Disclaimer: The characters of Twilight are owned by Stephenie Meyer. Einstein Bros. is a registered trademark Einstein Noah Restaurant Group Inc. No copyright infringement is intended. All original content and characters of this story are the intellectual property of Virginia May, October 2010. Please do not copy or translate any part of this work without express written permission.
Warnings: This story is rated "M" and would receive an "R" rating if it were a film. If you are not old enough to buy your own ticket at the box office, (17 in the US) this story is not for you. Additionally, Rosalie is a supporting character and there is mention of a sexual assault in future chapters. Please read with discretion.
This story was my contribution to the 2010 Fandom for Preemies fundraiser. Special thanks to AydenMorgen, pkmarita, DaniaMCullen, AndyMCope, Leah42683, & Nicwise for organizing the effort. We raised over $5000 to help the March of Dimes in their efforts to help prevent premature births! Lastly, my most sincere thanks to Susie & Kathie for beta'ing.
For Kat & Chris who inspired the love story, and for Baby Girl Hume whose premature arrival in 1999 inspired the rest. My participation in Fandom for Preemies is dedicated in loving memory of my own little angel: my Abigail, October 28th- November 19th, 2002.
Edward rushed into the emergency entrance, frantic and unprepared. His cell phone and wallet, along with his ability to remain calm had all been accidentally left behind in the rush to get where he needed to go.
"Help! Please, I need a wheelchair and a doctor!"
An aged volunteer, whose usual job was accepting floral deliveries, looked up at the unwelcome ruckus. This was a relatively quiet hospital, not at all like the much larger teaching hospitals and ER's located in the city center. The volunteer wondered if this guy had come straight from a re-run of one of those melodramatic hospital dramas.
"Please, my friend is pregnant and bleeding. She's not due for another ten weeks and I have no idea what to do."
Someone in scrubs was standing nearby and heard the call for assistance. She immediately rolled a wheelchair over to where the distraught looking man with brilliant blue-green eyes stood. Only then did the elderly volunteer at the desk even bother to truly look at the man.
"Call OB and let them know we need someone down here right away," the woman in scrubs called over her shoulder at the volunteer. "Where is your friend, sir?" she asked turning back to Edward.
"In my car. Outside. Please help her. She cannot lose this baby."
"Sir, just try to stay calm. We'll do everything we can. Is she conscious?"
"Yes," Edward answered, silently praying that was still the case. He shouldn't have left her there.
"Has she been in an accident or did the bleeding begin on its own?" Scrub-lady continued her interview as they approached Edward's car.
"On its own, I think. She was home alone. I was getting take-out," he explained, feeling panicked and helpless. Emmett was going to kill him if anything happened to her.
He opened the passenger door and squatted down next to the woman whose health and safety had been left in his charge. It took every bit of macho pride he had to keep her from seeing how scared he was. He hadn't been this afraid in almost eight years.
"Rose? Rosalie? I have a nurse and a wheelchair. Can you put your arms around me, sweetheart?" he asked with placating reassurance in his voice.
Rosalie sat with her eyes closed, trying not to think about how much blood she and the baby were losing. She was trying very hard to remain calm, for she knew if she panicked she would be of no help to save her child. Unfortunately, hearing Edward's endearment almost broke her in two. It must be worse than she thought.
"Well crap, Edward. You only call me sweetheart when you think I'm dying!" Rosalie whined as she put her arms around Edward's neck.
"No, I don't." He answered too quickly, practically shouting in her ear. Edward lifted Rosalie with ease, despite the twenty or so extra pounds she carried now. Still, she could feel him trembling lightly beneath her body.
"Just stop freaking me out and get me inside the fucking hospital," Rosalie snapped, starting to lose her control. She wanted her husband and she wanted him five minutes ago. "Can you call Emmett again?"
"Of course. Let's get you inside first," Edward answered, lowering her into the wheelchair.
The woman in scrubs turned and wheeled Rosalie into the hospital before Edward could stand upright. He followed them inside, leaving a mess behind in his car without another thought. Fifteen minutes later, only after Rosalie had been hooked up to a fetal monitor and been sent on her way to Obstetrics where both her physician and mid-wife were already waiting, did Edward finally leave her side to park his car and make the necessary phone calls.
His first call would have to be another attempt to reach his brother. Emmett obviously needed to be informed that Rosalie was in the hospital, though Edward was not looking forward to be the one to tell him. Having to leave for a convention in Denver, where he had a speaking engagement this week, had been hard enough on Emmett. This exact scenario was his greatest fear. Unfortunately, it was probably too late for Emmett to get a flight back to Chicago tonight and Edward worried that his older brother would panic and try to do something crazy like drive all night to get home instead.
Running his hands through his hair roughly and sighing, Edward tried to get ahold of his emotions. At the moment, he was having a really bad episode of déjà vu; memories of another horrible night eight years ago that had ended with Edward making phone calls to Rosalie's next of kin. Those thoughts had been haunting him from the moment he saw Rosalie lying in a pool of blood earlier tonight. It didn't matter that there was a lot less blood this time, the sight of it had shaken him to the core. Edward's heart was still pounding even now, while his mind ran circles around so many past regrets and present fears.
He found a pay phone near the hospital cafeteria and used his memorized credit card number to call Emmett and then their parents. Lastly he called Rosalie's family, knowing it wouldn't be a pleasant conversation. Mrs. Hale was insufferable woman and Edward considered it a miracle that Rosalie hadn't turned out to be more of a stuck-up elitist than she already was.
He smiled wryly at the thought. Rose wasn't that bad, even though she had changed drastically from the sweet little girl who used to make mud pies and climb trees with him. She'd been Edward's best friend in those days and eventually became his first sweetheart; at least she was until the Hales insisted she enroll in etiquette classes and be presented to society as a debutante. Edward had tried to be supportive of her new life and friends, but they drifted apart.
Fate, however, was a fickle thing and somehow, it had all worked out as it was meant to. Just when Rosalie thought she'd never get over what happened to her, that she'd never see the happy ending she always dreamed of, Emmett came back from grad school and changed everything.
Now everything stood to change again. Edward said a silent prayer on the way to the elevators that would take him to the maternity ward. Rosalie had been taken to a special part of the floor for ante-partum care of high risk pregnancies. He hadn't been given a room number however, so he would have to stop and ask when he got there.
Several minutes later, the doors to the elevator parted and Edward practically sprinted onto the seventh floor of the hospital. He quickly spotted the signs pointing towards the ante-partum care unit and moved in that direction.
The horrified expression of a father and small child passing Edward in the hall alerted him to the fact that he would need to change his clothing. He had forgotten about the blood. There was a dark streak running from his right hip down his pant leg, and the fabric over his right knee and shin were stained from where he'd knelt down to pick-up Rosalie and carry her to the car. His shirt was a total loss as well, having been the only thing available for him to wipe his hands on after he placed her carefully into the passenger's seat.
Edward looked around for a restroom in order to clean up a bit but instead came to the double doors of the wing he was looking for. Sighing in relief that at least he'd found that, he pushed the button on the intercom in order to be admitted. After showing his visitor's badge to a security camera, the doors swung open and he made his way down the eerily quiet hallway.
Edward had hoped to find someone to tell him which room Rosalie was in. He'd even dared to hope that they might be willing to provide him some scrubs to change out of his own blood-stained clothing. Never in a million years however, had Edward hoped to be greeted by the sight he beheld when he arrived at the nurses' station. In his weary emotional state, he thought for a moment that he was hallucinating.
A startled pair of dark brown eyes darted up to meet Edward's probing gaze. A little 'V' appeared over the bridge of the young woman's nose and he knew he hadn't been mistaken or delirious. His body almost hummed in recognition of her presence. It only took a second for Bella Swan's adorably confused face to bring back a flood of happier memories.
The one that got away...
A moment earlier, Bella had jumped at the sound of her name coming from a masculine voice that seemed to surround her. Something familiar prickled her subconscious and she felt her stomach lurch even before she looked up to see where it had come from. She was puzzled by what she saw, or rather who she saw standing right in front of her. It couldn't be.
The one that she couldn't forget...
"Edward Cullen?" she asked, the surprise evident in her voice.
"Hello, Bella," Edward smiled. He felt some of the stress he'd been under for the last hour or so start to dissipate.
"Hi," Bella breathed.
She was slightly stunned. He was exactly the way she remembered him and at the same time, her memory hadn't done Edward any real justice at all. She was instantly drawn in again by his almost hypnotic eyes. They were captivating, perfect and just... She felt like quoting the Princess Bride, "...perfect, with eyes like the sea after a storm."
Instead of doing so, she asked a rather ridiculous question. "Is that really you?"
"Yes, it's really me," he chuckled.
They both smiled and then fell silent for a long moment before the phone on the desk beeped, snapping Bella back to reality. She spoke briefly into the receiver and then hung up, glancing back at Edward with a soft smile.
Edward was caught off guard by the rush of warmth and calm that came over him while Bella was on the phone. Hearing her voice was like a balm for his battered soul. He felt better, lighter, and a little awe-struck. If it were possible, she'd grown even more beautiful since the last time he saw her. As soon as she finished with her call, he found himself blurting out that exact sentiment.
"You look beautiful, Bella."
She blushed immediately and started worrying her bottom lip between her teeth, a familiar gesture that transported Edward back to another place and time.
"It's really good to see you again," he added.
"It's good to see you too," Bella answered quietly.
The pair stood silent again, each feeling vulnerable and uncertain.
Edward knew that he needed to ask about Rosalie and get back to her right away, but there was so much he wanted to find out about Bella, so much that he needed to tell her. He realized with a jolt that if she was working at the hospital then she must be living nearby. Was it inappropriate for him to ask for her phone number and Rosalie's room number in the same sentence?
For her part, Bella was at a total loss seeing Edward again after all this time. She'd long ago given up any hope she had held onto and now after all this time, here he was. Her eyes danced in wonder as she took him in. Her gaze roamed from his angel's face just long enough for something to catch her eye.
That was all it took to remind Bella of where she was and that she was supposed to be working. As much as she didn't want to break the spell and risk Edward disappearing again like Cinderella after the ball, she had patients to attend to and there was obviously a reason for Edward to be here, an emergency from the looks of it. Bella's eyes darted from his shirt back to his face and down again. She frowned.
"Why is there blood on your shirt?" she asked, walking around the corner of the desk to examine the rest of him. She gasped when she saw the rest of him.
"Edward... what happened?" She swallowed loudly.
"I'm not hurt," Edward answered quickly.
"No, I can see that..." Bella responded. Her brain was finally catching up to the fact that Edward hadn't really just materialized out of nowhere. She was putting the pieces together at a rather frightening pace. Edward had shown up here, in a high-risk pregnancy care unit, covered in blood, only minutes after they'd admitted a woman with a placental abruption.
"Who are you here to see?" she finally whispered, almost as if she were afraid to ask. Bella's mind raced while she tried not to assume the worst.
The words caused her heart to sink.
Walking back around the desk without a word, Bella picked up the patient chart that she'd put down only moments ago. She sighed quietly and looked down, allowing a curtain of hair to fall over her shoulder. It obscured Edward's view of her face, but did not prevent him entirely from seeing the dual expressions of guilt and pain.
Unfortunately, after the night Edward had just had, he couldn't have begun to imagine the real cause of Bella's glassy eyes and heart-broken countenance in that moment. He panicked and interpreted it as something else entirely. Edward felt himself pale as the words spilled unhindered from his mouth.
"Oh, God. What's wrong? What happened? Is she? Did she? Where's the baby? Are they okay?"
Bella snapped her head up, horrified.
"Oh, Edward, I'm sorry. Don't panic, nothing's happened. I uh... I just..." She hesitated to find an excuse for her lapse in control. "I had something in my eye, that's all."
Bella smiled her well-practiced, and often necessary, soothing smile. At times like these, she was thankful that she had years of experience to fall back on in dealing with stressful situations and even more stressed-out patients and family members. Edward seemed to accept her reassurances, but she could tell he was still very concerned.
She knew he needed something to grasp onto and started talking almost as if she were on auto-pilot, first opening the medical chart in her hands to make sure that Rosalie had signed the HIPAA form that gave Bella permission to speak with her patient's husband. Later on, Bella would realize that she hadn't bothered to check the name on the form.
"Your wife's condition is stable now..."
"Uh..." Edward began to interrupt, though Bella didn't seem to notice.
"The doctor was able to stop the bleeding and determine that there's no immediate risk of the placenta detaching, so a C-section won't be necessary for the moment. We're giving her magnesium sulfate and electrolytes through an IV to stop her contractions and keep her hydrated. She's resting comfortably for the moment, but the doctor will want to talk to you both about how he wants to proceed just as soon as she's awake."
Bella turned and pointed to a monitor on the wall behind the nurses' station. Edward attempted to get her attention, but she was on a role.
"The baby is doing fine, we're monitoring him internally and he looks really strong. That," she pointed at one of the squiggly lines on the screen. "...is his little heartbeat. One-hundred fifty beats a minute, right on target a healthy thirty week-er. Your son is apparently very laid back; he hasn't shown any signs of distress since he's been on the monitor, which is a very good sign."
Edward stared at Bella, his mouth hanging open.
He was flabbergasted by her false assumptions, not to mention that he found her erudite presentation of Rosalie's condition to be a huge turn on. He thought back quickly, hadn't she been some kind of English major? He recalled her wanting to be a writer, not a health-care professional. Not that she hadn't always been intelligent enough to do whatever the hell she wanted to, but something about seeing Bella in this new light made Edward desire her just as much, if not more, than he had so many years ago.
He hadn't realized that he'd zoned out until Bella's voice called him out of his reverie.
"Edward? Are you okay?" she asked, concerned that Edward hadn't responded to her summary of his wife's status. "You did hear what I said, didn't you? Rosalie and the baby are both fine."
Edward smiled at her. "That's really good news, Bella, but you need to know something."
Edward took a deep breath and thought about what Bella must have seen when he ran in here wild-eyed and anxious, and looking for Rosalie Cullen no less. It made sense that Bella would have been confused, especially considering the way things had ended when he left Dartmouth. He'd never even gotten a chance to explain or apologize for dropping off the face of the earth without a word. Edward ground his teeth together just thinking about why that was.
Bella saw the strain on his face and reached out to him, rubbing his shoulder lightly. "Edward... it's alright. Whatever it is can wait. Come on, I'll take you to go see your wife."
Edward reached out before she could turn all the way and took her gently by the elbow.
Edward looked around a moment and pulled her into an alcove that held a refrigerator and some lab equipment.
"Look... I know I should have stopped you and explained this earlier, but you caught me a little off guard."
"I know," she said without letting him finish. "You surprised me too, but I can promise you-"
"Bella, Rosalie isn't my wife. We're not married."
Bella raised her eyebrows, this surprised her.
"Oh, I'm sorry. I just assumed because of-" She stopped and Edward watched as the little 'V' returned, showing her confusion clearly on her face. "Wait... when the doctor asked about the baby's father, Mrs. Cullen said that her husband was on his way. I don't understand."
Edward sighed. "Well, her husband is on his way, but I'm not him. I don't think he'll be here until tomorrow. He's out of town."
Bella blinked, eyes wide.
"Bella... Rose and I aren't together. We haven't been for many years. It's a really long story, but she's happily married to my older brother now. I'm only here because I promised him that I would look after her while he was gone."
Bella flushed from head to toe. "Oh."
"Yeah," he smiled his bashful smile. "But I understand how you might have been confused."
Bella wanted nothing more than for the earth to swallow her whole. She knew better than to make assumptions about patient/family relationships. There were practically whole courses in nursing school about what not to do. She covered her heated face with her hands. "I'm soo sorry."
"No, really Edward. I just broke about every cardinal rule for working with patients and their families. You have my apologies. I normally would never make assumptions like that. I guess the shock of seeing you like this where I work... I just let it impede my brain function. I'm sorry."
"Bella, there's nothing to apologize for. Look, I know this isn't the right time or place, but something happened that you should know about. I'm sure I don't deserve it, but I hope you'll give me the opportunity to explain why I never came back to school. Why I didn't call until it was too late."
"Edward, that's really unnecessary. You don't owe me anything. What's past is past."
"No, Bella. It's not. At least not for me."
Bella had been fighting so hard to pretend that her words were the God-honest truth, but hearing Edward's plea broke her resolve. She felt like all the air had been sucked from the room and suddenly she couldn't breathe.
Edward shook his head and ran his hands through his hair roughly. "Bella? Will you at least have coffee with me later? Maybe tomorrow after Rosie's husband gets back? I can't really leave her until then, but I really want to talk."
"I don't know..." Bella could barely manage the words. She was afraid to say yes, afraid to hope there was anything Edward could say that would change how she felt about his disappearing act all those years again.
"If not coffee, then would you let me take you for ice cream sometime? For old time's sake?"
"Edward..." Bella sighed, fighting back a lump in her throat.
"Please, Bella? I haven't been out for ice cream in years."
"No. It wasn't the same."
Bella smiled. "For me either."
"Is that a yes, then?" he asked, daring to hope.
Bella sighed. "Yes... For old time's sake."
This is my very first All-Human story. It's quite a departure from my usual, so please review!