychiatric assessment are approaching rapidly, and with no Bella to give a statement - although it's entirely obvious what he did to her - we're all aware that the whole thing is on shaky ground. But on the fifth day after we came so horribly close to losing her, Alice flies into the café, and looks around wildly.

"Where's Jon?" she demands of me, Rose crossing swiftly over to us. Alice takes her hand, shaking violently, but continues staring at me while I swallow scalding coffee too quickly and choke.

"With Charlie, back at the house."

"They say we're at the crisis point. Call them, they need to be here."

"Crisis point?" Jasper asks.

"They're going to wake her. So this goes one of two ways. She wakes up and all well and good - or the shock is too much, and we all know what that would mean." I'm dialling before she's finished, while Jasper questions her.


"After lunch. We can't be there, obviously. But we can be on the ward. If we promise not to get in the way."

"Charlie? Good. You need to bring Jon back here. They're going to try and wake her up. Yes, now. I know, I know it's a long drive. But it's happening anyway. I'll keep you updated." I hang up the phone, and the four of us stare at each other over the table. All I can think is that now, here, this is how I lose her forever.