"You need to go eat." I shifted my eyes over to Edward and smiled. This would be the fourth time in the last hour that he'd told me that, and each time I replied with a simple shake of my head — including now. "Bella," he groaned.
"I'm not hungry," I lied, or half-lied. I was starving, but the thought of food or being away from Edward for more than a few minutes had me panicking. Putting on the best smile I could muster, I added, "You should be the one eating."
Edward scoffed and looked at the food sitting in front of him, if you could really call it food. There was a pile of some type of meat and noodle casserole, but I couldn't be sure it was really meat or noodles. Next to it was some mashed potatoes that I was sure came from a box, and some green Jell-O that didn't jiggle.
"Um, no," Edward said, pushing the rolling table away. He winced when he lifted his arm and pulled on the stitches in his side.
Standing up from my chair next to his bed, I walked over and sat on the edge of his mattress, leaning across his legs and brushing my hand across his face. "Do you need more pain meds? Adam said you could have more."
"No," Edward replied, leaning into my touch.
"Edward." I glared at him, knowing that he wasn't being honest.
"Bella," he said, challenging me.
Sighing, I shook my head. "And you called me a stubborn bitch."
"You are one," he laughed, then winced again. "I really need to stop moving my upper body."
"Yeah," I muttered, looking away.
"Hey." Edward pulled on my hand, causing me to shift my gaze back to him. "You're too far away. Come closer."
Biting on my bottom lip, I scooted forward, but only a little.
Edward sighed and said, "Closer."
I scooted even closer, but still left a small amount of space between him and me.
"Closer," he urged.
With a smile slipping over my lips, I shifted even closer, leaving barely a hair's length between our bodies.
Sliding his arm around my waist, Edward pulled against me. "Closer."
"Any closer and I'll be straddling you," I whispered.
"I don't see the bad in that."
Before I could reply, the door to Edward's hospital room opened and we looked over to see Adam Thornton coming in. He'd been in several times since Edward was brought to his floor the night before. It was hard to believe that it'd only been thirty hours since I'd found Edward hanging in the middle of that warehouse. Luckily, the damage to Edward had been minimal, but I knew the mental effects would haunt him for a long time, even if he tried to hide it from me.
"Hey, I haven't cleared you for any physical activity yet," Adam teased, letting the door close behind him. I explained to him how Edward and I were married this morning, needing him to understand why I couldn't leave him.
"Eh, I don't listen very well," Edward laughed, before wincing. "Damn it."
"Tell him to take another pain pill," I said, leaning away from Edward only to stop when he tightened his arm around me.
"Take another pain pill," Adam responded, dryly.
"No," Edward simply stated.
"I tried, Bella." Adam laughed when I scowled.
"Yeah, you gave it a big effort there, doc." Rolling my eyes, I shimmed out of Edward's embrace, ignoring the way he whined and reached for me. However, the pain that filled his face at the simple movement had me raising an eyebrow. "Doesn't hurt at all, does it?"
"Maybe it hurts a little," Edward admitted after taking a deep breath. "But that doesn't mean I need to take anything for it."
"Oh, yeah?" I challenged and he nodded. "Then what does it mean?"
"It means that you need to get your ass back over here and let me hold you." Edward smirked while Adam burst out laughing.
"Dude, don't encourage him," I groused, but sat back down on the bed.
"I'll try not to," Adam said, before turning away from Edward's monitors and looking over at him. "But seriously, it's not worth being in pain just to prove you're a badass."
Edward clenched his jaw together and shook his head. "If I need one, I will take one, but I'm fine. I just want to get the fuck out of here and go home."
"Maybe tomorrow," Adam said, heading toward the door. "You know, if you stop being such a baby and accept that you're really in pain."
"Whatever," Edward muttered as Adam left his room.
However, before the door could close, Carlisle pushed it back open and he, Emmett, Jasper, Ben, and Angela came waltzing in. Based on the hard glares on their faces and the hate radiating off of them, we weren't going to have a pleasant conversation. I'd been expecting this, though I had hoped that they would have at least waited until Edward had been released from the hospital before they bashed me for being a bitch.
"How are you feeling, Edward?" Carlisle asked, completely ignoring me. That was fine. He could be pissed all he wanted, but if had been Esme, he would have done the same thing as me.
"I'm okay," Edward said, grabbing my hand.
Carlisle nodded, before placing his hands on his hips. "You two are fucking idiots, you know that?" But before we could respond, he added, "How many times is it going to take before you two stop trying to do everything on your own and ask for some goddamn help?"
I rolled my eyes and looked away from him. That appeared to be the wrong move seeing as Carlisle grabbed me by the arm and yanked me off the bed. "Don't fucking do that to me, Bella! Not to me!"
"Fuck you," I snarled, pushing him away from me. "Don't you dare fucking stand there and judge me. If he'd had Esme, you would have done the same damn thing, Carlisle, and don't even try to deny it. I know you better than that shit."
"Fine, maybe I would have, but that wouldn't have made me right." Carlisle dragged his hand through his hair. "I've sat back for over a year and watched you drowning in a sea of self-pity, Bella. I won't do it any longer."
Emmett, Jasper, Ben, and Angela all nodded their agreement. Closing my eyes, I took a shaky breath and trying to stifle the urge to beat the shit out of all of them.
"Self-pity, huh?" I snorted and looked at Carlisle. "You can go to hell, Carlisle. I don't owe you or anyone, but Edward, anything. You're a fucking asshole."
"I'm the asshole?" Carlisle seethed, taking a step toward me. "You've pushed everyone who loves you away because you can't handle the fact that we're worried about you. You think we don't see how hard this had been? That it hasn't been hard for all of us? It has! Damn it, Bella all of us have struggled with Garrett and Kate getting hurt."
"This has nothing to do with Garrett and Kate!" I yelled, throwing my hands in the air. "Since the day Lauren Mallory came into our office asking for help to find Natalie, I've been living in hell."
I leaned back against Edward's bed and blinked back the tears that were building in my eyes.
"Those girls — they haunted me, begged me every night to find them. I tried," I cried. "Lord knows, I tried, but instead I found myself losing the very limited self-control that I had managed to build up after the second time James attacked me. Then I found myself locked away in that cabin, and . . ."
I shook my head, scattering my tears down my cheeks. Using the back of my hands, I brushed them away.
"Demetri touched me, he . . ." I shuddered, swallowing against the bile rising in my throat. Other than Edward, Carlisle, and Esme, I hadn't shared the details of what I'd endured with anyone. "He beat me, he cut me, he . . . he used every fear I had against me." I shifted my eyes up to Carlisle. "I thought I was going die and never get to see any of you again."
"But you didn't," Angela said, stepping toward me. However, I put my hand up and she stopped. "Bella, you didn't die."
"Didn't I?" I argued. "Maybe not in the literal sense of the word, but he killed my soul. There haven't been more than a handful of nights in the last fifteen months that I've not had a nightmare, or that I don't wake up with Edward holding me down so I don't hurt him or myself!"
"Wah, wah, wah," Emmett scoffed. "You sound like a goddamn baby."
"And you sound like a jackass," Edward growled, wincing. I turned and placed my hand on his cheek. He looked over at Emmett. "You have no idea how hard it's been for both of us."
"It's been more than a year already," Jasper smarted off. "It's to deal and stop being a bitch to everyone. And while we're at it, Edward, you're not any better. She's been a mess since day one and instead of getting her the help she needs, you coddle her. How fucked up is that?"
"Fuck you, Jasper!" Edward snarked, leaning forward. However, the howl and pain that filled his face had me reaching for the pain pill sitting next to his uneaten food. "Don't touch it, Bella."
"Fucking take it," I demanded, holding in front of him. Edward huffed and grabbed it, swallowing it down and chasing it with some water. "Now that wasn't hard, was it?"
"Harder than you'd think," Edward muttered before looking over at our team. "If all you came here for is to bust our asses, then get the fuck out. But I will say this first: I'd do it again. When he called, telling me that he had her, all I could think about was saving my wife — not the FBI agent, but my wife, the woman who'd already gone through hell and didn't deserve to be there again. I'd take every fucking hit for her again, because she's fucking worth it."
"Yeah, she is worth it," Carlisle agreed with a sigh. Shaking his head, he moved over to the chair I'd been using before and sat down. "Look, let's just work on putting all of this behind us. Tell me what happened, Edward."
Edward took a deep breath. "I left Bella at home and went to talk to Esme, but y'all weren't home. So, instead, I went to the Bureau and worked out for a bit. I was feeling . . . antsy and needed to take my anger out on something, and figured one of the punching bags was better than a fucking wall, you know.
"Anyway, I'd just left the Bureau when my cell rang. I dug it out of my pocket and saw Bella's name on it. I figured that she'd gotten my note and was calling to rip my ass a new one for butting in, but knew I had to own up to my actions so I answered it. It wasn't Bella, it was Dwyer. He said that he had her down at the warehouse and if I wanted her to live I had to come alone. I — I didn't even think twice about going."
"How'd he get your phone, Bella?" Emmett asked, looking over at me.
"He didn't," I replied, pulling my phone out of my back pocket. "He must have cloned it. Wouldn't be a hard task for him; he was fucking genius, after all."
"What happened when you got to the warehouse, Edward?" Carlisle asked, trying to direct us back to the topic at hand.
"I'd barely taken a step inside when someone hit me on the back of the head. I tried to get a look at them, but all I could make out was a shadow. When I came to, Dwyer had me hanging from the ceiling. He laughed and pulled my cell from his back pocket and called Bella, giving her the same message he'd given me, only he really did have me." Edward shuddered under my touch. "When he hung up, he smiled and said we were going to have some fun before she got there. That's when he started cutting me and shit. After a while, I passed out from the pain and when I came to, I found Bella standing in front of me and Dwyer behind her."
Carlisle nodded and shifted his eyes over to me. "And what happened after that?"
"After I got the call from Dwyer, I made sure that Esme was okay by calling your neighbor, Edna, and having her check to see if you were home. She told you all were carrying in grocery bags. So, since I knew Esme was okay, I headed to the warehouse. I knew you'd be pissed, but I couldn't take the chance that Dwyer would do something to him, Car. I just couldn't."
"You opted not to trust us," Emmett muttered.
"Shut the fuck up, McCarty," Carlisle hissed, looking over his shoulder at him. "Just fucking stop."
Emmett waved a hand in the air, clearly not happy but at least settling on not smarting off anymore. Carlisle turned back to me and gestured for me to continue. Taking a deep breath, I went on to explain how I'd found the photos and eventually Edward, how I chased after Dwyer, and finally how we ended up facing off on against each other on the porch. When I told them about how Dwyer was Vanessa and Kate's older brother, and how Sasha Dwyer had faked her death, and were really Royce and Rebecca Hale, the looks of shock on our teams faces was almost comical.
"Dwyer lunged toward me and I didn't have a choice but to shoot him," I explained.
"Wow, this shit is just insane," Edward murmured, tightening his hold on my hand.
"Did he say where Vanessa Hale was?" Ben asked, speaking for the first time.
I shook my head. "No, he deflected the question every time. He — he was enjoying the game too much."
"Game?" Jasper sputtered. "This isn't a game, Bella."
"I know that, Jasper," I snapped, "but to Phil Dwyer all of this was a game, a sick and twisted game, but a game nonetheless."
"So where do we go from here?" Ben asked, looking around at everyone.
"We focus our attention on finding Vanessa Hale," Angela said, drawing everyone's attention to her. "And Embry Call and shutting down Dwyer's operation. I'll be damned if let that asshole kill one more person."
"Okay, first thing tomorrow, we focus our attention on Embry Call." Carlisle stood up and grabbed the back of his neck. "Give me a minute alone with them."
Emmett, Jasper, Ben, and Angela seemed reluctant, but did as Carlisle asked and left us alone. Carlisle sighed.
"Y'all both should have called me." His voice broke and he blinked several times. "I get not calling the others, I do, but damn it, we're different."
Carlisle shifted his eyes to Edward. "I had to explain to Esme why I wasn't there to back you up. You're my brother in every sense of the word, yet you don't trust me."
"I do trust you," Edward said. "But, Carlisle, he had her. For all I knew, Dwyer was killing her. All I could think about was getting to her."
"Yeah, I know." Carlisle looked over at me. "You're such a bitch, you know that?"
"I do," I admitted. "You're an asshole."
Carlisle shook his head. "Yeah, I am. You could have been killed, both of you could have been killed."
"I had to finish this, Car," I told him. "From the moment he walked into Garrett and Kate's hospital room, it had to be me. Dwyer chose me because he knew I was the only one dumb enough to keep chasing him, and smart enough to catch him."
Carlisle scoffed as he reached over and grabbed my hand, pulling me off the bed and into his arms. Wrapping mine around him, I laid my head against his chest. "You know you're gonna have to explain this to Esme, right? She's even madder than I am."
"I know," I whispered. "But I'd do it again. Car, he's saved me too many times for me not to be the one coming to his aid this time."
Carlisle kissed my forehead. "I know, but I need you, Bell. Esme needs you, the girls need you. Fuck, everyone in our fucked up family needs you."
"And I need you — all of you," I whimpered.
Carlisle released a heavy breath. "It's gonna take some time for me to get this clear up, so don't be expecting to see any field time for a while."
I looked back at Edward. "Don't think that's gonna be a problem. My partner's gonna be down for a bit, too."
"Okay, I'll check back with you tomorrow," Carlisle said before looking over at Edward. "Call your sister, she's worried sick."
"Yeah, sure," Edward quipped. Carlisle nodded and left us alone. I looked back at Edward. "Partner, huh? Does that mean you're not leaving the Bureau again?"
I sat back down on his bed, draping myself over his legs once again. "No. I don't think I can leave again, Edward — not you or the team. I've just gotta figure out to get this fucked up shit out of my head."
Edward placed his hand on my hip and leaned forward and kissed me. "We'll do it together."
"I love you, Edward. I haven't been the wife that you deserve, but I do love you."
"I love you, too, baby. You and I are going to get our shit together and our marriage will survive, and that's a promise."
Lying up next to him, I carefully draped my arm around him and prayed that he was right. I loved him too damn much to lose him now.
Thank you for all the reviews. I appreciate your patience lately.